From the Front Lines

How Did I Make It Through Life Without This App?

By • November 5, 2012

With more than 500,000 apps on iTunes and Android Market, and more than 100,000 apps on BlackBerry’s AppWorld available for your productivity, gaming, musical, and viewing pleasure, smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more like the Swiss army knives of the 21st century.

However, it’s easy to become lost in this menagerie of programs and tools, and waste money on apps you’ll use only a few times before deciding they’re not worth the time or effort to incorporate into daily life.

In the spirit of last month’s primer about low-cost and free apps to make your work life easier, we’ve compiled another list of apps that can make your work and personal life more productive. Some of these serve a specific purpose. Others are all-purpose. All are fun to use, and more importantly, all are endorsed by our family and friends as simple but powerful tools useful for everyday (or a few times per year, at least) life.

    • Smartphones offer a multitude of apps to make the mundane tasks and organization of work and personal life easier.
    • Choose to use apps only if they save you time in the long run and if you are able to easily weave them into your routines.

DISCLOSURE: Neither the contributors, nor Association Adviser, nor Naylor LLC has a financial interest or partnership interest in any of the companies or products mentioned below.

Snagit (for Macs/PCs): For those who often use their desktop’s print screen capture function, this app is for you. Snagit goes beyond the basic mobile phone screen capture by allowing you to edit captured images, copy and paste captured text, and use screen captures in videos. The app comes with a searchable image library where you can easily organize your images, texts and videos.

Teleprompt+: This app turns your mobile device into a bona fide teleprompter like the ones your local news anchors use. Upload your text into the app and it turns your words into a running script. Read the script to a live audience or prop your mobile device up while reading into its camera. Teleprompter offers 100 speed increments to suit your speaking style and a video library built from your recorded clips. At $14.99, this app pushes our definition of “low-cost,” but if you produce videos on your own or with a very small staff, we think it could be worth the price.

Google Now (Android only): This program is more like a personal assistant than a cut-and-dried app. If you’re an Android user, access Google Now by swiping up toward the Google icon from your lock screen or home key. You’ll be asked to set up cards that correspond to reminders or bits of information that you’re likely to use throughout your day, such as weather information, public transit schedules or sports updates. Google will also track your searches on your mobile device and suggest new cards to present during your day. Cards appear on your screen any time data you have requested in the past changes. So, you can easily follow the baseball game score or receive traffic updates while you attend to other matters. For a more detailed explanation about how to use this program, read this excellent post.

Flashlight: This app is exactly what it is called: A flashlight via your mobile device’s camera flash. Use it when the power goes out, when you’re arriving home late at night and fumbling to fit your keys in the lock, or when you’re in a dimly lit general session trying to read the speaker’s bio. Many flashlight apps offer steady light as well as intermittent flash settings, so if you find yourself jogging at dusk like me, you can stay safe on the road.

Bump: Trade contact information with others by exchanging a fist pump while holding your phones. Yes, it’s that easy! Bump allows you to nudge your contact info to a colleague, friend or new customer while receiving theirs. Bump automatically enters new info into your phone’s standard contacts app, and you control how much info is available for exchange. You can also bump photos to other phones or your desktop computer.

The Weather Channel: It is said if Jim Cantore (a Weather Channel news anchor known for reporting about hurricanes) shows up on your beach, run for the hills. But if he shows up on your phone via this app, you know you can be prepared for whatever weather is happening outside. This app, available for all mobile device platforms, features full-screen interactive radar maps, location-finding services, hourly and 10-day forecasts, and push notifications to alert you to severe weather conditions. Personalize it with your favorite locations and custom backgrounds. A photo-sharing application within the app lets you take and share photos of weather and other natural phenomenon. Best of all, it’s free!

Airline apps: Most major airlines now offer apps that let you search for and book flights, check in, and in some cases download your boarding pass. The convenience of the latter cannot be beat, especially if you don’t have access to a printer or are running late for a flight. Boarding passes show up on your screen as a bar or QR code that you scan at the gate the same way you would a paper pass. Some apps allow you to change your flights and check flight schedules, letting you get a jump on rearranging your travel plans if you know you’re about to miss a connection. Visit your carrier’s website to see if they offer an app and to download.

These apps can increase your productivity while making the daily work of life a little more fun, but they can also be a time drain. Choose to use apps like these only if they save you time in the long run and if you are able to easily weave them into your routines.

Now it’s your turn: Do you use any apps that make your life easier? Are there programs on your mobile device that make you think, “How did I survive without this?” Send us their names and a brief description of how you use them, and chances are, we’ll feature them in a future issue of Association Adviser!

Kelly Donovan is an online marketing specialist with Naylor, LLC.