Plenty of people still rely on pen and paper, but it's inarguable that smartphones have become commonplace for keeping tabs on what needs to get done. And while Apple and Google both offer basic reminder apps, many people might crave something a little more robust. Fortunately, both app stores are teeming with task management apps, so much so that picking the right one can be overwhelming. As a chronically disorganized human, I've found to-do apps are key to my productivity. As such, I periodically reevaluate what I use and check to see how the various big-name options have evolved.
Google Keep is probably the best Google service that most people don't use. Services like Keep, Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are often called "note-taking apps." They've grown beyond their roots, now offering collaborative workflow, reminders, checklists, geofencing, optical character recognition, voice transcription, sketching and more. A few years ago, I would have recommended Evernote. But over the summer, Evernote took a wrong turn.
The humble to-do list is the foundation of every productivity plan. It's a natural instinct to unburden our brains by itemizing our most pressing tasks, and few things feel as satisfying as crossing a task off the list. Though a simple pen and paper is still an effective way to keep track of the things you need to do, a good to-do app will actually remind you to do them, allow you to easily manage multiple lists, and sync across your devices so you always have your list at hand. Here are a few of our favorites. Google Keep often gets overlooked in Google's productivity offerings.
Google Keep may not be the most robust note-taking app you'll find on the Play Store, but for me, that's a virtue rather than a drawback. When I need to make a grocery list or jot down a quick idea, I want to use something easy and fast, like a digital Post-It note for my phone. That's Google Keep in a nutshell. Of course, just because Google Keep is relatively simple to use doesn't mean it doesn't have any tricks up its sleeves. Indeed, once you know what you're doing, you can perform tricks like having your latest Keep notes appear on your Android or iOS home screen, or make your shopping list pop up the moment you arrive at the grocery store.
For years, Apple's Siri digital assistant has skulked in the corner of iOS, usually assisting only when asked. Like the wallflower who gets a summer makeover, however, the new Siri that steps out with iOS 9 this fall will be outgoing and eager, bounding forward to help. Siri's upgrade (revealed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday) emphasizes proactivity and has achieved parity with the primary features of Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana: time- and location-based reminders, hunting down videos that can be played within an app, identifying contacts via their phone number, or launching particular songs. But several of Siri's promised features actually push the platform ahead of the competition: pulling useful data from your apps, controlling your smart home, and kicking off specialized tasks based on your habits or current needs. Now that the power balance is shifting, here's how Siri stacks up to her competition.