As I sat in the lobby before a recent meeting at a nonprofit, I saw a woman carrying a stack of folders in one arm and tugging at her luggage with her free hand. She tripped, but caught herself before she spilled the stack. As she made her way out the door, I wondered if she had ever considered using her smartphone to reduce the amount of paper she carries on trips.
Before I brought my Android smartphone, I used to travel the same way. But now, I tend to leave the paper at home and load documents onto my smartphone. In fact, I routinely use my smartphone and tablet as mobile office tools. This has put an end to the crumpled paper and lost documents that can cause a headache for any busy professional. Are you looking to declutter your travel experience? If so, here are a few app suggestions to do just that.
1. AirDroid (Android). A free app available through Google Play, it has a number of features. What I have found to be the most helpful is the ability to transfer files from my computer via my wireless network and store them on my smartphone. After returning from my trip, I use the app to delete documents and other information I no longer need on my phone.
2. HP ePrint (Android, iPhone and Blackberry). This app allows you to print at home on a Wi-Fi connected HP printer and at thousands of public locations. When I travel, I usually print my documents to FedEx Office centers as they are usually easy to find. This app allows me to forgo the more expensive computer rental at these centers and print my documents for a few cents a page.
3. Cloud Print (Android). You can choose to “print” to your Google Drive account or another enabled printer. With the free version, you can print from a variety of sources, including stored documents, Web pages, drawings, pictures, texts, contact lists, your phone’s clipboard, and Google Calendar. However, if you need to print an e-mail from your Gmail account, you will need to sign in to your mobile Chrome browser or use the K9 mail app.
For those of you who are iPhone users, you may want to check out PrintCentral Pro (fee).
4. Chrome (Android/iPhone and desktop browser). I use Chrome on my tablet, smartphone, and desktop. I like the ability to sign into Chrome and access the bookmarks on any of my devices. In addition, I have my smartphone set up as a printing destination so I can “print” to my cell phone and carry a digital copy of content wherever I go.
But What if I Lose My Phone?
If you are storing important documents on your phone, it is important to make use of security apps like Lookout to protect, locate, and—in worst-case scenarios—wipe your device. In addition, use built-in security features to lock the phone after a short period of inactivity so that others can’t access the phone’s content. With my own mobile devices, I’ve gone one step further and disabled USB debugging.
In conclusion, with the right apps, you can transform your smartphone into a productivity tool that can help improve your travel experiences.
Sophia Guevara is the former chair of the Consortium of Foundation Libraries affinity group.