Tag Archives: ELECTRONIC

The best free office software 2017

Divider

When you think of office software, Microsoft Office is probably the first one that springs to mind. This is hardly surprising as so many computers come with a copy of it pre-installed, but the bad news is that in many cases it is just a free trial and you’ll need to fork out for an Office 365 subscription to continue using it.

Few people can get by without a word processor, spreadsheet app, presentation tool or even all three, but what if you don’t fancy the idea of coughing up for your office software?

Thankfully, there’s now a superb selection of free office software available, and here we’ve rounded up the very best you can download today. The quality of these apps is truly impressive; you’ll never pay for office software again!

1. WPS Office Free

Well crafted, powerful and flexible, WPS Office is the best free office software

WPS Office Free may not be the most famous free office software, but after a recent overhaul we believe it’s the best.

In terms of looks (not that we’re entirely shallow, you understand), WPS Office Free is second to none. If you’ve used any recent version of Microsoft Office, you will feel immediately at home.

At its heart are the three main tools for words, presentations and spreadsheets (hence the name). WPS Office Free also offers some beautiful extra touches, particularly concerning PDFs. Not only is it possible to save documents created in WPS Office as PDFs, you can also convert from PDF to Word. Compatibility is a major feature of the suite, with each of the component program able to save in native Office formats, and the suite is available not only for Windows but also Linux and Android

There are lots of templates available to help you to get started with document creation, and just about the only annoyance with the suite are occasional ads for the premium version of the program. WPS Office Personal and Home adds tools for splitting and merging PDFs, and provides quick email support, but the free edition of the suite is brilliant and will be more than enough for most users.

Review and where to download: WPS Office Free

2. LibreOffice

A comprehensive free office suite with support for cloud storage services

If the LibreOffice software suite looks more than a little familiar, that’s because it’s virtually identical to Apache OpenOffice (below). In many ways it OpenOffice on steroids: it uses the same basic codebase, but it benefits from faster development and more frequent update. If getting bugs squashed and new features added is high on your priority list, LibreOffice should be near the top of your list.

Like OpenOffice, this free office suite has something of a retro look (but not quite to the same extent) and comprises more programs than you’d normally expect to find in an office suite – Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math, and Base.

Anyone who has shifted their life to the cloud will appreciate the support for cloud services such as Google Drive which can be accessed through the Remote Files feature, and there are scores of extensions available to add new capabilities to the suite. A highly recommended piece of software that puts Microsoft Office to the test.

Review and where to download: LibreOffice

Download OpenOffice free

3. Apache OpenOffice

This well established suite is a solid choice, with six programs rolled into one

Apache OpenOffice goes further than many other free office software suites by providing more than just the three main tools you would expect to find – in fact, there are no fewer than six programs: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base.

As an open source free office suite, Apache OpenOffice receives frequent updates, and in this regard it trumps Microsoft Office. It’s not only free of charge. It can, unlike some free software, be used for business as well as personal use.

The interface does look a little dated, so if using software that bears more than a passing resemblance to something from the 90s, Apache OpenOffice may not be for you. But, of course, looks are not everything.

What’s particularly impressive is the inclusion of a database in addition to a drawing tool and even a formula creation program – just about every possibility is covered by this impressive suite.

Review and where to download: Apache OpenOffice

Download WPS Office free

4. SoftMaker FreeOffice

A great-looking free office suite with ebook creation as a welcome extra

While SoftMaker FreeOffice is available completely free of charge, you do have to jump through the hoop of requesting a product key in order to download the office software.

When you’re up and running you’ll find that SoftMaker FreeOffice includes the more familiar three office programs – PlanMaker is the spreadsheet, TextMaker the word processor, and Presentations is the slideshow tool.

Things are great aesthetically, and there are some very neat touches such as the ability to not only save documents as PDFs, but also to export them as ebooks in ePub format.

In addition to the traditional, installable version of the software for Windows and Linux, there’s also a portable version available ready to pop onto a USB drive and move from computer to computer – and mobile users have an Android app too. Highly, highly recommended.

Review and where to download: SoftMaker FreeOffice

5. SSuite Office Premium HD+

A free suite with cross-platform support and a well curated selection of tools

Despite being billed as optimized for high definition displays, SSuite Office Premium HD+ looks a little unappealing. But if you can turn a blind eye to its less than perfect looks, you have a capable office suite on your hands .

If you happen to work with more than one operating system, there’s the added advantage that SSuite Office Premium HD+ is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. All three are pretty much identical, so you can flit between them easily.

The developer of this free office software suite has recognized that what most people are interested in is a word processor and a spreadsheet, so gone is the presentation tool you never use!

Plenty of other things have been wheeled in to fill the gap, including an image editor, video conferencing tool, a calendar and personal information manager, a web browser and even an envelope printer. All of the tools are pretty basic, and SSuite Office Premium HD+ isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s still worth taking a look if you’re after something a little different.

Download here: SSuite Office Premium HD+

What makes great free office software?

When you’re choosing a free office suite, one of the most important factors to consider is file compatibility. You’re likely to be sharing files with people using other tools – both free and paid – so you need programs that are compatible with as many formats as possible, including the most recent Microsoft Office file types.

It’s also important to think about the office software you use now, and how long it will take to adapt to a new interface. The idea of learning a new system might not bother you, but changing from ribbon-based Microsoft Office apps to a menu-heavy design might seem like a step backwards, and cause you to waste valuable time tracking down essential tools.

      

The 50 best productivity apps for mobile devices in 2017

With the advances made in mobile technology over the last few years and greater reliance on remote working, many businesses use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets to help them in managing their operations. Generally speaking, the days of relying on a PC to do everything are over – you can do it all from apps on your iPhone, iPad or Android.

When you’re running about in meetings all day, have hundreds of emails to read, and must meet tight deadlines, the attraction of mobile is undeniable. Apps, in particular, are changing the way we live and work in so many different ways.

