Top 5 iPhone Applications for Productivity

I cannot believe that I have never done a Top 5 list on this blog. In fact I have never done a blog entry based around a list before so here goes.

What better place to start than with a list for my Top 5 Productivity Tools on the iPhone.

I love my Apple iPhone. it has to be the single gadget that has most affected my productivity. Being an advocate of the Getting Things Done methodology, I love to talk about ubiquitous capture, and the iPhone is my capture device of choice.

In my opinion, Apple have brought together an amazing collection of tools that you can carry around as a single device in order to help you achieve what is required from your working day, as well as leaving some room for the fun and social aspects of the iPhone.

Here are my Top Five iPhone Apps for Productivity.

  • Calendar – Bit of an obvious one this but my life runs around my Calendar. The built in Calendar application is one of the most used apps on my iPhone. I sync to my desktop using MobileMe which now works fantastically after the initial teething problems. I can enter an appointment on my iPhone or on my Mac and they sync in the cloud without having to do anything. What a great technology and it means my calendar, and work schedule is always on my iPhone.
  • OmniFocusOmniFocus is the current GTD application that I use. I have multiple projects configured both for my home and work lives and this application is in constant use. I capture my thoughts to OmniFocus and they sync again over MobileMe back to my Mac. I have not really played with the location aware profiles yet but I am sure I will.
  • EverNote – I record all my receipts and photo notes straight to Evernote. I have every invoice and purchase order in PDF from my business as well as all the other files that I want to share between multiple locations stored in EverNote. The Web application, Mac Application, and iPhone application make this a killer note taking and storing app for me.
  • iBlueSky – I recently reviewed iBlueSky, the newest Mind Mapping application for the iPhone. I have found myself using this app rather than creating paper Mind Maps. The developer assures me that my little niggles with it are being addressed in a later version for which I cannot wait.
  • ZenbeZenbe for me is about making lists. OmniFocus in my opinion is too heavyweight for simple recurring lists so I have tended to create these in Zenbe. These sync with Zenbe on the Internet and the very simple click process for ticking off your list items makes this my list manager of choice.

I would love to hear from the rest of you to see what your best apps are for productivity on the iPhone.

Thanks for your time.


24 thoughts on “Top 5 iPhone Applications for Productivity

  1. ikd


    Nice review. I concur on the calendar and the zenbe lists.
    Especially the latter app is must have. I have not tried omnifocus yet, although from what I hear and read it may be too heavy sometimes.

    Have you considered thinkingrock? it’s a java thing.


  2. Troy Malone

    I have been using more and more of Evernote on my phone. It makes for a great ubiquitous capture device. We recently integrated with the Evernote API and now I can assign out tasks, create messages and upload files directly from my Evernotes in my project management system Pelotonics. It makes Evernote all the more useful and relevant to me getting things done.

  3. Andrew Mason Post author


    I looked at Thinkingrock early on on my GTD journey but I love the way OmniFocus works, it really suits me. Zenbe is really great for lists and the sync with the online version is great.


  4. Andrew Mason Post author


    I would use Things if OmniFocus was around. Things is a really cool app that has a much more appealing interface than OmniFocus. I really do need to do a comparison review of both.


  5. Andrew Mason Post author


    What a great idea to utilize the Evernote API! I will have to check Pelotonics out and review it.


  6. Pingback: Productivity Power Links 10-22-08 « Geeks Guide To Productivity

  7. Jim Mankin

    I love your blog. Your picks are great and I would add Jott. When you are in traffic this is an awesome way to capture thoughts.
    Jim Mankin

  8. Andrew Mason Post author

    @Jim Mankin,

    Hi Jim, glad you like the blog 🙂

    I would love to use Jott, but it is not available in the UK. We cannot even download it as we get an error message from iTunes saying it it not available to the UK Store 🙁

    Hopefully one day I would be able to use Jott as I know it is a service that I would use, and love.

    Thanks, and have a great day.


  9. John B. Kendrick

    Calendar is my first stop as well, especially since it syncs with the mobileme cloud, and also gets appointments realtime from my GroupWise account at work through a PDA server. They are forwarded to mobileme which I have setup to automatically accept all appointments sent from work.

    And of course my GTD is Nozbe, for which I have written extensively on my blog at Nozbe is an online app which allows me to view my entire GTD at work on my Win machine, at home on my Macs and even on my iPhone.

