iphone on construction site

11 Ways to Make Your iPhone or iPad Your Best Construction Tool


Tablets and smartphones are becoming more and more important in the construction industry. (And, let’s face it: In every other part of life, too!)

It’s easy to understand why. We work in a dynamic industry! When you have to travel between the office and different construction sites, collaborate with lots of different stakeholders, and show, explain, or discuss things based on plans, sketches, and photos, a handy portable tablet or smartphone is like a gift from God.

archisnapper_ipadiphone_forconstruction

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. In fact, most don’t even get 20% of the value a tablet can potentially offer them!

As an example, during every demo we do, we demonstrate the voice-to-text functionality. And every time we do, 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 construction 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 do invest in those life hacks, however, saves us more time in the long run. So, it’s definitely worthwhile!

And that’s why I decided to write this guide, where I’ll feature some of the most interesting tips for contractors, engineers, and architects to get the most out of their iPad or iPhone. Not an iOS user? Just hang tight—we’ll be writing a similar guide for Android tablets and phones very soon.

If you’re 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. So use it wisely and you’ll enjoy a myriad of benefits; squander it, and it’s gone forever.

It’s funny when you think about it. We obsess about our money: tracking it in our bank accounts, thinking and reading about how to earn more of it, learning how to invest it. And yet we typically think very little about our time. We routinely let people steal it from us—even though it’s our most valuable possession.

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 iPhone or iPad Your Best Construction Tool

1. Use voice-to-text
2. Make Siri your best friend.
3. Consider these three accessories.
4. Set up a mobile or personal hotspot.
5. Use the right apps.
6. Use the Apple Pencil.
7. Split your screen.
8. Get the most out of Apple’s top-quality camera.
9. Scan, edit, and sign documents.
10. Use Waze or Google Maps.
11. Last but not least: Back up your iPad!

Here we go:


1. Use voice-to-text.


iphone for architects use voice to text

If you work in construction, I’m sure you can imagine the following scenario:

You are on-site. Your hands are dirty or it’s cold and you’re wearing gloves.

You take a photo of an urgent issue, and you’d immediately like to send the photo and some lines of text to the parties involved.

But man, typing on the iPad with those cold fingers or always having to take off those gloves first… There’s no other way to say it—it’s a pain in the ass!

This is only one example where the voice-to-text option would be useful.

Think about a punch list 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 often also your first and sometimes only line of defense against an expensive lawsuit.

Voice-to-text solves the problem simply.

In short: You speak, the iPad/iPhone writes. 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.

archisnapper_dictation_voicetotext_2.png

Tap that 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. Go to General -> Keyboard -> and activate the Enable Dictation option.

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.” Here you can learn 60 more voice dictation commands. 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! Here’s a video that shows how to dictate text on your iPhone or iPad:

Can you believe that even today there are—despite this easily available and accurate voice-to-text technology—still companies that use dictaphones (dictaphones!!) to record voice dictation? Not only do they need an extra piece of equipment, but they also then have to pay the administrative personnel at the office to actually type out the text, often to find out the quality of your recording is too poor to decipher. It almost sounds like a joke! Talk about wasting time and underutilizing technology.

I’m convinced that in five years, most people will be speaking instead of typing.

And I’m encouraging all our ArchiSnapper users to use this voice-to-text functionality when documenting observations on-site with our app.

Not ready for voice to text? What about text replacement as an intermediate step? With text replacement, you can use shortcuts to replace longer phrases. For example, you could type “HE” and “Hello everyone” would automatically replace it.


2. Make Siri your best friend.


Not only should you get to know Siri, your iPhone’s built-in digital assistant, but you might even want to make her your best friend.

So who, exactly, is this Siri?

Siri is Apple’s virtual personal assistant, with a personality straight out of a Pixar film.

With Siri, your iPad or iPhone can help you do all sorts of amazing things. And remember, you don’t write to Siri; you TALK to her!

architects contractors engineers use siri on iphone ipad

To access this personal assistant extraordinaire, just hold the Home button or say, “Hey, Siri!” Then you ask your question or give your command. (See below for some examples.)

You can send text messages, call people, or send emails—all based on your voice input. This is super useful when you’re driving or on a cold/rainy/dusty construction site.

