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10 productivity-boosting Android apps

Take your Android tablet to work with these apps. Track your time, stay on top of what you need to do, and collaborate with colleagues.

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

10 good Android apps for productivity

Android tablets come in all sizes, making it a sure bet you can find one that helps you be productive. To get the most work done using a tablet requires apps that can handle work tasks. Finding such apps can be a chore given the number of apps in the Google Play store.

We’ve done the work for you and present 10 good apps for Android tablets. They range from well-known office suite apps to some more obscure apps that will increase your productivity. Most of the apps have a free version that makes it easy to try, and some add a premium version that adds additional functionality for a nominal fee.

The apps are presented in no particular order and key features of each are listed.

See also:

Indispensable gadgets for road warriors

Nexus 9 with Keyboard Folio: Poor design, not ideal for work

10 good iPad apps for productivity

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Trello

Trello is a free-form list app that can do different things depending on how you use it. The app uses a card interface, with each list item nicely displayed in a card. It is similar to the card display of Google Now. Cards can be moved around and organized as desired.

It can be used as a to-do list, a project tracking system, and just about any type of system that best fits the work. The ability to organize cards into a board system makes it a great collaborative tool for keeping team members up-to-date at a glance.

Trello is Android Wear-capable, so information can be checked and created on your smartwatch.

Get Trello for free.

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3 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Evernote

Taking notes is a fact of life for professionals, and Evernote is a versatile way to do so. Information can be captured by text entry, taking photos, recording audio and video, and capturing data on the web.

Evernote uses a flexible system of workbooks and note tagging that facilitates building a note system that best fits the user’s needs. These tools also provide the backbone for a powerful search system, meaning that desired nugget of information is never far away.

Key features as per Evernote:

  • Take notes: write in a clean, distraction-free workspace.
  • Get organized: create notebooks and add tags to wrangle projects.
  • Access anywhere: keep your work in sync across devices.
  • Find anything fast: text in notes, photos, and PDFs is searchable.
  • Share ideas and resources: create a workspace for collaboration with shared notebooks.
  • Keep up with to-do’s: make to-do lists and check items off as you go.
  • Harness creativity: capture ideas while they’re fresh, wherever you are.
  • Prepare for meetings: draft agendas and to-do’s for next time.
  • Manage expenses: organize receipts, bills, and invoices to keep expense reports in check.

Get Evernote for free.

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4 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

OneNote

Microsoft is racing to get its software on all the major mobile platforms, and OneNote is a good one on Android. It is a full-featured note taking app that can capture information in a variety of ways. These include text entry, taking photos, recording voice notes, and grabbing data off the web.

OneNote is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage, and with the other Office apps.

The app supports pen input which is particularly useful for owners of Galaxy Note tablets.

Key features as per the developer:

  • Take notes: write in a clean, distraction-free workspace.
  • Get organized: create notebooks and add tags to wrangle projects.
  • Access anywhere: keep your work in sync across devices.
  • Find anything fast: text in notes, photos, and PDFs is searchable.
  • Share ideas and resources: create a workspace for collaboration with shared notebooks.
  • Keep up with to-do’s: make to-do lists and check items off as you go.
  • Harness creativity: capture ideas while they’re fresh, wherever you are.
  • Prepare for meetings: draft agendas and to-do’s for next time.
  • Manage expenses: organize receipts, bills, and invoices to keep expense reports in check
  • Plan business travel: save reservations and tickets for simple trip planning.

Get OneNote for free.

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5 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Google Docs

Google's three office apps have evolved well over time, and they 're great for those not needing full Microsoft Office capability. Known collectively as Google Docs, the three apps are tightly integrated into the Google system, including Android.

The Google Docs suite consist of Docs, Sheets, and Slides, a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation app, respectively. Each can hold its own for many users, and all can edit basic Microsoft Office documents.

Key features as per Google:

Google Docs word processor

  • Create new documents or edit any that were created on the web or on another device.
  • Share documents and work together with others in the same document at the same time.
  • Open, edit, and save Microsoft Word documents.
  • Get stuff done anytime -- even without an internet connection.
  • Add and respond to comments.
  • Never worry about losing your work -- everything is automatically saved as you type.

Google Sheets spreadsheet app

  • Create new spreadsheets or edit any that were created on the web or on another device.
  • Share spreadsheets and work together with others in the same spreadsheet at the same time.
  • Open, edit, and save Microsoft Excel files.
  • Get stuff done anytime -- even without an internet connection.
  • Format cells, enter/sort data, view charts, insert formulas, use find/replace, and more.
  • Never worry about losing your work -- everything is automatically saved as you type.

