How prominent are paper products in your life? Would you be lost without a pen and notepad or that quickly scrawled shopping list, or are you shunning paper in favour of apps?
While it could be at least another few decades before the world goes completely paperless, there are some fantastic digital products entering the market that could well help you to cut down dramatically on your paper usage and - more importantly - the amount of trees that are cut down as a result.
We can now read books and newspapers on tablets, keep up to date with mobile banking and view important documents digitally, but there may be much more that you could be doing digitally rather than relying on the old faithful paper.
Here’s our pick of the bunch:
A revolution in reading, the Kindle has transformed the way we learn, laugh, cry and escape from the pressures of modern life through the treasures of text. The Kindle offers bookworms unbeatable portability with a huge library and endless literary genres. One of the major selling points of the device is its E-ink screen, which eliminates the tired eye effect and is about as close to paper as an electronic device is going to get. Better yet, the ability to annotate pages and save notes for later makes it a remarkably useful study tool.
While the death of paper actually seems quite achievable both in office environments and at home with products like those mentioned above, the death of the humble scanner could well be on the horizon too. A £4.99 app called Scanner Pro that works on your iPhone and iPad is now all you need to scan pretty much anything and send it on to others or keep it as a digital copy.
It can actually pick out borders, straighten out wonky scans and remove any shading. You can then email the document or upload it to Google Docs or Dropbox. One of the most convenient ways to communicate, you can easily and quickly scan in and send on larger documents right in front of you without being tied down to your desk.
Wacom Duo Stylus
If you’re the creative type and love nothing better than flinging open a sketchbook and drawing or just sitting down and scribbling during those boring meetings or lectures, the Wacom Duo Stylus is a pretty good replacement for your average ballpoint. It looks, feels and writes like a regular pen – because it is. But press it against your iPad or tablet and the pen will let you write and draw just as you would on some paper. It has standard refills and will write on paper just like your average Bic, so switching between traditional and digital notes couldn’t be easier.
Up until recently digital signatures have rarely been used due to safety issues and poor digital quality. SignNow is one app that could well revolutionise business by giving users the ability to sign legal documents straight from their electronic device securely and quickly.
It works by allowing users to upload the document as a PDF where they can then sign it electronically and email it instantly. The best bit? It’s completely free. You can annotate the documents and invite more signatories, and there’s 256-bit encryption and IP address tracking to make sure your signed document gets into the right hands.
How many times have you been in a meeting or lesson and wished that you could take a hi-res photo of handwritten notes on the whiteboard to work on later? Now apps with integrated OCR (optical character recognition) can make it easy to simply, snap some text, upload it, read it and annotate it as a document on your computer, smartphone or tablet. Evernote and Qipit – both free services – offer you the option of taking a photo of pretty much anything from notes written on a napkin to a formal letter and picking out the text so that you can see it digitally.
Qipit also emails you a searchable PDF of your handwritten notes if you email it to their server. The quality of your device’s camera plays a part here, but the new high-resolution cameras on iPhones and Androids are good enough to let Qipit even pick out small printed text.
Cloud services are the future when it comes to going paperless and ScanDrop is one app that could save you huge amounts on printer ink, toner and paper by not having to print numerous copies of the same document.
It’s a pretty simple app to use and lets you scan paper documents from your regular computer scanner directly into Evernote as PDF files. Provided by Officedrop, the service also offers the option to upload paper files to Google Docs, allowing you to then invite people to see and annotate it as they would with a pen and paper.
The £16 monthly price for small businesses looks pretty paltry when you get 2500 pages’ worth of space available and support given for the program’s own cloud service. A free plan is also available for Mac and Windows users and it’s fully secure with 256-bit SSL encryption. When the documents are uploaded to your chosen document app, you can access them instantly on smartphones and tablets, also allowing you to ditch that briefcase bulging at the seams and keep your business in one easily accessible place.