21 Top Productivity Apps for Android

Documents To Go

Lets you view, edit and create Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx), Excel (xis and .xlsx), PowerPoint (.ppt) and Adobe PDF files (its PDF viewer is one of the best available). Impressively sophisticated for its size, it offers features like word count, find on page, formatting tools, word wrap, multiple zoom levels and track changes, and support for password-protected files. There’s also a Live Folder facility that lets you put a recently used files folder on your home screen. You wouldn’t use it to write your memoirs but it’s handy for last-minute editing while on the move.

K Mail

A highly regarded alternative to your phone’s stock email and Gmail clients, K-9 is a stable, open-source email app that supports multiple accounts and standard mail server types (POP3, IMAP, Exchange, etc). It’s stacked with features, including search, push mail, multi-folder synchronization, flagging and filing, signatures, configurable alerts, custom account colors, a global inbox and more. This is a great way to pull all your mail together in one program if you’re not enamored with the idea of running multiple accounts through Gmail.

Google Voice

Google Voice provides you with one universal phone number and voice mailbox (currently available to US users only), giving you options to route all of your calls through the service, as well as forwarding calls to other numbers. It also allows you to make free national calls, and cheap international calls and text (SMS) messages. As you’d expect, the app integrates fully with your contacts list. Although Voice is a free service from Google, your carrier may well impose additional charges, so double-check with them before you go crazy.

SwiftKey

An alternative soft keyboard to the one that comes with your phone. It looks innocent enough, but SwiftKey has an impressive text prediction engine that seems to know what you’re going to type next even before you do. It doesn’t just try and auto-complete as you type, it actually learns your writing habits and attempts to predict your next word, becoming increasingly accurate the more you use it. Simply hit the space bar to approve the suggested word, or tap one of the other suggestions either side. It also corrects spelling and grammar, and is free from the Market.

Edwin

Speak your question and Edwin will speak the answer back at you. This is a clever speech-to-speech search engine that’ll perform calculations and translations, give you weather reports, dictionary definitions and more. Once you’re done asking it the time in Moscow, or how many inches in a light-year, you can give it commands to launch other apps, make calls, send tweets, toggle Wi-Fi on and off, and change other hardware settings. A fun way to mess around with your phone, Edwin could also be a useful accessibility tool for the vision impaired.

Google Gesture Search

Perform quick operations without having to browse through your phone’s menus. Simply draw the first couple of letters of your required app or contact and a shortlist will appear. It can be set up so that you can trigger it with a simple flick of the wrist away from you and back.

Chrome To Phone

A plugin for Google Chrome and corresponding app for Android that lets you push the webpage you’re viewing on your computer over to your phone’s browser almost instantly. Firefox users can use this app with the Send To Phone add-on.

Android2cloud

A simple app that lets you push web links from your phone to the Google Chrome browser on your computer. Works beautifully in tandem with Chrome To Phone for painless switching between devices.

Bluetooth File Transfer

Allows you to use your phone to browse and manage files from any Bluetooth-ready device. It uses OBEX FTP or OPP to send and receive, and create, move or delete files and contacts. Makes light work of shuffling files` between your computer and phone.

Inventory

Inventory lets you scan barcodes and enter details about an item. You can create categories and keep track of when you’ve lent it to someone. It’ll even link lent or borrowed items with people from your contacts list.

Hertz

A simple and free sound recorder for uncompressed WAV files up to 44.1kHz (the equivalent of a CD). Useful for capturing sound or music when you don’t want to compromise on quality. Rehearsal Assistant, HiFiCorder and TapeMachine are also worth a try.

Adobe Reader

From the PDF viewer options currently available for Android there’s no completely satisfactory all-in-one app. Adobe’s own reader is free, renders well most of the time, supports multi-touch gestures and has a useful reflow facility, but lacks bookmarking.

Beam Reader

BeamReader costs $3.99 and supports bookmarks, text wrap view and text search. Rendering is acceptable, if occasionally a little slow. If you already have Documents To Go, then you already have the extra functions offered here.

