Best new productivity apps for iOS, Android, Mac, Windows


Whereas the coronavirus pandemic is easing, distant work isn’t going wherever.

Which means it’s nonetheless vital to seek out your personal methods of staying on job and protecting organized, even in case you’re not heading again to the workplace full time (or in any respect). Nice apps like those right here could make work really feel extra tolerable, and all of them are both new or had main updates over the past yr. Test them out in case you need assistance getting out of a productivity rut.

Clear the litter

A less-messy Gmail: As a solution to all of the cruft that Google’s e mail service has constructed up over the previous 17 years, Simplify Gmail is a revelation. The net browser extension facilities your inbox so it’s simpler to learn, hides Google’s pointless app buttons, and tones down distracting colours. It additionally blocks e mail trackers, allows you to separate emails by date, and gives a phenomenal, full-screen composition window. Its $24-per-year subscription payment (after a free trial) is a small worth to pay for a extra peaceable inbox. [web]


Simplify Gmail is Gmail—solely easier.

A less-busy menu bar: For Mac diehards, Bartender has lengthy been a preferred solution to conceal unneeded menu bar icons from the highest of the display screen. Model 4 is a serious replace, including new methods to floor gadgets simply while you want them, together with by hovering over clean menu bar area and by creating your personal keyboard shortcuts. [MacOS]

Bartender retains your Mac’s Menu Bar litter to a minimal.

Extra room for tabs: Microsoft Edge retains discovering progressive methods to make internet shopping extra productive, and vertical tabs are its greatest new characteristic but. By stacking tabs alongside the left sidebar, you possibly can match heaps extra of them on the display screen with out shedding sight of web page titles, and you’ll simply conceal the sidebar when extra horizontal area is critical. Persist with vertical tabs for a few weeks, and you could by no means need to return. [Windows and MacOS]

Too many browser tabs? Making them vertical in Microsoft Edge can assist.

A novel e-newsletter resolution: The growth in e mail newsletters has led to loads of apps for managing all of them, however none of these options work fairly like Meco. As an alternative of constructing you enroll for newsletters with a devoted e mail deal with, Meco locates the newsletters you’re already getting in Gmail, then allows you to switch them to its personal reader app. The result’s a cleaner inbox and easier signups for the newsletters you need to learn. [iOS]

Flip articles into podcasts: Like Pocket in podcast type, Audiblogs takes any article on the internet and reads it aloud. The net model works properly sufficient, however in case you head to Audiblogs’ settings, you’ll get a singular feed URL to load into your podcast app of alternative. That approach, you possibly can cease hoarding articles in your browser tabs and simply take heed to them later. [web, Chrome]

Keep on monitor

Noise to work by: Once you want some ambient noise to drown out no matter’s occurring round you—whether or not it’s at house or within the workplace—Noizer will get the job completed. The free internet app gives 20 sounds to combine and match, together with rain, wind, ocean waves, and good previous white noise. It’s not probably the most elaborate ambient noise app, but it surely’s easy and free. [web]

If a little bit ambient sound helps you retain productive, activate Noizer.

Beats to sit back with: For ambient audio with a little bit extra soul, try Lofi Cafe as an alternative. It gives greater than a dozen radio stations filled with mellow, downtempo beats, set alongside to nostalgic, looping visuals. Use it to maintain stress ranges at a minimal. [web]

Lofi Cafe is streaming audio in an engagingly old-school bundle.

A useful faucet on the wrist: Not like your typical focus timer, Ian’s Superior Counter lives solely in your Apple Watch. From there, the app offers a delicate nudge at timed intervals of your selecting, asking whether or not you’ve been staying on monitor. The developer, David Smith, built the app for his son, who typically has issue managing his consideration, then put it within the App Retailer figuring it could possibly be helpful to anybody. He’s proper. [Apple Watch]


Your time, measured: After highlighting a neat Mac Menu Bar app referred to as Progress Bar OSX a few years in the past, it’s solely truthful to circle again for the Windows equal. Progress Bar for Windows provides two round meters to your taskbar, representing the period of time left within the present day and yr. It’s a novel solution to measure your day and acknowledge when time’s working out. [Windows]

With Progress Bar in place, December 31 won’t ever sneak up on you once more.

Conferences at a look: Talking of Mac Menu Bar apps, Itsycal is a superb one which provides a little bit pop-up calendar to the highest bar, together with an inventory of your upcoming occasions and a button for creating new ones. An replace final fall added assembly hyperlink recognition, so it will possibly present a video button for becoming a member of your subsequent Zoom name. [Mac]

The final word analysis organizer: PDFs, Phrase paperwork, internet pages, your personal notes—in case you’ve acquired tasks that contain assembling myriad items of knowledge in a single place after which discovering them later, Devonthink can assist. The massive information for 2021 is the much-improved iPhone/iPad model, Devonthink to Go, which may now carry out feats equivalent to OCR-ing the textual content in PDFs proper in your machine—no cloud required. [Mac, iOS]

Doc enhancers

Completely non-public writing: For those who’re fearful about having Google deal with your paperwork, check out a extra non-public various provided by Skiff. All paperwork are end-to-end encrypted in order that not even Skiff can see them, and it’s straightforward so as to add watermarks or password safety to every one. Skiff can be only a pleasingly easy and snappy editor to work with, whether or not you’re fearful about privateness or not. [web]

Skiff is a very non-public, engagingly snappy on-line phrase processor.