Here are some examples that are specifically useful for construction professionals, such as architects, contractors, and engineers (who are often on the road):

  • Location or time-based reminders: “Remind me to [say what to remind you about] at [say when you want Siri to remind you].” You can also add a location to your reminder. For example: “Remind me to call John when I get home.”
  • Quick calculations on-site: “What is 545 divided by 3.5?”
  • Launch apps: “Hey Siri, launch ArchiSnapper!” or “Open Waze,” and start navigating.
  • Check the weather report: “What is the weather like today?”
  • Find the closest gas station/type of restaurant/mall/etc.: “Show me the nearest [kind of location].
  • Check the traffic conditions: “What are the traffic conditions near [name location]?
  • Check voicemail: “Check my voicemail.”
  • Read your emails: “Read my new email.”
  • Send emails: “Send an email to [name].”
  • Make phone calls: “Call [name or number].”
  • Set alarm: “Set an alarm for [time].”
  • Schedule meetings: “Schedule a meeting with [name] at [day and time].”
  • Listen to podcasts: “Continue podcast.”
  • And so, so much more. Just Google “How to [do XYZ] with Siri” to check how Siri can help you.

You can ask Siri to do these things from your car or on the construction site, all without typing a single word or even touching your device.

Siri can save you so much time and multitask with efficiency.

If you’re interested in getting value from Siri, here’s an excellent guide. 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!

Be careful, though, because Siri is apparently a sassy, witty woman. (In other words, totally adorable.) Make sure not to fall in love with her! Might sound crazy, but if you’ve seen the movie “Her”, where Scarlett Johansson voices Samantha, you know it’s actually quite possible! ;)

How to use Siri in your car? CarPlay or Siri Eyes-Free!

Siri is at the heart of CarPlay. It puts certain iPhone features onto a CarPlay-equipped car’s built-in display, enabling you to do tasks such as make a call, dictate and send a message or email, or have your new messages and emails read out to you—all through voice control. Each app, which includes Apple’s Phone, Messages, Calendar, Music, Maps, Podcasts, and Audiobooks apps, as well as some third-party apps (Waze, Spotify…), have all been redesigned for the car so they can be used while your eyes and hands stay where they should be.

You can read more about how to set up and use Apple Carplay here.

Some cars are equipped with Siri Eyes-Free. Using it is similar to using Siri on your device. After pressing a designated button in your car (usually on the steering wheel), you’ll have access to most of the voice assistant’s features via your car’s Bluetooth system.


3. Consider these useful accessories.


A- Protection cases


You know how it is on-site. It gets windy and there’s dust all around. A bit later, it might start raining. And all of a sudden, it happens: You’re climbing a ladder and your iPad drops to the floor.

Yikes, can your precious iPad or iPhone survive?

Well, naked iPads and iPhones wouldn’t. They’re great tools for productivity on the go, but not known for their durability. Fortunately, protective casing can help!

One of the best rugged, waterproof cases for iPads and iPhones has proven to be the Griffin Survivor case. It’s even been tested against conditions specified by the U.S. Department of Defense and offers great wind, rain, and dust protection. Griffin claims that their case can protect your iPad from a 10-foot fall onto solid concrete.

You can find lots of reviews and even drop/water tests online that show this is the real deal. Here is one example.

You might also want to take a look at the Armor-X or Otterbox heavy-duty waterproof and shockproof solutions.

If you’re an architect and you want a sturdy iPad case that doesn’t necessarily need to be waterproof and shockproof, another great option is Apple’s Tech21 Impact Clear Case with Pencil Holder. This case offers serious bump and scratch protection, as it’s built with a high-performing impact material. Another wonderful feature of this case is its convenient, built-in holder for the Apple Pencil (which we’ll talk about more in just a little while!). It’s especially handy for those who already work with the Pencil and have had the panicky where-did-it-go experience millions of times on-site. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Or—for those still working with an old-school tape measure—what about this DeWalt iPhone Case? :)


B – Keyboard case for iPad


If you need to write out a lot of text on-site (for example, minute reports at meetings), then a keyboard case might be the thing for you! This way, you won’t have to switch between your tablet (for taking pictures or working with an app) and your laptop (for writing/editing long texts) all the time.

Logitech and Apple both offer good keyboard cases to turn your iPad into a more productive workstation. Along with a more comfortable typing experience, they also offer a little bit of protection.

I would recommend the Logitech Slim Folio keyboard case, which is pleasant to type on and much like a typical laptop keyboard, and it provides some protection without adding unnecessary bulk.

