11 ways Architects and Engineers can get the most out of their Android phone or tablet
Tablets and smartphones are more important in the field than ever before. With architects and engineers constantly traveling between office, meetings, construction sites and home, it’s imperative that they can stay connected and collaborate from anywhere. They need tools to show, explain and discuss project updates with documents, plans, photos, annotations and more from a tablet or smartphone to keep projects moving forward.
ArchiSnapper’s been in business for about 10 years now, and we’ve noticed that few construction professionals actually take advantage of a powerful device like a tablet or smartphone. In fact, most don’t even get 20% of the value a tablet or smartphone can potentially offer them!
As an example, every time we talk about voice-to-text in a demo of our products, we hear an audible “Wow!” from the audience. People are consistently surprised by how well this works and how easy it is to use.
Unfamiliar with voice-to-text? No worries; we’ll talk more about this functionality below.
A smartphone or tablet is truly a productivity powerhouse for architecture and engineering professionals.
But we’re all so busy working on projects that we sometimes forget to invest time in working smarter by implementing easy tricks. The time we invest in being more efficient and effective can save significant time in the long run. So, it’s definitely worthwhile!
That’s where this guide comes in. I’ll share some tips for contractors, engineers and architects to get the most of their Android smartphone or tablet. If you’re using a OnePlus, Google Pixel, Xiaomi, Asus, Samsung or other Android phone or tablet, then this guide if for you. If you are using an iPhone or iPad, check out a similar post for you here.
Not yet fully motivated to continue reading? Remember one thing: Time is your most valuable asset.
Unlike material things, you can’t lose time and get it back again. You can’t spend time and go earn more of it. Nor can you buy it, rent it, or borrow it. But, we spend a lot of time tracking and obsessing about money – how to earn it, invest it, etc.
As Warren Buffet said, “I can buy anything that I want, basically, but I can’t buy time. There’s no way I will be able to buy more time.”
Optimizing your day-to-day workflows to save time is key to success, growth, and a less stressful life.
I know, through personal experience, that the 11 tips below can easily save you an hour per day, minimum. But you do have to take the time to learn and implement these tricks in the first place and apply them consistently!
11 Ways to Make Your Android Smartphone or Tablet Your Best Construction Tool
- Use voice-to-text
- Make Google Assistant your best friend
- Consider these three accessories
- Set up a mobile or personal hotspot
- Organise Your Device with Widgets, Shortcuts and Multiple Screens
- Use the right apps
- Split your screen
- Get the most out of Android’s camera
- Scan, edit, and sign documents
- Use Waze or Google Maps
- Back up your device
Here we go:
1. Use voice-to-text
If you ever have to go to a job site, I’m sure you can imagine the following scenario:
You are on-site. It’s cold and you’re wearing gloves.
Top-notch documentation throughout every step of a construction project is crucial, so you want to capture some items, with text and photos – immediately while you are still on site.
But having to take your gloves off first or needing to hunt for pen and paper to record your findings is inconvenient and time consuming when you could simply use voice-to-text to capture the information.
And this is only one example where the voice-to-text option would be useful.
Think about a punch list meeting or client meeting where you have little time to write out text, or any other situation where you quickly want to take some notes.
As we all know, accurate notes and records are not only crucial for effective collaboration but are often your first and sometimes only line of defense in litigation.
Voice-to-text simply solves the problem.
In short: You speak, the Android does the work. That easy!
No need to use your (dirty) fingers. No need to take off those gloves. Just speak.
So how does it work?
When you open your keyboard, you’ll see a little microphone icon.
Tap the button, and then start speaking.
If you cannot see the microphone icon on your displayed keyboard, you need to enable the dictation feature in your device settings.
You can also adjust the speech rate and pitch of your speech to get better results.
To adjust your settings, go to Settings -> General Management -> Text-to-speech.
Obviously, you want to leave slang and style behind. Just speak clearly and accurately. To add a period, just say “period.” To skip a line, say “new line.” It’s a little bit like learning a new language—it takes some practice, but you will get the hang of it quickly!
You can dictate in whichever application you want: email, notes, field report apps, agenda, Google Docs, Microsoft Word, messaging systems… anywhere. It’s so much faster and more pleasant and efficient than typing.
