The Mobile Apps I Use On The Road

From time to time, people ask me about the apps I use and why I use them. I travel a great deal, so I depend on my iPhone and iPad constantly on the road. But I’m also a writer, so I need things to work with my MacBook Air as well.  So with that in mind, here’s the mobile apps I use most often:

1. Email: When it comes to email, I’ve discovered that while I love the look and feel of Apple Mail, it doesn’t perform well on many hotel WIFI systems. And when it comes to GoGo on airlines, it’s a disaster. Probably because I’m using Gmail, Apple Mail takes forever to download mail, and often, on a 5 hour flight, it can’t seem to get a single email sent. It just doesn’t play well with Gmail. In these situations on my laptop, I switch to Airmail. It’s simple, clean, and has a great interface. I still like the Apple Mail shortcuts and interface better, but Airmail will work anywhere, anytime. On my phone, I’ll switch to the Gmail app which works much faster as well. I have the new “Mailbox” app on my phone, but it wants to re-structure my email folders, so I won’t be using that anytime soon since I’ve customized my email folders exactly the way I like them.

2. Productivity:  I like “Things” a lot. Simple, easy, and very elegant. Syncs with my phone, iPad, and laptop flawlessly. I also have Wunderlist, but it doesn’t have enough features (unless you pay for the subscription), and Omnifocus is way too complicated. Things is the perfect middle ground for me. It’s not cheap, but it performs well, and I use it everyday.

3. Travel:  My airline of choice is American Airlines and their mobile app performs very well. It works perfectly sending my boarding passes to Apple’s Passbook app so they’ll be handy. But I also send all my travel itineraries to Tripit, so I can easily manage my flights, rental cars, and hotels online. Tripit also feeds a few good Flight Tracker programs. My favorite is FlightTrack Pro (however it’s not being developed anymore.) It’s still out there so I keep using it, but I’m experimenting with Flight Update Pro. Both are very solid Flight Trackers (which is critical if you spend as much time as me running between airline connections.)  Other great travel apps are Timescroller, which allows you to scroll through the clock in multiple time zones – essential for scheduling meetings, and Currency is a simple app for calculating different international currencies. I also use SeatGuru and GateGuru. If you travel, you need both apps.

4. Tracking Projects:  Cooke Media Group, our media production company uses Trello for tracking projects, and it syncs between all platforms as well. It’s the simplest, most visual project tracker I’ve found and the mobile version works very well for us.

5. Reading:  When it comes to reading, I love Pocket, which allows me to store web pages to read on my iPad or iPhone later. I also use the Feedly Reader, which keeps all my RSS feeds organized. I’m also a big fan of Flipboard. My favorite iPad or iPhone reading app is the YouVersion Bible app. Brilliantly designed, easy to use, with many Bible translations, devotionals, and other resources, it makes reading, sharing, and engaging the Bible so much easier than anything else on the market. When it comes to book length reads, I switch to my trusty Kindle, since an iPad is pretty worthless outside in the sun.

6. The rest are the usual mobile apps everyone probably uses: Skype, Dropbox, and social media apps like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  I use Tweetbot for Twitter, and I’m starting to use Periscope more and more. I’m constantly experimenting with apps so I have far more on my phone and iPad than this, but these are the core I use when I’m on the road.

I’m always open to new ideas. Any other suggestions for our readers?

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  1. I personally love Slack. It’s a great project management system that’s incredible simple and allows me to communicate with my team without having to open email. That way I’m only getting important information while limited on data!

    1. Good advice. I’ve heard a lot about it but never tried it. I would LOVE to cut down the sheer numbers of email, and starting with the office team is a good place. Thanks, and I’ll look at it more closely…

    1. Great question Lamar. Here’s my Evernote beefs:
      1. Whenever you put files into the app, they become “Evernote” files – not the original Word, Excel, or other format.
      2. It puts everything essentially into a single file. That makes me nervous when you have thousands of documents in there.
      3. It’s a monthly fee (to use it seriously).
      It’s a very well designed app, but if I need to pull out a document, I want to pull it out as it was originally – not the updated Evernote version. I’ve tried similar apps like DevonThink, Together, and others. But what I’ve ended up doing is just putting them into a folder system in my Mac Finder. All that goes into Dropbox, so anyone from my team can access them at any time.

  2. I really like TripCase for managing travel. You just forward all your confirmation emails (airlines, hotel, rental cars, etc) and TripCase picks out all the details you need and puts it into one trip. I also find that TripCase knows my flight has been delayed before American Airlines does.

    1. Funny you bring that up. I’m in a meeting right now with the Museum of the Bible donor development team, and they use TripCase. And the line about it finding out about delays before the airline is interesting. FlightTrack Pro does the same. Amazing 3rd party apps know about delays before airlines do… (or before airlines are willing to admit it.)

  3. I am relatively new to the app. but I have liked what I have seen so far. I am checking into using it for streaming church services and promotion of events. The trend seems to be streaming on the go or live events such as concerts. U2 concerts are being promoted with a live stream from the concerts.

  4. I like Calendly for scheduling meetings or one-to-ones with our Bible school students (sync with my Google Calendar at work).

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