RepliGo

Also $3.99, RepliGo integrates with Gmail and your web browser for previewing PDFs. It supports text search, bookmarks and hyperlinks, and has a single-column reading view. This and BeamReader have demo versions on the Market, so you can try out all three of the above for free.

Wi-Fl Analyzer

Shows all the nearby Wi-Fi access points and helps you improve your own Wi-Fi signal at home by finding a less crowded channel for your wireless router. If you’re out and about, you can use it to find out which hotspot has the strongest signal and least traffic. With the free add-on Wi-Fi Connector, it even lets you switch connections from within the app.

Dodgy connection? Get a quick window on who’s battling you for the airwaves. Wi-Fl Analyzer presents its findings in a number of ways, focusing on either signal strength or channel usage. Keep a network cable handy if you’re remotely configuring a Wi-Fl router, just in case something goes awry and you need to change your settings back.

JuiceDefender

Squeeze every last bit of juice out of your battery with this automated power manager app. It lets you specify precise criteria for the behavior of your phone’s power-hungry Wi-Fi and mobile data functions. For example, you can set Wi-Fi so that it’s only enabled when the screen is on, but schedule it to open up for a minute every so often to allow synchronization. The included widget lets you easily switch the app on or off and tells you how much juice you’ve saved. JuiceDefender is free, though you’ll need the UltimateJuice! add-on (€2.79) to unlock some of its more esoteric features.

With JuiceDefender battery level obsessives can tinker to their heart’s content, setting different power-saving behaviors based on the time of the day, location, current battery level and more.

SystemPanel

SystemPanel combines a task manager, app manager and system monitor. It gives you a clear live view of which apps are using your phone’s processor and memory, and monitors them over time to provide a detailed history of their activities. It’ll also let you back up multiple different versions of apps (useful to fall back on if a free app you were using suddenly updates itself to a version that doesn’t work with your phone). The full version costs $2.99, with a free Lite version providing the live view and task killer but no history monitoring or backup.

SystemPanel helps you figure out which apps are hogging your resources, giving you a much deeper level of information than Android’s own application management screen. For a simpler task killer app, try Advanced Task Killer.

Thinking Space

This free mind-mapping tool lets you collect and organize your thoughts in a structured visual medium – a useful way to develop ideas and plans, problem-solve or brainstorm. You start by creating nodes, basically your core ideas, and then go on to create branches of sub-nodes and sub-sub-nodes. The relationships and connections can be easily rearranged and notes added. Once you’re happy with your mind map, you can open it in Freemind (the free desktop version) or share it via Google Apps. Thinking Space is ad-supported, with an ad-free version available for £2.69.

PhoneMyPC

One of the many apps on the market that lets you control your computer from your phone over Wi-Fi or 3G. Install the app on your phone and the software on your PC, set up a password and you’ll have a secure link between the two devices. You can operate your computer more or less as if you were sitting in front of it, using the phone’s touchscreen as a virtual keyboard and mouse, or just take a quick snapshot to check the progress of a download. PhoneMyPC costs $9.99, but before you grab it, take a look too at Remote Desktop Client, LogMeIn Ignition and PocketCloud.

Pomodoro Widget

What is that? A counting tomato? How exactly is a counting tomato going to make me more productive? In fact, Pomodoro uses a basic productivity technique: you set a timer for 25 minutes, during which you work on your given task, then take a break for 5 minutes, then work again for another 25. It’s a great way to break up your workload into digestible chunks and set incremental deadlines. After four tomatoes (counted off in the bottom right), take a longer break, you’ve earned it. Looking for a straightforward timer? Check out Ultimate Stopwatch and Timer.

There are a few Pomodoro-type apps on the Market but this one’s simple, very effective, and it’s free. Tap the tomato to start or reset the timer, tap the sound and vibrate buttons to toggle how it lets you know your time is up. Right, now get to work.

Google App Inventor
This web application (http://appinventor.googlelabs.com) lets you build your own apps from scratch without any programming knowledge (via your computer or phone’s web browser). Instead of writing code, you build the app by combining blocks to specify what happens and when. There are blocks for pretty much every kind of function your phone is capable of, so with a little tenacity you can build any app you could conceivably want.

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