If you have a 4th generation iPad Air or an iPad Pro, you can transform your iPad into a laptop by adding Apple’s Magic Keyboard. This keyboard contains both a keyboard and a trackpad and raises the iPad screen a little higher for a pleasant working experience. Some disadvantages of this keyboard: you can not (yet) store your Apple Pencil in it, it’s quite heavy, and actually quite expensive ($ 349- $ 299).

If you find this too much, or if you have another type of iPad, then the less expensive Logitech Combo touch ($ 149) is a worthy alternative. This cover consists of both keyboard and trackpad, an extra plus: you can store your Apple Pencil in it.

use a keyboard case for construction project management


C – Car charger


You’re on your way to a punch list walk-through with an important client. You’re driving along when, all of a sudden, you realize your iPad or iPhone is not charged. Damn!

Chances are, your phone or tablet is your main tool to check floor plans, drawings, and other documents. But maybe you also use it to review field reports and emails with relevant communication and discussions. Maybe, hopefully, you also use your phone or tablet to document your punch list items.

Going back to doing a punch list walk-through with pen and paper just because your battery died should feel as clumsy and inefficient as arriving at the punch list meeting on a horse instead of with your car :)

So here’s a very simple piece of advice: Make sure you can charge your phone or tablet in your car. You can’t afford to risk not being able to do a proper site visit, or take that important call, or let your spouse know you’ll be late for dinner—especially when a $30 car charger, cord, or adaptor can save you from all of those embarrassing and inconvenient situations.

Some cars have USB-A ports, some have USB-C ports, some have both (read here to learn about the difference between USB-A and USB-C). But it doesn’t matter: Just make sure you have the cord or adaptor you need to charge your iPhone and iPad while you’re on the road.

Easy, affordable, and no more stress when you step out the door in the morning and you realize your phone or tablet is almost out of power. It’s a no brainer!

Btw, Apple has a setting you can enable to make sure your iPhone’s battery lasts as long as possible. It’s called “optimized battery charging,” and it helps your battery age slower by charging it a bit differently, based on your daily charging routine. To turn it on, open the settings, choose battery, tap battery health, and toggle “Optimized Battery Charging” to the on position. Interested in more tips to save battery life on your iPhone or iPad? Check out this guide and learn how Low Power Mode, auto-brightness, and more can help.

ipad iphone for construction - useful accessories

🔖 Also read: List of the 14 must-have tech tools and accessories ideal for architects


4. Set up a mobile or personal hotspot.


Most construction pros and architects cannot afford to be stuck without access to the internet. You need to be able to access these drawings, specs, and change requests. If you don’t, you’ll end up losing time or making mistakes due to not having access to the info you need.

Sometimes (okay, pretty often), there’s no Wi-Fi on the construction site. In those cases, you can use your cellular data connection as a hotspot and share it with all your other devices. Your colleagues could connect, too.

For example, let’s say you want to download the most recent version of a drawing on your iPad or laptop, and you have an iPhone 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 iPad, your laptop, etc.

mobile hotspot for field reports and construction management

Smartphone hotspots are the easiest and simplest way to create an accessible Wi-Fi network on the go.

Not sure how to turn on that functionality? Check out this article on how to turn an iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

After you have activated the hotspot for the first time via settings > mobile network > hotspot, you can quickly turn it on and off via the shortcut menu where you can also turn the airplane mode on and off. Just keep your finger on the box with these 4 icons, and some other settings will appear, including turning the mobile hotspot on and off.

quick access to mobile hotspot on iphone

Some things to keep in mind when sharing your data network via a hotspot:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. Use the right apps.


There are apps and software to automate almost every tedious manual task:

  • construction calculations
  • measurements
  • field reports and punch lists
  • PDF annotations
  • time-tracking and invoicing
  • expense management
  • safety inspections
  • drafting floor plans using AR
  • tracking construction tools
  • … you name it, there’s an app for it.

Let’s take the case of drafting a field report or punch list as an example.