Google Slides presentation app

  • Create new presentations or edit any that were created on the web or on another device.
  • Share presentations and work together with others in the same presentation at the same time.
  • Open, edit, and save Microsoft PowerPoint files.
  • Get stuff done anytime -- even without an internet connection.
  • Add and rearrange slides, format text and shapes, and more.
  • Present right from your device.
  • Never worry about losing your work -- everything is automatically saved as you type.

Find Google Docs for free in the Google Play store.

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Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud storage service that has been around for a long time as far as cloud systems go. It has a big, enthusiastic user base.

Using the service is simple and fast with the Android app which provides easy access to data stored in the cloud.

Key features as per the developer:

  • Always have your stuff with you, no matter where you are.
  • Save photos and videos to your Dropbox.
  • Share your photos and docs with family and friends.
  • Save email attachments straight to your Dropbox.
  • Easily edit docs in your Dropbox.

Get Dropbox for free.

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Any.do

Busy professionals have a lot on their plate, and a good to-do list is a way to stay on top of things. The last thing needed at work is to have something fall through the cracks, so it’s a good idea to have a task list to check.

This app is easy to use and flexible enough to tailor it to the task at hand. It can handle business, family, and other personal tasks while keeping them separate. The user’s focus is always centered around what needs to be handled.

Key features as per the developer:

  • Clean and smart design keeps you focused on your goals for the day
  • Collaborate with colleagues, friends, and spouses to get things done together
  • Update grocery lists, chores, and ‘Honey Do’ lists in real-time with your spouse and family
  • Attach video, audio, photo and Dropbox files to any task
  • Set recurring tasks for regularly scheduled todo’s
  • Access all of your lists at home, the office, or on the go. Your Any.do task manager stays perfectly synced on your mobile, web app, or Chrome
  • Intuitive drag and drop, swipe to complete, and shake to remove make Any.do a great planner for organizing tasks faster
  • Use voice entry to speak you tasks into a list, or type with our powerful auto-suggest feature
  • Any.do Moment, our widely praised daily planner, will make managing your life fun again

Get Any.do for free (premium subscription available)

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TripIt

Business travelers know all too well how hard it can be to keep track of all details of itineraries. There is tracking flights, hotel information, and finding the way in unfamiliar cities.

That’s where TripIt comes in; it tracks all details about trips and presents it in a logical format that puts everything you need to know on a concise display. The TripIt service is great, and even better with the app.

TripIt can extract flight and hotel information from emailed confirmations, eliminating the need to enter it by hand.

Key features as per the developer:

  • Forward hotel, airline, car rental, and restaurant confirmation emails to TripIt to create an instant itinerary (If you use Gmail or Google Apps, it happens automatically)
  • Access itineraries anytime, on any device (even offline)
  • Get directions, maps and weather for each destination
  • Sync trip plans with your Google Calendar or Outlook
  • Add or edit plans manually—from the app or ontripit.com
  • Share some (or all) of your trip plans via email or social

Get TripIt for free

While the free version of the TripIt service is useful for many, upgrading to TripIt Pro for $49 annually adds real-time flight alerts, seat tracker, flight finder, refund notifications, point tracker, and more.

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9 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Time Tracker

Professionals who bill clients for time worked must have a way of tracking time accurately. Time Tracker does that and much more.

Start the timer when you begin work on a project, and clock out when done. Time Tracker keeps the record and allocates it to the proper client and project.

The app can produce a report of time worked which can be used for invoicing clients.

Get Time Tracker for $2.99.

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10 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Outlook

While part of the Microsoft Office package, Outlook is a stand-alone email app that began life as Acompli. This app impressed us when we reviewed it, and Microsoft bought it shortly after.

The company wasted no time in rebranding Acompli as Outlook.

Outlook is one of the best email apps on any mobile platform. It combines the ability to handle multiple email accounts, especially Exchange, with the ability to intelligently determine which messages are of particular interest to the user. This focused approach keeps important email from getting lost in all the fluff.

In addition to good email handling, Outlook has an integrated calendar and a tab that collects all contacts the user has emailed recently. This puts the contacts that are regularly emailed all in one place.

Get Outlook at no cost.

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11 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)

Office is the standard suite in the business world, and the three apps that comprise Office have been tailored for touch operation on Android tablets. The suite consists of three separate apps — Word, Excel, and Powerpoint — which we lump together as most folks will want all three.

All three Office apps are free and very useful, while an Office 365 subscription enables advanced features. While designed to work well with OneDrive, Microsoft has integrated other major cloud storage services into the apps.

Note: Android tablets with Intel processors are not supported.

System requirements:

Android tablet with a screen size of 7 inches or larger

OS version: KitKat (4.4.X)

ARM based processor

1 GB RAM or above

See also:

Indispensable gadgets for road warriors

Nexus 9 with Keyboard Folio: Poor design, not ideal for work

10 good iPad apps for productivity

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