And if you download the right apps to fit your business needs, then you can easily improve productivity. There’s an app for almost every task and area, from accounting to product management. In this article, we’ve highlighted the very best business productivity apps – and in some cases web-based tools which you can use on your mobile – that are currently available.

Image Credit: ymgerman/iStock

There are a ton of web conferencing and collaboration apps out there, but they aren’t always mobile-friendly. Enter Join.me, an online meeting tool that’s easy to set up and can be used from any device – there’s a web version which means you don’t have to download anything if you don’t want to. It provides free screen sharing and unlimited videoconferencing. There’s a handy whiteboard feature as well, letting everyone contribute ideas virtually. The app is available on iPhone, iPad and Android.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

When you have so many things to do and not enough time to play with, you can easily become overwhelmed and fall behind. Gyst is the app that wants you to stay organised and get more done. It consolidates texts, contacts, calendars and to-do lists into one place. Because of this, you don’t need to keep dipping into different apps and it will help you stay on top of things. You can also use the software to prioritise text messages, schedule meetings and communicate with your colleagues.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Basecamp is a veteran piece of project management software in the business world, having been around for over a decade. Features include the ability to keep and track client feedback, chat with your colleagues, set up work-related reminders, praise co-workers and give them tasks to complete, and share documents. Like Gyst, you’re also able to create to-do lists, although you can easily pre-order them based on their priority and relevance.

An internal message board plays a big role in the app too. With it, you can post announcements, proposals and ideas. You can sign up and get 30 days’ use for free, but beyond that you’ll have to pay – and it isn’t cheap.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: rom $99 (around £75) per month

Diary clashes are annoying but pretty common in the business world. This is where Doodle comes into the picture. It’s an app that helps you streamline meetings and stay productive. How does it work? You sign in, set up an event and suggest times to your colleagues. They then choose the times that work for them, and the app tries to find the best slot for everyone. What’s great is that your colleagues don’t even need to be signed up to the app in order to participate.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Trello is another great app worth checking out if you have a busy life with your work or business commitments. Aimed at helping you to get things done and stay organised, the app lets you create boards for all the projects you’re working on. You can work on these individually or add colleagues so they’re kept up-to-date with the tasks they’re undertaking. As well as this, you’re able to add to-do lists on boards, assign tasks, comment on items, upload files and videos, and attach files. It’s free to use, although you have the option to upgrade for added functionality.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

You could spend a good deal of cash on a package like Microsoft Office, or you could stick with Google Drive and pay nothing. Drive offers you a full suite of word processing, database and presentation applications. The great thing about them is that they’re cloud-based, so you can work on documents and files from any device – be it a laptop, smartphone or tablet. Everything is saved as you left it, and you have the option to view revisions.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

The market for communication apps is quite fragmented, but when it comes to keeping up-to-date with your colleagues and in-work teams, Slack is a no-brainer. It offers real-time messaging, and you can share files in one-to-one and group conversations. The app is known for its powerful search and archiving functionalities, so you’ll always be able to find past files and conversations easily.

And there are also integrations with apps and services such as Dropbox, Asana, Google Drive, Twitter, Zendesk and more. Slack syncs across all devices, from smartphones to computers, and it’s free with certain limitations (which you can rid yourself of if you upgrade to a paid subscription).

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Peakon is a web platform with an iOS app dedicated to maximising productivity within companies. It provides automated employee feedback and measures engagement to help firms create happier, more sustainable working environments. Sounds good, right? But you’re probably wondering how it actually works.

That’s pretty simple to explain. Peakon constantly asks you questions to build a coherent, realistic analysis of how you’re feeling at your company. While you have to pay for a basic subscription, you can have a free 30-day trial to test the service out (no credit card details needed).

Platforms: iOS

Price: From £2.60 ($3.50) per user per month

Omnifocus claims to be a PC-grade, in-depth task management solution that you can use on your iPhone or iPad. While it costs £30 (a 14-day trial is available), the app offers flexible viewing options, location awareness and on-the-fly task entry features to help you get through a busy day. You can assign tasks based on location, people and energy level to accomplish jobs. Every task or piece of work you add to the app shows up in the iPhone’s Notification Center, so you don’t have to worry about missing deadlines.

Platforms: iOS

Price: $39.99 (around £30)

If you feel unmotivated, stressed or unwell, it’s likely your work will suffer. And in an ideal world, that’s something you’d like to avoid. Fortunately, online platform Nudjed is on a mission to boost employee health. It collects data across key areas of health to help employers build a picture of how their staff are feeling. Using this information, they can then step in and develop work-based health programmes so all employees are happy and thriving. The company was set up in 2013 by Welsh designer and entrepreneur Warren Fauvel.

Platforms: Web only

Price: Varies

Scoro is a worthy end-to-end work management solution. Available on the web or iOS devices, it allows professionals and businesses to control their entire workflow from one place. The tool also aims to streamline work and eliminate unnecessary processes that may affect productivity. Scoro’s features include calendars, task and project management, quoting and billing, enterprise-level reporting and a real-time dashboard. While it costs to subscribe to Scoro, there is a free 14-day trial available.

Platforms: iOS

Price: From £15 ($22)

A simple pen and paper is always a great way to stay productive, and this aptly named app digitises the process. With Pen and Paper you can create handwritten notes and documents on your trusty smartphone or tablet. You draw with your finger or a stylus, and can doodle away if you wish and easily pull off tricks like resizing, adding text boxes or creating diagrams. The app works with Dropbox too, so you can import and annotate PDF documents and other files.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: £2.99 ($2.99)

If you deal with a ton of social media feeds at work, then you ought to have a look at Buffer. It’s one of the best tools you can get for scheduling posts on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The platform is easy to use, too. You simply link your company accounts to one email, and you’ll be able to push out tweets and status updates in a matter of seconds. There are apps for iOS and Android, although you can use Buffer on the web too. An individual account with one social profile is free, but if you have multiple profiles or team members who want to use the service, you’ll need to pay for a subscription (from $10 a month).

