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Tech Review: Apps that let you work away from the office

As more people find the lines between their work lives and their personal lives getting blurred, their mobile device is often used for both business and pleasure. These apps can help you be more productive both in and out of the office.

Swype Keyboard

(iOS, Android; $0.99)

Don't try Swype's typing technique on your desktop computer keyboard. Swype replaces the stock keyboards on mobile devices with a keyboard that lets you type by using a quick swiping motion over the letters. Swype will learn your patterns and most-used words and make intelligent recommendations, so once you get the hang of it you can type faster, and, hopefully, accurately. You can back up your personal dictionary for use between several devices.


(iOS, Android; free)

This app can be a lifesaver when you're out of the office and need to scan a document, whether it's an important paper or a small receipt. The scan can be saved as a PDF or JPG file. The free app, however, is too limited to make it worthwhile for most work purposes. The pro version upgrade unlocks extra features, at $1.99-$4.99, depending on your device.


(iOS, $2.99)

A kind of Swiss Army knife of productivity apps, Workflow can bring organization to even the most chaotic schedule. It will take time to learn all the features -- about 200 of them -- but the possibilities are immense. Workflow has several built-in templates, but its real power is when you create your own series of actions that interact with apps on your device to automate tasks you use every day. The app has recently been updated to support the Apple Watch.

Fantastical 2 for iPhone

(iOS, $4.99)

Been late to a meeting or forgot an important event? This app may be the solution. What makes Fantastical 2 so effective is how easy it is to get your appointments into its calendar, either by typing or using your voice. For example, just type or say something like "Sales meeting Thursday," and you're booked. The app has support for the Apple Watch. There's a separate iPad version for $9.99.

Tech bytes

Hub surfaces in September

Surface Hub, Microsoft's all-in-one business conference room system that includes a large monitor, audio-video conferencing resources, digital whiteboard, projector and wireless receiver will be available in September. The system with a 55-inch monitor costs $6,999; the 84-inch system is $19,999. Microsoft says Surface Hub can replace numerous unconnected tools and technologies businesses commonly use "at a lower up-front cost." -- PETER KING

Fab sales for phablets

Phablets are hot. Sales of the devices that are bigger than the average smartphone but smaller than a tablet captured 21 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in the first quarter, up from only 6 percent a year earlier, according to research from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The surge was led by Apple's iPhone 6 Plus and new Android products from Samsung and LG. -- PETER KING

Speed boost for Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has received a revised operating system, making it easier for engineers to develop new, faster applications. The upgrade allows for new watch faces, puts new information such as stocks, weather and sports scores on the screen and allows a wearer to reply to email. Some Apple Watch users have complained that apps load too slowly. -- BLOOMBERG NEWS

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