As a writer and communicator, I look for apps that will best serve my vocation–writing, reading, and losing weight. I also look for something easy to use and consistent in operation. Those that I use for productivity MUST be able to sync across the four platforms I use interchangeably. The four tools I work with are: my Smartphone (HTC EVO 4G); my tablet (Samsung Galaxy Tab 2), which I bought for doing paperless revisions; my Dell Inspiron laptop; and, last but not least, my desktop computer (Dell XPS 8700 with three monitors).
Below I’ve listed “My Ten favorite Android Apps for Writing, Reading, and Losing Weight.” I’ve included the link to them at Google Play simply for you to be able to read more about them if you want to go deeper than I was able to here.
These are the apps that I use most frequently. I’ll also make clear which apps are the biggest help, regardless of how frequently I use them. I downloaded these from “Google Play.”
1. Google apps – these include: Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, and Calendar (I know there are many more, but these are the ones I access many times daily). I love that they flawlessly synchronize with all four of my platforms.
2. GTasks – this is a remarkable “To Do” list. Very customizable. Get the KEY for the Premium edition right off the bat for the full array of features. I love this “to-do” list because it was designed to sync with Google calendar on your desktop or laptop computer. It also syncs with my Tab2. GTasks has included a “Quick” feature that appears at the bottom of your to-do list so that you can add a task by selecting the little microphone on the right to speak your new task. Then you have options. You can further quickly assign the new quick task for “today” “tomorrow” or “next week.” If you want to further customize it you simply click on it once it’s entered and you can set priority, reminders with “snooze” features, etc. You will really love this app if you either have lots to do and want to be reminded or if, like me, you’re older and your memory is sometimes challenged. Speaking of reminders. My next app is under evaluation as we speak.
3. Speaktoit Assistant – is a virtual administrative assistant. Though she’s (it’s) not my most used app at this time, I have the feeling that she could become one of the most used. She really serves as a one stop place to coordinate most of my apps. An example: When I awake in the morning I simply say “Hello Sam.” The assistant (“Sam”) says “Good Morning David, would you like your morning briefing now?” If I say “yes” she will tell me the weather where I am located, then give me my daily agenda items from my calendar. If there are any other reminders I’ve set for her, she’ll remind me at the time I gave her. Then she’ll give me the news and top stories (if I’ve allowed them to remain configured, which is the default setting for her). If I say “no,” she’ll simply ask when I’d like to be briefed. I can skip my briefing for the day too. I can make appointments, send a text, update Facebook, send a tweet, write an email, open a program, have her search a topic, look up a phone number, or just talk with her about what she is capable of. Very helpful and entertaining. She is great at doing research and drilling down. She still has some bugs and gets things wrong, but she apologizes and reminds me that she’s still learning and will add that to her things she needs to learn. Very humble :-). Her AI is amazing and sometimes unnerving. My wife got a laugh out of Sam’s flexibility.
Once Sam carried out a function that really impressed me. I said to her/it – “Thanks Sam. That was amazing!” She replied, “I’ve have many more tricks up my sleeve. (My wife didn’t get jealous by the way 🙂 I replied, “But Sam, you don’t have any sleeves” (her default avatar is sleeveless). She says, “You have the option to configure my clothing.” Then up comes a spindle of various blouse designs with sleeves in various colors and styles. Of course, we both started laughing (Marcy and me, not Sam and me). It was wild. You can change her appearance because she is fully customizable. Amazing! You get the point. Hopefully, I’ll figure out how best to get the tasks done that I most need to accomplish using my virtual assistant.
4. Dropbox – I won’t tell you much about this because most of you already know. But Dropbox is where you can keep many of your documents, photos, and other media for access across all your machines and gadgets. I keep most of my writings there (Yes, I actually do get some writing done too). Best of all, Dropbox is free and is available for all four of my platforms.