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Evernote has been around for a good few years and is one of the safest bets when it comes to using apps to boost productivity. It offers a variety of note-taking tools so you can change the way you work on and organise your personal and professional projects. You can write, analyse and store ideas in the form of notes, notebooks, checklists and to-do lists. Notes can be taken in a plethora of formats, including text, sketches, photos, audio, web clippings, PDFs and more.

The app syncs across all your devices, so you never have to worry about losing your precious notes and documents. It’s free to use, although there’s the option to upgrade to a pro version with more features.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

When it comes to working on projects with a large team, things can get pretty hectic. Allocating tasks ends up taking forever, and soon everyone’s confused. The solution? DropTask. It offers a vibrant, colourful interface that delivers an enjoyable but effective task management experience.

The main feature here is a customisable workflow board, where team members can allocate tasks and check what they’re expected to do. You can invite up to five colleagues to work on tasks in real-time, and you can assign items under multiple categories. Like many of the other apps listed in this article, DropTask is cloud-based and syncs across devices.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

It’s easy to fall behind when you have so much work to do, and it doesn’t help when there are so many distractions to deal with. If you suffer with these sort of issues, Be Focused Pro could help you. This iOS app lets you focus on your work and get things done by splitting individual tasks into intervals, separated by small breaks. This, the creators claim, will help you retain motivation while you work. As well as being able to create and configure tasks, you can also track your progress throughout the week, month or year.

Platforms: iOS

Price: £4.99 ($4.99)

One of the banes of running a business is having to deal with time and expense sheets. Unless you’re willing to shell out for an accountant, this is something you’re going to have to tackle yourself. But Harvest makes the task a lot simpler. The app is a way for you to track time, log expenses and manage invoices on-the-go.

You can use the app to send invoices to clients and track when they’ve paid, add, view and edit time entries, take photos of receipts and upload them, monitor mileage, and much more besides. There is a basic free plan but it restricts the number of clients and projects available, so you’ll need to fork out for a paid subscription ($12 per user per month) if you want to unlock those limits.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Are you a business owner? Then you’ll understand the importance of knowing how your employees are feeling. After all, if they’re not happy at your firm, then the chances are they’re going to underperform – or go elsewhere. TinyPulse is an app that lets you get to know your staff, giving you the ability to set them questions and analyse their feedback. Using this data, you can then make changes if they’re needed.

You can also share virtual suggestions with your team, ensuring they’re always included in strategic decision-making. And hopefully the result of all this will be a happier, more democratic working environment. You can get a free trial to test the system out, although you’ll need to contact the company for details of pricing plans when it comes to the full service.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Varies

Bria is a business-grade communication app available on iOS and Android. It creates a SIP-based softphone client using Wi-Fi or a cellular data network that can make and receive calls over the net. The service uses the phone’s existing contact list and has been designed to facilitate easy, effective communication management. There’s an intuitive interface that accommodates multiple calls, and functionality includes the ability to swap, merge and split calls, plus you can perform attended and unattended transfers. You needn’t worry about security either, as it boasts built-in audio encryption.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: £7.99 ($7.99)

There’s certainly no shortage of to-do list apps out there, but equally there’s no denying that Wunderlist is one of the best. The app allows you to create as many task lists as you want and share them with your colleagues. They sync across devices, so you’ll always have them to hand. Note that the app is free, but there’s a pro version that’ll cost you a few quid a year. You can delegate tasks, set deadlines, add notes, create reminders and split items into sub-tasks – and the interface is easy-to-use, and looks good, too.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

When you have an incredibly busy home and work life, it’s easy to come across great articles or videos online but not have the time to enjoy them. Pocket lets you save items like videos, articles and e-books so you can access them when you have a spare few minutes at some point in the future. It’s a great way to stay organised too. Depending on the version you have, you can create tags to keep everything neat and tidy, or listen to articles with text-to-speech. There’s unlimited storage on offer as well.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

As they say, time is money, and you can easily waste both by spending most of the day staring at social media feeds and watching videos on Facebook. RescueTime aims to get you to change your ways and avoid bad working habits. It analyses the apps and websites you view the most, and breaks them down into a list so that you know where your time is going. The idea is you can then use this information to set productivity goals. The app is free, but the pro version lets you go a step further by blocking specific sites and setting up notifications.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Toggl is similar to RescueTime in that it wants to help you better utilise your time at work and stay productive. It lets you track multiple projects and clients to build a picture of your daily activities. With this information, you can then view graphs and timesheets, which is extremely handy if you work on a ‘per hour’ basis. All members of a team can use the app and split items into different categories to avoid confusion. The basic plan is free and caters for teams of five members or fewer, but if you need more than this, you’ll have to pay a subscription from $9 a month for the pro version or better.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Asana is another well-known business app. If you’re not using it already, then you probably should be. It’s like Trello (which we’ve already mentioned) and will help you stay on top of things in general, but it’s a lot more text-centric. You can set up tasks, to-do lists, reminders and requests about pretty much anything, and you can comment on items and send images within the app. There’s functionality that lets you track progress, too, and you’re able to communicate with staff directly.

Asana works across multiple devices, including smartphones, tablets and computers. It’s free for teams of up to 15 members, but beyond that you’ll need to stump up for a premium subscription.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you like the idea of having a communications app like Slack but need something a little cheaper when it comes to paid-for options, you’ll want to have a look at HipChat. It may not be as complex or well-known as Slack, but HipChat boasts a free service for unlimited users which offers group chat and file sharing. Upgrade to HipChat Plus for a couple of dollars a month, and you also get group video chat, screen sharing, and unlimited file sharing and storage.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging apps available, although it’s not just for personal use. It’s also a handy communication tool for businesses, allowing you to communicate with colleagues in real-time. Using your Wi-Fi connection, it lets you send and receive text messages, calls, images, photos, videos and voice messages for free. You can also set up and participate in group chats, which is handy for team meetings and delegating tasks.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Freelancers are always looking for more work – and when it comes to that quest, Konsus could be a big help. It’s an on-demand freelancer platform based within the Slack app (which we covered in a previous slide). The app assigns projects to top-talent sole traders based on their skills and availability. For example, a user could request edits to a PowerPoint presentation or Word document, expecting to get it back by the next morning. There’s a team of project managers too, responsible for vetting freelancers and ensuring projects are completed to the brief.

