Best Free Productivity Apps for the iPhone and iPad

Last week we took a look at nine free iOS apps to help you track expenses and mileage, organize bills, calculate on the go, budget, make smart purchases, and track packages. This week we focus on free productivity apps for project management, paperless meetings, better communication, security, task management, file sharing and storage, workflow, video conferencing, scanning, PDFs, eSigning, notetaking, sketching, languages, and business travel.

Project Management

Trello is the free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone. Forget lengthy email threads, out-of-date spreadsheets, sticky notes, and clunky software for managing your projects. Trello lets you see everything about your project in a single glance.  Compatible with Apple Watch.

Paperless Meetings

minute-iconUse Minute to conduct easy paperless meetings. Instantly invite attendees, turn agendas into meetings, import and share documents from Dropbox, Evernote, email, etc. Collaborate on notes, to-dos, decisions, and documents. Delegate tasks to attendees. After the meeting read and revise notes and export meeting minutes.

 Better Communication

Rather than worrying about your data allowance or cell signal, WhatsApp lets you send messages over Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection instead. Send and receive photos free over Wi-Fi* with no size restrictions. (*Or if you have unlimited mobile data.)


1passwordKeep track of passwords, security codes, and alarm codes in one place with 1Password. Search to find what you’re looking for on any connected device. Save and fill passwords, credit cards, and addresses into webpages with a single click. Keep your data safe and encrypted. Unlimited installations with paid subscription. Compatible with Apple Watch. (Free 30 day trial; $5 per month subscription.)

Task Management

todoist-iconAdd, complete, and re-schedule tasks from any device, even offline with Todoist. Automatic 24/7 sync. Create sub-tasks and sub-projects, set priorities, and color-code projects. Share projects, assign tasks, and add comments all within the app. Instant notifications will keep you up-to-date whenever changes are made. Compatible with Apple Watch.

easilydoEasilyDo connects to online services, like your email, calendar, and Facebook, then looks for things it can help you get done. For example, it might ask you if you’d like to add contact details of someone who emailed you to your address book. Or it might spot an upcoming birthday. (Best for personal use.)

File Sharing and Storage

Transfer files instantly across Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows platforms using simple drag and drop with Instashare Air Drop. Transfer any file type (MP3, images, PDF, slide decks, docs, and more). Any size. Completely secure – files are transferred only between devices – no copy is kept in the cloud. Supports older devices: back to iPhone 3Gs and iPad. No need to register, just open the app, and start sharing. No email account, no passwords required.

hightailUse Hightail (formerly YouSendIt) to upload files to a shared project area called a Space then name it and add context or project goals. Solves the problem of oversized email attachments. Upload to Hightail instead and send your recipients a link. Supports PDF, docx, PPT, png, and other file formats. Documents can be secured with an access code.  (Free 250 MG storage.)


Use Clips to clip from anything from anywhere: quotes, links, stories, images. Ideal for users who write a lot on their iPhone and iPad or hate switching between apps to copy-and-paste. The custom keyboard doesn’t log any of your input and requires no use of the Internet. Sync across all iOS devices through your private iCloud account with the Pro version.  Compatible with Apple Watch.

ifttt“If this, then that.” Use ifttt to automate just about anything: create events in Google Calendar with only a few taps; keep your team in sync with scheduled reminders for Slack; catalog important email from your inbox in an Evernote notebook to go over later; sync files quickly. Ifttt makes two separate apps work together!

Video Conferencing

zoomZoom offers quality video and audio conferencing – available for mobile devices and on the desktop.  Screen share apps and photos, send files, annotate, mute attendees (or not), easily invite phone, email, or company contacts.  (Free for 50-person or less meetings that last no longer than 40 minutes.)

Scanner and Whiteboard Converter

CamScanner turns photos of sketches, receipts, sticky notes, and whiteboard notes into editable files. Make digital copies of printed documents, business cards, or posters and trim them precisely. Printed text is automatically recognized (using OCR) so you can search for words in images and copy and edit them.  200MB free storage.

PDFs and eSigning

Adobe Acrobat Reader DC is a PDF viewer made specifically for the iPhone. Take a picture of your handwritten signature on your mobile device, and then sync it to sign PDFs at your desk or on the go. Annotate PDFs or mark-up files.  Draw on the screen with the drawing tool. Store, access, and share files from your Dropbox account.  (In-app purchases may apply.)

signnowUse SignNow to sign documents with your finger. Fill and complete PDF, Word, or rich text documents. Open documents from your inbox, Dropbox, and more. Easily collect signatures from multiple people. Secured with bank quality encryption.  (Sign up to five documents per month at no charge.)

Notetaking and Sketching

Use Paper 53 to draw on photos or quickly spotlight details. Sketch diagrams, charts, and drawings. Want to add titles to notes?  Swipe left. Want to add a checklist? Swipe right.

Learn Languages

duolingoUse the free Duolingo app to read, listen, and speak Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, and English.  Learn languages in bite-sized lessons: Apple’s iPhone App of the Year.  (In-app upgrades available.)