    And, like Andrew, Jott is another app that I wouldn’t be without, even though they have recently gone out of Beta and now charge for the app. Jott allows me call in tasks to my Nozbe GTD without any writing or typing, great for those thoughts that hit me while driving. And I also use it for quick reminders as it sends an SMS alert to my iPhone 15 minutes before the appointed time.

    And finally there is AirSharing, which allows me to have my worksheets, docs and pdf’s with me wherever I go.

    I’ve written about my experiences with all of these applicatons on my blog at if you would like more details. Just click on the index to locate what interests you most. John

  10. Andrew Mason Post author

    @John Kendrick,

    Thanks for the comment John. I also use Air Sharing and find it the best way for sharing files between my Mac and the iPhone.

    Keep up the good work!


  11. Andrew Mason Post author

    @David Pierce

    Thanks for your comment, and keep up the good work with your blog.



  12. estravizhausen

    Really interesting your comments. Actually I’m a bit in a trial mode with some productivity and note-taking programs. Some of them were very simple and them I discovered reQall, with a pretty cool interface. It allows you to create to-do lists, shopping lists and voice notes. I wasn’t quite convinced about Zenbe despite its good syncing. But then I gave a 2nd chance to Easytask, which is also free and syncs quite well. I think it suites my needs: you can make use of contexts, projects and projects of projects, etc. The bad side: it is not very stable sometimes… Evernote for fast voice comments and photos with quick notes. Air sharing as s.o. has said before… And finally, the native calendar.
    Could anybody explain his/her experience with Things (and btw with Omnifocus)? Thank you in advance.

  13. Louis Franco

    I use Things on my iPhone, and I love it. However, there was always something missing for me in GTD apps — recurring events without an exact time. There are some things that I want to do consistently, but don’t want them cluttering my Calendar. Things like calling my Mom once a week (any time) or going to the gym every 2 to 3 days.

    I created a GTD Companion app called Habits to meet this need for myself ( It’s meant to be used with Things or OmniFocus (or any other to-do mananger), not instead. I’m finding it incredibly useful for these kinds of “sort-of” recurring tasks.

  14. Adam

    Is there a GTD application out there that has an alarm notification when something is due? Haven’t found anything yet. Thank you for all your thoughts very interesting.

  15. Andrew Mason Post author

    Hi Adam,

    There have not been any apps like this yet as up to now the applications cannot run background processes so the app only works whilst it is running on the phone. This is scheduled for release by Apple pretty soon and when it does, the iPhone will become an even better tool for productivity!

    Thanks for the comment,

  16. Kyle

    Hi there,
    I have been looking for an iPhone app for ages that will replicate the functions of the Palm Pilot task application. All I want is a Get-Things-Done app that is OFF-LINE, and I don’t want to have to pay subscription fees to synch with my desktop, either (as with Mobileme).

    Any ideas? I was reading with interest your reviews on the site, but they seem to feature online apps. Please advise!

  17. cloudrider

    @ Andrew

    Thanks for the list! I’ll try out iBlueSky and Zenbe.

    I would put Calendar, OmniFocus on my list as well. I’ve recently put Evernote up there after they came out with a recent release to mark an item as “Favorite”, which makes the note accessible offline.

    Three other apps are:
    1) Notes2Self – this is my Ubiquitous Capture Tool. It has the best design of all the voice recorders on the Appstore. It has a cool feature of putting the iphone to your ear, and it will start recording, and putting the phone down to stop recording.
    2) Camera – My visual Ubiquitous Capture Tool. I take pictures of restaurants I want to go to, or books or DVDs I want to buy, and type them into my “system” when I get home.
    3) FileMagnet – to upload your documents to. It’s a nice app overall. Good design.

  18. Aamy

    Hi there, you all should surely try out – Appigo Todo 2.0, its a wonderful iphone GTD application. I tried Omnifocus and was not happy with in lot of ways. Would be great to hear from you about Appigo Todo.

    Affly Aamy

  19. Adam Chavez

    I definitely agree with you that Evernote is a great app for note-taking and can potentially save you time with its awesome search feature — especially when you take advantage of its web+desktop+mobile applications.

    I thought of a few more apps that I like — some of which came out after this post. Here’s my list:

    Let me know what you think, thanks!

  20. Amanda

    I couldn’t live without AwesomeNote – organizes all of your lists and has reminders & due dates.

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