Platforms: Slack Add-on

Price: Depends on project

Unless you’re the next Einstein or have loads of research time on your hands, it can be pretty impossible to work out the most complex equations. This is where Wolfram Alpha can help – using a vast collection of algorithms and data, it can produce answers and generate reports for almost any question, not just limited to maths but covering a whole range of topics. The app isn’t free, though, and it’ll set you back £2.99. You also have the option to pay a monthly fee and get added capabilities, should you need them.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: £2.99 ($2.99)

It’s always a good idea to have a PDF reader at your disposal, and Adobe is arguably the best out there. The Adobe Acrobat Reader app, which you can get on both Android and iOS for free, lets you edit and add comments to PDFs. If you have an Adobe account, you can benefit from even more features. For instance, you can convert PDFs into various different formats and store them in the cloud. There’s the option of connecting the app to Dropbox too, and if you have an iPad Pro, you can use the Apple Pencil to annotate documents.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Not all businesses and sole traders have the funds to splash out on accountants, although keeping everything tracked and in order is essential. Wave, a free web-based accountancy platform complete with mobile apps, has been designed for small businesses, individuals and contractors. Using it, you can track your expenses, send and manage invoices, scan receipts, get expert accounting reports and more – and it doesn’t even cost a penny. There are various apps available for different functions on iOS (and one Android app – Receipts by Wave), although note that you can’t get the Payroll app outside of the US or Canada.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

LinkedIn is like Marmite – you either love or hate it. However, if you’re a business owner or professional, it’s worth creating an account on the platform. Widely accepted as the world’s leading social media site for pros, it lets you connect with colleagues, clients and other relevant contacts. What’s more, it’s a great way to show off your CV and to hunt for employment prospects. LinkedIn has a website, of course, alongside mobile apps for Android and iOS.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you have a hundred things to do at once, then effective time management is a must. Here’s one suggestion for a good app to help you out in this cause: Clear Timer. It’s a free timer and stopwatch solution to get you through the day. You can create as many custom timers as you want running simultaneously, which is handy if you have a stack of deadlines to meet on the same day. It sports an easy-to-use interface, a variety of sounds and skins, and timers you can start, pause and reset individually.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

While cloud-oriented services like Google Docs are disrupting the business world, it’s hard not to give credit to stalwart Microsoft Office. The package of office essentials has been a gold standard for years. But you can now get popular programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint as mobile apps, letting you view and edit documents on a mobile device.

Platforms: Android, iOS and Windows Mobile

Price: Free (if you already have a Windows subscription already)

Sometimes it’s nice to have everything in one place. And, in terms of productivity tools, WPS Office offers just that. It’s an all-in-one app where you can create slideshows, presentations and documents. A number of well-known file formats are supported, including those from Microsoft Office. And you can get cloud support from services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

You’ve likely heard of MailChimp before (probably sponsoring a podcast), and if it’s something you’ve not tried yet, then you really should. It’s one of the best ways to manage complex mailing lists and create email campaigns, all for free. You can get the service on desktop, as well as mobile apps. With the Android and iOS apps, you’re able to manage your lists, add new subscribers, send campaigns you’ve drafted up on your computer, and view your reports. The service is free for up to 2,000 or fewer subscribers and 12,000 emails per month – any more than that and you’ll need to upgrade to a paid-for account.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Gmail is one of the most popular and advanced webmail services out there, and the mobile apps are great. Whether linked up to a Gmail account or a business one, you benefit from an easy-to-use app with loads of features. You can use up to five accounts at the same time, get search predictions, read emails with threaded conversations, respond to Google Calendar invites within the app, and send attachments.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

The chances are that you have several email accounts across different platforms, perhaps for a mixture of personal and business uses. If this is the case, you’ll want to download an email client so all your messages are in one place. Newton, formerly known as CloudMagic, is one to consider. Available for Android and iOS smartphones, smartwatches and tablets, it offers a variety of useful features. These include snooze, send later and undo send. The app works with Gmail, Exchange, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, iCloud, Google Apps, Office 365 and IMAP accounts. If you want to try the service out, there is a 14-day trial available.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: $49.99 (around £39.99) per year

Nowadays, with increased cybersecurity risks, it’s crucial that you use strong passwords for your personal and business accounts. But it can be a challenge creating and keeping track of multiple different passwords, particularly if they’re convoluted and obscure affairs (i.e. strong). LastPass generates secure passwords suitable for business uses and stores them at the same time, all within one app. It also boasts browser functionality, letting you fill in forms and login details automatically without having to go through a separate service like those provided in Safari or Chrome.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Getting your finances in order is probably one of the most important considerations when it comes to running a business, for obvious reasons. Expensify makes expense management easier. It captures your receipts, tracks your mileage and other outgoings, and creates complex financial reports. There’s also a function that, if you’re working in a financial department, lets you easily submit reports to your boss. The free account has certain limits – a maximum of 10 free SmartScans per month, for example – and if you want to go beyond that, then you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan from $5 a month.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you work in a big city and don’t have access to your own car, you no doubt use the bus, tube, or hire a taxi. But Uber will help you save time and money. The app allows you to organise an affordable ride within a few minutes, without having to make reservations or wait in a taxi line. Uber is already available in dozens of UK and US cities.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Do you own an Apple device? Then Apple Pay is a worthy business essential which makes paying for things much easier thanks to NFC technology. And with biometric login using the fingerprint scanner, you know you’re the only person who can make payments with the service. Most major banks support Apple Pay, as well as merchants. Apple has also formed partnerships with the likes of Visa, MasterCard and Amex.

