Working Apps



See the new issue of Briefings magazine, available at newsstands and online.

Even before Elizabeth Dukes rolls out of bed, she pulls up an app. In fact, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of the software firm iOFFICE subsists on a steady diet of apps—more than a dozen a day. They help her wake up in the morning, control the air conditioner in her Houston home, and even provide daily Bible verses. (“It frames my focus,” she says.)

At work, the apps keep on coming, helping with tasks from project management to organizing conference rooms. “With this thing in my pocket,” she says, referring to her mobile phone, “I have everything I need to run the company.”

The mobile app market has certainly come a long way since the iPhone first came out a decade ago. Today, Google Play alone lists 2.8 million apps, while Apple’s App Store boasts 2.2 million. Though many of them are just for fun, the future appears to be in apps for the “deskless” workforce, says venture capitalist Kevin Spain, a general partner at Emergence Capital. People who aren’t tied to their desks during their workdays represent 80 percent of the world—including people in construction, manufacturing, retail, law enforcement and healthcare. “About a quarter of a trillion dollars a year is spent on software for information workers, and that’s only 20 percent of world’s workforce,” Spain says.

But, for those who have desks or not, the options just keep on getting more handy. Here are five top ones.



This app makes it easy to manage the most time-intensive, complex projects as well as remember to pick up a carton of milk on the way home. You can also flag tasks based on “priority level,” so you can check off the 17 most important tasks you need to accomplish for the day.



For the overcharged executive on the road, what could be better than toting a concierge service in your pocket? At least, that’s the conceit of ALICE (it stands for A Life-Improving Customer Experience). A hotel guest downloads the app upon check-in and can use it to arrange for a constantly updated list of services or amenities: pre-order room service or have the valet bring the car around—you name it.



Co-created by a Brit formally trained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Headspace teaches the basics of breathing and visualization associated with secular meditation. It provides a full set of guided meditations in the form of audio sessions designed to lead you on a journey of contemplation.



Say goodbye to cue cards, flash cards, paper notes and scripts with this app. Simply mount an iPad or iPhone on a tripod and the app functions as a mobile teleprompter that lets you practice and deliver speeches—plus it keeps track of time.



Akin to Post-it Notes, this app lets users create notes and lists in different colors and stick them to their home screens. They can set reminders, check off items as they’re completed, protect notes with a password and sync to the cloud or archive. And, unlike paper notes, there’s a search function for easy recall.

Download the PDF