Must-have Android apps

The best Android apps for organizing your life

From projects to places and to-do lists to travel, these Android apps will help you organize all the important areas of your life.

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Most of us juggle an immense amount of information these days — enough tasks, to-do's, and scattered scraps of mental data to fill up a 40-gallon fish tank. (Just imagine all those tiny little thought-fishies swimming around! Glub, glub, glub.)

But guess what? Your tired ol' noggin isn't the only tool for keeping track of the important stuff in your life. That shiny slab of glass in your pocket is overflowing with excellent apps that can organize practically everything imaginable for you. And now's as good a time as any to embrace their organizational prowess and give your brain a break.

These are the best Android apps for organizing different areas of your life — all free unless otherwise noted and all readily available on the web as well as on other platforms so they can be accessed from any device, anytime.

Organize your projects

Trello

Whether you're working with a team or trying to keep your own independent projects in order, Trello provides an intuitive yet feature-packed system for organizing ideas and tracking progress.

The app breaks your business down into a series of boards. Within each board, you create a series of lists. And within each list, you add any number of cards — individual items that contain text, photos, files, and so on. You can label and color-code cards and assign due dates, and you (and anyone else you invite) can comment on cards to add in thoughts and updates.

android organization apps trello JR Raphael/IDG

Trello's boards (at left) provide a powerful and versatile system for organizing cards with text, photos, files, and even to-do lists (at right).

If you really want to get wild, Trello has an advanced automation system called Butler that lets you set up all sorts of custom rules and actions for your info. For instance, you might make it so that anytime a card is given the label "Urgent," Butler automatically moves it to the top of its list, assigns it a due date one workday into the future, and sends out an email to you and anyone else relevant to make sure the item doesn't get forgotten.

You could also ask Butler to organize your cards automatically based on their due dates or even their most recent activity first thing every morning. (Butler can be configured only from Trello's website or desktop app, by the way, but once your rules are established, they'll work within the Android app as well.)

Trello is free with optional $5-a-month individual subscriptions along with $10-per-user-per-month business plans that unlock a variety of additional features — including larger file attachments; more advanced automation capabilities; timeline, table, and calendar views for your boards; and a range of advanced management capabilities.

Workflowy

For a more multilayered, text-driven manner of organization, Workflowy — a relatively new info-organizing tool — is well worth exploring.

Workflowy lets you organize projects into a series of outline-like bullet points. That simple but surprisingly powerful structure empowers you to envision your info as an "infinite document," with numerous connected layers, each of which can be collapsed or expanded with a single tap.

02 note taking apps workflowy b JR Raphael/IDG

Workflowy uses a simple but powerful system of collapsible bullet points to help you organize your projects — or almost anything else imaginable.

You can even tap on any individual bullet point within Workflowy to open it as a standalone document and work on it as if it were its own Word or Google Docs file.

Basics aside, Workflowy has some impressive tools for intricate organization, including a tagging system that makes it easy to link different bullet points together and a mirroring system that allows you to have certain bullet points appear in multiple places. It also has a robust collaboration system for sharing either entire lists or just specific individual bullet points with others as viewable and optionally editable web links.

Workflowy is free for individual use, with a limit of 250 new lists and items per month. A Pro plan — which removes that restriction and adds in more customization options, a Dropbox backup possibility, and premium-level support — runs $49 a year or $48 per user per year in a team arrangement, with administration abilities included.

Organize your to-do lists

Todoist

Android's got plenty of commendable tools for making lists and organizing tasks, but Todoist is a cut above the rest. The app features a clean and easy-to-navigate interface with oodles of useful features for making, organizing, and — critically — actually progressing through all types of lists.

Todoist's main screen revolves around a "Today" view that shows, as you'd expect, any tasks you have pending for the day. You can move from there to a broader "Inbox" view that includes all of your pending tasks, regardless of whether they have a date associated with them, as well as an "Upcoming" view that shows a calendar-like breakdown of date-specific tasks based on when they're set to be due.

That simple framework may be enough for some people, but where Todoist really shines is in its advanced task organization options — for instance, the way the app lets you create subtasks and then subtasks within subtasks and assign any of those items its own label, priority flag, and time- or location-based reminder. You can even attach comments or file uploads to individual tasks and subtasks, too.

Todoist makes it easy to search through your tasks, browse by labels, or browse by filters — variables such a task's priority level, its due date (or lack thereof), and whether it's assigned to you or to someone else, in a team setting.

