Tech notes: Free productivity apps focus on list-making, calendar


Kelly Langin


Many students have their computers synced up to their smart phones and even smart watches to help keep track of notifications However, social media pillars like Facebook and Twitter can muddy the notifications streamWith all this noise, it’s hard to stay organized with social media, group messaging and personal reminders all bombarding devices at the same time.
Luckily, app developers over the years have designed programs to keep productivity separate from social media use and make it the forefront of the time you spend on your phone. Actually use the “smart” in smart phone and download one or more of these apps to help boost your productivity this spring semester.
Android, iOS
This app mashes task management with geolocation. Make a to-do list and note where it can be done, and the app will send reminders when you are near that location. It’s like having your mom next to you at all times whispering, “Don’t forget your haircut when you’re downtown, sweetie!” also reminds you daily to check your to-do list so the tasks are always fresh in your brain.

Dragon Dictation
Android, iOS
Whether you’re driving or trying to get down your thoughts without being slowed down by typing it out on your phone, Dragon Dictation is a fairly fast and accurate transcribing app. It seems a little unnecessary to have to take all the finger movements out of tweeting or posting on Facebook, but it could be useful for suddenly remembering to draft an email or reminder and your hands are unavailable. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t store the notes for you, so you have to take the time to store the notes in a new email or text message yourself.

Android, iOS
One of the most popular note-taking platforms, Evernote allows users to take and upload notes, pictures, audio and video into one productivity app. Separate notebooks can be made for different subjects. The free account allows just 60 MB of data monthly, but it can be used as an easy and quick upload program to stay organized until you have time to separate the notes into your computer or other apps.

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

Google Search
Android, iOS
As Google’s answer to Siri, this app is a talk-friendly command program that uses the power of the biggest search engine in the world with your voice. Ask it to remind you of tasks or even track a package. It also works as a way to browse weather, events and more.

Google Drive
Android, iOS
Google launched Docs, Sheets, etc. on its interface many years ago as a seamless collaborating and cloud storage for documents, especially for college students. Students can download the app to check updates to documents on-the-go and edit while they are away from a computer. It’s a vital app to sync computer work with mobile smart phone, especially for those who rely solely on Google Drive for creating and sharing documents.

Android, iOS
Take it from the Gateway staff: GroupMe is a great app for group messaging. The app works a lot like Facebook Messenger, but users don’t need to have a Facebook to use it. A special component is the ability to directly tag someone in a message to make sure they see it. Stickers, gifs, “liking” messages and photo-sharing are fun features of the app. Users can get notifications for all messages, mute the conversation completely, or get notifications only when tagged in a message. GroupMe is a vital app for study groups and student organizations.

Android, iOS
Quip mixes the best of GroupMe and Google Drive into one mobile office app. Besides being a file-sharing and collaborative editing app, Quip also uses instant messaging as an easy way to quickly get in touch with the group. This program is good for group projects when multiple people have to work on a paper or presentation.

This app connects to the calendars already synced up on your phone and puts them into one app. Users then add their to-do lists, and Timeful finds time based on your calendar that may be optimal for completing your tasks. The app becomes smarter with use because it remembers when you accept or reject its suggestions for when to complete tasks. Users can also set nonscheduled “habits,” like studying or running a certain number of times a week, with a visual tracker of how many times a week that habit was completed.

Android, iOS
For those who still write every password on sticky notes or in an easy-to-find document on their computer, 1Password keeps every password for every website and social media account in one secure, user-friendly app. Although it sounds sketchy, users can also elect to input credit card information and their address to fill out online orders quickly.