When I mention this feature in conversations, people often seem ambivalent. They assume it’s something new and fancy that doesn’t work well in day-to-day use. But it does. It works really well; in fact, these days, accuracy is 95% or higher!
I’m convinced that in five years, most people will be speaking instead of typing.
I encourage every Deltek + ArchiSnapper field app user to take advantage of voice-to-text when documenting observations on-site.
Want to learn more tips and tricks on how to start applying voice to text? Check out this article with the basics, or this one with more advanced tips and tricks.
Not ready for voice to text?
No problem. You can use several features of your Android keyboard to make typing easier. You can turn on predictive text, suggest text corrections, create shortcuts for frequently used phrases and more.
With predictive text, your phone or tablet will predict what you are going to type and you can select the proposed text instead of typing it all out.
When enabling auto-correction, suggested corrections can be underlined similar to typos in Word to help you send better messages.
You can also set up shortcuts to replace longer phrases. For example, you could type “HE” and “Hello everyone” would automatically replace it.
In your General Management settings, you can update the keyboard settings and turn on any of these keyboard features you want to use.
These may seem like small things, but they can add up to big time savings.
2. Make Google Assistant your friend
Google offers a virtual personal assistant that can help you do all sorts of amazing things with voice commands.
To access this personal assistant extraordinaire, just setup google assistant on your device, press and hold the home button or say “Hey Google,” or “OK Google.” Then you ask your question or give your command.
You can send text messages, call people, or send emails and so much more—all based on your voice input.
Here are some examples that are specifically useful for architects, engineers and contractors who are often on the road:
- Time-based reminders: “Remind me to [say what to remind you about] at [say when you want Google Assistant to remind you].”
- Location-based reminders: You can also add a location to your reminder. For example: “Remind me to call John when I get home.”
- Unlock your phone hands-free: when you can’t unlock the phone with a PIN or fingerprint, you can use Google Assistant’s voice command to unlock your device in Google Assistant setttings.
- Quick calculations on-site: “Tell me what is 545 divided by 3.5?”
- Launch apps: “Hey Google, launch ArchiSnapper!”or “Navigate to (insert name of location),” and start navigating.
- Check the weather report: “What’s it like outside?” will give you current conditions while “What’s the weather for the weekend?” will give you the forecast
- Find the closest gas station/restaurant/etc.: “Show me nearby restaurants.”
- Check the traffic conditions: “What are the traffic conditions near [name location]?”
- Check voicemail: “Check my voicemail.”
- Read your text messages: “Read my text messages.”
- Send text message: “Send a text message to (insert name).”
- Make phone calls: “Call [name or number].”
- Set reminders to head back to office or for the next task easily: “Set an alarm for [time].”
- Schedule meetings: “Schedule a meeting with [name] at [day and time].”
- Listen to podcasts or music: “Continue podcast.” Or “Play music.”
- And so, so much more. Just Google “How to [do XYZ] with Google Assistant” to check how your assistant can help you.
And here are 42 more ways Google Assistant can make you more efficient.
You can ask your Google Assistant to do these things from your car or on the construction site, all without typing a single word or even touching your device.
Whether it’s updating your to do list, ‘reading’ an email, or replying to a contractor asking a question via text or WhatsApp, these are all things that you can get out of the way during your day while you are on the road, so you don’t have to deal with them when you get back at this office. Because as you know, when you get back at the office there will be a list of many other things requiring your attention.
Tip: Just start playing around with it. It’s not that difficult and you’ll quickly see how it can help improve your daily workflows. You can also click on the light bulb icon, and you will learn new ways to use it. If you want to take a break on the job site and have a little fun, look up some Google Assistant “Easter eggs” to see what she can do.
3. Consider these useful accessories
A- Protection cases
For architects and engineers often on the road, a phone or tablet is a perfect partner to embrace digitalization. It helps you get access to all the data you need no matter where you are. And it helps you record data while you are on the go: whether it’s annotations to a model, time logs, doing various drawings, sketching, creating quick notes, editing documents, file presentations, or site inspections logs.
That’s why I advise our ArchiSnapper users not to be stingy and to invest in a quality device, with at least 4 GB RAM for example. Given an hourly rate of, say, $60, the extra cost of more RAM will be easily offset by the time savings you’ll benefit from not having to wait a minute or more while loading a floor plan due to insufficient RAM.
A quality tablet that meets the criteria for professional use in the A&E or construction industry isn’t cheap.