The service also has an interesting "Projects" section that lets you organize tasks into multilayered projects and then view them either as traditional lists or as Trello-like boards, with list titles transformed into columns and tasks appearing as cards you can drag around to rearrange.

android organization apps todoist JR Raphael/IDG

Todoist's "Today" section, at left, with subtasks — and the board view within the "Projects" section, at right.

Todoist boasts lots of built-in (and in many cases customizable) shortcuts for getting around the app and processing tasks quickly. It has time-saving touches like the ability to type tasks in plain English and have the appropriate settings applied — typing "Call Mary Fri at 3," for instance, to create a task and save it with a due date of Friday at 3 p.m. And it's perfectly suited for both individual and team use.

Todoist is free at its base level, though some of the more advanced features — including reminders, comments, attachments, labels, and filters — require a $36-a-year Premium subscription. Team plans are also available for $5 per user per month.

Organize your notes

Microsoft OneNote

If you ever feel like your brain could use some supplementary storage, Microsoft OneNote is the app you need. It's not the simplest Android note-taking app around, but for anyone who has a constant barrage of incoming information, it's the best fully featured option for pulling different types of data together and keeping everything in a sensible order.

OneNote features a notebook-driven system for organizing practically any type of information imaginable — tapped-out memos, voice notes, images, handwriting, or any combination of those elements. It has ample tools for formatting and structuring your notes in any way you like, too.

android note taking apps onenote canvas JR Raphael/IDG

OneNote gives you tons of flexibility in how you can collect and format information within your various notebooks.

You can even forward emails into your notebooks for safekeeping via a unique address and save entire web pages for later reference by sharing them from your phone's browser. And speaking of later reference, OneNote has a standout search system both for notes across your account and for specific info within a note you're actively viewing.

For the ultimate in cross-platform note organization with an emphasis on Android, OneNote is absolutely the way to go.

Organize random things you need to remember

Google Assistant

For fast on-the-go reminders, you can't do much better than your device's built-in Google Assistant — which can be accessed in recent Android versions either by using the "Hey Google" hotword or by swiping diagonally upward from either lower corner of the screen. (With older phones, Assistant is often accessible via a long-press or a swipe-up from the legacy Android Home button.) You can also set up a home screen shortcut for Assistant, if you'd rather, by installing this companion app.

When you need to remember something at a particular place or time, just tell Assistant what it is and how you want to be reminded. For instance, you could say "remind me to buy figs when I'm at the grocery," "remind me to talk to Myrtle when I get to work," or "remind me to call in the lunch order at 11 a.m." When you reach the appropriate time or place, your phone — and any other compatible devices on which you're signed in — will alert you.

When you just need to remember something and don't want an alert, meanwhile, simply tell Assistant to remember it — "remember that my rental car is a blue Honda Accord with Arizona license plate X2A3PQ," "remember that Murray's wife's name is Hortense," "remember that the Boston office Wi-Fi password is 'pickle123,'" and so on. Then, when you need to recall the related info, all you have to do ask (see the screenshot below).

android organization apps google assistant JR Raphael/IDG

Google Assistant can keep you from forgetting all sorts of important information.

Automated organization — doesn't get any easier than that.

Organize places and parking locations

Google Maps

Sure, you know Google Maps is great for navigation — but did you know you can also use it to keep track of important places?

Open up Maps, then tap the Saved tab at the bottom of the screen. Scroll down until you see the section labeled "Your lists" and look for the "New list" option within it. That'll let you create a collection of related places — like good spots for business lunches or all of your client offices within a particular area. You can then pull up all those places on a single interactive map for easy browsing or navigation.

android organization apps google maps JR Raphael/IDG

Maps lets you maintain custom collections of related places and then view them as a list (at left) or on a map (at right).

Maps can also remember your parking location and then help you find it later: Just open the app and tap the blue dot that represents your current location, then select "Save your parking" from the menu that appears. If you want, you can even add notes or photos and set a timer-based reminder. You'll then see your saved location in a box at the bottom of the app as well as in a notification at the top of your display.

Organize your travel

TripIt

If you spend much time flying the friendly (or sometimes not-so-friendly) skies — or maybe you just hope to get back to doing that and other vaguely normal business activities in the not-too-distant future — TripIt is an Android travel app worth cramming into your carry-on.

