25 Smartphone Apps Every Leader Should Know About

by Carey Nieuwhof NOVEMBER 6, 2013 

Confession: I really like technology.

As a child of the 70s who remembers having to get up off the couch to change TV channels, I am in favour of anything that makes life more productive, more rewarding or more fun.

After all, why not get ahead on the mission by becoming more efficient? I think that’s exactly what the right apps help you do.

Just so you know, my experience of all these apps is through Apple products but most of these apps have Android or other equivalents.

While you’ll know and use some of these apps, I hope there are some new ones too. Not all the apps listed are free apps (although many are), but for the price of a coffee or less in most cases your life is more productive. And one or two are web apps (websites) and don’t have an app for your phone or tablet. But they were so good I had to put them on the list.

And naturally, I’d love to know what you use, so please leave a comment. I’ll bet I’m missing some great apps.

In no particular order, of the 100+ apps I have on each device I own, here are 25 apps every leader ought to know about:


Mailbox After trying numerous email apps, Mailbox has emerged as my favourite. Don’t want to deal with an email now? Swipe left and with one tap choose the time you want it to reappear in your box. Archiving, filing and deleting is effortless. Makes it easy to be at zero inbox every day and yet you never miss anything.

Things and Gneo I have used Things by Culture Code as my default to-do list for years. It’s really good. Lately been experimenting with a new app called Gneo. It’s a bit complex but has much more diverse functionality and syncs with Evernote. Any Gneo users with more insight? Leave a comment.

Reeder 2 A simple RSS feeder that allows you easy access to whatever blogs or sites you love most.

15five.com Okay, this isn’t an app but it should be. It’s a website designed to help bosses connect with their direct reports and employees better. You can design questions team members answer weekly, biweekly or monthly to help you stay connected with everyone. I love it. That’s why I included it.

Hangouts Google chat and video chat have evolved into Google Hangouts. Excellent quality. Free. Makes Skype seem ancient by comparison. You can screen share and do so much more. And it works with multiple users.

Google Hangouts on Air It’s everything Google Hangouts is except it broadcasts your video chat and automatically records it to YouTube. You can add lower third graphics, and the screen view camera switches automatically to feature whomever is speaking. Brilliant. I have used it to record blog interviews and you could do basic webinars with it. For free. Hangouts on Air is only available through Google+ on a desktop, but I had to mention it.

Evernote I use it for everything. Quick ideas. Clips for messages. Images, lists. I probably access 10% of its functionality, but I am still in love. It really does remember everything for you and is exceptionally searchable.

Dropbox I know you know DropBox. But it just had to be on the list. If you don’t know DropBox, it’s a virtual, sharable hard drive that syncs across all devices. Again, free.

Google Drive Documents at our church are almost 100% online. No more sending versions of Word or Pages docs back and forth and losing track of which version you’re on or overwriting them. Google Drive allows all your writing to be shared with key team members and documents to be edited instantly by multiple users at the same time—in a way that’s visible to everyone. Makes team work a cinch. Drive helps you access all of them on any device anywhere, even off-line.

Teleprompt+ for iPad Don’t want to spend $1000+ on a full teleprompter? Simply paste your text into Teleprompter for iPad. Set your iPad next to the camera lens and it scrolls while you talk. Not bad for 1.5% of the cost of a real one.

DocuSign Ink Never download, print, sign, scan and then send a document again. There are a bunch of apps that allow you to sign legal documents and contracts without printing a thing, but this is my fave. It just works. Perfect for iPad.

Analytics If you track your website or blog stats, the Analytics app gives you virtually all the power of the Google Analytics website on your device.


TripIt I use this for all my travel. Shares your trip data with friends and family easily and sends push notifications to your phone instantly for flight delays, gate changes and more.

TripAdvisor It’s a really great app that generates top sites, attractions, restaurants and hotels based on user-reviews.

AroundMe A GPS based app that shows you what’s, well, around you wherever you are. Perfect for restaurants, theatres, museums, shops and stores.


Word Swag More people ask me about this app than any other app (as in “what are you using to create those Instagram photos”?). I use it for creating great text-over-image pics for Instagram and Facebook. It can even make unhip non-design people like me look a bit savvy. (Thanks to my friend way cooler friend Chris for telling me about it. You should read his blog.)

Instagram Under-30s have largely left Facebook and are mostly found here, as well as on Twitter, Tumblr and Snapchat (not gonna take on Snapchat personally). Plus Instagram is still fun!

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