Let's face it: Automation experts and engineers are nerds. We're fascinated by the latest technology, creativity, and problem-solving. And like other nerds in other fields, our interests are always on our mind – which is why it’s great to always have some helpful apps in our pockets.
Over the past few years, plenty of excellent apps have come out that allow us to do our job better, consider new approaches to problems while on the move, or simply indulge in our creative impulses. In this blog, we'd like to recommend the 10 apps we think all automation nerds should consider downloading.
Lean Six-Sigma Calculator
If you're not familiar with either the Lean or Six Sigma concepts, now is the time to crawl out from under your rock. When we at Qubiqa talk about being "lean", the idea is to be as efficient, waste-free, and flexible as possible. It's also about us constantly refining our thought processes and how we tackle new problems. Six Sigma brings the discipline of the Japanese kaizen to the West, and aims to improve quality by discovering and eliminating the causes of defects. The Lean Six-Sigma methodology combines both approaches, which is especially relevant to us in the manufacturing sector. Our first app, the Lean Six-Sigma Calculator, lets you quickly crunch some numbers and switch up your approach to a given task in order to be as efficient as possible.
AutoCAD - DWG Viewer & Editor
AutoCAD is to engineers, architects, and designers what Photoshop is to photographers—a must-have, everyday tool. While this app doesn’t provide a full-blown version of the software, it does live up to its name, enabling you to view and edit DWG files at your leisure. Whether you're on the move and need to have a last-minute look at project files before a meeting, or want to discuss an assignment with a colleague without taking out your laptop, this app should be on every automation nerd’s mobile device.
Now, you can substitute this one with something like Pixelmator, or Photoshop Express, but the important part remains the same: This app lets you to draw, map, plan, or sketch whatever you need right on your mobile device. We chose to highlight Autodesk Sketchbook in particular due to its myriad options aimed at architects and industrial designers.
This is another drawing app, but not quite the same as Autodesk Sketchbook. FingerCAD, as the name suggests, tries to offer many of the same features as a desktop CAD application. When it comes to designing mechanical components (or integrating them in a structure), the app provides some nifty touches such as its Virtual Reality options, making it perfect for on-the-go designing. Even better, app files can be saved in the same format that AutoCAD reads.
Android alternative: CAD Touch Free. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cadTouch.androidTrial&hl=en
We’re guessing that if you’re an automation nerd, then you already have this one on your phone. Tetris is a compelling game that’s all about focusing on a simple task—fitting various geometrical shapes together to make them disappear. Much has been written about the cognitive benefits of playing Tetris, but it’s also just our kind of fun. Use it to relax, or use it to keep you brain on its (metaphorical) toes. Either way, you can't go wrong with it.
PCalc — The Best Calculator
Many of us can't remember the last time we had to use on an actual calculator, the kind that sits on a desk and needs batteries. That's because smart phone apps have become so good at integrating all the features scientists and engineers need, and have placed a lot of computing power just a swipe away. For once, this app’s name isn't a marketing stunt—PCalc is one of the best, if not the best calculator out there. A customizable layout, RPN mode, and multitasking support are just a few of the many features that make it fantastic.
Android alternative: RealCalc Plus. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=uk.co.nickfines.RealCalcPlus
Engineering Unit Converter & Calculator, and Unit Converter
Sure, you have your calculator—but do you remember, without fail, how to convert yards to millimetres on the fly? Or how revolutions per hour translate to radians per hour? Or hundreds of other measurement systems? With this app, you don’t need to remember!
Evernote and OneNote
Note-taking apps are all the rage, but we're not going to make you choose between them. Just like our recommendation for drawing apps, the most important thing is that you have, at all times, access to feature-rich notes that are synced across your devices—whether those notes are typed, handwritten, audio recordings, pictures, or scanned documents. Evernote is platform-agnostic, and might be best for people with a variety of devices. OneNote is platform-agnostic too, but it is Microsoft's baby and thus integrates slightly more easily with Windows PCs and Onedrive. Whether you prefer OneNote or Evernote is ultimately a matter of taste.
Evernote iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/app/evernote/id281796108?mt=8
Evernote Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.evernote
OneNote iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/microsoft-onenote/id410395246?mt=8
OneNote Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.office.onenote&hl=en
The MS Office Suite
Whether you go for OneNote or not, the rest of Microsoft’s Office suite is hard to avoid. While Word’s status as the “best” text editor is debatable, it has the distinct benefit of being fully compatible with the vast majority of text file formats you'll encounter out there. As for Excel, no other spreadsheet app gets near it. And while there are plenty of mail clients to choose from, Outlook is so loaded with features that there's a reason it dominates the business market. When it comes to sorting/filtering your mails, and integrating with to-do lists and calendars, Outlook is a great way to stay on top of your inbox. All this on your smartphone? It’s a no brainer.
iOS, Android, Windows Phones: https://products.office.com/en/mobile/office
The Omni suite
We're cheating a bit here, because the Omni suite really comprise four apps: OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniPlan, and OmniOutliner. The Omni group has done for planning what Microsoft did for writing, number crunching and emails. With a background in consulting, the company has crafted a suite of apps that focuses on making you as productive as possible by helping you plan, map out, graph, and outline your projects—whatever those projects may be. Best of all, the apps integrate with each other seamlessly.
What do you think? Have we missed one of your favorites? Let us know!