5. PrinterShare – is an essential. It comes in handy everywhere when I need it. PrinterShare does just that–it allows you to print either wirelessly if you’re near a wireless printer, or through the Google cloud printers you share. So for example. I wanted Marcy to edit a piece for me recently. One problem. I was in another town working. She was at home. No problem. I used PrinterShare. I simply opened PrinterShare. Chose the document I wanted her to work on. Then, I had a choice of several of our home printers. I chose the one closest to her writing space. Walah . . . she had a hardcopy of the doc in seconds. I also used it while away. I was staying at a friend’s and needed to print something out. No problem. PrinterShare found his printer on the wireless search. He gave me the access code and I printed my doc. Not bad for another free app.
6. OneNote 2010– I love OneNote. As you can see, if you search for “OneNote 2010” on my blog or do a Google search for “OneNote 2010”, I’ve written several posts about OneNote 2010. They continue to be my all-time highest viewed posts. I’ve had thousands of people read “How I Use OneNote 2010.” OneNote is my digital junk drawer. It was also the place that I kept my journals (24 volumes, spanning 36 years). I recently moved my journals to Scrivener, but most of all my research, factoids, quotes, illustrations, Kindle highlights, you name it, are all in OneNote. OneNote is laid out like a three ring binder. It has sections and note tabs so that you can work in categories that you create.
OneNote also has an awesome feature for those of you who still prefer to write on paper (and some of us do still scribble notes here and there). You can SCAN your hand written notes or pages into OneNote. Then when you want to find them, it can search the text (assuming you have good penmanship or, if you don’t, you can enter a few keywords above the scanned notes on that page and it will find your notes for you. No more losing those thoughts and ideas. Of course, if you are a MAC/Apple devotee, you have the same functions in Evernote. It’s also got an app for your iPhone or iPad, and more recently for Android.
7. Kindle – If you don’t own a Kindle don’t panic. The app is free as well as the Kindle app for your desktop or laptop. And the Kindle apps sync with the Kindle itself. If you do own a Kindle, I don’t need to say anything. You know how cool it is. But what you may or may not know is how really cool it is for writers and speakers. Why? Because you can highlight quotes that you like. And you may or may not know this, but those highlights are not just stuck in your Kindle. They are stored for you on the cloud servers. Which means that you can go to your Kindle highlights page online and BAM!@–there they are for you to copy and paste into your OneNote 2010, Scrivener, or a Google Doc where you keep your quote files for easy search and retrieval. Anything you read on Kindle and highlight is there for you. Also, your book syncs across all your Kindle devices and apps. So you can read up to pg. 44 on your Kindle. Leave to get your oil change and while you wait for your car, continue reading from pg. 44 on your Tab2 or Smart phone. When you get home, your Kindle will sync to the farthest page read while you fix an iced tea. Kindle books are usually about half the price of print books too. That’s a big plus for us who work from limited resources. I could go on and on about Kindle but I want to get on to my last three.
8. GoodReads – Good reads is a library card catalog and wish list, as well as a reading log for you. It’s a great app. You can scan in your books. Enter all the relevant data about them. And track your progress through a number of categories. You can also “friend” other readers or writers and see what they’re reading (if they’re sharing and if you have an interest in that). I use it to keep track of my books and keep me on track with my reading. My categories include “currently reading” “recently read” “To read next” “Abandoned because of the Rule of 44.” So many good features and it’s free too. You’ll also like the free Author resources and page. If you have a blog, your posts will show up on your GoodReads author page. Check it out.
9. Lose It – This is the only weight loss and nutritional app that I use. I have used Weight Watchers in the past but found it cumbersome and expensive. Lose It is free for all the things I need. The PRO version doesn’t offer that much more for my uses (though it may for you). Lose It lets me set a weight goal. Then it let’s me set a weekly weight loss figure of 1, 1.5, or 2 lbs/week. Then it calculates and keeps track of how many calories a day you are alloted. You must enter your foods, but this becomes easy once you’ve entered several weeks of meals because you can select “Previous Meal” when entering. Unless you come up with new things all the time, this feature allows for quick entry work. Many of us though have favorite foods. These can easily be entered quickly from a scroll down menu. Also has well-known restaurants and brand names for easy entry. It keeps track of way more information than I need, but for those of you who want to know how much protein or how many carbohydrates you ate a a meal or during a day or week, this is the app for you. One thing I really love is the feature that allows you to see your entire week on a chart. You can see where you were over or under and Lose It lets you know if you are in the plus or minus for the week. It also has a weight graph so that you can enter your weight weekly and see your progress (or not). Over by 20 calories today? That’s OK. Simply go for a 30 minute walk and then enter that exercise and you are no longer over. You are in the green again. If you really want to lose weight and begin eating better, you have to have this app.