Platforms: iOS

Price: Free

Genius Scan offers a handy facility that lets you create quality PDF documents by taking a photo. Free to download and use, you can generate your own PDFs through your phone’s camera. There are a plethora of options and settings to help you get the best results, including lighting and camera position. You can send your creations via SMS, email or a messaging app, and export them to services like Google Drive, Dropbox or Evernote.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you’re working in an international role and are constantly traveling, then you likely come into contact with a load of different languages. Duolingo will help you learn them, which should hopefully impress your overseas contacts. Taking a flashcard approach, it covers languages like Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Irish, Dutch, Danish, Swedish and English. And you can do all this for free.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Many businesspeople have to book meetings abroad regularly, and travelling isn’t cheap. But Hopper tries to take some of the financial sting out of making trips aboard, by analysing billions of flights on a daily basis to predict how prices will change, advising you whether to buy or wait a bit. The app constantly monitors the best deals and notifies the user when they should book a trip. You could save up to 40% on your next plane ticket.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

In order to maintain a productive lifestyle, you need to stay healthy, which can be achieved by getting lots of exercise and eating good food. MyFitnessPal helps you get in shape while you battle it out with a busy working and home life. It’s one of the world’s most advanced calorie and dieting apps, with a database of over 5,000,000 foods. To check an item of food or drink, you just scan it using your phone’s camera, and information is pulled from the database. It also hooks up with devices and services such as Fitbit, Apple Health, Jawbone Up, Runkeeper, MapMyFitness and Strava.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Google Chrome has been the world’s most popular web browser for a good while, so it makes a lot of sense to have it on your Android or iOS device. The mobile app is fast, easy-to-use and full of features. For starters, it syncs across all your devices, saving your web searches and bookmarks. And you can make searches using your voice, open as many tabs as you want, use Incognito mode to surf the web without your browsing history being recorded, and read web pages in any language.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Unless you’re a maths whiz, understanding and working out the most complex equations or sums can be an unpleasant experience. PhotoMath is a life-saver, letting you solve problems and produce answers just by taking a photo – it does all the hard work for you, and even shows its working step-by-step. Of course, it’s a bit of a cheat, but it’s a handy one. You now have a way to divide restaurant bills without having to work a calculator or fry your brain.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

If you’re looking for a reliable cloud storage service, Dropbox has got your back. It lets you store and send photos, docs, videos and other files from any device. You can view your files even when you’re offline, and they’re always synced to all your different devices. There’s also the ability to create and edit Microsoft Office documents from your smartphone or tablet. The app is free, although you can get in-app purchases to boost the amount of storage, for example to 1TB (or even unlimited!) should you need plenty of space.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

You can’t really beat Skype if you’re looking for a videoconferencing tool – and it’s available on both Android and iOS tablets. The app is completely free and provides you with message, voice and video call capabilities. It’s perfect for business meetings because you can add up to 25 people to group calls. As well as this, you’re able to share photos, video messages, your location and emojis within chats. There’s even an app for the Apple Watch, letting you stay up-to-date with everyone while carrying as little as possible on your person.

Platforms: Android and iOS

Price: Free

Creating a mind map is a great way to remember and bring your ideas to life, which is an important part of keeping productive. MindNode is an iOS app built for that exact purpose. Get the app up and running, and you and your colleagues will be able to jot down ideas in no time. You can make the canvas larger, so there’s always room for more doodles, and you can also add photos into the mix. Once finished, you can export your creations or save them for next time.

Platforms: iOS

Price: $9.99

      

Download of the day – Beacon

Beacon is a relaxing ‘endless runner’ game designed to help you wind down after a long day.

A white ball runs around a rotating, color-shifting möbius strip, and you can tap the space bar to make it jump. Each jump leaves a block on the strip, which you can pick up on your next lap for a speed boost.

If you accidentally run into the block rather than hopping onto or over it, you’ll be slowed down again. There’s no score or fail state to worry about though – just keep moving and jumping, and enjoy the relaxing music.

To start playing, download and extract the ZIP archive, then run the file Beacon.exe.

Download here: Beacon

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to downloads@techradar.com.

      

Samsung’s Galaxy Book and Tab S3 are finally launching in Australia next week

After months of waiting, Australians will finally be able to get their hands on Samsung’s new Galaxy Book and Galaxy Tab S3 range on July 28, 2017.

Both devices will take advantage of Samsung’s updated S Pen, which now has a pressure level sensitivity of 4,096 and no longer needs to be charged.

Replacing the Galaxy TabPro S, the Galaxy Book will be available in a 10.6-inch model with a 7th Gen Intel Core m3 processor and 128GB of storage. It’s got a 1080p LCD display and will cost $1,099 for the Wi-Fi version and $1,299 for the 4G model.

The Tab S3 will also be sold in 12-inch 128GB (eMMC) and 256GB (SSD) models, both sporting QHD Super AMOLED displays with Intel Core i5 processors. The 128GB model comes with 4GB of RAM and runs Windows 10 Home while the 256GB model boasts 8GB of RAM and sports the full Windows 10 Pro edition.

The 128GB model is priced at $1,799 while the 256GB version will set you back $2,299. Every Galaxy Book model has a microSD slot for up to 256GB of added storage. The former has 1 x USB Type-C port while the latter doubles up with 2.

As a nice Galaxy Book pre-order incentive, Samsung is offering customers a (very nostalgic) Staedtler Pen and Samsung Multiport adapter (valued at $198) at no extra cost – so long as they order before September 12, 2017.

A new king of Android tablets has emerged

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

It’s been a while since the last major Android tablet release (the Tab S2 and Google Pixel C came out way back in 2015), but now, Samsung has returned with what it hopes will be a major iPad Pro competitor in the Samsung Tab S3.