The service makes it simple as can be to add any sort of plans into an automatically organizing trip-specific agenda: You just forward any confirmation email — whether it's about flight plans, hotel reservations, car rental info, or almost anything else — to a specific email address, and the service extracts all the details and puts them into a tidy and easily shareable format. It can even sync those plans with your calendar app and make them appear in your agenda without any extra effort, if you want to create such a connection.

All of those features are completely free, but TripIt's most exceptional value comes from its optional $49-a-year TripIt Pro service — which adds in useful features like real-time flight alerts (both during your trip and in the days and weeks leading up to it), a monitoring system for refund-generating fare reductions, and a helpful assistant that lets you find and book alternate flights if the need ever arises.

android organization apps google tripit JR Raphael/IDG

TripIt creates neatly organized itineraries and — if you use its optional Pro service — can even monitor your flights and help you find alternate options where seats are still available.

The Pro membership also gives you a free four-month trial on CLEAR access for faster security processing at certain airports and then a recurring $20 annual discount on the program, if you decide to stick with it.

Organize your expenses

Expensify

Trying to keep track of receipts for business-related expenses is one of life's great annoyances — but wait! There's a better way.

Whether you're logging expenses on the road or receiving bills via email, Expensify does all the organizational work for you. You simply scan any physical receipt within the app, and it'll extract and log all the relevant details. For electronic statements, you can forward them to a specific address and have the same thing happen.

android organization apps expensify JR Raphael/IDG

Expensify makes it easy to save and organize your business expenses.

Expensify can even categorize and notate your expenses based on custom rules you create. And when all of your data is collected, it can organize it into ready-to-send expense reports or transmit the info directly into your accounting software.

The service costs $5 a month or $9 per user per month for a business-level subscription that includes features such as corporate credit card reconciliation and multi-stage approval.

Organize all of your physical documents

Stack

While Expensify has the most fully featured, time-saving setup for receipt saving and expense processing, a new "experimental" Google app called Stack also deserves a mention in the area of broader paperwork organization.

Stack lets you import any manner of physical paperwork into your phone — by snapping a photo or by finding an existing PDF or image on your device — and then it automatically pulls out pertinent info for at-a-glance viewing and makes the paper's entire text searchable on demand.

Prefer to browse rather than search? No problem: Stack sorts your documents into different "stacks," or categories, for easy future discovery. It even makes automatic suggestions of tags for every paper you add in. And everything in the app is synced to Google Drive, so you'll know it's always readily available.

android organization apps stack JR Raphael/IDG

Stack organizes your physical documents into a variety of "stacks," or categories, and also makes all of their text easily searchable.

Stack isn't the most effective tool for business-oriented expense processing, specifically, but it is a spectacular new option for more general storing and organizing of physical papers in a digital world.

Organize articles you want to read

Notion

The internet tends to have more alluring content than a day has available time. And while Notion certainly isn't the most obvious tool to address that discrepancy, the multipurpose info-organizing app is absolutely the best way to hang onto worthwhile articles and then find and read 'em later.

Notion does a lot of different things, and it can be a little overwhelming to wrap your head around at first. For the purposes of article-saving, though, it's actually quite simple: You just share any article you want from your phone's browser into Notion, and just like that, it'll be imported into the service. (You can also do the same with the service's desktop browser extensions on your computer.)

The real beauty, though, is in what happens next: Notion automatically optimizes every article you add in, with ads and other extraneous elements getting stripped out, and then stores them all within a page (which is kind of like a folder or a category) of your choosing. You can then read entire articles right then and there, without having to rely on any external websites or browsers. In fact, you'll end up reading your own local copy of the article instead of the original web-based version.

And that's what makes Notion especially interesting, as the local copy arrangement empowers you to highlight and even add to or edit any articles you've saved. Once imported, the info is essentially just a series of text and images, so you can manipulate it in pretty much any way you want. You can tag articles, too, and even choose from several advanced views — including a Trello-like Kanban board — if you want to go all out with your organization.

android organization apps notion JR Raphael/IDG

Notion is filled with useful options for saving and organizing articles from the web, including this handy Trello-like Kanban view.

Notion is free for its basic features, which include everything you'll need for these article-saving purposes. The service also has a $48-a-year Personal Pro plan and an $96 per user per year Team plan for other broader-use benefits.

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This story was originally published in January 2018 and most recently updated in April 2021.

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