Sarah Morrison is an information professional based in Toronto, Ontario. Her posts explore the intersections of technology, knowledge, feminism, social justice, and fandom.

Indispensible Apps

Indispensible Apps

This is an ode to the apps that are with me, day in and day out, and make my life better. It was hard to narrow down, but I've narrowed it down to 8, with two new ones that I think will make it on to the list, and one resource. These are all fantastic and worth a look!

In no particular order:

Todoist

Todoist is the to do app that I've always dreamed of. It works equally well in Chrome, on my Samsung, and on my tablet. It has non-annoying mobile notifications. It's super customizable. The date formula is intuitive and customizable. And, even better, the free version is robust! I've since subscribed to the paid version, but you can absolutely get by on the free one. There are lots of opinions out there on how to maximise the app through labels and projects. I've already gotten one person hooked on it, and I'm working on more people.

It's really flexible for you to use it however you want - we all organize differently and need different amounts of detail in our to do lists. Todoist is flexible, attractive, smart, and lets you tweak it so you can get your stuff done.

Buffer

Buffer is the newest app for me on this list, but I'm already hooked. It lets you sign in using various social media accounts, and create a "buffer" of posts. You compose posts (or tweets, or whatever) and it will post them when you've specified. It's great, especially for business/professional accounts, as it lets you craft at the start of the week the content you want sent out as the week progresses.

I've also taken to using it to post tweets directly from Feedly (more on that below) because it autocompletes Twitter handles using the accounts you follow. This may not sound like a lot, but my memory is like a sieve. I cannot remember the specific handles of everyone I follow. This lets me retweet something and point directly to the source. I nearly cried with happiness when I saw this feature.

I'm still using the free version, but I have a sneaky suspicion I'll end up saving up for the paid version. With the free version, you get ten posts in your feed.

Want to try Buffer? Use my referral code and we both get an extra post in our feed!

Hootsuite

There are tonnes of Twitter clients out there, and Hootsuite is my favourite. It is a much more full featured app than I'm using it for - it can manage other social media accounts than just Twitter, for one, and it has robust enterprise applications. For my purposes, the browser version is fantastic, and translates really well to Android. It's a really great user experience to scroll through my feed - there are no 'Aaargh annoying!' moments! In a sea of clients, it very quickly rose to the top.

If This Then That (IFTTT)

If you have never heard of IFTTT, go make yourself an account. Seriously. It automates your life for you! The tagline is 'Put the internet to work for you.' and that's exactly what it does. You subscribe to various channels, depending on what social media (or app, or hardware) platforms you use and then you browse the recipes, where you can see how IFTTT can connect them.

For example, when I post something to Instagram with #bookoftheday it posts it to my blog. I track certain hashtags on Twitter and keep a record of all the tweets in a Google Drive spreadsheet. I get an email every morning with the day's weather (in Celcius!). The options are, frankly, deeply impressive and I love it so, so much.

OneNote

I discovered Microsoft OneNote last summer and, frankly, I don't know how I took notes without it. I love the note-taking experience, and being able to arrange into note books and sections. Everything can sync with your OneDrive, and be shared from there - great if you're sharing notes with people. Another handy feature is that your computer's print dialogue will let you print things into your notebooks. I print my readings into there and read (and highlight, and annotate) all in the same place as my lecture notes.

Microsoft, if you're listening, the only complaint I have is that the syncing with mobile devices is, frankly, crap. Even more than reading on my laptop, I prefer reading on my tablet. Unfortunately, my readings don't always sync properly, which makes me sad. Other than that, though, it's fantastic!

Feedly

After Google retired their RSS reader, the scramble was on to find the replacement. Feedly very quickly floated to the top of the pile. It works well both in browser and on mobile - it's slick, has lots of options for customizing, and is just generally really pleasant to read. For something that you're using to consume news and blogs, that's huge! I really like using it - it's not a chore to keep up with my feeds.

PowerAmp

I've gotten so used to computer programs that will play whatever you throw at them (like my beloved foobar2000 for music and VLC Media Player for video) that the same is essential for music on my phone. With a 64 gb card, my phone is my hub for all things music and podcasts, both with headphones and in the car. A music player that doesn't make me want to throw my phone across the room is a must, and PowerAmp fills that void perfectly. It is, in fact, one of the few Android apps that I have which I've paid for (though there is a free version too).

I'm really anal about my music, and how it's organized, and my playlists, and the tagging and metadata. And PowerAmp not only allows for this, but encourages it. You can view your music both by folder structure and by artist/album/etc, and the equalizer options are great. There are lots of skins and widgets, and the settings are numerous and detailed. Music is such a huge part of my life, and PowerAmp is an app I use multiple times a day.

Google Play Books

Google Play Books is my preferred e-reading app. Considering I prefer to read e-books over physical books, that means this app has an important place in my life! There are many e-reading apps out there, including Kobo's app, but I just like this one the best for its highlighting and annotating functions, its flawless syncing across devices and browsers, and its ability to let you sideload books from your computer. I can load the book on my laptop and then it syncs to my account, and I download it on my tablet. No more fiddling with SD cards!

Bonus: Purdue APA OWL Site

So, this isn't an app, but a website. But good god, do I use this all the time. The Purdue APA OWL page is a ludicrously detailed and usable reference for everything to do with the APA style guidelines. If I could hug a webpage, I would hug this one. (There is also one for MLA, but whatever, APA is the best citation style.)

Future Contenders: Slack and Trello

I have just started to use Slack and Trello and I have a suspicion I'll be hooked very quickly. Slack is a team-based communication tool that's mobile accessible, and Trello is a team-based task visualization tool (also mobile accessible) that I could see working really well with Agile organizations. It's too early for me to say much of substance, but I've already enjoyed playing around with them and I just downloaded them today!

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