While it has basically the same 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display as its predecessor (1536 x 2048 resolution with 264ppi), the Tab S3 now supports HDR10 content for added colour depth.

On top of this, the display is now optimised for use with Samsung’s new S Pen, allowing users to take advantage of advanced drawing tools and make annotations on the go.

The Tab S3 comes with 32GB of onboard storage, with an additional 256GB available via microSD. It’s got 4GB of RAM and runs off a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Quad Core chipset (2.15GHz + 1.6GHz).

Unlike the Tab S2, the Tab S3’s 6,000 mAh battery also supports fast charging, which should significantly decrease the time it takes to fully juice up your slate. Charging and data transfer is available via the device’s USB Type-C port.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, which runs Android N, will be available in a Wi-Fi only model for $949 while the 4G version will be priced at $1,099.

      

Slow NBN speeds: ACCC puts Aussie telcos ‘on notice’

Last month, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) asked for 2,000 volunteers to sign up to allow the consumer watchdog to monitor the NBN broadband speeds being delivered by Aussie telcos.

Although that specific investigation is a four-year investment, the ACCC is already preparing legal action against the four major Aussie telcos for selling high-speed NBN packages that have failed to deliver on their speed promises.

The ACCC has repeatedly warned the Australian telcos about selling products that promise an ‘up to’ speed if those speeds aren’t realistically possible, or are available for only a part of each day, but has so far not taken any specific actions against the telcos.

Now, however, ACCC chairman Rod Sims has warned that service providers could find themselves in court by the end of the year if they continue to deliver speeds that are lower than advertised.

Buck up or go down

When advertising NBN packages, Mr Sims said that the telcos have been asked to use the term ‘typical’ rather than ‘up to’ when referring to peak-time speeds.

And although all telcos – the big fish or the small fry – are subject to Australia’s consumer laws, Mr Sims said the Commission will target the bigger players, specifically Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vocus. “They have been put on notice and some of them know that they are subject to investigation by us,” he said.

Internet Australia, a not-for-profit group representing internet users in the country, supports the ACCC’s decision, but states that legal action won’t necessarily solve the problem “because the NBN Co model is fundamentally flawed”.

      

Amazon now lets you pay in real stores using just your account

Amazon may already be the go-to for online shopping, but the retail giant looks like it wants to be a bigger part of your spending habits — even when shopping offline.

Amazon has begun rolling out Amazon Pay Places, a new feature that allows Amazon customers to make and purchase orders at brick-and-mortar establishments, according to TechCrunch.

The system is sort of an extension of Amazon Pay, a system akin to PayPal that allows online retailers to accept payments though customers’ Amazon accounts.

Rather than internet stores, however, Pay Places would use the customer’s payment credentials at real-life locations, similar to mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Who wants mozzarella sticks?

Though available starting today, Amazon’s new payment system is still in its relative infancy.

At the time of writing, ordering via Amazon Pay Places is only available at select, US-based TGI Friday’s restaurants in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Virginia and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

For those on the East Coast just dying for franchise-quality pub food, Amazon Pay Places can be accessed via Amazon’s mobile app, under “Programs & Features” in the menu.

As for if (or more likely, when) Amazon expands its new feature out to more businesses, we’ll just have to wait and see. That said, the move to physical stores shouldn’t surprise many — the company’s bold $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods last month is no small indication that Amazon wants to be just as much an in-person shopping hub as it is online.

      

The best iPad 2017: how to choose the right Apple tablet for you

For many, the word tablet is synonymous with the word iPad, but even if you’ve decided that Android and Windows slates aren’t for you that’s only half the battle, as Apple’s ever growing range of portable powerhouses provides a lot of options.

Do you want a compact 7.9-inch screen, a well-rounded 9.7 inches, the new 10.5-inch variant or a massive 12.9-inch monster?

Get past the best iPad screen size for you and there are more questions. Do you need top tier power or are you fine with more modest specs? Are you looking for a laptop replacement or just a convenient way to browse the web?

Whatever the case there’s an iPad for you, and to make it easier to sift through them and find the right one we’ve highlighted all the choices, in a clear, concise way, so boot up your old tablet one last time, read through our rundown and get ready to upgrade.

And if you prefer to watch than read, we’ve also put four of the best options head to head in a video showdown.

For everyone else (or if four options aren’t enough), you’ll find a rundown of all the readily available iPads below, including the brand new iPad (2017) and second generation iPad Pro duo.

These come complete with full spec lists, their good and bad points and a look at what makes them tick, so you can make an informed purchase decision.

  • Looking for an Android tablet instead? Check out our best tablet ranking.

Apple’s latest iPad isn’t its best, but it might just be its best value. The new iPad (2017) replaces the iPad Air 2 in Apple’s lineup, slotting in below the Pro range.

As such it lacks their Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil support and misses out on some of their power, but its A9 chipset is still very speedy and the 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 screen is sharp, bright and high-quality.

It also has the same luxurious metal unibody as the rest of Apple’s iPad range, though notably it’s slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro 9.7 at 7.5mm.

With Touch ID included, iOS 10 under the hood and up to 10 hours of battery life when web browsing or watching videos, the new iPad (2017) is a great media player and a strong tablet choice if you’re not planning to use it heavily for productivity.

When you consider that it starts at just $329/£339/AU$469 too that makes it a real bargain.

Read the full iPad (2017) review

It’s a tough decision over whether the new iPad Pro is the best iPad, or the more recent (and more basic) iPad – but the new Pro is in second solely on its higher price.

If you can see past that, or you really need a tablet that can truly keep up with any app you want to throw at it while using a dedicated Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, this should be the device you look at.

The new ProMotion screen adds an impressive layer of fluidity to daily use – if not strictly necessary – and the smaller bezels means you’re getting far more display in a footprint not much bigger than last year’s 9.7.

It’s an iPad for the professionals – but also one that media munchers will adore using.

