The Best Productivity Apps Of 2012

clear for mac

This year we got a lot of stuff done.

Thanks to our smartphones we were able to get even more done than ever before.

In 2012, we saw several developers come up with great apps to help you stay on task. Plus, some big names in the space like Evernote completely revamped their product.

Evernote helps you keep track of all your notes while syncing them across all devices

In 2012, Evernote went through a massive overhaul. It's mobile and desktop apps were redesigned making them easier to use and more functional.

Evernote makes it easy to jot down a quick thought or write in longer form.

Best of all, notes are synced to the cloud, meaning users never have to save and never have to think about whether you wrote a note on your PC or smartphone.

Price: Free

Available on: Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone, Web OS, PC, Mac, Google Chrome, and the web.

Skitch annotates your photos, allowing you to draw arrows and shapes

Skitch started as a PC app for sharing screenshots and other images, but has now made the transition over to mobile devices. With Skitch you can use shapes, arrows, sketches, and text annotation to get your point across fast.

Skitch is the perfect tool for highlighting something in a photo, collaborating with coworkers, or brainstorming ideas. It's now owned by Evernote, so your images can get stored with all your other notes.

Price: Free

Available For: Android and iPhone

Pushover supercharges your smartphone notifications

Pushover aims to make your mobile notifications much simpler. The app integrates with IFTTT (If This Then That), a service which schedules various online tasks and makes it easy for you to send and receive push notifications.

Pushover is compatible with a ton of apps--check out the full list here.

Price: $3.99

Available on: Android and iOS

Catch lets you take notes offline and online too

Catch helps you capture your most important ideas so you never miss anything. You can create voice, photo, and text notes, online and offline. It's incredibly easy to share checklists to collaborate with others too.

For those worried about security, users can protect notes with a four-digit PIN.

Price: Free

Available for: Android and iPhone

Robin, a Siri alternative for Android users

Robin is the first true Siri challenger. We love the expanded capabilities of the newer virtual assistant. You can ask Robin for directions, local places, real-time parking, traffic info, gas prices, weather, your Twitter news, and much more.

Robin is disrupting the personal assistant arena, and we only hope that her existence pushes developers to make personal assistant apps feel more like true personal assistants.

Price: Free

Available on: Android

Checkmark, for setting tasks and reminders

Checkpoint is our favourite location-based reminder app. The app takes advantage of the iPhone's geofencing feature to alert you of tasks when you enter and exit a particular location. It's not a new concept, but Checkmark does it a lot better than the iPhone's built-in Reminders app.

Check out our walkthrough of Checkmark >

Price: $2.99

Available on: iOS

Paper by 50 Three, for doodling on your iPad

Paper by 50 Three is a drawing app that won Apple's Design Award this year.

Think of the app as your own digital sketchbook. It comes packed with a variety of brushes and pens for your doodles. We suggest buying a stylus if you really want to get the most out of the app.

Price: Free, but you have to pay extra for more brushes and tools.

Available on: iPad

Bump, for sharing stuff between phones

Bump has been around for a while, but this year the app revamped itself, giving users a new design and the ability to bump photos from your smartphone to your PC.

Bump is known for letting you swap contacts and other content with nearby mobile devices over a Wi-Fi or data network. All you have to do is select what you want to share and 'bump' the two devices together. Kiss your business cards goodbye.

Price: Free

Available on: Android,iOS, and PC

Clear, for a beautiful to-do list on your iPhone, arrived for the Mac

Clear debuted on the desktop this year and its iPhone app was updated to sync via iCloud.

Clear is a very simple, yet elegant to-do list app that will help you stay productive and on task. The app is beautifully designed and it feels satisfying to remove completed tasks with a simple swipe.

The app aims to keep things as simple as possible.

Check out our walkthrough of Clear >

Price: Varies

Available on: iOS ($1.99) and Mac ($9.99)

Gmail, still the best way to check email

The Gmail app was just recently revamped. The update brought a completely new interface, integrated calendar appointments, better search, and faster speeds.

