Apple iPhoneDespite being the powerful tools that they are, smartphones have something of a negative reputation with a lot of people. They’re seen as symbolic of our attention-deficit lifestyles due to people not being able to go five minutes without checking their phone for a missed call, a text, a tweet, or a Facebook message. And then there’s the ability to be anti-social even when you’re at social gatherings by burying your face in your phone.

What if that person you see at that party or in that restaurant tinkering away on his iPhone wasn’t being anti-social or having attention span issues? What if he was instead being entirely productive? Given the sheer number of iPhone productivity apps available, it’s definitely possible. While it’s far from ideal, as a writer, I can even do the bulk of my work from my smartphone.

The iPhone, when in the right hands, can be the ultimate productivity tool. Here are dozens of apps, some free, some not, to help you on your way to getting things done.

Note-taking Apps

Notes are important, especially if your memory is as spotty as mine is. The iPhone is ideal for taking notes — when you have the right app, of course.

Evernote – A service that I myself use frequently, Evernote allows you to sync your notes, photos, voice reminders, and more across multiple devices by using one master account.

Evernote for iPhone

Evernote for iPhone

Microsoft OneNote – You’ll be fraternizing with the enemy, but Microsoft OneNote is an excellent way to store notes in a Microsoft Office-esque environment.

Documents To Go – Office Suite — If you take so many notes that you’re practically writing documents, this is the app you want. You can work on Word files on the go.

MailMe Text – This app works by allowing you to email yourself your notes in an extremely quick fashion without having to go through your iPhone’s email application.

Awesome Note – This is perfect for those who do actually have trouble paying attention. Awesome Note boasts colorful visuals to help make your notes truly stand out.

To-Do List Apps

To-do lists are the backbone of organization. You could make one with pen and paper, like a caveman, or you could use one of several useful iPhone apps.

ToDo – The simply named ToDo lets you sync your task list across all of your devices so you’re never in the dark as to what you need to do next.

Toodledo – Do you like to keep your to-do lists simple? If so, this certainly isn’t the app for you. Toodle allows you to sort and filter your tasks by 15 different attributes.

ToodleDo for iPhone

ToodleDo for iPhone

Due – Due might not technically be a to-do list app, but its reminder-based system functions the same way. Set multiple reminders to keep yourself on your toes.

2Do — This award-winning to-do list app can help with everything from simple lists to full-blown project management. Plenty of features almost guarantee that you’ll find something that you like.

RSS Readers

Really simple syndication is one of the best things to happen to those of us who love to voraciously consume text-based media. Having an RSS reader app on your iPhone allows you to catch up on news wherever you go, which is a great way to kill time while in line at the grocery store.

Reeder – Reeder (not a typo) not only manages your RSS feeds, but it’ll allow you to read updates from Twitter, Facebook, and more with its intuitive gesture-based interface.

Byline – Byline is a full-featured RSS reader that can store up to 1,000 items for offline viewing, perfect for when you’re in areas where service is spotty and there’s no wireless around. Hey, it happens.

Byline for iPhone

Byline for iPhone

Feeddler – Don’t let the odd spelling fool you: Feeddler is a serious app for a serious job. Voted a “must have” app by several publications, Feeddler is a highly customizable Google Reader client that stays in sync through thick and thin.

Pulse – For the more vain iPhone users out there, Pulse is an effective RSS reader app with a nice visual style. Out with the boring lists of text, in with the snazzy picture-based interface.

NewsRack – True to its name, NewsRack gives you a virtual news rack to peruse. It’s more than just a visual wonder, though. It’s also a powerful feed aggregator.


There are plenty of fantastic productivity apps for the iPhone that can’t be fit into a specific category. In miscellaneous, you’ll find excellent ways to manage your finances, view webpages offline, and remotely retrieve files from your home or work PC.

TripIt – When I take trips, I tend to stress out more than most. I’ve found that a smartphone can be a very useful tool when it comes to maintaining a travel itinerary, especially when you have an app like TripIt.

Instapaper – Instapaper not only allows you to save webpages for offline viewing, but it strips away all the bells and whistles of most pages and whittles then down to plain text for maximum reading efficiency.

Dragon Dictation — It’s not always convenient to turn your iPhone sideways and type out a long message. With Dragon Dictation, you can speak out an email, text, or social networking update.

SugarSync – You never know exactly what files you’re going to need when you’re out and about. With SugarSync, you can access remote PCs with your iPhone, so you always have access to all of your files.

SugarSync for iPhone

SugarSync for iPhone

WorkSnug – If you’re the kind of person who can take your work with you wherever you go, you may not always know just where to take it. WorkSnug can help you find the nearest and best place to get work done based on atmosphere, noise levels, WiFi, and even coffee quality.

Mint — I’ll let you guys in on a little secret: I’m not great at keeping track of my finances. With Mint, you don’t have to be, as the app will track, budget, and manage your money for you. It’s like having an accountant in your pocket.

CalenGoo – Like to-do lists, calendars are very important productivity tools. CalenGoo lets you sync it up with Google Calendar so you can view your itinerary wherever you go.

Diacarta – When it comes to getting things done, it’s important to find out what works for you. Diacarta just might be that thing — a day planner with an extremely unique and impressive visual style.

Groceries - We all need to eat, though listing this app last makes me wonder about my priorities. Groceries takes that timeless supermarket staple — the grocery list — and brings it into the digital realm.

Of course, there are countless more productivity apps available for the iPhone. This is merely a tiny chunk of the plethora of software available to help you get things done and it’s growing everyday. I encourage you to always experiment and look for new apps, but this list should give you a good headstart.

Image credit: goincase / Flickr