That’s why a decent protection cover or rugged case is absolutely crucial to protecting your tablet against some of the hazards of construction work, including rain, dust, bumps, or drops on hard surfaces.
Tablets and smartphones are great for productivity, but they are not known for durability.
One of the best rugged, water-resistant, shock-resistant and drop-resistant cases for Android devices is an Otterbox. The Otterbox two-piece case provides all-around protection and while it may be a bit heavier, it will provide exceptional protection in the field. Just go to https://www.otterbox.com/ and select your device to get an overview of the cases available.
You can find lots of reviews and even drop/water tests online that show more details for various cases. You might also want to take a look at UAG or Lifeproof as alternatives.
These case providers also have tablet cases to ensure you keep your tablet safe from drops, moisture or other unfortunate site accidents.
B – Keyboard case for Android Tablets
Keyboard cases combine the versatility of a tablet with the utility of a traditional laptop.
Typical tablet cases and stands protect your tablet and let you position it upright on a table so you don’t have to hold it in your lap.
But what makes keyboard cases different is they include a wireless Bluetooth keyboard that syncs up with the device so you can type as you would on your desktop.
This way, you won’t have to switch between your tablet (for taking pictures or working with an app) and your laptop (for emails, writing/editing long texts like minute reports at meetings or other less casual tasks that can be made difficult by the typical on-screen keyboard) all the time.
Doing so, keyboard cases bridge some of the gap between tablet and laptop. Keyboard cases can allow you to leave the laptop at home and get that much closer to the dream of having one do-it-all electronic device.
Logitech, Samsung and Fintie offer good keyboard cases to turn your Android tablet into a more productive workstation. Along with a more comfortable typing experience, they also offer a little bit of protection.
I have used a Fintie tablet case for years. It has a detachable, durable, Bluetooth magnetic keyboard and the case serves as a stand for the tablet, making it easy to type while providing some protection without adding unnecessary bulk.
You can also get a standalone keyboard from Logitech to accompany your durable tablet case. The Logitech K480 is probably one of the best-rated tablet keyboards. The overall size of the keyboard is similar to a standard laptop keyboard, and the keys offer a good depth of travel for tactile feedback. This keyboard easily connects to any Android device.
Btw, apart from external keyboards or keyboards cases, also the right keyboard app can help unlock your performance potential. I know, most people will never think about replacing the pre-installed keyboard on their smartphone or tablet. However, there are top Android keyboards out there that can improve your input experience with accurate swipe-based texting, typo correction, a floating keyboard option, next-word prediction, handwriting mode, built-in clipboards, and more. The Gboard (the Google Keyboard) is just one example. Read here to learn more about this topic.
C – Charging on the Go
You’re on your way to a punch list meeting with an important client and you realize your phone or tablet is not charged.
Going back to doing a punch list walk-through with pen, paper and printed floor plans just because your battery died is just not something you want to do. It’s inefficient and creates hours of unnecessary work back in the office.
There are two options here: a car charger and a portable charger. Given your phone or tablet is professional tool for architects and engineers and you don’t want to run without during the day, my recommendation is to have both.
First, always make sure you can charge your phone and/or tablet in your car and get in the habit of plugging it in as soon as you get in the car, and not when you get to the job site. You can’t afford to not have enough battery to conduct a proper site visit, or take that important call—especially when a $30 car charger, cord, or adaptor can save you from all those embarrassing and inconvenient situations.
Some cars have USB-A ports, some have USB-C ports, some have both. Make sure you have the cord or adaptor you need to charge your devices while you’re on the road.
If you want to make sure you are always charged, get a charger with multiple ports so you can charge your phone and tablet at the same time.
For extra reassurance, you can also get a portable charger or power bank. These pocket-size power banks allow you to charge your smartphone or tablet anywhere. Power banks can be helpful for days where you’re more in meetings and site inspections all day long, with no or little commuting time to recharge.
There are so many options for power banks like Anker, Belkin and Mophie. Look for fast charging, dual-port chargers and don’t forget the charging cords to connect to your devices.
If you get to the job site and realize you are low on battery power, you can always switch on your phone’s power saving mode, which limits background usage, syncing and more so you can save power. If you are in an area with minimal service, you also consider turning on airplane mode so your phone isn’t constantly searching for service, ultimately wearing down your battery.
