Continuing with the theme of technology and productivity, it’s time to talk about apps that might be worth paying for. Remember the most important aspect to any technology is what your personal needs are – how do you use or want to use your tools. Using our technology tools, we all vary in what we need and how we use them.
The chances are that there are some free apps that could help you avoid spending money. Yet even then there are times when it makes more sense to purchase something that will meet your needs. As I’ve said more than once, I tend to be frugal and especially dislike spending money on something that may or may not meet my needs. I have more than 100 apps, yet have spent money on only a few. Apps tend to be significantly less expensive than your traditional computer programs, and I appreciate that.
So, moving on, these are the apps I purchased and why.
1. Todo ($4.99)
This is exactly what it sounds like – a to-do program. In many ways it functions like many of the other to-do programs available. It allows you to create projects and checklists as well as a simple to-do item. You can create multiple categories – like home, work, personal, etc. as well as repeating tasks, start date, priority, alarms, etc. It also offers you the option of setting tags and contexts – so you can sort by these and see all your tasks that fall under one of these – like all your phone calls or those tasks that require your spouse’s help. One of the reasons I like it is that my past do items (yes, I do have past due to-do tasks!) are listed yet aren’t quite as annoying as with some other apps. This program is my brain dump for all tasks, it’s where I collect all those tasks that I need to remember and accomplish.
2. Pages ($9.99)
It’s a word processing app, the equivalent of Word for Mac, and it does allow you to save your files as a Word file (DOC) as well as a PDF. This is certainly an app that is useful only if you want and have a need for doing a fair amount of typing on your iPad. Not everyone adjusts to the keyboard or even needs to do much typing; I have written more than one blog on my iPad using this app. The iPad version is friendlier than the computer version of Pages. It is very straight forward and easy to use – not much of a learning curve.
3. Notability ($1.99 “on sale 60% now”)
A month ago I said I’d only purchased 5 apps, this one was my 6th purchase as I was looking for another program that would allow easier note taking at the NAPO conference. It offers you the option of audio recording while you take notes, linking the place in the audio to your place in the notes. You can use the keyboard or writing (finger or stylus) as well as import PDF files to take notes on. You can export all of these out of the app if you want them elsewhere later. Since I’ve only just begun using the app, I can only comment on my usage so far, and I really like it and it’s versatility.
4. iAnnotate ($9.99)
This is an app for taking notes and annotating PDF files (though they’re now offering Word and PowerPoint annotation with a free account). It offers a number of options for how to mark-up the PDF’s and how to export them. I’ve found it a little cumbersome for note taking during conference sessions, though some of that depends on the format of what I’m annotating. When there’s not such a time constraint as being in a session, I prefer this app for annotating for it’s cleanliness and versatility in how I save and export it. Recently I had a PDF I needed to scan and get back to someone, I opened it in iAnnotate, signed and dated it, and emailed it back to her – all within the app. It was wonderful and saved the hassle (and needless paper) of printing it, signing in, scanning it, and attaching and emailing it back to them.
5. Numbers ($9.99)
I use this one the least and primarily for a few business needs – it’s a spreadsheet app. Like Pages above, it’s the Mac equivalent for Excel, and allows you to open and send files as XLS (Excel) files. It has many features to offer the user the versatility to do what they need with their spreadsheet. This is a good example of an app that some will need, while it would be unnecessary for many people.
Last month I said that I’d share the 5 apps I paid for and that 4 of them are indispensable to me. You might notice that there’s only 5 apps listed and one of them is quite new for me. The ones I’ve found to be indispensable are ToDo, Pages, and iAnnotate. There’s an app that I thought I’d paid for, and yet as I look at it now, it’s free!
That’s Penultimate. This is a great handwriting app. You can create multiple notebooks and sync them with Evernote – an apparently new feature that I’ve not used. This year I created a notebook for phone calls – a place to take notes on both the messages I collect from voicemail and while talking to someone. They’re all in one place and there’s a way to view all the pages within a notebook, so when I need to find my notes on a specific phone call it’s easy to do. It’s also the place I can quickly write something down, even with my finger (though it’s messier than with the stylus) and when I want to “throw” away the note, there’s an option to clear or delete the page. You can also send a whole notebook or even just a page within a notebook with email.
One of the things I’m realizing is how this tool – the iPad with associated apps – are moving me naturally toward being more paperless. This didn’t happen overnight – it’s actually taken me years of using it and adapting to using the technology. Yet, with my growing comfort and considering things in different lights I’m realizing how to utilize the various features more fully.
Some people believe tablets will replace computers before long, there’s nothing I can think of that you can’t do on a tablet. I still find my computer to be quite useful and in some ways easier to use – though we all know how fast technology changes. Now I’m going to feel like a broken record – find and use the tools that will assist you in making your life easier. 🙂