Macworld's 2011 App Gems Awards

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App Gems: Top productivity apps

Our favorite productivity apps for 2011 each have different ways of helping you get more out of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. A pair of the winners below improve upon the things your iOS device already can do, delivering in ways that Apple’s built-in apps don’t. And the other two add new and exciting features to your iPad and iPhone, making you more productive in the process.

Due

iOS 5 introduced a built-in Reminders app to go along with the many task-managers and to-do reminder offerings already available in the App Store. Still, we think Due from Phocus is just about perfect when it comes to quickly keeping track of the many tiny tasks you need to accomplish during a given week. Reminder creation in Due is simple and speedy: You don’t even have to name them, while custom presets allow you to stack up tasks for when you get up, get out of work, or go to sleep. You can also add custom timers for timed tasks. The best part of Due, however, is its one-tap customization: Push reminders forward, add repeats, recycle old tasks, and email or message others, all with no complication or extra hassle. Combine that with a beautiful interface, the ability to sync across devices, and persistent push notifications, and it’s easy to see why we’ll never need to be reminded to tout our affection for Due.—Serenity Caldwell

Agenda Calendar

iOS devices also include a built-in Calendar app, but, frankly, it leaves a lot to be desired. For a nice upgrade, turn to App Savvy’s Agenda Calendar, which uses the same cloud-synced calendar data but makes it easier to view and manage. While Agenda works on both the iPad and iPhone, it’s the latter version that shines: The app provides five views—multi-month, month, week (an ongoing list), day, and event—and you simply swipe right or left to see more or less detail, respectively. In any view, swipe down or up to look back or forward in your schedule, or tap the date icon to quickly enter a date to view or to search for an event. You can share event details via email, and if you’ve installed Due, you can add custom alerts and reminders.—Dan Frakes

Screens

Your iOS device doesn’t come with a way to view your Mac or PC screens over a network, but plenty of App Store downloads offer to do so. Few take on the task with as much polish as Screens from Edovia. The app’s interface is attractive and simple, but beneath that veneer is surprising power: There’s support for multiple authentication methods, SSH tunneling, and multitouch gestures. And Screens is no slouch when it comes to performance and stability. While it might be pricey compared to most of its competitors, anybody who uses screen-sharing on a regular basis will find Screens worth the money.—Dan Moren

Scanner Pro

Scanner Pro has been available on the App Store for awhile. Yet Readdle’s app—which turns your iPhone or camera-equipped iPod touch into a portable document scanner—caught our eye this year with updates that added batch document scanning and improved support for the Evernote and Dropbox online services. As before, the documents you scan using Scanner Pro will rival the image quality of what you’d get from a dedicated scanner. Those scans become PDF files, which you can password-protect, upload to an online file storage service, or print from your iPhone (provided you have EuroSmartz’s Print n Share app). Scanner Pro is an elegant way to expand the functionality of your smartphone.—Leah Yamshon

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