Business Travel

Hopper hopper-iconconstantly monitors prices to find great deals on airfare. Shows you the best time to go, predicts the right time to book flights, and where to buy.  Includes personalized tips.  Promises savings of 40% or more on your next flight.  A best app of the year winner in 2015.

Input your itinerary and GateGuru will automatically provides you with the check-in airport terminal, airport weather, gate arrival and departure information, real-time flight status, estimated TSA security wait times, airport food and amenity information, airport maps and tips, last minute rental car bookings.

All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis

Best Free Finance Apps for the iPhone and iPad

Sometimes the best things are free.  Here are 9 apps for the iPhone and iPad designed to help you with:

  • Tracking expenses and mileage
  • Organizing bills
  • Calculating on the go
  • Budgeting
  • Purchasing
  • Package and price tracking

Tracking Expenses and Mileage

expensify-iconWith Expensify mobile, you can track expenses, snap pictures of receipts as well as create and submit expense reports – all on the go!  (Upgrade to “company” version – $5 per month per employee.)

Use MileWiz to detect and log business mileage for tax deduction purposes.  Add places you visit often, categorize drives, track gas purchases, generate reports that can be exported to CSV (which can be opened in Excel).  Compatible with Apple Watch.

Organizing Bills

FileThis automatically collects and organizes your online bills, documents, and statements in an easy to use digital filing cabinet. Fully encrypted bank-level security. Reduces clutter. Creates searchable PDFs. The “Forever Free” starter account stores up to 500 MB of data.  Compatible with Apple Watch.

Calculating on the Go

Use your finger or a stylus to write and calculate math problems directly on your phone with MyScript Calculator.  Add fractions, functions, or symbols quickly without using the keyboard and calculate when you’re done. Edit or correct operations using natural

photomathDon’t want to write a math problem on your screen?   Use Photomath and let the app do the work.  Simply hold your phone or iPad over a math problem – Photomath will do the calculation and show you the steps used to reach the result.


mintCreate budgets and track the money you earn and spend with Mint. Receive alerts and mini updates via your iPhone for unusual account charges, and get custom tips for reducing fees and saving money.  Compatible with Apple Watch.


sortlySortly is the ultimate organizer app. Use it to label boxes, collectibles, or products and create a searchable inventory. Cheaper than inventory software; more features than Excel. Lawyers can use Sortly to track stored client files; clients can use it to organize collections as part of their estate planning.

Virtual Purchasing Assistant

Operator connects you to experts to find what you want, when you want. Search, buy, or deliver by sending a text. Designed for personal use.  Law firms can use Operator to purchase electronics or furniture.

Package and Price Tracking

slice-appWhere’s your stuff? Let Slice track all your packages, purchases, price drops, and product recalls. Designed for personal or small business use.  Compatible with Apple Watch.

Next week: the best productivity apps for iOS, including notetaking, eSigning, task management, workflow, security, travel, and video conferencing.

All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis

MS Ignite 2016: New Ideas, New Features for OneDrive, Office 365, and More

September 26-30 marked Microsoft’s second annual technology conference known as #MSIgnite. With over 22,000 attendees, the conference set Twitter afire with a long list of product enhancements – some available now, others coming before year-end.

New Functionality for OneDrive Users

If you’re a OneDrive user, you’ll be thrilled to hear about these new features:

  • Ability to sync SharePoint Online document libraries and OneDrive folders
  • One-stop shopping for browsing and editing SharePoint Online and OneDrive files using the OneDrive browser client
  • Ability to download multiple documents as a .zip file
  • Improvements to the Android OneDrive App – support for SharePoint Online files and multi-page scan enhancements
  • Notifications to your mobile device when someone shares a OneDrive file with you
  • Ability to see over time how many people have discovered and viewed your files in OneDrive for iOS

See the full list of OneDrive updates here.

Enhancements to the Outlook Mobile App

  • The new, improved calendar app on iOS and Android devices now offers event icons, simpler scheduling, and on-the-fly editing of recurring meetings
  • Use the “smart location” feature on the mobile app to easily add maps and directions to event details.  Next time you create an event, just start typing a location.  Choose one of the suggestions and Outlook will include a map with your event details.
  • Use the @ symbol to get someone’s attention: typing the @ symbol followed by a person’s name in the body of an email message or a meeting invite will automatically add the person to the To line of the email or meeting invite.
  • Coming soon: meeting invites will support real-time availability checks with a slide-bar interface – via @thevarnish
  • Outlook for iOS and Android is now powered by the Microsoft Cloud for Office 365. All your data is now fully delivered through Microsoft’s secure servers (no third party vendor, no mailbox data cached outside Office 365).
  • New assistive technology has been added for reading email, scheduling meetings, and adding a signature

Improvements to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint


  • Use Researcher to find credible sources and content: “Researcher is a new service in Word that helps you find and incorporate reliable sources and content for your paper in fewer steps. Right within your Word document you can explore material related to your topic and add it—and its properly-formatted citation—in one click. Researcher uses the Bing Knowledge Graph to pull in the appropriate content from the web and provide structured, safe and credible information.”
  • Improve your writing with the new digital writing assistant known as Editor, a cloud-based service that uses machine learning, natural language processing, and input from linguists to improve writing through advanced proofing and editing. [Caveat: not suitable for confidential content.]
  • Write or draw with your finger, a pen, or a stylus in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint mobile apps (known as “inking.”)



