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5 Android productivity apps that I can't live - or work - without

Away from my desk? It's never a problem! With these five essential Android apps, I'm always productive, connected, and organized on the go.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Holobox Android
Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

At this point in my life, I don't feel the need to be productive 100% of the time. But during those times I am working hard, I need the right tools at the ready, whether I'm at my desk or on the go. 

Standing at my desk or seated with my laptop, I have a plethora of tools available. But when I'm on the go, and my Pixel 8 Pro is the only device on hand, the number of tools doesn't seem so limitless. And that's OK -- because the tools that are available work very well to help keep me doing what I need to do.

Also: Every Google Apps user can boost their efficiency with this one simple menu tweak

A lot of the tools I depend on come from the Google lineup -- but not all of them. Some of the most important apps I use are created by companies far removed from the Google empire and all of them can be had for free. (Some do have associated costs for premium features.) Just what are those non-Google Android apps I depend on to help me keep my productivity up? 

Here are the five non-Google productivity apps that I can't live without:

1. Slack

Slack is, hands down, the best collaboration tool I use. While it may not be perfect (missed notifications can be a real problem), there's no other tool I depend on more to keep in contact with various clients. With Slack, I can not only stay on top of client needs, I can share files, bookmark responses, view threads, jump on to calls, curate content with canvases, create automations, connect with third-party services, view my history, and more. 

Although Slack might seem at first glance like little more than a group messaging tool, it's so much, and keeping up with various clients would be a serious challenge without this app.

Also: Slack adds a GIF picker to let you spice up your work messages. Here's how

Slack can be used for free, but if you want the premium features (which add unlimited message history, unlimited lightweight voice huddles, and more), pricing starts at $7.25 per user per month.

2. Trello

Kanban boards help to keep my creativity flowing. I mostly use Kanban boards for keeping track of novel manuscript statuses, fleshing out ideas, and organizing characters and plots. I also use Kanban boards for a couple of my clients who need to follow the workflow of the articles and videos I create for them. 

When I need a Kanban board on Android, I turn to Trello. Not only does Trello simplify the creation and use of Kanban boards, but it also has all of the features I need to power those boards beyond standard use cases. For example, with Power-Ups and Templates, I can create very complicated boards, without exerting too much effort. Also, I can create unique boards for each book or client, add notifications, connect to third-party services, and so much more.

Also: How to create a Kanban board in Trello for a much more organized life

If you need to keep the flow of work moving forward, Kanban is the way to go and there's no easier path to success than Trello.

Trello can be used for free, but to get premium features (such as unlimited boards, advanced checklists, and custom fields), pricing starts at $5 per user per month.

3. Bitwarden

You may be surprised to see a password manager listed with a group of productivity apps, but consider this: When most of the apps, services, and accounts I use to be productive are secured behind strong passwords, I'm going to need help keeping those passwords strong and managed.

Also: The best password managers you can buy

I've tried just about every password manager on the market and none of them come close to the usability and flexibility of Bitwarden.  Bitwarden has all the features you've grown accustomed to in such an app, but it also includes features like Secure Send and Secure Notes, which allow you to send and save sensitive information securely. On top of all this, Bitwarden is open source and offers a self-hosted server solution: If you're hesitant to save a certain vault to the Bitwarden servers, you can deploy your own and keep those passwords in-house. 

The Android version of Bitwarden does a great job of integrating with the operating systems, so you can enjoy the auto-fill feature when you need to securely log into an account.

Bitwarden can be used for free but to get premium features (such as the Bitwarden Authenticator, file attachments, emergency access, and more), pricing starts at less than $1 per month.

4. Opera

Anyone who doesn't consider the web browser a productivity tool doesn't understand how modern web browsers work. For my money, the most productive web browser on the market is Opera. But Opera isn't just about web pages. With this browser, you not only get an AI assistant at your fingertips (via Opera's built-in Aria) but you also have My Flow to seamlessly move between the desktop and mobile versions, create Pinboards to curate content and notes, and save web pages for offline reading. 

Also: Firefox vs Opera: Which web browser is best for you?

For me, it's the My Flow and Pinboards features that lift Opera above the competition. With these two additions, I can view open tabs from my desktop on my Android device, and create Pinboards for various needs (such as inspiration for books, ideas for tech articles, and everything in between). And when it comes time to do a bit of research on the go, I'll open Opera's Aria AI feature and dive down many a rabbit hole.

Opera is free to use.

5. Notion

Notion isn't just a note-taking app. Notion is for documents, task management, collaboration, organization, and publishing to the web. In fact, Notion is the one app I would turn to if all the other apps on this list vanished.

Notion takes the task of note-taking to a whole different level; the app is a full-on project management and CRM tool that can even inject a bit of AI into the mix. Of course, with all of these features in one place, you'll find Notion's learning curve is on the stepper side. 

Also: The best note-taking apps for iPad: Ditch the pen and paper

While Notion uses pages and templates to create what you need, the process can be a bit overwhelming at first. However, the company did recently add a Quick Note Widget that simplifies the process of capturing notes right from your device's home screen. You'll want to spend some time getting up to speed with Notion. But once you get used to how Notion works, you'll find it an invaluable productivity tool.

Notion is free to use, but to gain access to premium features (such as unlimited blocks for teams, unlimited file uploads, and 30-day page history), pricing starts at $8 per user per month.

Who said you can't be productive with an Android device? Whoever did, clearly didn't know about these five apps. Of course, there are plenty more productivity apps available for you to employ. Once you find the right combination of apps for your workflow, you'll find you can be quite productive, even on the go.

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