With an app like ArchiSnapper, you can document items with your iPhone or iPad 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

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, which goes like this: On-site, you take photos and write down some notes. Then back at the office, you transfer all photos to your PC. Next, you try to decipher and type out the handwritten notes in Word. Add annotations to the photos with Paint. Struggle with the layout while inserting photos in Word. And so on. 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 would be downright counterproductive to not automate 90% of the field reporting tasks with an app or software

digital construction apps help you save time

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 construction 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. So just do it. Once you get into it, you’ll keep on going. You can thank me later! ;)

Psst—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 for Docs

Adobe Acrobat Reader is the free global standard for reliably viewing, signing, and commenting on PDF documents. Essential if you work with a lot of PDFs.

adobe acrobat reader ios apps for construction

GoodNotes 5

With this app, you can take searchable handwritten notes and effortlessly organize all your documents and notebooks in a single place.

goodnotes 5 ios apps for construction

My Measures

With the My Measures App, you can take a picture and add dimensions to it. This way, the dimensions of an object or room are clear to everyone and there’s less risk of mistakes.

my measures ios apps for construction

CamToPlan

CamToPlan is an augmented reality app that lets you create floor plans easily with your smartphone or tablet.

PCalc Lite

The PCalc Lite app is a simple, feature-rich calculator with no ads or bad design.

Measure App

Your iPad and iPhone come with a simple measuring app. The Measure app uses augmented reality (AR) technology to turn your device into a tape measure.

This Apple Measure app works OK in situations where rough distance measurements will do. But it’s clear that when you need exact measurements, such as for installing windows or drafting accurate floor plans, you need a more accurate laser measuring tool.

camtoplan pcalc lite measure app - ios apps for construction

Microsoft Office/Google Cloud

Additionally, if you have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, you can also use the Microsoft suite on your iPad.

With the personal subscription, you’ll get all this for $5.99/month. The business subscription comes at $12.50/month and gives you everything in the personal subscription plus Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams.

Or, if you have a Google account (e.g., for Google Drive for cloud storage), you might consider using Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides on your iPad instead of the Microsoft suite. As you probably know, using these Google solutions lets you collaborate and edit the same documents with others at the same time.

The combination of a professional cloud service (see below) and a Microsoft 365 subscription or Google (Drive and Docs) account basically means that you not only have access to all your documents and files wherever you are, but you can also easily switch between your desktop or laptop in the office and your iPad on the go to continue editing your text files and spreadsheets.


6. Use the Apple Pencil.


The Apple Pencil is basically a pen you can use to write, draw, sketch, or make notes easily on your iPad.

You can use a note-taking or writing application and write just like you would with a pen. The Pencil is very accurate and sensitive. You will be surprised at how well it works.

apple pencil for architects engineers and contractors

You can also scan a photo or document, or just take a photo, and then start writing or drawing directly on it. There are lots of options to change the thickness of the pen point, color, texture, etc. There are also options to create perfectly straight lines and to precisely adjust angles.

For note-taking, we recommend the Notability app or GoodNotes over the Notes app pre-installed on your iPad, because they offer more features and greater accuracy.

Little by little, we’re also seeing the first decent handwriting recognition apps for iPad. These apps can translate your pencil-based scribbles into actual regular (digital) text. MyScript Nebo is a good example. It’s like writing an email with your pen!

Here’s a guide with everything you need to know about working with an Apple Pencil.

Teamed up with a keyboard, trackpad or wireless mouse, and Apple Pencil, the iPad is an exceptional work tool.

💡 Extra tip: quick screenshots with your Apple Pencil:

  • Swipe your Apple Pencil diagonally up from the bottom left or right corner
  • You’ll see that the screen shrinks a little
  • Let go to take the screenshot
  • You can immediately add, sketch, save or share notes with others.

7. Split your screen.


You should make the Split View and Slide Over functionalities part of your workflow. They allow you to view and use two or more 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.

productivity for architects split your ipad screen

It’s perfectly possible to do that without opening and closing these two apps over and over.

Split View is a powerful multitasking feature that lets you display two windows side by side.

Slide Over displays a primary app in full-screen mode and a secondary app in a small floating window on the left or right side of the screen.

This article explains how the Split View and Slide Over multitask features work.

For iPad users, without an external keyboard, it can be useful to work with a small, floating version of the keyboard, which otherwise occupies a large part of your screen. Hold the keyboard in the lower right corner for a moment and click the “floating” button that appears. You can now place the floating keyboard anywhere you want. More info here.