Read the full review: iPad Pro 10.5

iPad Pro 9.7

For the average user the iPad Pro 9.7 is one of the best all-round options, or it is if money is no object anyway, as it starts at $599/£549/AU$849 and if you want more than 32GB of storage or cellular connectivity the price rises steeply.

But it does a good job of justifying that outlay, as the iPad Pro 9.7 is the greatest entry in Apple’s ‘main’ line of slates.

The 9.7-inch screen strikes a great balance between being big enough to get far more out of than a phone screen and small enough to still be fairly portable.

And although Apple has ditched the Air moniker, at 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm and 437g the iPad Pro 9.7 is every bit as thin and light as the iPad Air 2.

But it lives up to the Pro name, with plenty of power afforded by its A9X chipset and 2GB of RAM, four speakers for serious media potential, a beautiful True Tone screen, which adapts the color and intensity to your environment, and of course the ability to use the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil with it, if you want to use the slate to actually get things done.

The iPad Pro 9.7 also comes with up to 256GB of storage if you’re prepared to pay, so you needn’t feel limited by the lack of a microSD card slot, and it’s likely to remain a powerful and versatile tablet for years to come, so while it’s expensive you might not feel the need to upgrade for a long time.

Read the full iPad Pro 9.7 review

iPad mini 4

Big screens aren’t for everyone, and that’s where the 7.9-inch iPad Mini 4 comes in. The screen size means it’s far more portable than Apple’s larger tablets, especially as it’s light at 299g. It’s not quite small enough that you can use it one handed, but you can comfortably hold it for a lot longer than most of Apple’s slates, or throw it in a bag and forget about it.

It’s also big enough to enjoyably browse the net or watch videos on when you’re away from home and bigger screens, but it’s obviously not quite as strong an experience for most visual media as Apple’s larger 9.7 and 12.9-inch slates.

The small size and lack of Smart Connector also makes it worse for productivity than the iPad Pro range, but this isn’t designed as a laptop replacement.

It’s still fairly powerful thanks to 2GB of RAM and the aging but still impressive Apple A8 chip, while the screen is sharp, rich and easy to see even in bright sunlight.

The iPad Mini 4 is also a fraction of the price of Apple’s Pro range, starting as it does at $399/£379/AU$569 and with up to 128GB of storage you needn’t be terribly limited in that area – though it’s no match for the 256GB you can get in the iPad Pro.

Read the full iPad Mini 4 review

iPad Pro

The iPad Pro 12.9, or simply the iPad Pro as it’s sometimes known, is in many ways a bigger and better version of the iPad Pro 9.7.

It matches that slate’s four powerful speakers, accessory options and storage capacity, but at 12.9 inches the screen is significantly larger, while its 2048 x 2732 resolution ensures it retains the same 264ppi pixel density. It’s also more powerful than its smaller sibling, combining the same Apple A9X chipset with a massive 4GB of RAM.

That power is undeniably a good thing, but the screen size will be more divisive, as while all that space is great if you plan to use it as a real laptop replacement, for running apps in split screen, or for watching a lot of movies, it leaves it a little unwieldy in other ways, especially as it makes the slate a hefty 713g. If you want the ultimate in portability this isn’t it.

But if you can afford the high price and want the very biggest and most powerful tablet Apple has to offer there can be no other choice than the iPad Pro 12.9.

Read the full iPad Pro 12.9 review

iPad Air 2

The iPad Air 2 is the predecessor to the iPad Pro 9.7 and the difference in name gives a hint of what it’s lacking – namely compatibility with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, along with the four powerful speakers found on the Pro range.

It’s not as strong for productivity then, but in many other ways the iPad Air 2 can almost match up to the iPad Pro 9.7 and all for a much lower price.

For one thing it has the same premium metal body, along with the same weight and dimensions, leaving it a slim and light 6.1mm thick and 437g.

It also has the same size and resolution 9.7-inch 1536 x 2048 screen, though behind the scenes more vivid colors and the True Tone tech (for dynamically adjusted white balance) in the iPad Pro 9.7 make the display altogether more impressive.

But when the screen is already so good on the iPad Air 2 you might not miss those things, especially if you’ve not seen them in action.

The slate sports plenty of power too, matching the iPad Pro 9.7 for 2GB of RAM and finding a middle ground between that and the iPad mini 4 with its A8X chipset. In short, if you don’t need the productivity potential of the iPad Pro and can live with slightly dated but still solid specs, the iPad Air 2 is a strong choice.

Read the full iPad Air 2 review

iPad mini 2

Apple no longer sells the iPad Mini 2, but it was only discontinued recently and it’s still available from some retailers.

And it’s easy to see why. The iPad Mini 3 (which has also been discontinued) offered little that the Mini 2 didn’t, only really adding Touch ID, and in being so conservative secured a mediocre 3-star review from us.

The iPad Mini 2 though was and is impressive. It’s every bit as powerful as the iPad Air and has a compact 7.9-inch display, with the same resolution as the iPad Mini 4. The overall quality isn’t quite as high, but it’s still a strong tablet screen.

At 7.5mm thick and 331g it’s not quite as slim and light as Apple’s latest Mini, but it’s still compact enough to comfortably cart around with you and it sports a similarly premium design.

It has an older chipset and half as much RAM, which combined with its age means you might feel the need to upgrade sooner rather than later if you do invest in the iPad Mini 2.

But right now it still offers a quality experience and is an ideal option if you want a highly portable and low cost tablet, just as long as you can live without the secure convenience of Touch ID.

Read the full iPad Mini 2 review

      

Microsoft releases new repair kit for Surface Laptops

If your Surface Laptop is misbehaving, you can now download a free repair tool from the Windows Store to identify and fix common problems automatically.

The Surface Diagnostic Toolkit looks up system specifications, checks battery health, repairs common software issues, and validates your device’s hardware. It typically takes about 15 minutes to run, but Microsoft advises that the whole process can take up to an hour if your machine needs some TLC.