To turn on either option, simply go to your shortcuts in your menu and turn on power saving or airplane mode.
Also read: List of the 14 must-have tech tools and accessories ideal for architects
4. Set up a mobile or personal hotspot
Most architects and engineers cannot afford to be stuck without access to the internet. You need to be able to access drawings, documents, and change requests from anywhere. If you don’t, you’ll end up losing time or making wrong decisions or mistakes due to not having access to the info you need.
When there’s no Wi-Fi on the job site and you need internet access for a laptop, tablet, or other device, you can use your phone to create a mobile hotspot. This lets you tap into your cellular data to give you WiFi wherever you are.
For example, let’s say you want to download the most recent version of a drawing on your tablet or laptop, and you have an Android smartphone on you with a mobile connection. You can set up a hotspot with your phone, which will then appear in the available Wi-Fi connections on other devices, such as your tablet, your laptop, etc.
If you have a smartphone, data plan, and a cellular signal, then you have a WiFi connection right in your pocket. A mobile hotspot takes your cell signal and turns it into private WiFi.
To activate a hotspot with your Android device, click on Settings, then connections. Then, click on mobile hotspot and tethering. Toggle mobile hotspot to on.
Once you’ve activated the hotspot, you can connect devices.
- Open the list of WiFi networks on the device you want to connect.
- Tap the name of the mobile hotspot.
- Enter the hotspot password when prompted.
- Click connect.
Some things to keep in mind when sharing your data network via a hotspot:
- Charge your phone or tablet while doing this. Using your cellular data and broadcasting a hotspot at the same time will consume a lot of battery power. This is a great time to leverage your portable charger.
- Consider that a lot of cellular data usage can rack up a serious mobile bill. If you don’t have an unlimited data plan, connecting multiple devices to a hotspot could chew through your monthly data allowance faster than normal. However, you can also set up an alert about data usage when it reaches a pre-determined amount. To set this up, go to Settings >> Network & Internet >> Mobile Network >> Select Sim card >> Data warning & limit
- When setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot, always protect it with a strong password. You don’t want strangers to connect to your network.
5. Organise Your Device with Widgets, Shortcuts and Multiple Screens
Being able to easily find what you need is key to productivity on the go. For Android users, this can mean creating shortcuts, using the side menu/edge panel, setting up widgets or add more app screens.
If you have apps that you need to access all the time in the field, create a new apps screen just for work on the go.
You can simply go to Settings > Home Screen > Home screen layout and ensure that your Home and Apps Screen option is selected. Then from your home screen, hold your finger on an open space on the screen until you see the option to edit your home screen. If you swipe right, you can click the plus button and create a new apps screen.
This apps screen can now be used to add shortcuts, widgets, etc. that you need specifically on the job.
To create a shortcut, go to the app icon that you want to add, hold it down and select “Add to Home.” You can then move it to the screen and location you want.
Doing so, you have all apps that you often need on the road available right from the home screen on your Android phone or tablet, which again saves a couple of seconds every time you want to open one of these apps.
Widgets are another great way to quickly get to information you need. You can add a calendar widget to see your schedule at a glance without having to open the app or click through to find the calendar you need. You can add widgets for notes, weather, email, news updates and much more making it easier to find the information you need quickly. Just like you added another screen, hold down an open space on your screen to access the home and app screen editor. At the bottom of the screen, select “Widgets” and browse which widgets and sizes are available for your apps.
Read this article with more details on how to add apps, shortcuts and widgets to your home screen.
Galaxy S10 and above users can also leverage the side menu to quickly get to apps that you use the most. You can simply swipe the side menu out and select your apps, contacts, etc. You can configure this side menu with the apps you want, the contacts you call most and with shortcuts to tasks like typing a note, adding a calendar entry or creating an alarm.
6. Use the right apps
There are apps and software to automate almost every tedious manual task:
- Construction calculations and measurements
- Field reports and punch lists
- PDF annotations
- Drafting floor plans using AR
- Collaboration tools
- Word and spreadsheet tools
- Time-tracking and expense management
- Manage to do lists and productivity
- Password manager apps
- And more!
There seem to be an app for everything. Think about all the tools you use in the office. The majority of them now likely have a mobile app to make it easier to continue your work and access your files from anywhere at any time.