8. Get the most out of Apple’s top-quality camera and photo app.


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.

architects pictures on the construction site

Your iPhone and iPad are fantastic devices for taking high-quality pictures. 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 iOS camera app, you can tap with your finger to set the focus on a specific object or issue.
  • Tap and hold the exposure button that appears next to it, which looks like a miniature sun. You’ll now see a slider that allows you to adjust the exposure.
  • It’s also possible to lock your focus and exposure by tapping and holding the focus zone until you see an AE/AF lock banner appear at the top of the screen.

archisnapper_ioscameraapp_setfocus

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 which you access by tapping HDR on the camera screen. 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.

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 open the photo app and tap “Edit.”

Wide-angle photos

Want to capture the entire construction site or area within a building, but the entire view won’t fit on your camera screen? Use pano mode to get a stunning wide-angle photo.

iphone construction photos

Need a more professional solution for taking wide-angle photos? Consider buying a wide-angle lens attachment for your iPhone. Read more about this in this article.

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 damage 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 roll, and if something happens with the device, they risk losing important photos.

So, make sure to have an automated backup system in place. There are many options available (lots of iOS users use iCloud). But 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.

Be aware of the .HEIC format

Since 2019, the latest Apple devices have been storing images in .heic format. The advantage is that this file format takes up less storage space, the disadvantage is that not all software is compatible with this file format. This can cause problems if you also work in a Windows environment. If you want to save your images in .jpeg format, you can change this setting via:

Settings > camera > Formats. Then select “most compatible” to save your pictures in jpeg.


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 iPad or iPhone as a scanner! This makes it simple to transform receipts, business cards, and other important documents into PDF files.

The document scanner is tucked away in the Notes app on your iPad. 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.

  1. Open the Notes app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Create a new note.
  3. Tap the “More” button just above the keyboard – (+) symbol.
  4. Tap “Scan Document.”

archisnapper_notesapp_ipadiphone

Now the scanner should automatically scan. If it doesn’t, tap the shutter button to manually scan the document.

When scanning the document, it’s important to wait until the words come into focus. The camera on the iPad will adjust automatically until the text on the page is readable.

When you’re done, you can save the document as a new note in the Note app. If you want to edit it, or save it as a PDF, just go to the Share button in the new note and choose either Markup or Create PDF:

archisnapper-scanningwithipad

With the Markup functionality, you can also add text and signatures.

Cool, right?

So yes, your iPad can also act as a scanner on the go! No more printers and scanners.

Looking for an easy app to fill and sign PDF forms with your iPhone or iPad? Take a look at Adobe Acrobat Reader for Docs. It lets you open a PDF, add a comment, and add your signature.

Alternative apps for scanning with iPhone or iPad include Scannable, CamScanner, and even Google Drive.


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, contractors, and construction engineers—all of whom are often on the road.

avoid traffic jams construction workers

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.

Besides saving time, Waze might also save you a speeding fine or three thanks to the alerts it gives when you approach a speed traffic camera or a police car. But you’re driving within the speed limit anyway, right? ;)

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 iPhone and iPad!


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 iPad and iPhone also contain a lot of data that you don’t want to lose, like photos, videos, notes, and more.

back up your iphone or ipad

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 or iCloud, you can easily set up an automatic backup of your iPhone or iPad.

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.

Because it integrates so seamlessly with all of Apple’s services, iCloud really is probably the best cloud storage solution for Apple addicts, although it’s a little bit more expensive compared with other cloud services (free for 5 GB, $0.99 a month for 50 GB, $2.99 a month for 200 GB). The benefit of using iCloud when you’re using only Apple products is that iCloud seamlessly syncs your data—for example, contacts, videos, and music—across all of your devices. Being able to access documents and contacts across any device (iPhone, iPad, Macbook) makes doing business faster and stress-free. Here you can find the info you need to get started with iCloud.

Personally, I like the Google cloud solutions much more. It’s fairly priced (100GB for $1.99 a month, 200GB for $2.99 per month); it’s great for managing and sharing photos or files, or for collaborating with Google Docs, and it integrates smoothly with iOS solutions. You could start with Google Drive for managing your files and Google Photos to sync and manage photos and videos.

And one more thing: Often find yourself looking for your device, not remembering where you left it? Nothing worse than losing your device when you need it. Try the Find My App, which makes it easy to locate your Apple devices.


Voila, that’s all folks!

Eleven ways to save time, eleven 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 iPad or iPhone.

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 iOS user, stay tuned! We’ll be writing a similar guide for Android tablets and phones very soon. :)

Scared to miss out on the new guide? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and receive the Android version directly in your inbox.

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