Like Notion, however sooner: Apps equivalent to Notion and Coda have helped popularize the concept of interlinked private paperwork, wherein any web page can have its personal hyperlinks to different pages elsewhere in your notes. Nonetheless, Craft stands out with its give attention to pace, with paperwork that load shortly on-line or off. [Mac, iOS]

The notepad you’ve wanted: Whereas it’s hardly a new app, let’s give the venerable Windows textual content editor NotePad++ its due after 17 years of development. Model 8, which launched in June, added a “Distraction Free Mode” that hides menu litter and strikes textual content into a middle column. It could be simply the bare-bones writing or coding software you’ve been wanting for. [Windows]

Markdown with out the Markdown: As a minimalist writing software, JotterPad cuts away options like adjustable fonts, colours, and web page alignments, leaving solely the phrases and a handful of fundamental formatting choices to give attention to. However in contrast to most Markdown editors, it doesn’t show any of the clunky syntax that makes your writing look extra like code. That makes it comparable in spirit to Typora, however with assist for cellular gadgets and the online. Updates this yr added integration with cloud storage providers, together with the power to publish on WordPress, Ghost, and Tumblr. [iOS, Android, Mac, web]

Creative endeavors

Going toe-to-toe with Photoshop: For years, Pixelmator Professional has been proving that you simply don’t want a dear Photoshop subscription for highly effective layer-based picture modifying. A significant replace to its Mac app final fall reiterated that time, including native Apple silicon assist and a a lot slicker and extra customizable interface. As at all times, you must pay for it solely as soon as. [Mac, iOS]

You don’t should take out a mortgage to get Pixelmator’s superior image-editing goodies.

Taking up Lightroom, too: What Pixelmator is to Photoshop, Darkroom is to Adobe’s Lightroom software program, offering a variety of filters and sliders for processing your pictures. After 5 years of iOS exclusivity, the app arrived on MacOS in November, and it integrates with Apple’s native Images library so you possibly can edit with out importing. [iOS, Mac]

Darkroom is one other excellent Adobe various.

Illustrating on iPad: Let’s give Adobe its due, although. Final fall, the corporate introduced Illustrator to the iPad, additional making good on plans to deal with Apple’s pill as a first-class productivity software. As an alternative of simply cloning the desktop model, Adobe made its vector graphics app extra tablet-friendly with a hovering context menu, whereas additionally including new options equivalent to a repeat perform for creating patterns. [iOS]

Making handbook pictures enjoyable: Whereas Apple’s iPhone Digicam app is nice sufficient normally, typically you simply need extra management. Halide Mark II allows you to transcend the fundamentals with fine-grained focus controls, numerous methods to test shade composition, and the power to avoid wasting RAW and JPEG recordsdata concurrently. [iOS]


Communication boosters

Skip the conferences: Perhaps you don’t want all the staff in your subsequent videoconference, in any case. With an extension referred to as tl;dv, you possibly can document video calls in Google Meet, tag the related parts with notes in actual time, after which ship the video (with timestamps and transcriptions) to the parents who have to see it later. The thought is which you can invite fewer individuals to the assembly itself and give attention to speaking to simply those whose enter is critical. (See additionally: Perfect Recall or Otter Assistant for Zoom.) [Chrome]

Deal with the work: As a substitute for Zoom, Round tries to struggle video name fatigue by placing much less emphasis on individuals’s faces. Contributors seem as small chat bubbles—cropping out a lot of the decor behind them—permitting paperwork and different content material to take middle stage. Round launched out of personal beta in March, and not too long ago launched a cellular app that allows you to hand off calls from the desktop. [Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android]

With Round, you possibly can barely see your distant coworkers’ environment, not to mention make enjoyable of them.

Test your tone: Is your writing fashion a bit too informal for work, or too formal for mates? Discover out by utilizing Grammarly, whose iOS and Android keyboard apps added tone detection in March. (The characteristic launched in Grammarly’s browser extension in 2019.) Simply faucet the inexperienced “G” button after writing a minimum of 150 characters, and the app’s AI will immediately analyze the way you sound. [iOS, Android]

iMessage in all places: It seems you don’t want Apple’s blessing to get iMessage on Android and Windows. By working AirMessage on an always-on Mac—such because the Mac Mini desktop—you should utilize iMessage on virtually any machine. A major update final fall added internet browser assist and made setup a lot easier, and the code is now open source to assist spur future enhancements. [Android and web]

Who says Android customers can’t use Apple’s iMessage service? With AirMessage, they’ll.

Safe your stuff

Problem-free sharing: Have to ship a file quick? Keep away from the vagaries of cloud storage and the strict dimension limits of e mail by utilizing Wormhole as an alternative. The free internet app allows you to ship recordsdata as much as 10 GB in dimension utilizing only a hyperlink, which expires after 24 hours or 100 downloads. Information are end-to-end encrypted as properly, and recipients can begin downloading earlier than the file is absolutely uploaded. You don’t even should obtain an app to make use of it, since Wormhole is proudly web-first. [web]

For sending gigantic recordsdata, Wormhole can’t be beat.

Discover something with ease: Though it’s billed primarily as a personal various to Google, Neeva can be only a helpful solution to search by your digital life. By connecting providers equivalent to Slack, Dropbox, Gmail, and GitHub, you possibly can look for earlier conversations, recordsdata, emails, and extra, all by a single search field. The service prices $5 monthly, however your first three months are free with no bank card wanted. [web, iOS]

Neeva allows you to search your internet—and, simply as vital, your personal stuff.

Retailer passwords for free: When LastPass began charging customers to entry their passwords throughout each telephones and computer systems in March, Bitwarden stepped in to fill the free password supervisor void. It gives virtually all the pieces LastPass offered in its free tier and works on a variety of gadgets and browsers, plus its documentation on switching from LastPass made migration pretty painless. BitWarden’s updates this yr embrace options equivalent to inline auto-fill for Android 11 and biometric sign-in for Windows, making it that a lot simpler to switch LastPass. [iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, web]

You want a password supervisor—and in case you’re not prepared to pay, Bitwarden is a stable possibility.

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