  • Use Designer to instantly turn a bulleted process list into a SmartArt graphic
  • Get an “instant slide makeover” any time by selecting the “Design” tab in the ribbon.  Choose “Design Ideas” (far right of the Design toolbar) to preview new slide designs.
  • Use the Recording tab to create a presentation that includes recorded slides, screen recordings, narrations, and videos. Embed quizzes and other apps in your presentation to make it more interactive for your audience.
  • Use QuickStarter to find outlines for any topic, including recommendations on information to include, categories to consider and associated images tagged with Creative Commons licenses.

Making Skype Better

Skype for Business is already the number one meeting app, so how can it get any better? Consider these improvements announced at #MSIgnite 2016:

  • Skype for Business for Mac will be available in October, with hi-def audio and video, one-click join for meetings, and video and desktop sharing
  • Also coming in October: enhancements to the iPhone app: Skype for Business calls will work just like a cellular call on your iPhone. You can accept a call via the lock screen or put a Skype for Business call on hold to take a cellular phone call—it works just like a phone.
  • Real-time transcription and translation in 50 languages will come to Skype Meeting Broadcast by year-end

Migrating to Windows 10

If you haven’t migrated to Windows 10, check out this free migration assessment tool from VMWare.  Announced at #MSIgnite, the new tool is designed to assess:

  • Windows 10 readiness;
  • End-user behavior;
  • Device inventory and configurations;
  • Software dependency and usage information; and
  • Web and network usage patterns.

If this sounds like tech-speak, it is.  But the goals are simple: (1) identify potential problems transitioning from your current operating system to Windows 10; (2) Optimize your use of Windows 10.

Still not sure?  Contact your computer consultant.

Key Microsoft Security Improvements

There are two kinds of big companies: those who have been hacked
and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked. 


Protecting Browser Sessions

Most cyber attacks start at the browser level, making browser security critically important. Windows Defender App Guard for Microsoft Edge protects against browser-based security incursions:

Unlike other browsers that use software-based sandboxes, which still provide a pathway for malware and vulnerability exploits, Microsoft Edge’s use of Application Guard isolates the browser and employee activity using a hardware-based container to prevent malicious code from impacting the device and moving across the enterprise network.

Once enabled, enterprise administrators can configure a trusted network site list policy and distribute the group policy to any devices it wishes to protect with Application Guard. Even if an untrusted site successfully loads malware, the malware is unable to reach beyond the isolated container to steal data or permanently compromise devices or the network. Once the employee exits their Microsoft Edge browsing session, any malware is erased, preventing further attacks.

Detecting and Responding to Cyber Attacks

Security features and cyber threat intelligence gathered from WDATP (Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection) and Office 365 ATP (Advanced Threat Protection) are now combined to allow enterprises to detect, investigate, and respond to advanced attacks on their networks, Windows 10, and Office 365.

Now, IT can identify and follow the complete chain of an attack from an email – to across the network – with detailed timelines and analysis. This real-time access and product integration converts the time to investigate an incident from days or weeks to mere hours. And the comprehensive security intelligence from Microsoft and our industry partners, including FireEye iSight threat intelligence, puts all the information needed to investigate and respond in an easy, simplified interface with clear steps for remediation. It’s the most comprehensive and robust security solution available today.

Interesting Stats from the Keynotes and Other Presentations

  • There are 70 million Office 365 users and over 400 million Windows 10 users
  • The Department of Defense is targeting to have Windows 10 on more than 4 million devices
  • Office 365 has an uptime of 99.98%
  • The average person uses 3 mobile devices at work (expected to increase)
  • Skype for Business is the most-used meeting app: Microsoft manages over 13,000 meeting rooms; 38% of all international calling uses Skype; the Skype app has been downloaded 1.1 billion times on iOS and Android devices
  • 58% of workers admit to sending data to the wrong person
  • Microsoft scans 200 billion emails every month for malware
  • 50% of cloud-era millennials will be in the workforce by 2020

Other News from #MSIgnite

  • You may have heard of Azure – Microsoft’s integrated cloud service platform. #MSIgnite 2016 included a number of Azure upgrades of interest to developers and IT professionals.  Read more here.
  • Many SharePoint improvements were announced at #MSIgnite 2016.  For all the details, check out this post.  Also see this summary from Microsoft.
  • Over 150 on-demand video sessions are available at no charge from the 5 day conference. Check out the list here.

All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis

Picking Practice Management Software: A Guide for Lawyers — NWSidebar

With all the different time and billing, practice management, and customer management programs these days, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your practice. Here are some red flags I’ve learned to recognize, as well as answers that give me confidence that lawyers are making the right decision for their practice.

via Picking Practice Management Software: A Guide for Lawyers — NWSidebar