Gmail is the web-based email king. With a Gmail account, you get plenty of storage for free, meaning you likely never have to delete an email again. (You can always purchase extra storage just in case). You also get Google's excellent search feature, so you can easily go back and find old messages.

Price: Free

Available on: Android and iOS. Gmail can also be accessed from any smartphone browser like Blackberry and Windows Phone by heading to m.google.com/mail.

Sparrow, a great alternative to the iPhone's email app

Before Sparrow was acquired by Google, it was one of our favourite alternatives to Apple's built-in email app on the iPhone.

Sparrow is based on simplicity and minimalism. The app takes the headache out of checking email and makes it more interactive. Users can take advantage of full IMAP and POP email support, and Sparrow even allows you to easily browse through threaded conversations.

One major bummer: Sparrow for iOS does not support push notifications.

Price: $2.99 (iOS), $9.99 (OS X)

Available on: iOS and Mac OS X

Google Drive, a great way to store files and documents to your Google Account

Google Drive is an excellent storage solution within Google's ecosystem. It functions a lot like Dropbox, allowing you to store a folder on your desktop to drag and drop files into. It also syncs with your Google Documents, so you don't have to worry about losing a file.

Drive starts you off with 5GB for free but if that isn't enough you can always purchase more.

Price: Free

Available on: Android and iOS

CloudOn, for running Microsoft office on your phone or tablet

CloudOn is another one of those apps that has been around for a long time but didn't actually get great until this year.

CloudOn provides users will a full PC version of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel on your mobile device. Think of it as running a virtual Windows environment on your smartphone or tablet.

CloudOn also integrates with Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive so you can keep all your documents stored in the cloud.

Check out our tour of CloudOn >

Price: Free

Available on: Android & iOS

addappt, for making your address book smarter.

Instead of updating our own contacts, why not let others do it for us? That's the idea behind the new contacts app, Addappt.

Addappt is designed well, easy to use, and completely secure. Users are in charge of their own contacts, so the downside is you have to convice your friends to download the app too.

Check out our full write up of the app >

Price: Free (invite only)

Available for: iPhone

SkyDrive is another cloud storage service, but this one gives you the most space for free.

SkyDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage service. You can use it to access your documents, photos, and other important files.

The cool thing about SkyDrive is that Microsoft gives users 7GB of free storage which is more than any other service

Price: Free

Available for: Android, iOS, PC, Mac OS X, and Windows Phone

Slice helps you to stay on top of your online purchases and even alerts you when the price changes on something you've recently purchased.

Besides being an awesome package tracker, Slice is an app that helps you stay on top of all your online purchases.

The app securely scans your email and finds receipts from iTunes, Amazon, and wherever else you shop online creating great archive of purchases.

Price: Free

Available on: Android and iOS

Any.DO helps you collaborate with others and get things done.

Any.Do is a to-do list app that is extremely easy to use and it supports inputting reminders by using your voice. The iPhone app helps you to get tasks done by syncing across multiple devices and even integrating into the Google Chrome browser.

Sharing to-do's with others makes collaboration easy.

You don't just have to type in tasks either, Any.Do also lets you speak to your phone and tell it what you want to do.

Price: Free

Fantastical for iPhone makes the iPhone calendar more fun.

Fantastical's goal is to be fast and friendly. It realises that people are always on the go and makes it very easy to quickly pull up the app, check your appointments, and avoid complications.

The team built Fantastical for iPhone from the ground up because they didn't want to just port a desktop app to the iPhone and be done with it.

Price: $1.99 (launch price). Flexibits plans to raise the price to $3.99 at some point, so if you want an alternative to the iPhone's built-in calendar, now's a good time to try it out.

Available on: iPhone

SwiftKey 3 for Android helps you to type better.

Swift Key will change how you type on your Android.

The app automatically detects how you've typed in the past -- from text messaging, mail, chat, Twitter, and a few other services -- and serves up suggestions on what you're going to say.

Price: $3.99

Available on: Android

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