Like many of us, I start each day by looking at my phone. While still prone, I check my email, my calendar, and my messengers. It may seem sadistic to immediately plunge into the day before my feet even hit the floor, but I like the feeling of quickly setting my expectations for the day. As this morning process has become a near ritual, I have found a few apps to make my morning, and the rest of my day, more organized, and frankly more fun.
The first thing I do, after I turn off my alarm clock, is open my calendar. There are so many options for calendars on the Android platform, but I have found that Sunrise is the best solution for me. Sure, it shows you what’s going on today, but it does a lot more than that. In the default setting you see your appointments and meetings for today, and a 2-week abbreviated calendar. This split screen view makes it easy to know what you’re doing today, tomorrow and the weekend. Surprisingly, the split screen does not make your calendar seem cramped. The Sunrise developers have an excellent sense of proportion.
Sunrise’s second essential feature is the scrolling agenda view. You can quickly move through your entire calendar with a little swipe up or down. To ensure you don’t get lost, the 2-week calendar at the top of the screen changes the highlighted date to correspond to your current location. Swipe right to see a full screen agenda view. At a glance I know exactly where I need to be, and who’s going to be there with me.
As soon as I know what I need to do today, I open my email. I could use the native app, but I needed an app that works equally well with Gmail and Exchange, and makes it easy to manage the 100 emails I get before noon. I found that the best option for me is CloudMagic. This is the easiest, slickest mail app I’ve used on my Samsung Galaxy.
Let’s start with the set up. If you’ve added an Exchange account to a phone in the past, you’ve likely been tempted to throw your device against the wall as you try to determine the proper user name, domain name, server name, etc. That’s what I was expecting when I started CloudMagic for the first time. Imagine my surprise when both my Gmail and Exchange accounts were completely set up in under a minute.
The easy set up was my first clue that this was a different kind of app. CloudMagic’s suite of features is downright impressive. It works with every major mail service and will send you instant push notifications. But that’s just basic. What makes it special is the connectivity with Evernote, Zendesk, Pocket, OneNote, Trello, Asana, and MailChimp. I’m always looking for another way to get more work done in a single app or program. CloudMagic incorporates some of my favorite apps so I don’t even have to press my home button and open something else. This app lets me work smarter, not harder.
Add to the connected nature of this zippy little app, the intuitive way it responds. Swipe left to access quick actions. Tap and hold the star to create reminders. Select multiple emails to edit them all at once. It’s easy on your battery, is remarkably simple to use, and is frankly the best-looking email app I’ve used. Just opening it makes me a little happier. It’s a great way to start the day.
After I handle my email and calendar, I take a look at my messages. It’s at this point I realize that all of my friends are old, and we all went to bed by 11. No drunk texts or bar selfies on workdays anymore. But occasionally one of my more motivated colleagues will send me a message around 5:30 AM. Many of these messages will come in as regular SMS messages, but the ones I have the best time responding to come via WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a messenger app that uses your data connection to communicate, rather than eating into your text message allocation. Naturally, it allows you to communicate to a single person the way you would with a normal SMS text app, but it also lets you create groups, send pics and video, voice messages, and check-ins. And I have to admit that the ability to set a status message makes me warmly nostalgic for AOL Instant Messenger.
There are no fees other than the whopping annual charge of $0.99. And there are no limits on usage. While all that’s great, my favorite part of WhatsApp is how it integrates into my life. I don’t need a user name or separate password. I don’t need a separate PIN. I don’t even need to upload contacts. It’s just easy, good looking, and fun.
These apps start my day, and help me to be prepared for what’s waiting for me in the office. Each of them is well designed, clean, and bright. If you’re anything like me, and need to know what’s ahead, these apps should be on your list. Whether you cling to your phone from the time you open your eyes, or if you’re a little more sensible and wait until after you standup, Sunrise, CloudMagic, and WhatsApp are the perfect compliment to your morning routine.