You can connect millions of devices to fast networks and create an environment that is well-suited to real-time collaboration apps. You can use your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer to connect to the internet. You can collaborate with anyone who is similarly connected to you. Best collaboration tools allow groups of people to communicate, type, talk, or draw together.
Although the apps listed below offer a variety of collaboration options, one thing unites them all: They allow people to collaborate in real-time on a shared file and in a shared virtual area. The ability to work together constructively across distances means that location doesn’t matter as much. It also means that sometimes an internet connection is more important than a physical location.
Communities with reliable, affordable, and fast internet connections are more likely to prosper economically than those without it. App integration, latency, and local collaboration are all issues digital collaboration apps are beginning to address. Many collaboration tools offer an app store. This is because they understand that organizations want apps that integrate well with other tools, whether they’re existing or newer.
In an effort to reduce network latency in browser-based collaboration, some performance-oriented developers offer an app that can be installed. Some innovative vendors have created apps that allow people to collaborate over the internet as well as over local networks or peer-to-peer connections. Wherever it is possible, use digital collaboration vendors who actively seek to address these three fundamental issues.
7 Best Digital Collaboration Tools
1. Best collaboration app overall: Google Docs
Google Docs is my favorite real-time collaboration tool. When I first used Writely, the app that Google eventually bought, transformed, and later renamed Google Docs, software-as-a-service apps were still relatively unusual. Google Docs is so simple to use because you only need a browser and an internet connection to collaborate on creating and editing documents. Google Docs eliminates the need to obsessively use a file for a save command: Every change was saved automatically.
Google Docs changes the way you write. One person no longer has to type, save and then email a file. Instead, you create and then share. You can share with different permissions. Trusted collaborators have full edit access. A colleague who makes occasional changes may only have commenter access. Clients might not be able to see your work. Google Docs collaborators can make edits using a desktop browser, a mobile app, or on any number of platforms.
Google Docs’ multi-person editor is what is most interesting. Google Docs now supports academic citations. It allows you to create dropdown lists and checks your spelling and grammar. It can also compare two files and highlight the differences. And it can translate your text into another language. You can open an old Microsoft Word file. It’s possible.
You can open it and share it with your team using Docs. Do you need to discuss the details of a document? Click the Google Meet button to video conference with your team. Video will be displayed on the side while you work in a Doc. This sums up Google Docs: You can collaborate on files in legacy formats, and also support document collaboration in the context of modern remote work.
Document collaboration apps worth tracking
Both Salesforce and Microsoft offer fully-featured, real-time document collaboration apps Word, and Quip that are worth consideration in an enterprise environment. Notion and Coda are new collaboration tools that challenge the notion of individual documents being separate text, number, or slide-centric files.
Also read: Top 10 Productivity Apps & Tools
2. Best collaborative mind map app: MindMeister
MindMeister is a cloud-based collaboration tool that creates and displays connections between concepts. MindMeister has all the features you would expect from a mindmap app. It starts with a central concept and adds related ideas to different branches. Then, add more branches as needed. Each node can be customized by adding a comment, note, link, or media. You can also change the font, color, and border of each node, including emoji.
Multiple users can edit the mindmap from one browser, or via the mobile apps for Android/iPadOS. MindMeister is free to use for three mind maps. Paid upgrades allow unlimited mind mapping, more system integrations, and other administrative functions.
MindMeister is also made by MeisterLabs, which also produces MeisterTask, and MeisterNote. MeisterNote is the latest of the three apps and helps teams organize, document, and share their knowledge. For example, you could add a MindMeister Map to your MeisterNotes along with other collaborative content blocks.
MeisterTask is a fully-featured project and task management app. It also integrates with MindMeister. You can assign tasks to specific people with due dates in any MindMeister node. You can combine the apps to manage and visualize your projects in many ways. As a bundle subscription, the company offers MindMeister and MeisterTask. Keep up with the latest updates by following @mindmeister on Twitter.
Mindmap apps worth tracking
Coggle and Mindomo are two other popular mind mapping apps. Mindomo is a collaborative mind-mapping service that can be used on all major operating systems. You can use Mindomo to create three mind maps for free.
There are upgrades that allow you to expand import and export options, add templates, and integrate enterprise apps. Coggle allows you to create and collaborate on three mindmaps for free. Upgrade options offer more shapes, design options, and management capabilities. Coggle offers an on-premise option for enterprise use.
3. Best visual collaboration app: Miro
Miro is an enterprise-friendly solution. It looks almost like the whiteboard app the company’s earlier name, RealtimeBoard, suggested. Miro is more than just a collaborative drawing platform. It also offers a wide range of third-party app connections, a variety of collaboration tools, and the ability to share with others.
The Miro Marketplace allows integrations with over 100 collaboration tools, some of which may seem like competitors such as Microsoft Teams or Webex Meetings. Airtable, Asana Cards, and Google Calendar are all possible connections. Jira, Slack, Jira, Jira, and Google Calendar are also available. Miro is the only enterprise app that connects to whiteboard tools.
