Android devices are fun to play with, but they're also a portable window into everything you're doing, thinking about and trying to accomplish. Here are the best apps for taking notes, saving time, staying informed and working smarter.
Original Photo by Matalyn
Task Management: Remember the Milk
The great strength of Remember the Milk's to-do system is that it's everywhere — on the web, in your email or SMS inbox, you name it. That's why it makes such a good fit on Android. It offers smart notifications, syncs itself quietly in the background and offers handy widgets that can show any particular list or search you've got saved. The app itself is free, but beyond the 15-day free trial, you'll need to shell out for a more spendy $US25/year (roughly $US2/month) subscription to Remember the Milk's service. [Homepage][AppBrain]
Not everybody wants to pay for their to-do list manager though, and some people like their lists synced elsewhere or made much more simpler. As alternative picks, we'd also suggest looking at gTasks, which syncs with Google's Tasks system built into Gmail and Google Calendar; Taskos, which offers both a great home screen widget and powerful voice input options; and the really simple Astrid manager, which can sync with a (free) Remember the Milk account.
Chrome to Phone (and FoxToPhone)
If you're a Google completist or just like the way Chrome runs as your desktop browser, you can save yourself a good bit of time by sending web pages, text, Maps locations and clipboard contents directly from your browser to your Android phone. Install the Android app, then grab the Chrome extension. Sign in and authenticate them both, and you've got a nice channel of data going from where it's easier to type to where it's easier to carry around. Firefox user? You're also covered with a similar add-on. [Homepage][AppBrain]
It's not quite as necessary, but we also like Android2Cloud for sending links and copied text from your Android phone, where you might be away from home, back to your Chrome browser at home whether or not it's open and running.
Simplenote is a web service that provides a universal bucket accessible from any browser and many mobile devices to write in plain text and have your text constantly auto-saved and synced between devices. On Android phones, mNote is one of a few clients available, and it's free and functional. You likely wouldn't do the majority of your writing from your phone, but it's perfect for updating a list, reading back through your ideas and otherwise enabling the perfect universal capture system. [Homepage][AppBrain]
Of course, Evernote for Android is the official client for an established universal capture system — one that offers image, audio and web page clipping in addition to text. The Android client has been improved since its launch and it's great for die-hard Evernote fans, but it feels a bit slower than mNote at times. Other than a few looks/performance niggles though, it gets the job done.
The basic function of Dropbox, to keep a minimum of 2GB synced between all your computers and devices, is itself a crucial tool for an Android user. The way Dropbox integrates into your Android goes above and beyond, though. You can directly shoot a picture, video or audio recording from your phone into your Dropbox, and the Dropbox files and folders you download are available right off your SD card. It also makes installing non-Market apps very easy. It's a must-have if you've got a Dropbox account on your computer. [Homepage][AppBrain]
When you're at work or working on something in-depth, you don't need your phone as a smaller side-screen distraction. Android Notifier sends whatever you pick out — SMS, incoming calls, voicemail, battery issues and a few more — from your phone to your computer, using the Growl Mac notification system and its counterparts on Windows and Linux (with the setups explained at the homepage. That way you only pick up your phone when you really need to and let the other stuff just pass by in the corner until you can get to it. [Homepage][AppBrain]
This is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Android productivity, but the above apps are at the very top of our list when we want to get things done on the go. Got an app you count on when you're ready to turn on your productivity? Let's hear it in the comments.