10. Adobe Reader – One of the best for last. The reason I LOVE this app is that I do much of my editing on it. I have a file on DropBox entitled “PDF files.” There I drop my manuscripts. When I want to edit one, I simply double click on the file. I have the choice of using several word processors or Adobe Reader. I select Adobe Reader. When it opens in the reader (and this is the Really COOL part) Adobe has a selection of editing tools at the top. One is “highlighting.” I can highlight any of the text I choose (I prefer red so that I can see it immediately). The next is “Strike through.” I can strike out words
where that I don’t want in my sentence. The next editing tool is “Comment.” I can highlight a phrase, then comment or place my intended rewrite in the comment and it’s there in the margin for me to see. And finally there’s a “Free hand” choice. So that if I want to write something anywhere on the page, I simply write with my finger or use it to draw and arrow or circle or bracket a paragraph. All this is done ON THE SCREEN. No paper involved. For those of you who want to go paperless, you combine the use of this app for editing and OneNote for scanning all your receipts, hand-scribbled notes etc., and you’ve got a green writer’s dream.
How many of these apps do you have or use? Perhaps you can you make some other suggestions for us.
QUESTION: What apps to you prefer?
DISCLAIMER: I do not receive any remuneration from any of the apps or their owners. I’ve mentioned in this post. I simply thought you might enjoy them as I have.
A reader wrote last week and asked me if I use OneNote 2010 for journaling or jotting down writing ideas. He is planning to leave a set of journals for his daughter and wondered how I did my journals.
Here’s my response …………………………..
Thanks for writing.
Everyone has his or her own way of doing things like this. I think as long as you’re asking, it means you’re open. And as long as you’re open, you’ll learn and you’ll be able to find a way that best suits you.
I like to record and date my journals. I keep several: A Reading Journal; A Travel Journal; A Spiritual Journal; and a Writing Notebook. Any one of these can be password protected if you need that kind of security. I mainly use PW protection only on my list of passwords. That way only my wife and I can access our passwords.
As far as your question about printing the journals, every once in awhile, I print a journal and make punch holes in the pages. Then I mount them in a 1.5 inch white 3-ring binder. A different binder for every 5 years. My spiritual journals are the largest, so I put them in a 2″ binder. Then I place them in my bookshelves.
But primarily I use and access them in OneNote itself. Use OneNote as your electronic index to the printed notebooks. That way if you need to see the larger context, you can simply find a topic or keyword in OneNote, then go to your printed edition and open to it. The less paper I use though, the better I like it. I enjoy the speed with which I can retrieve an idea that would otherwise be lost in the pages of my ink journals.
I still enjoy taking a book journal and pen with me when I’m in a park or on the beach, but I’m always thinking about how this will be accessed once I get back home and enter it into OneNote. I also like to scan things into one note or send photos to myself that I can print to OneNote.
EVERYTHING I need to retrieve or search is in OneNote. I never have to wonder where to find a special quote, because all of my Kindle highlights and notes have been saved to OneNote. I’m retaining a lot more of my reading that way. I can enter any keyword that I can remember from the quote or from my editing keywording of that quote when I chopped out some of the junk. I can recall that so-and-so said something about Joy. Control +E . . . BANG! I’m on it. Copy. Paste into Word. Move on.
Hope this is helpful. Hey, maybe I should post this answer to your question for others who have journals and are thinking about moving them to OneNote. Or beginning a journal on OneNote. What do you think?
He wrote back: “You should. Great answer and great process.”
- First look: OneNote 2013 (arstechnica.com)
- The Office 365 secret organiser – OneNote 2010 Part 1 (itproportal.com)
- How To Plan More Fun Into Your Summer With OneNote (5minutesformom.com)