Today’s technology is a double-edged sword: while it allows us to do things that would have probably been considered witchcraft even 30 years ago, it also forces us to do more. Collaborating with partners, clients and co-workers spread all across the world, staying in touch with your potential customers on social networks, handling your crowded email inboxes are just a few examples.
With more stuff to do than it would be humanly possible in the average work day, it’s time to put the machines to work. Here are some amazing productivity apps entrepreneurs (and even employees) can use to declutter their 9 to 5.
Inbox by Gmail (Android, iOS)
The good old Gmail client is not to be ignored – especially since you can easily view and handle email accounts from other providers with it. However, Google’s new project called Inbox by Gmail is something entirely different. This app combines email with reminders and other productivity features quite brilliantly.
Inbox lets you see the most important information in your emails at a glance and groups similar messages together so you can deal with them easily and keep your inbox organized in a logical manner. It also lets you add reminders and offers reminder suggestions based on the contents of your emails as well. Through Google Keep integration reminders you create in Keep will also show up in the Inbox app.
Another thing Inbox does differently than classic email clients is it lets you deal with reminders and incoming messages when and where you are ready to do it through the snooze feature. Snooze is also a smart function as for some types of emails such as calendar invites, hotel and rental car reservations, flight confirmations, event reservations and a few more, the app offers context-based snoozing options.
What Inbox doesn’t have right now is support for other email services besides Gmail, but there is a little workaround you can do to get past that. Simply add your other email accounts in Gmail’s web version (in Settings -> Accounts and Import) and Inbox will pull everything from there.
Boxer (Android, iOS)
Price: $4.99 on iOS, free with IAPs on Android
Because every modern business relies on email I decided to provide one more alternative for your smart email app. Boxer comes with customizable gestures for all essential email actions plus it includes calendar and contacts integration.
The app is full of features meant to simplify handling emails while on the go, such as support for Gmail labels, smart folders, a to do list, the ability to create canned responses (short pre-formatted messages to send quick replies when you’re in a hurry) and a dashboard which bundles all important items in one place. Regarding security, the app lets you protect your email by setting a PIN or a passcode to encrypt all data.
The pricing model difference between Android and iOS is a bit weird though. While the iOS app is a straightforward $4.99, its Android counterpart is free and more features can be unlocked via IAPs. The most common upgrade is the $9.99 “Pro” option that offers support for unlimited accounts, custom signatures and custom quick replies. There is a way to get it for free if you’re willing to text 10 of your friends to let them know about Boxer.
As an entrepreneur you are bound to meet new people every week, from potential customers, to partners, suppliers and everyone in between. Remembering everyone’s name, circumstances in which you met, what they do and other details is almost impossible. Humin is an app that was designed to store all of that information for you, but it does more than that. Otherwise it would be easier to stick with the stock contacts app.
The app lets you easily insert contact information: just add an email or a phone number and Humin will “magically” fill the profile with a name and a photo. It also saves when and where you met people, and lets you use that information when you’re trying to find information about a certain person. For example, you can use queues such as “Lives in Chicago”, “Friends with Tara”, “Met three days ago” and so on.
Humin is basically a phone and contacts app streamlined for productivity. On that note, the app also cleans and organizes your contacts list automatically as it regularly checks and updates items with current information and merges duplicate entries.
IF by IFTTT (“if this then that”) is the go-to app for automation these days. And automation is like a breath of fresh air for any busy working person, entrepreneurs included. IF by IFTTT offers two-step automatic actions that can connect other apps you’re using, called ‘recipes’. You can learn how to create your own ‘recipes’ through a straightforward tutorial, but there are so many recipes submitted by other users you’ll find most common automation tasks readily available.
Here are few recipe examples that show how versatile IF by IFTTT can be for automating business tasks: “If I star an email in Gmail create a reminder to take care of it” (connects Gmail with iOS reminders), “Sync Dropbox to OneDrive”, “Save a favorite item from Pocket to Evernote”. Of course IF by IFTTT can be used to automate more than work related tasks.
Once you get used to it, and spend a bit of time exploring the available recipes you can use IF to automate actions such as downloading any tracks you like on SoundCloud to a DropBox folder or to receive notifications with the score of your favorite team. My colleague Dan Vlasic, thoroughly explained how IFTTT works in a previous article, I recommend you read it if this apps seems like it could be of use to you.
Let’s not forget about IFTTT’s newer apps Do Button, which lets you group up to three recipes to a single button and switch between them as needed, Do Camera, an app specialized to connect your camera with many social networks and apps, and Do Note for any and all note and to-do task related recipes. You can read more on how these three apps work here.
Price: Free with IAPs
For those moments when you’re unreachable or too busy to take a call, LISTEN was created. This ringback tone service can play music to your callers instead of the usual ringing sound, and it also lets you create custom status messages.
Moreover, status messages can change automatically based on your location, and you can even personalize music and status messages for individual callers. The app can also send text replies you create automatically. It’s a great way to share your status with those trying to contact you, and appear to be more available than you actually are.
LISTEN also added a handy Driving Mode in the latest update, which lets the app detect when you’re driving and automatically play back a message to your callers. The app is currently available only in the US and UK for select operators and can be used for $2.99 a month.
Price: Free with IAPs
Regardless if you’re using social media to promote your brand or simply to connect with partners, employees and clients, a social management platform like Hootsuite can be of great help. Hootsuite’s services are available on multiple platforms but having their app on your phone is a great way to stay in touch with your social media contacts while you’re on the go.
The app lets you manage and schedule multiple posts on your social media as well as track social media analytics. But honestly, these days there are plenty of other services offering similar features. Where Hootsuite really shines is at allowing you to stay in touch with your followers. Social media channels can be added as tabs in the Hootsuite dashboard, allowing you to see categories like mentions and favorites, but also reply from there. It’s perfect for customer service, finding potential partnerships and other lucrative opportunities for your business.
What’s your favorite productivity app from our roundup and how does it help you streamline your work day?
Share this article with your friends if you liked it and visit our Roundups section for more carefully handpicked apps, games and everything else mobile. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter,Pinterest, Flipboard and Google+ to receive our latest mobile how tos, and apps & games reviews for Android, iOS and Windows Phone !