Freelancing

16+ mobile apps that allow me to work from my phone

Robin Bower posted about how she wanted to start using her mobile more for work and WordPress posting. I asked if she would like a rundown of how I used my mobile for my work and she agreed.

Caveat: Please ensure you are, whenever possible, connected to a WiFi network when using these apps. You don’t want your data charges to spiral out of control unnecessarily.

About my phone

I have an HTC One XL running the Android OS. It’s not rooted or jailbroken. I connect mostly via the WiFi connection at my home or elsewhere. I try to charge the phone while I am out and about so I always have the charger with me.

The ideas behind the choices and the workflow

1. Automate everything possible, where possible.
2. Information should come to me, easily, quickly with minimal effort.
3. Responses to comments, certain emails, certain requests for information and certain problems should be as quick as possible so that they are done and out of my hair before I forget them.
4. I should be able to backup my work effectively and effortlessly.
5. Minimal effort and time, maximum offline fun and adventures and efficient tracking.
6. No drain on phone space or battery first; then bandwidth considerations.
7. Everything should sync to the cloud so that phone updating, loss or changing is smooth and work can continue on any medium, anywhere with a connection.
8. Apps chosen are the ones that work best for my purposes not necessarily the latest ones or the most popular choices.
9. All apps chosen and listed below are free.

The apps

1. Assistant (Speaktoit Assistant)

What I use it for: my 5 am daily briefing including emails (pulled from Gmail), tasks (pulled from Google Tasks), agenda (pulled from the Calendar), weather, birthdays (pulled from Facebook) and news, finding locations and things online, adding appointments to the calendar, opening up music, posting and notification of social media.

2. Google Calendar

What I use it for: I have the desktop version of Google Calendar and it syncs to my mobile phone. Wherever I make the changes, I know what my agenda is. It also notifies me of what I should be doing and when. I have my sister’s agenda shown on here as well as the AWW 2014 editorial calendar. I know what is due each day.

3. Gmail

What I use it for: I know whenever a new email has come into the inbox because I get notified. I can also access my Gmail labels/folders. I can send email replies immediately instead of flagging something for later. All information is also pulled into Any.do and Assistant easily.

4. Notes

What I use it for: I don’t use Evernote. This is the standard Notes app that comes with the phone. I can draw notes and dictate/record them as well and then organise them into folders. I jot down lists and ideas for blog posts or stories and if I can’t get to my notebook I write out scenes as well.

5. WordPress

What I use it for: I have several blogs on WordPress.com and self hosted WordPress servers that I have to manage or have access to and these include the Society of Editors WA one, the IPEd Conference one, this very blog, Guys Read Gals and Australian Women Writers. With the app I can swap between any of them and check stats, respond to comments and write post drafts. I don’t usually complete posts on the app and publish them because I usually want to add more media that I may have on the computer to them. It syncs with the blogs online.

6. Any.do

What I use it for: This is my main tasks app. I can add tasks, set dates, categorise them into folders. It connects to my contacts so if I say “Email Xavier” it will pull up Xavier’s details from my contact list and add them to the task. Then when it reminds me of the task, I can click on it and it opens up the email straightaway with all the details in it. It also allows me to set everything for a particular day and then on that day decide when I am going to tackle each task through its Plan Your Day feature. It also syncs with Google Tasks which makes it easy for me as my Assistant app can just connect to Google Tasks rather than trying to connect to Any.do.

7. IFTTT

What I use it for: I use If This Then That and set up everything online but the phone app allows me to change the recipes if I need to. IFTTT is the way that I ensure that my social media can work so that things get posted automatically and forms connections between other programs I use so that all particular attachments in a folder in my Gmail account will be saved to Dropbox in a similar folder as a backup for example.

8. Camera

What I use it for: I use it shoot and to film. And there are additional apps like Camera ICS and RecForge Lite to help me put things together and edit and extend what I can do when I shoot or film something. It is surprisingly helpful even though I have a DSLR and a Flipcam. I have shot events for social media work using the Camera apps. I shoot videos with it for Vine whenever I get a stack of books to review.

9. Recorder

What I use it for: I use this to record whoever I might be interviewing at the time for my journalism work. The recording then gets saved on the phone and in my Dropbox folder.

10. Dropbox

What I use it for: Accessing documents shared with me for voluntary work, backing up and storing all my documents for my work including pictures and recordings, receiving large files from clients.

11. PDFs & Docs

What I use it for: Not an app but the area on my phone where I store certain documents I need more often such as the PDF version of my CV to email to someone or my editorial policy.

12. ANZ Money

What I use it for: I do all my major banking on my phone. I can pay bills and rent with it and check my balance and set up future payments and transfers. Your bank probably has an app as well so check with your bank on their website.

13. Card Captor/Card Cam

What I use it for: To scan the info on business cards I get from people I meet so they become added to my contact list immediately. Saves me typing it in.

14. Australian Job Search

What I use it for: This app connects to six different job search sites so I can scan through and see what jobs and work is available and flag them. I then get online and go take a look at them on the laptop.

15. Pomodoro/Write-o-meter

What I use it for: Both of these set a time limit and track how many words you write within that time period. I use these to keep track of the word count and the rate. Pomodoro pops up randomly each day to remind me to write. I prefer to set the timer on my phone’s clock for an hour and start writing though so I may eventually get rid of both of these.

16. Social media apps: G+, LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook Pages Manager, Twitter

What I use these for: I post most of my major social media posts through Hootsuite/Tweetdeck on the laptop and a lot of that is scheduled. But you can’t just schedule social media – it’s a live conversation. So the majority of my interaction is on the phone where I respond via these apps. Occasionally I will also post to Facebook and Twitter with the apps such as when I have taken a photo or I am at an event. I use the Facebook Pages Manager to keep track of what’s happening on the Pages, to reply to comments and to check if everything I am automating is actually working properly.

Where to find the apps

You can find iPhone apps through the iTunes store and Android apps at the Google Play Store. All of these apps have their iPhone counterparts (Assistant is the iPhone’s Siri) or iPhone versions.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

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