Get Organised This New Year
If you have a million things on your to-do list and that list looks set to follow you into the new year, check out these five highly-rated productivity apps
Issue: Jan 2016
Your free personal assistant
EasilyDo is a virtual personal assistant that promises you’ll “never miss anything”. Give it access to your calendar and contacts and it’ll send pre-scheduled birthday greetings. Let it read your emails and it’ll automatically create a to-do list, reminding you to respond to event invitations and pay your phone bill. If you have a meeting scheduled, the app estimates how long it’ll take you to get there by cross-checking maps and traffic conditions, and alerts you when it’s time to leave.
Say it’s a conference call that’s coming up instead. EasilyDo notifies you when it’s time and offers to dial the number. If that’s what you want, tap the ‘do it’ button. Received an email? It’ll ask if you’d like to store the contact. Again, just tap ‘do it’ and it’s done. The app also has a ‘send text when I leave’ function that you can use to notify your significant other when you’re getting off work, or to let the people you’re meeting know that you’re on the way.
In a nutshell: EasilyDo is a useful app that takes care of the small, simple tasks in your life. It’s hassle-free—and it’s free.
EasilyDo, free, available for iOS and Android
The paper chase ends here
Even if you’re not one of the 100 million people worldwide already using Evernote, take a moment to consider Evernote Scannable. It’s a scanning app that turns your physical documents into digital ones. It works with business cards, meeting notes and taxi receipts, but how Scannable really stands out is with whiteboards. You’ll never struggle with flash reflections from your smartphone camera, or have to bother with multiple close-ups to get a legible shot again. The app is optimised to work with whiteboard surfaces, quickly transforming the entire board into one clear, crisp image.
Scannable also does a brilliant job of recognising the edges of your document, so it always leaves your messy table-top and fingers out of the picture. It doesn't even require you to tap a button; images are automatically detected, captured, straightened and colour-corrected. With your approval, the app converts this into a JPG or multi-page PDF file that can be shared via email, linked to Evernote, stored in your cloud service or attached to a calendar entry.
In a nutshell: Evernote Scannable performs remarkably—but it’s only available for iOS. While waiting for the Android version that’s under development now, CNET suggests that non-iOS users check out CamScanner, its ‘best scanning app for Android’ instead.
Evernote Scannable, free, available for iOS only
Wally, where’s my money?
If saving money is on your new year’s resolution list, Wally is here to help. The personal finance app is essentially an expense tracker. It gives you an overview of your expenditure so you understand where your money’s going and how to make adjustments to achieve your savings target.
For Wally to work, you’ll need to let it know each time you spend money—whether it’s $5 for a mid-afternoon snack or $200 at the supermarket. To make entering expenses easier, Wally lets you scan receipts and it’ll read and tally the data itself. For your effort, you’ll get a clear visual representation of your daily expenditure against the budget limits that you’ve set for yourself.
In a nutshell: What you put into Wally is what you’ll get out of it. It can only track what it knows so you’ll have to be diligent about recording your expenses—but that might be a good habit to form anyway.
Wally for iOS and Wally+ for Android, free
Going on vacation is wonderful... except when you’re frantically searching for your hotel or flight details. TripIt is a travel app that cleverly consolidates all your trip information into one neatly organised master itinerary. You can forward your flight, hotel, car rental and tour confirmation emails to TripIt as you receive them, or simply give the app free rein to scan your inbox for relevant emails. It uses the information to automatically build a master itinerary for you, which is accessible even when you’re offline. The app also tries to be helpful by offering maps and directions based on your itinerary, although these aren’t always 100% accurate.
From TripIt, you can choose to share your itinerary with people or link it to your social media accounts. The latter means that any contacts with TripIt accounts will be able to see where you’re going or where you’ve been to. To manage your privacy, you’ll have to visit tripit.com as these settings cannot be changed via the app.
In a nutshell: TripIt is easy to use and consolidates a lot of valuable trip information in one place. It’s an automatic itinerary builder that casual travellers are likely to enjoy.
Tripit, free, available for iOS and Android
Day in, day out
Sunrise is one of the most raved about calendar apps on the Internet—so much so that Microsoft swooped in and acquired it from its start-up owners in early 2015; but more about that later. As a calendar, Sunrise offers a sleek, intuitive interface and a welcome productivity boost. Much of the latter comes from its ability to sync with other apps and services. Evernote reminders and tasks will appear in Sunrise and they’re editable. Any changes are synced right back to Evernote so you’re never left confused or bogged down by double work. Sunrise also ‘talks’ to LinkedIn, so if you’re meeting a business contact for the first time, Sunrise will attach their LinkedIn profiles to your calendar entry. Simply tap to view. Facebook events and birthdays can also make an appearance on your Sunrise calendar if you so choose.
About half a year after Microsoft took control of Sunrise, the company announced that it won’t be updating the app. Instead, it intends to incorporate the best of Sunrise in its new Outlook app that’s under development. That shouldn’t deter you from giving Sunrise a shot though. The app still works fine and if you enjoy it, you can consider switching to Outlook when it’s available.
In a nutshell: Sunrise is a great calendar app for any device. It wins on connectivity—linking up all major calendar services as well as many of the apps that you already use.
Sunrise, free, available for iOS and Android