Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

With smartphones and tablets now commonplace, apps have quickly become part of our everyday lives, whether they’re keeping us entertained, saving us time or increasing our productivity. But it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the huge number of choices on offer in your device’s app store - after all, some apps are better than others, and if you are paying for an app, you want to be especially sure that it’ll add some kind of value. Below are six apps that as a busy researcher and author, you might find useful:

ToDo ($4.99, Android and IOS)

As its name suggests, an app that lets you create custom to-do lists, with the ability to synchronize tasks across all of your computers and mobile devices using Dropbox, iCloud and Outlook. Add your tasks to certain categories, such as work or home, and create projects with sub-tasks and due-dates. Other useful features include a calendar view, where you can drag and drop particular tasks onto the calendar, and the ability to assign VIP status to tasks by adding a star, making them jump to the top of your to-do list. The app can also remind you when you are close to a task ‘location’, such as reminding you to buy milk when you pass by a grocery store.

GoodReader ($4.99, IOS)

This app allows you to read and annotate almost any kind of file, including plain text, Word/Excel files, images, video, MP3 and HTML. It can also cope with large PDF and TXT files, enabling you to mark up PDFs with text boxes, sticky notes, lines, arrows and freehand drawings. Text is wrapped so that you can view it properly on smaller screens, and you can view multiple documents in different tabs. The app connects to Dropbox and other cloud storage so that you can easily transfer files from your computer.

Wolfram Alpha (Free or $2.99 Premium, Android and IOS)

The Wolfram Alpha app uses a huge store of knowledge curated by human experts and algorithms to automatically answer fact-based questions and generate reports. Rather than giving you a list of documents or links, as a traditional search engine would, the app gives you the data and makes it easy to work with. It includes hundreds of datasets and also searches data from external sources. Wolfram Alpha also includes a currency converter, stock analysis, almanac and graphing calculator.

Evernote (Free or $4.99/month Premium, Android and IOS)

This popular note-taking and archiving app is well worth a download. Notes can include pieces of text, a full or partial webpage, photos, voice memos or handwritten notes, and can be input to the app through a variety of methods. The creation of ‘notebooks’ allows you to organize your notes, and you can share these for any group projects you might be working on. The search function enables you to find documents, text and images fast, and Evernote also has additional features such as reminders and to-do lists. The premium service includes an increased monthly upload allowance, top priority support, editable shared notebooks, offline notebooks and a passcode to lock your notes on mobile devices.

Dropbox (Free, Android and IOS)

Dropbox is another very popular app that allows you to access files from multiple devices, including your phone and tablet. If you can open a web browser, you can get to your files, even if you are using a shared computer. Dropbox also enables you to send files that are too large to send via email. Standard encryption methods are used to transfer and store data, so your work is always secure. And if you lose one of your devices, it’s simple to remotely wipe local copies of data. It’s also easy to backup or recover your files, and as over 300,000 apps connect to Dropbox, you can access your data across a range of apps, such as GoodReader. The free account gives you up to 2GB of storage- if you require more you can purchase a premium account, costing from $9.99/month for 100GB.

Hootsuite (Free, Android and IOS)

Hootsuite is a social media app for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare, and is a great time-saver if you use social media frequently. You can create custom search streams so that you can see conversations that are relevant to you, and schedule content so that it posts automatically. If you use multiple Twitter accounts, you can set up tabs for each and post under all of them. You can also set up tabs for sent tweets, my tweets retweeted, mentions, and direct messages. If you are interested in a particular topic or event, you can set up and save a hashtag search to display all related tweets. With Hootsuite, you can also view, comment and like Facebook posts, and view and post to your LinkedIn stream.

There are certainly plenty of apps on the market, but the best ones will help save you time, organize your work and enable you to work across several devices, taking your notes from computer to tablet to phone. Reading some reviews before downloading can help you decide whether or not the app is any good - after all, you don’t have time to waste on poor quality apps!