5 Free iOS Apps to Get You Collaborating

A good friend of mine once told me that he saw every day as a new beginning, a chance to start fresh. Sometimes when we're in the middle of a stressful period in life we may forget that even every second is a chance to start anew. Most folks, however, attribute fresh starts to New Years. It makes sense; a new year, new beginnings.

So, what will you do with your yearly do-over? Travel more? Quit a bad habit? Start some good habits?

Free on iTunes

How about getting that idea or project you've been toying with off the ground finally? Wouldn't it be great to collaborate with friends and get feedback from them about why your idea is so cool, or maybe not so much?

Collaborating with others can be a great way to keep the creative juices flowing as you feed off each others suggestions. Of course, collaboration today does not require you to actually be in the same room with your collaborators in order to...ummm...collaborate. And perhaps not in the traditional sense.

In this, the last of a series of special Free on iTunes, I'll be taking a close look at 5 apps that'll let get your ideas, thoughts, photos, and documents to others you want to hobnob with. So lets get to it.

Dropbox (or sign up at Dropbox) [18.6 MB, all iOS devices iOS 5.0 or later, Maker: Dropbox Inc.]

DropBoxDropBox is everywhere, sees all

OK, really, who doesn't have Dropbox installed on his or her devices? The service has become the default cloud storage for anyone using a mobile device, or desktop for that matter.

What's great about it is that it'll take darn near any file type and shove it to the cloud for safe keeping. It's smart enough to automagically segregate your files according to the app or service that created them. It's simple enough that your dear old Aunt Betty—the perennial technophobe in the family—can use it like a pro.

Another stellar feature is Dropbox's ability to let other see, share, and even work with files in your space. You control the access and what others can do once they have it, but you can really get collaborating without a lot of drama. Use it in conjunction with Facetime or Skype and you'd have a virtual brainstorming session.

The best thing about DropBox is that it just works, regardless of platform. So if you have a new device, get DropBox.

Quip [16.6 MB, all iOS devices iOS 6.0 or later, Maker: Quip Inc.]

QuipEveryone can edit docs in real time with Quip

This is an interesting app and service that's bound to come in handy. Quip lets you create and edit document collaboratively in real time.

Open a document then add collaborators from your contacts. Your pals must also have Quip installed, but once they do you and they can modify the document you've opened. You control who has access to what.

Another nice feature is Quip's built in texting. While collaboratively editing you can send a message to others to keep the collaboration juices flowing.

Once your document is complete you can share it. Quip works seamlessly with DropBox so getting to documents is easy. The app is also a pretty decent text writer too.

You'll be surprised how useful Quip can be.

DocuSign Ink [32.2 MB, all iOS devices iOS 7.0 or later, Maker: DocuSign]

InkPDF signing is a cinch with DocuSign Ink

If you don’t want the meat of your document to change, but would like others to annotate it you might consider saving them as PDFs. PDF maintains the integrity of what you’ve written, but how to let other comment, annotate, or sign your document?

As the name implies, DocuSign Ink lets folks sign documents, add comments and so on to any PDF document. The advantage is that you don't change the original document. Signature and comments are associated with the file, like an add-on.

Once you're done you can then send the document on to others via DropBox or other methods. The app requires you to create an account where it stores and manages you signature info. Be aware of this.

Documents by Readdle [44.1 MB, all iOS devices iOS 7.0 or later, Maker: Igor Zhadanov]

DocumentsManage all your files with Documents by Readdle

Once you're into the paperless world of PDF you'll start to accumulate documents quickly. DropBox does some neat file management things, but you'll really like what Documents by Readdle can do for you.

This app lets you access your documents from just about any source, including your computer. It becomes a central place to find docs regardless of where you've stored them.

Documents won't let you sign or annotate PDFs, but it will allow you to read them, highlight, underline, and get definitions, and create notes associated with text.

Another bit of goodness is that this app will open just about any file type. This is definitely a handy app to have around.

JotNot Scanner [13.2 MB, all iOS devices iOS 7.0 or later, Maker: MobiTech 3000 LLC]

JotNotBasnish paper bits by scanning with JotNot Scanner

Someone you'd like to remember hands you a business card. What I typically do is shove the card into my woefully overburdened wallet, along with the receipts, cash, and other bits of paper I think I want to keep with me. Of course my wallet is a hostile environment for any decent piece of paper. It’ll get mashed and mutilated or used as an emergency notepad.

Wouldn't it be nice be able to digitize that card and store it on your device for safe keeping? Better yet, store it in a cloud for even safer keeping. JotNot Scanner lets you do that and so much more.

Scanning is as easy as snapping a photo. The app then finds the edges of your document. Tap 'Process' and the image is straightened and cleaned up for easy reading. Save the results to your photo library and from there you can share via iCloud or AirDrop.

It's a PDF document so you can add text, sign it, add notes and so on using the right app. This is one app you'll find more uses for the more you use it.

And that's a wrap for this week and this series. I'll be looking into other series in the future so stay tuned.

Also be sure to take a look at this week's featured freebies. In the Apps Store you can get the one and only PacMac for free. On the music front you can grab Reflections, a single from Misterwives.