The best tip is to keep it consistent and look for the mobile add-on of the applications you use at the office. If you use Office at your desk, download the Office Apps and use them on the go so you can easily access the same files from anywhere.
Look for places where you are currently still using workaround or paper and paper, and look for ways to make that more digital too.
Let’s take the case of drafting a field report or punch list as an example.
With an app like Deltek + ArchiSnapper, you can document items with your smartphone or tablet directly on-site, together with photos and annotations, location pointers, and more. The field reports and punch lists are generated automatically with your own layout and branding, ready for distribution.
ArchiSnapper – The app that frees architects from the hassle with field reports and punch lists
Compare this with the traditional flow for drafting a site report: you take photos on site with a digital camera and write down some notes. Then, back at the office you transfer all photos to your computer. Next, you try to decipher and type out the handwritten notes in Word and try to align the photos from your computer to the right text in the document. Inserting photos always seems to cause frustration and photos jump around, don’t line up where you want them to and so on. Then, you add annotations to the photos with Paint or with some of the drawing tools in Word. You repeat this process over and over again. It’s a hassle that, for each field report, easily takes more than an hour—sometimes two or three.
You are, of course, free to stick with the old pen-and-paper method that you’re used to. But if you have a tablet or a smartphone, it is counterproductive to not automate 90% of the field reporting tasks with an app.
Of course, it takes an investment of time and effort to switch to a new way of working with a new piece of software.
But remember, once you implement this new workflow, you’ll win that time back—and then some more! You’ll win it back week after week, month after month, just like compound interest. Remember, time is money, especially in the A&E industry where revenues are often closely linked to the number of hours worked.
Think about the top five most time-consuming and repetitive activities you do on a weekly basis and take a moment to figure out and research if there are apps that can speed up or automate those activities. It’ll take you less than an hour to do some research and test some apps. Once you get into it, you’ll keep on going.
Better yet, make it a friendly competition in the office. Have specific people test one app each and provide some feedback to determine which ones can help your business improve. You’ll be surprised what some people are already using and what else can be added to the productivity list.
Need some help getting started? Make sure to check out this list of the best apps for architects.
And over here we listed 18 simple and free apps for the construction industry.
As a teaser, let’s take a look at some specific examples:
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Adobe Acrobat Reader is the free global standard for reliably viewing, signing and commenting on PDF documents and it is essential if you work with a lot of PDFs.
CamToPlan is an augmented reality app that lets you create floor plans easily with your smartphone or tablet.
Microsoft Suite or Google Suite
Additionally, if you have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, you can also use the Microsoft suite on your Android.
With Microsoft, you have additional seats per license that can be shared with your mobile devices depending on your company’s policy so you can get access to Teams, OneNote, OneDrive and more from your phone or tablet. This allows you to continue collaborating and accessing information from the field.
If you are an Android user, chances are high you also have a google account. And if you use Google Drive for cloud storage and document management you might consider using Google Docs/Google Sheets on your tablet instead of the Microsoft suite.
Files by Google
File management isn’t the sexiest subject, I know, but if you use your device for productivity, it’s an important area to consider.
Your phone or tablet, after all, is your on-the-go connection to the world. It’s the always-available PC for architects and engineers on the road.
And whether your work involves presentations, PDFs, documents, or images, you’re bound to find yourself struggling with finding and managing files on your phone or tablet sooner or later.
Files by Google makes it painless to browse through your phone’s local storage and find, share, or organize any files on the device.
It also offers a convenient way to send any locally stored files to Google Drive so you have them backed up in the cloud. Save them forever without using space in your phone.
Files doe also have a handy system for freeing up storage on your phone. In just a few taps, you can free up space more quickly and easily than ever: delete old photos and memes from chat apps, remove duplicate files, delete unused apps, clear your cache and more.
You can check out more info and download the app from here.
Time Tracking and Expense Management
When you are on the road, you inevitably have expenses and need to track your time to a project.
Many accounting systems have a mobile time and expense app that makes this much easier so you don’t have to wait to get back to the office to update.
If your expense app has Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), you can scan a receipt and have it fill in most of your expense entry for you. If you don’t have a mobile time and expense app, consider an app like Expensify or even something simple like TurboScan to capture your receipts for later.
LastPass or other Password Managers
With more apps like the ones above, you are going to inevitably have more passwords and keeping track of them can be challenging.