Laptop limitations

The Surface Laptop runs Windows 10 S – a version of the operating system that prevents users installing software from outside the Windows Store. It’s designed with education in mind, and the idea is to prevent kids accidentally downloading viruses, ransomware and other nasties to the school network.

Unfortunately, that means users are unable to use the original Surface Diagnostic Tool, which is only available to download from Microsoft.com. The newly released app is available to all Surface owners, regardless of which operating system their machine uses.

      

Xiaomi’s 3rd-year-anniversary sale will offer the Redmi 4A, Redmi 4 and more for just Re 1

Xiaomi is known for its attractive products and the promotions that drive its sales forward. The company has officially marked 3 years in India and is offering an amazing promotion to reward its fans. Starting tomorrow at 11 PM, the company will offer the Redmi 4A, the 10,000mAh power bank, and the Mi Wi-Fi Repeater for just Re 1 each. At 1 PM, the company will hold the same flash sale on the Redmi 4, the Mi VR Play, and the Mi Selfie Stick.

Starting 2 PM, the company is hosting the “Bid to Win” contest where the lowest and most unique bids on its products will stand a chance to win them. The Bid to Win contest will be held at 2 PM, 4 PM, 6 PM, and 8 PM respectively. The company hasn’t disclosed the products that will be available for bidding, however. The Re 1 flash sale and the Bid to Win contest will be available on the 20th and the 21st of July, respectively.

In addition to these hard to resist deals, the company has also slashed the pricing of some of its products, including the Mi VR Play, the Mi Selfie Stick, the Mi Powerbank and a bunch of others. Users can grab some attractive bundles of the Mi Air Purifier as well, which is priced at Rs 10,998. All the discounted products have been highlighted on the company’s official website.

Although the company hasn’t openly specified the terms of Thursday and Friday’s deals, it seems like a user is only limited to win one product as far as the flash sale is concerned. There shouldn’t be such restrictions for the Bid to Win contest, though.

The newly launched Mi Max 2 will also be available during the sale from 10 AM on mi.com and Mi Home.

      

Top 5 best business anti-malware and anti-spyware software in 2017

The impact that cyber-attacks have on businesses can be nothing less than catastrophic. Not only do firms risk losing vital data and information to cybercriminals, but attacks can also result in them losing a lot of money. A study conducted in 2016 by internet service provider Beaming claimed that breaches cost UK companies a total of £34 billion (around $42 billion, AU$56 billion) annually. And government statistics show that two-thirds of large organisations have experienced cyber-attacks in 2015-2016.

The most common attacks on companies are malware and spyware-related, and falling victim to any such breach could have a worryingly long-term impact on your business, particularly when it comes to your reputation.

Fortunately, you can defend against any bad outcomes by picking up the right security tools, which is why we’ve highlighted these anti-spyware and anti-malware solutions for businesses. Getting your SMB protected with a solid security solution is a very smart move.

Avast produces some of the most popular antivirus and anti-malware software packages out there, and it also has a solution for business users. Avast Endpoint Protection is a program that’s not only easy to use, but also a proven contender in the enterprise cybersecurity arena.

The software will protect your company from a diverse range of malware and phishing attacks. It constantly searches for suspicious files that could render your business systems and servers useless, and runs a boot-time scan every time your computers load up to find any deeply buried malware.

As well as looking out for common viruses, Avast can also run potentially risky apps without causing any harm to your computer. There’s even a handy silent mode which lets you and your employees focus on important work while security processes run in the background.

Bitdefender is another big name in security products, and its GravityZone Business Security package is an excellent option for companies. Compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux devices, it gives you the tools you need to protect your firm from complex online threats, and it won’t slow your systems down.

The system has been built to detect and fight a range of malware, ransomware and zero-day threats that are often missed by traditional security products. It sports two anti-ransomware layers capable of blacklisting millions of risk sources and a so-called vaccine that ensures all data is encrypted, regardless of the device or platform.

This offering also boasts an advanced threat control feature, which constantly runs and keeps an eye out for any hint of malicious behaviour or potential hacking. AI and machine learning are also thrown into the mix to get better detection rates, and also to minimise any annoying false positives.

If you use a variety of different devices and platforms in your business, then Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security is a good option. The solution provides comprehensive enterprise protection for Windows, Mac, mobile devices and servers.

With the software, you have a way to keep your business protected from data loss, viruses and ransomware. It constantly searches files for signs of malware, viruses, trojans, worms and spyware, and prevents employees from accessing malicious content online.

There are some handy tools for managing data, too. The system can limit the access of USB sticks and other portable devices to ensure vital data isn’t in danger of being compromised, and it can also prevent emails carrying sensitive information from being sent out accidentally (or indeed deliberately). There are comprehensive anti-spam capabilities, to boot.

Norton is a well-known security brand, and its Small Business product is available for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices, aiming to protect business assets across the board.

The system is constantly alert and ready to flag potential security threats, even if you’re not in the office. Custom-built for every device, it ensures that your computers are protected from malware, viruses and identity theft, while your smartphones and tablets aren’t exposed to the potential loss of customer information.

Norton Small Business is relatively easy and quick to set up on your devices, and because it’s a cloud-based system, you won’t need any software installed at your office. You can cover all your employees by sending them an email that contains step-to-step instructions. There’s the ability to add/remove and manage as many devices as you want, and you get access to 24/7 support from a team of Norton experts.

Sophos Endpoint Protection is one of the more powerful options for businesses of all sizes. Designed for use on-premise or in the cloud, the system offers a next-generation security engine that uses behavioural detection to look for and stop threats from flash drives, emails, websites – a whole gamut of threats. And its malware detection rates are impressive to say the least.

As well as protecting your business from typical security threats such as viruses and malware, Sophos also encrypts your data, and boasts some interesting extras such as data loss prevention facilities which can be fully customised. We all know how precious that company data is, so it’s good to see this sort of security on board.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a 30-day free trial, so you can try the system out for yourself before you commit. Handy, as getting a quote is somewhat convoluted.