Mobile productivity: These are the three apps Ed Bott can't work without

What handful of mobile apps are essential to your daily work life? We asked our writers and editors to name the iOS or Android productivity tools they can't live without. These are Ed Bott's favorites.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor

[Editor's note: We asked our writers and editors to name the iOS or Android productivity tools they can't live without. ]

My mobile phone is a constant companion when I'm traveling, and I consider these three apps essential for keeping my workday organized. Authy is my top recommendation for anyone who wants to reduce the risk of having a crucial online service hacked, while OneNote and Office Lens are an absolute one-two productivity punch for me.

Because I use an Android phone (an LG V20), I've based my descriptions on the behavior on that platform. But all three apps have excellent iOS versions as well.


Authy 2-Factor Authentication (Authy)

Free, in Google Play Store and iTunes Store

This app has become an essential part of my online security setup, generating secure logon codes (without requiring SMS after the initial setup) to prevent a password thief from hacking my online services.

It works with Microsoft accounts, Google apps, Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, and more, with the ability to create tokens of up to eight digits. Best feature? I can set up and sync Authy on multiple devices, making it possible to switch phones without having to move my entire 2FA setup.


OneNote (Microsoft)

Free, in Google Play Store and iTunes Store

I keep everything in OneNote. Everything. Receipts, meeting notes, itineraries, to-do lists, audio recordings, and much more. The mobile versions of OneNote can't match the desktop program, obviously, but they provide all the tools I need to keep track of projects and save important emails.

For travel (business and leisure), I keep every shred of detail about the itinerary in a dedicated OneNote notebook that syncs to every device I own, including my smartphone.

And it's delightful as a repository for information for a team-based project. For a recent book project, three co-authors used a shared OneNote notebook and several OneDrive folders to keep the project organized and to collaborate on research. It made our work much easier.

Office Lens (Microsoft)


Free, in Google Play Store and iTunes Store

Microsoft says this app is "like having a scanner in your pocket". That's not hype, it's a fact.

I use it to snap pictures of business cards (with contact information automatically extracted to my Address Book), bills and receipts, menus, assembly instructions, recipes, barcodes, and even notes from my whiteboard. Cropping the resulting image is quick and easy, and I can then save the results to OneDrive, OneNote, PDF files, or Word and PowerPoint format.

Best feature? Any printed or handwritten words are converted to text on the fly using OCR, so I can search for a note without ever touching a keyboard.

Next week: Matthew Miller's favorite mobile apps.

Facebook, Apple and Google are most-used mobile apps

Editorial standards