To protect your data, you always want to create unique and challenging passwords, but how do you remember them all?
Use a password manager app like LastPass or mSecure to manage your logins, passwords, travel reward accounts and much more with less hassle.
7. Split your screen
You should make the split screen view part of your workflow. It allows you to view and use two apps at the same time.
Say you’re on-site and you want to send photos to a client. But at the same time, you need to check a document with the information you need to include in the email.
It’s perfectly possible to do that without opening and closing these two apps over and over.
Split Screen View is a powerful multitasking feature that lets you display two windows next to each other. You can do this on the phone or tablet.
To set up split screen, open the first app you want to use in split screen. Click on the App Overview button at the bottom of the screen to access the open apps. On the first app you want to use in split screen, click on the icon at the top of the screen and click “Open in split screen view.” You will then have the option to select the app you want on the other half of the screen. Once they are open, you can also adjust the size of either screen by sliding the bar in the middle.
This makes it easy, especially on a tablet, to review one thing and make notes on a separate app without having to flip back and forth.
Samsung devices can go even further with an option titled Open in pop-up view. Pop-up view shrinks the app down to a small window that you can move around the screen and resize as needed.
If you don’t have an external keyboard and you don’t like the split screen mode, you can still use the “floating keyboard” option to reduce the amount of space your keyboard takes up on the screen. You can go into Settings under General Management and select the keyboard settings. You can then change the Mode to “floating keyboard” and then you can place it wherever you want on the screen.
8. Get the most out of Android’s camera
As we have talked about in previous articles, the construction business is a visual business—and it’s becoming even more so.
Photos and videos matter! Nobody reads a page full of text, but everyone will take a look at a picture with an annotation on it.
And don’t forget, construction photos can help you avoid construction litigation disputes.
Your Android phone and tablet are fantastic devices for taking high-quality pictures and capturing videos. You need to know only a couple of little tricks to get the most out of it.
For example, the following options might be helpful when you are on-site:
Set focus and exposure, and lock it:
When taking a picture with the Android camera app, you can hold a specific location on the screen to set the focus on a specific object or issue.
Slide the exposure option at the top of the location, which looks like a miniature sun, to adjust the brightness.
The best way to improve the quality of your photos is by using High Dynamic Range or HDR mode. It is a special feature that can create fabulous photographs by simply turning on the HDR mode in your camera settings.
Android devices have an option to use HDR as needed rather than you needing to decide if it should be used or not. This actually takes three photos at different light exposures at once and combines the best ones to give you a single, beautifully lit photo. Easy as pie. You can learn more about how and when to use HDR mode here.
And even if they don’t come out perfectly, you can edit your photos. You can easily straighten, crop, and lighten the photo to improve your results. To edit a photo after taking it, just click on the photo after you take it in the bottom corner or open in the Gallery and click on the edit pencil.
Want to capture the entire construction site or area within a building, but the entire view won’t fit on your camera screen? Use panorama mode to get a stunning wide-angle photo. In your camera, where you select photo or video, select “more” to find the panorama setting and your device will walk you through the steps to create a panoramic picture. Here are a few tips for better panoramic photos with your mobile device.
Pro Camera Settings
Are you more of a camera aficionado, but don’t want to lug your large digital camera to the job site? Check out Pro mode where you can look at more detailed settings that are more standard for an SLR or higher end digital camera, giving you more control over your camera settings in the palm of your hand. You can look at aperture, speed light exposure and more. If none of that makes sense to you, no worries. You can still capture great photos with your standard camera options.
Sync your photos automatically to a cloud service
It’s important to take a lot of photos on the construction site. Photos can serve as real evidence to protect you from claims. And photos make communication easy and clear (compared with writing text). Construction professionals take hundreds of photos every week, but the problem is that they often don’t have a system for automatically syncing and backing up these photos to the cloud. They keep the photos on the camera or phone, and if something happens to the device, they risk losing important photos.
So, make sure to have an automated backup system in place. There are many options available. Personally, I prefer Google Photos. If you install this app and link it to your Google account, all photos will automatically get uploaded to your online Google account. Setting up an automated sync for your photos and videos is a no-brainer for me. It costs very little time or money, and you can rest assured that you’ll have all photos in a secured online environment, accessible when you need them and where you need them (phone, tablet, laptop).
