I’ll admit it, I’m an addict.
My new browser tab is the Product Hunt daily feed. I check the App Store and Google Play homepages way more than I care to confess. I obsessively rabbit hole down the “apps you might also like” suggestions.
So, it’s true. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m addicted to digital products.
But more specifically, I love the “tools” category of those products because they are designed to increase productivity, make tasks easier or change up the way we think about doing a process. And, since I comb through tons of tools on a regular basis, I thought I’d share a few that have made it on the regular rotation of my software repertoire.
Most everyone is familiar with Dropbox, but you might not know that it houses an incredibly useful productivity tool called Paper. Built as a collaborative document format, Paper seems like Google Docs on the surface, but it has all sorts of great features tucked under its hood.
Need to create product documentation? Paper has great editing tools, folder organization and version history to boot. You can invite your team for free and edit in a live space. As a designer, I love that I can embed prototypes directly from Invision or Marvel.
Need to compile screenshots and show them in an organized fashion? Drag and drop directly into the document, and separate with headers to create a table of contents (this is particularity awesome).
Need to write a blog post? Paper is a great, distraction-free tool for writing, and you can add others in to give feedback, help make edits and easily lay out your post.
And that’s just the beginning. Paper does so much more! It can also be used to create presentations or collect meeting notes. I can’t recommend it enough.
Wavebox is a more recent discovery, and I was sold on upgrading to their Pro license after only one day of use. Wavebox is a container for all of the web apps you use during your day, yet it does some nifty things to set itself apart from being a glorified set of browser tabs, such as:
- Wavebox sleeps your inactive apps after a set amount of time, which keeps them from continuing to drain memory on your system. If you use a lot of apps, you’ll DEFINITELY notice an improvement.
- Wavebox keeps you signed in so you don’t have to put in account credentials every time you restart or clear your cache.
- Wavebox groups parent accounts, such as Google, and then houses your most used individual products inside that group. Instead of having Docs, Slides, Drive and Hangouts open in tabs, all you need is the Google tab. Very cool.
I love that Wavebox allows me to easily separate productivity from general browsing in a functional and thoughtful manner. I dedicate Wavebox to services and tools, and that way Chrome can be used for all the other browsing I do.
If you are an iPhone and Mac user, then you know how awesome and useful it is being able to use Messages on your Mac. Android users actually have a few options to do the same, but in my opinion, there is one clear winner — Pulse SMS.
Pulse is an alternative SMS client for your Android device which does all of the typical texting stuff. The true power in Pulse, though, is the ability to use it cross-platform. Unlike Messages, which is Apple only, you can use Pulse on any platform for every device, including:
- Native apps for Windows, OSX and Linux
- Optimized versions for Android phones, tablets, watches and TVs
- Extensions for Chrome and Firefox
- Web apps for use on iOS
I’m a Mac user, but I currently use an Android phone. I have the Pulse app installed on my Mac, and it works beautifully, just like Messages. I can also text from my iPad via the web app. It also doesn’t hurt that the native Android app is a pretty stellar texting app, as well.
Pablo is a cool tool that helps you quickly create beautiful marketing images. It’s so quick and easy to build out a great graphic for a blog post, social post or newsletter.
You simply choose a photo, type out and position your text and then choose your graphic export size. Because of the formatting options, Pablo limits you to making better graphic and typography choices, which lead to stellar results. You can honestly get a fantastic looking image out of it in about 20-to-30 seconds.
Pablo also hooks into a couple of free stock library sites, so you have access to over half a million images at no cost. If you need a quick way to make an image and don’t want to hop into a graphics editor or pay someone to do it, Pablo may be the right app for the job.
WorkFlowy, at its most distilled, is simply a list tool. But it’s the way in which you build and navigate those lists that make it more useful than its counterparts. Where WorkFlowy really displays its value is when you want to break large lists into smaller lists — and so on, and so on and so on. WorkFlowy has an infinite depth, and you can drill into any item at any time to focus on it.
It’s an extremely focused tool that doesn’t need formatting or the ability to upload media, and that’s the beauty of it, it’s so efficient and perfectly tailored to what it does that it makes something usually boring and mundane like creating lists a much more pleasurable experience.
There is also a light share feature that you can use with a few people to manage task lists or projects, but don’t expect lots of collaboration options. I use it mostly for stuff I need to do around the house, and it is PERFECT for those cases.
Hopefully, I’ve shown you a few new tools that will make your work and life a bit easier. Are any of these options a favorite of yours, or do you have other great tools? Let us know in the comments below!
By: Jesse Wallace, Sr. UX Designer at Dragon Army, @jesse_wallace