We are, essentially, technology guinea pigs. We try out apps, network equipment, computers, and more to find the best tools for the job. Here are some of our favorite lesser known apps.
Google Keep is a powerful note-taking application that you can access via your smartphone, tablet, or computer. This useful tool is a part of every G Suite or Gmail account that allows you to take notes and save tidbits of information on the go in an easy, accessible way. Whether you’re taking notes during a company meeting, leaving yourself a voice memo of a brilliant idea when away from your desk, or making a grocery list of what to buy at Trader Joe’s after work, Keep handles it all.
There are a lot of great features to Keep that make it stand out from other note taking apps we have tried, many of which you would have to pay for in other apps.
Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to important information. Add collaborators to meeting notes, to-do tasks, grocery lists or anything your heart desires. This is especially helpful if you are using Keep as a part of G Suite, like us, since your coworker will be able to look at the note without having to download another app or create an account for yet another service.
A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Take a photo on your phone and then visit Keep in your computer browser. You’ll be able to pull text from the picture with decent accuracy. This is helpful if you get a lot of client business cards or want to pull information from labels.
Keep isn’t designed for creating a large backlog of content, like Evernote or OneNote, as it lacks formal folders, but the tagging function is enough to separate notes for work from grocery lists. It is a bit more of a virtual Post-it note app and excels where you need something fast and incredibly efficient.
Calendly is like having your own executive assistant that schedules meetings with clients, customers, and colleagues at a mutually agreeable time in a very simple interface. It eliminates email tag and lets you focus on work that matters. Once you sign up for Calendly, you set time spans during which you can accept meetings and your desired event types, such as a 15 minute call or 30 minute meeting, then you’re ready to go.
Send the calendar link to your guest and they’ll see what days and times work for the two of you. It checks conflicts by only showing your invitee times in which you both want to meet and don’t have something booked on your calendar already. Calendly will automatically check your calendar for any conflicts and only send out times that fit for the two of you. After the time slot is confirmed, the guest enters their name and email and can add the event to their own calendar. The free version is enough for one on one meetings, but if you need something a bit more robust that can handle multiple attendees, you will have to pay for the service. As a free service, however, Calendly can be a huge time saver.
Okta is a corporate single sign-on solution that allows for automatic logins to websites. It is a user-friendly way for end-users to access all their applications with a simple click of a button. As an Okta admin, you are able (and encouraged) to push out 2 factor authentication to make everything more secure.
As a user, you simply log into the Okta account hosted by your company and can log into any of the applications on your home screen by clicking them. Once you add an app or website to Okta it is accessible on your home screen for you to log in with one click. With Okta, forgotten URLs and logins are dramatically reduced because it remembers it all for you.
This one is for those of you who have multiple iOS and/or Mac devices. While it’s not completely unknown, a helpful little trick would be to sign into iCloud on all of the Apple devices you have with the same Apple ID. This function allows you to start work on one device and pick up where you left off on another, all managed behind the scenes through iCloud sync.
Imagine this… You’re on a crowded bus or train, and you came up with a great idea on the way to the office. You’re sandwiched between commuters so tight you wouldn’t dream of taking your MacBook out, but you already have your iPhone in hand, so you open up the Notes app and perform a brain dump. As soon as you get to your destination you’re able to open up your MacBook and pick right back up where you left off. Any work you’ve done on one device will reflect on your other devices. This works not only with Apple apps like Reminders and Contacts. When you enable iCloud Drive on your devices, you can also sync other apps like the Microsoft Office suite.
How many times have you copied a picture or a piece of text on your Mac, only to realize that you needed it again after copying something else? Worse yet, what if you won’t remember where you copied that information from? Luckily for you, there’s a free tool called ClipMenu available for you to use. After installing, this easy-to-use utility that lives in your Mac’s menu bar can store the last 20 items you’ve copied.
But ClipMenu’s versatility doesn’t stop there. You can create and store any number of snippets to the menu. This way, if you have any text or images that you use frequently, you have a place to access them at any time.
Fing scans your network and identifies which devices are connected. It tells you who is signed onto your home network and how many devices are logged on. The reason you want to know this information is to make sure that all devices that are connected are ones that you have given permission to connect.
Fing comes with several handy features, such as alerts that notify you when a new device joins the network. As a security tool it is quite helpful for identifying intruders and unwanted devices on your network. While sharing wifi is a nice thing to do, you want to have only people you know using your network. Otherwise, sensitive data can be stolen from you as you browse the web.
Another great app that will help keep you secure and make your life easier is Google Authenticator. Nowadays you have to be preventive when it comes to online security and Authenticator helps you make this easy.
Google Authenticator is an application that implements two-step verification for applications. Instead of using SMS to text a code to your phone, Authenticator provides a six to eight digit one-time password code in the app to authenticate. You would use Authenticator in addition to your username and password for services in which you have enabled 2FA, such as Google. The Authenticator can also generate codes for third-party applications, such as password managers. This adds another layer of security by requiring two steps to log in, instead of just a username and password.
LastPass is a cloud-based password manager with a browser extension, mobile app, and even desktop app for nearly every major platform. Whether you use Mozilla on a Mac or an Android phone, it has you covered. It’s an extremely powerful and secure password manager that offers two-factor authentication and secure password generation. LastPass stores all of your passwords on the LastPass server in an encrypted form so only you can access them.
While at first, using a password manager may seem counterintuitive, they are more secure because there is a limit to how many complex passwords a human can store in their brain. As a result, many people use the same weak and easy to guess password for all of the sites they use. This means that if a hacker guesses one password of yours, they can get access to multiple accounts. A password manager allows you to store unique, strong passwords for each site that are more complex than your brain can remember. While we are very bad at remembering and coming up with secure passwords, computers are great at it, which is another reason to use a password manager. We personally like and recommend Lastpass but there are many other solid options, such as 1Password and KeePass, for those that like open source software. If you take one thing away from this post, please use a password manager.