Tip for ArchiSnapper users: take photos directly in the ArchiSnapper app using the “project pictures” section at the project level. Your photos will immediately be stored in the right project from where they can easily be added to the right report.
9. Scan, edit, and sign documents
Your use of the camera isn’t limited to just taking photos and shooting video.
You can actually use your Android device as a scanner. This makes it simple to transform receipts, forms, and other documents into PDF files.
Android’s built-in document scanner is tucked away in the camera on your device. With just a couple of taps, you’ll have a solidly scanned document ready to mark up, convert to PDF, and share with other apps.
- Open your camera.
- In settings, turn on Scene Optimizer and click on the option for more details
- Within Scene Optimizer, enable “Scan documents”
- Hold the phone over the document you want to scan. You will see a “Tap to Scan” option appear on the screen.
- Click “Tap to Scan” and ensure the correct area of the document is captured and click Save. It will be available in your gallery.
This does not create a PDF file, but it gives you more flexibility to fix the edges of the document before saving the image and easily cropping out the space outside the document for a more scanned image look.
If you have Acrobat, you can click the Share button and then select Acrobat as the app and it will convert to a PDF. This is a paid app though, so there is an additional expense to convert to PDF. However, since it is saved in the gallery, you can use your same editing tools from your photos to mark up the document, add text, signatures, etc.
You can also use apps like TurboScan, CamScanner, Tiny Scanner and more for more functionality, including editing and signatures.
Or, you can use apps like Google Drive or Microsoft Lens to scan documents with your smartphone or tablet. See here how that works.
10. Use Waze or Google Maps
Waze or Google Maps are must-have apps to help you avoid traffic. This is especially true for architects, engineers and contractors—all of whom are often on the road.
If you aren’t familiar with Waze, let us introduce it to you. It’s a free social navigation app that saves you from wasting tons of time in traffic. Waze uses live traffic and user feedback—like mentions of traffic jams, police locations, and roadblocks— to get better routes for your next trip. Without exaggerating, I’m sure Waze has saved me hours—if not days or weeks—of time I would have lost sitting behind the wheel.
Because, really—is there anything more unproductive, frustrating, and useless than being stuck in traffic? Knowing that time is your most valuable asset, being locked in a car in the middle of a big traffic jam is almost physically painful. Apart from the time lost, it’s also just plain irritating. Traffic jams are as bad for your body and mind as they are for your business.
Another cool Waze feature is that you can link it to your agenda. Waze will then send you a notification—based on your location and the actual traffic—when you need to leave for your appointment.
So, get yourself a phone mount for the car and make it part of your workflow to enter your destination into Google Maps or Waze when you start driving. In the long run, this will save you many hours, and save you from lots of stress.
11. Last but not least: back up your Android phone and tablet!
If there’s one thing I still have nightmares about, it’s forgetting to save, and thus losing, my digital documents when I had to hand in a paper the next day at school!
Your phone and tablet contain a lot of data that you don’t want to lose, like photos, videos, notes, and more.
Luckily, there are easy tools that will ensure you never, ever lose any of that valuable data. As discussed before when we talked about Google Drive, you can easily set up an automatic backup of your phone or tablet.
Storing files in the cloud may have started as a way to back up their data in case of disaster, but today, it’s more than that. A good cloud storage solution backs up your important documents, photos, and videos, but it also helps keep all your devices in sync. It’s a great way to make sure your desktop, laptop, phone and tablet all have instant access to all your digital content.
Personally, I like the Google cloud solutions much more. It’s fairly priced; it’s great for managing and sharing photos or files, or for collaborating with Google Docs, and it integrates smoothly with Android devices.
You could start with Google Drive for managing your files and Google Photos to sync and manage photos and videos, and pair it with Google Files.
Doing so all your photos, videos and files will automatically get synced with your online Google Drive account.
Read this article to learn
Voila, that’s all folks!
11 ways to save time, 11 ways to get the best out of your investment in your phone or tablet.
I bet you didn’t know how much you could actually do with your phone or tablet.
Isn’t it amazing? What an upgrade to your device, right?
I sure hope you feel the same way.
Remember, time is our most valuable asset.
So let’s invest in working smarter, and thus taking the time to learn more about the technology we already invested in. Taking a little bit of extra time today can save you tons of time and money in the long run!
And, as I mentioned above, if you are not an Android user, you can check out similar tips and tricks for iOS users.
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