Smartphones

Five free productivity apps for your Android smartphone

Jack Wallen highlights five of the very best free productivity apps for your Android smartphone.

Android productivity

Free is good, but when free is also productive, it's even better. Now that so many business users are clamoring to take their show on the road, it only makes sense to load those Android smartphones with free productivity tools that can help get the job done -- both well and efficiently. That's where these five apps come in. With this collection of applications at the ready, you should be able to get your work done on-the-go without dropping a single penny on software. Does this sound too good to be true? Let's take a look and find out.

1. Kingsoft Office

Kingsoft Office is, for me, the gold standard by which mobile office suites should be judged. This mobile productivity suite features: Support for 23 different file types, mail app integration, cloud storage support, gesture support, read-mode support, and much more. All of these features are housed in a very efficient interface that doesn't get in the way of usage. It's not a perfect, drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office or LibreOffice, but KingSoft Office will empower your mobile office with a full-blown office suite for working with text documents, spreadsheets, memos, and presentations.

Kingsoft Office
Kingsoft Office on an Android smartphone.

2. Mint.com

Mint.com is an outstanding way to manage your personal finances. No, you won't be integrating with QuickBooks, but you can track your spending, budget, categorize transactions, track checking/savings/credit card accounts, get email alerts for up-coming bills/fees/low balances, and much more. Mint also allows you to monitor your accounts from your desktop at Mint.com. For users who are concerned about security, the Mint.com mobile application is a read-only app, so nothing can be written to your online bank account information. On top of that, all of your information is transferred with bank-level security (which is monitored by both TRUSTe and VeriSign).

Mint.com
The Mint.com mobile application.

3. Evernote

Evernote is another gold-standard app for business. In this case, for note taking. Honestly, Evernote is simply the best choice to fill this need. You can take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record audio notes, and then sync them across all mobile and desktop devices associated with your account. Everything within your Evernote app is searchable, which makes the app an even more efficient choice for on-the-go business users. On top of that, Evernote offers an incredibly well-designed interface that's as professional as it is clean. If you need a way to keep yourself organized on the go, Evernote is the tool.

Evernote
Evernote is the best free note-taking application available.

4. ASTRO Cloud & File Manager

ASTRO Cloud & File Manager, along with the ASTRO SMB Module, are a great team to enable you to move files back and forth between desktop/server SMB shares and to/from an FTP server. As the name implies, ASTRO supports various cloud services. As of this writing, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive are supported. Facebook is also supported, which gives it all of the makings for one seriously flexible and powerful file manager. Anyone who uses their Android smartphone for business on-the-go needs to install both of these tools immediately.

Astro Cloud & File Manager
Install ASTRO Cloud & File Manager on your Android device immediately.

5. Google Drive

Google Drive is the final entry and offers a bit of overlap between KingSoft Office and ASTRO. But if you're a Google Drive user, you must have this app. Not only does it offer up the best way to access your Drive account, but it's also the easiest way to moving files back and forth between your smartphone and your Drive account. From this app, you can also make new documents and spreadsheets, create scans (from the smartphone's camera), and upload files from your device to the associated Google Drive account.

Google Drive
Google Drive on your Android smartphone.

There you have it! These five tools will help make your mobile experience more business-ready and efficient. Of course, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of other apps that do a great job, but this list offers the cream of the crop-level experience and usability. If you haven't tried one (or more) of these apps, install them and enjoy the improvement they'll bring to your mobile business life.

What other free productivity apps would you add to this list? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

10 comments
nevilles
nevilles

I have yet to find an office app that lets me edit my ODF (open document foundation) files.

fahadrafiq
fahadrafiq

Google Drive is Awesome and Astro File Manager is also one of the best apps for android user.

joshua_1233
joshua_1233

I'd pick a few more items. MX Player for Music,  Adobe Reader for reading PDF files, Invoicera for online invoicing, and other such apps. 

Dirk Klassen
Dirk Klassen

Well, 5 items for more or less randomly picked areas of interest... From my experience, all these lists for Android don't make that much sense, as everyone needs a bit different features than all the others. So the best advice is to search the play store for the feature you need, read as many qualified comments, and decide on your own which app suits you best. Very often you will end up with two or more apps for the same purpose, because each of them has some features you need while lacking others. Example: I have three file managers. MyDrives is good for giving you an overview where your data is hidden, Total Commander is great for moving files between handset and NAS and modifying file properties, ES File Explorer is great for quickly viewing lots of different file types. And what about the very important productivity area "UI"? If you ever worked with Nova Luancher, you will never ever want to get back to EmotionUI or other, vendor specific launchers.

Davey-M
Davey-M

The gold standard for me concerning Android office apps are those from SoftMaker (word processor TextMaker Mobile, spreadsheet PlanMaker Mobile, presentation author Presentations Mobile); their interoperability with Microsoft Office formats is unrivaled, and they are packed with features that no other competitor, such as Kingsoft Office, has included.

Example TextMaker Mobile: It offers true track changes functionalit, lets you view, edit, and post comments, footnotes, endnotes, lets you embed any TrueType or OpenType fonts, opens plenty of formats (including .odt as the only) and lets you convert them into another, it has a very good on-the-fly spell checker with automatic (free) download of many languages, export to pdf or html, it has a broad range of formatting and layout options, access to several file hosting services and so much more.

Compare that with the features Kingsoft Office gives you.

Trevor Wood
Trevor Wood

I have consistent problems with Kingsoft Office - It hangs at random times and it crashes frequently - especially if you switch to another app. Sometimes even saving a file causes it to hang so I lose everything I've done since the last save. Its only redeeming feature is that it is free

dverwoert
dverwoert

Mint isn't available since I am working and living outside the US.   

mobilesite
mobilesite

Mint.com is what I like the most. I know people are Google lovers. But I love to think out of the box.... always!

Gisabun
Gisabun

I guess after a couple days since this "article" came out, no one really gives a crap when you limit it to 5 apps [in which one is already on every Android phone].

There are plenty of apps out there. Why I haven't loaded up like some people, I have a half dozen apps that I use regularly. I don't bother with apps that I have no use for.

These "5 apps" article was almost bad as the other recent one with the 5 [nearly] free file archivers. Time for TR to trash them.

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