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What Android productivity tools do you find most useful? And why?

For this week's Friday Debate we take a look at what productivity tools we find the most useful, and welcome you to join the conversation!
July 11, 2014
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Our modern ever-connected life can sometimes become more than a bit overwhelming, especially when you throw a job, organizing social/family events and other distractions into the mix. Thankfully Android makes it possible to stay a bit more organized and on top of things, thanks to plenty of great apps that can help improve our daily lives and, in turn, increase our productivity.

For this Friday Debate we take a look at some of the top apps for productivity, giving you a window into what tools we use at Android Authority and for keeping our own personal lives a bit more organized.

After you check out our list of favored productivity apps, be sure to jump into the discussion and let us know what productivity apps your prefer and why.

Jonathan Feist

I have found in the last while that I have been migrating more and more to the web browser for my productivity tasks on Android. As such, I am actively using Chrome, Chrome Beta, Dolphin, Link Bubble and Opera browsers on a daily basis. But let’s talk more about them later.

One of my key productivity apps right now is Google Keep. In one word, lists. I have so many to-do lists on the go, it’s scary. To be honest, I know Keep is capable of more, but at this very moment I have only lists active in Keep. In our multi-device world, it is crucial that things like our to-do lists automatically sync across devices and platforms, Keep has not let me down.

My next big performer is Chrome Remote Desktop, or just Remote Desktop, as it shows in the app list. This should speak to the inability to perform certain tasks well, if at all, on Android. Don’t get me wrong, there is not much, but I have yet to find a satisfactory Gimp (Photoshop) replacement for Android. Not for my needs, anyway. So I remote into a Linux box to Gimp together many of the images you see in my posts.

I also have Teamviewer ready to roll, as a backup, just in case.

Back to web browsers. Well, there’s work, and then there’s more work, then there’s personal stuff and then there’s off the grid stuff. Basically, I have one browser for each Google account I sync with. That’s Chrome for my personal stuff, Chrome Beta for my day job, Opera for you guys and Dolphin for everything else.

I hope that you do not have need for this many yourself. For me, my day job requires me to test websites and SEO across platforms. As you probably know, Google search results are tailored to you if you are logged in, thus, I keep Dolphin free of all accounts to get the pure search results. Same with Link Bubble.

I also use Dolphin when people send me links or I need to look up things I do not want clogging up my other accounts. I don’t want to see ads for stuff that doesn’t interest me, or have silly animal videos clogging my YouTube history. More important, I don’t want Google Now clogged up with Maps trip suggestions to places I will never go to but wanted to look up once. I search those in Dolphin and avoid the hassle.

There is a lesson here in compartmentalization and profile curation, but I’m just going with the flow and hoping for the best.

I use multiple large Google Spreadsheets every day. Truth is, I have only a couple times used the Spreadsheets app. Actually, I just realized that I haven’t even reinstalled Docs or Sheets since I factory reset this very tablet a few weeks ago. I find the dedicated apps handle small spreadsheets just fine, but once you get over a few hundred (or thousand) entries, things get messy.

My RSS reader of choice, The New Reader, is used through the browser. So I just stay there for other news sites and such as well.

Finally, Google+. I know it’s a social media platform, but there is some handy things it can do. First and foremost Google+ Photos is a great place to store and organize photos and images. They are ready to go on any platform I access and there is a basic set of editing tools.

After years of curating my Google+ circles, there is little need for an RSS or news reader like Flipboard etc. Nearly all of the news I could ever need flows through my stream, I actually struggle to keep up most days. Phhhht, ghost town…

Robert Triggs

Perhaps I am a little disorganized or lazy, but I struggle to ever consistently find a need for or use for a lot of the popular so-called productivity apps. For me, finding, setting up, and hopping in and out of multiple apps for different needs takes up more time than committing notes to a scrap of paper or browsing over to a bookmarked website.

I gave up on apps like Flipboard for consolidating my reading material because the pages often became cluttered with the same stories and concealed most of the good ones. I could never be bothered to keep Evernote up to date enough to make it useful either. When it comes to writing, the Android Authority homepage, Wordpress, Asana, etc, are all bookmarked in my browser and are often side by side in their own tabs. I can’t stand trudging between a separate app for each of them. For me, the browser is king.

Mostly, I just jot notes down in emails or a document to read later at my convenience, and visit bookmarked sites to keep on top of the news the old fashioned way. I tend to rely on Google’s app integrations the most for work, such as emailing or saving a webpage with Chrome to view on my desktop, adding details from messages to my calendar from within the default apps, and syncing article drafts and ideas over Google Docs.

Maybe I haven’t put the necessary work in to set up my smartphone as my personal assistant, or I just don’t have enough tasks keep track of. Either way, I’m content with sticking post-it notes to my monitor, jotting ideas down on scraps of paper that I often leave in my pockets, and trawling my way through various publications in the morning to find a good read. The old methods haven’t failed me yet, and quite frankly I’m too set in my ways to change.

Bodgan Petrovan

I’ll be honest – I sit on my butt for most of my day, 6 (okay 5.5) days a week, so when it’s time to be productive, I am usually in front on my PC. So, I don’t really do that much productive work on my Android phone. However, when I do, there are a couple of neat apps that I love.

First is Pushbullet. I don’t use its best known feature that much (syncing notifications), but I love the ability to push notes, links, website URLs, and even files between my PC and my phone. Found something nice on the web that you want to open on your phone/tablet/other PC? Just click on Pushbullet’s Chrome extension and click Push. From Android, you can do the same via the Share menu. It’s easy, convenient, and fast, and I use it almost every day.

Next, there’s Changelog Droid, which I use to keep track of app updates. For me, it’s a productivity tool, but everyone can use it to keep track of updates to their installed apps, especially if you’re the paranoid type that wants to approve every change. There’s also a watchlist mode that lets you monitor apps that you don’t have installed on your device.

I also use AppSales to keep track of sales, APK Extractor to, uhm, extract APKs, and APK Signature Checker, to check apps I download from unofficial sources.

Drive is my go-to and only storage app I use these days. Not much to say here. Integration, features, fast syncing, and free storage. What else? Feedly is my favorite RSS checker, and the Android app is just as nice as the web app (a fact that I was acutely reminded of when those hackers DDoS’ed it for a couple of days). Keep for to-do lists, although I love doing it on paper whenever I can.

Andrew Grush

Like Bodgan, I find myself by my computer for a large chunk of the day at least 5 days a week, and so my computer is my most important productivity tool. That said, my phone is very important for notifying me of emails, topic changes in Asana (which we use for internal purposes) and so much more.

When I find myself stepping away from the computer for a bit, it’s also nice to know that my work can follow me thanks to apps like Feedly, Asana, Google+, Hangouts and Gmail. I also utilize Changelog Droid, APK Extractor and I do keep organized using Evernote. Why Evernote over Google Keep? Good question, force of habit at this point, really.

It might seem silly, but I also would consider Spotify on my PC and/or phone as a productivity tool, as I tend to work better with some tunes going on in the background. And last but not least, Android itself (especially L) serves as an important work ‘Tool” as I’m constantly taking screenshots, writing articles based on my experience, and so forth.