Miro also includes tools to help you draw, like mind mapping and diagramming, as well as advanced features such as voting on boards. You can discuss and track your progress with the comment and task system, and a side panel system allows you to add a note along your board.
You can use the Miroverse template gallery to create templates for any type of collaborative document or task. Miro also offers apps that you can install on Windows, macOS, or iOS/iPadOS. Keep up to date with @MiroHQ via Twitter.
Visual collaboration apps worth tracking
Miro is a similar visual collaboration app, that has a lot of templates and advanced features. It also integrates with other apps. Limnu is still one of my favorite online alternatives to using a piece of napkin to quickly sketch out ideas. This app’s fluid design and simplicity make it a favorite.
4. Best collaborative cloud CAD app: Onshape
Onshape is a cloud SaaS design platform that allows for collaborative computer-aided design as well as product data management, is. Your colleagues and you can work together on a 3D design in a browser, or with the Onshape mobile app for iOS or Android. Teams can experiment with new approaches and solutions by branching or merging designs. Built-in data management and bill-of-material systems allow for always up-to-date content.
The audit trail of Edit History is preserved so that you can review and revert any changes. To streamline workflows, the commenting and task assignment system allows all members of the team to be notified immediately. To share a design, enter the email address of a collaborator and select whether they have full edit, comment-only, or view-only permissions. These are the best collaboration tools.
Onshape’s pricing model and the many partners suggest that the app can be used to support a wide range of design needs. Onshape Free is a free edition that provides most of the core functionality for non-commercial projects. However, files created with this edition are publically accessible. Designers can create private designs with the Standard plan, while Professional plans allow for many administrative and product management functions.
Students and educators who are eligible may get the One shape Standard plan at no cost. The Onshape App Store gives you access to any third-party tools. It also helps identify how each partner app connects to Onshape, classifying them as either a Connected Desktop App or Integrated Cloud App. Follow @Onshape for the latest updates.
Collaborative cloud CAD apps worth tracking
Autodesk and Trimble offer cloud-based CAD options. Autodesk, the maker of AutoCAD, offers a cloud-based 3D modeling platform that is fully featured and designed for product design and manufacturing. Fusion 360. Trimble offers SketchUp with capabilities and editions that are aimed at both commercial and educational use.
5. Best remote troubleshooting app: Vuforia Chalk (PTC)
Vuforia Chalk allows people to make virtual marks in a live video conference session. The stream stops when participants start drawing, unlike in standard video conferencing sessions. This allows them to make their marks exactly where they want. Each mark is “sticky” to the place it was drawn by the augmented reality app, even if participants are moving their devices or screens.
This app allows remote experts to access practical knowledge. A technician may share a view of the network setup in a data center, while a remote expert will indicate which port to plug into a network cable. Vuforia Chalk is a great tool for any situation in which expert knowledge is required to repair, troubleshoot or maintain equipment or systems.
The Enterprise edition of Vuforia Chalk allows multiple experts to offer assistance. Vuforia Chalk can be used on both iOS and Android. A web version is also available, which works on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Keep up to date with @Vuforia via Twitter.
Tracking AR apps for collaborative remote support is worth it
MAXWORK are augmented reality collaboration tools for remote and enterprise support. Microsoft HoloLens allows mixed reality collaboration in a variety of engineering, construction, and healthcare environments.
6. Best visual assistance app: Be My Eyes
The be my eyes mobile app allows people with low vision to connect with sighted people through a live video chat. The Be My Eyes app allows you to share video from the back-facing camera that is used by the person seeking help. So that the remote, sighted individual may offer assistance to guide and then provide assistance.
It is available in both Android and iOS versions and is free for low-vision and blind users. Volunteers who are visually impaired may be able to help with many tasks. Reading the small print, difficult-to-read labels, distinguishing colors, and describing photos are some examples. Navigation assistance such as reading signs to someone in unfamiliar places.
Customers who use Be My Eyes can get assistance from a variety of companies. Be My Eyes is a service that provides support for companies such as Twitter, Google, Spotify, and Spotify during regular hours. Follow @BeMyEyes for the latest updates.
AI-based assistive solutions worth tracking
Apps that are intended to assist people with low vision or blindness rely more on artificial intelligence systems than humans. Microsoft’s Visual AI describes its vision, including text, images, currencies, colors, and other details. Supersense describes how the environment looks and includes text, currency, and barcodes.
Also read: Top 10 Communication Tools for Remote Teams
7. Best collaborative astronomy app: Night Sky
Night Sky is an app that allows you to point your Apple device at the sky and identify stars, satellites, planets, and other objects. It’s a personal planetarium app that uses your location and the position of your device to determine what to display. Night Sky provides a forecast that will tell you the best time to stargaze for the next night. You can use many core features of the app for free.
Night Sky Premium is available for either a monthly or an annual fee. It allows anyone in a FaceTime Audio conversation to start a connected stargazing session. This allows members of the group select objects and indicates where they have located them in the sky. The app allows you to identify objects and point them out, just as you would do when you are together in person.
It also makes it easy to share your experiences with others, even if they’re in different locations. Apple’s SharePlay allows users to share their app experiences across multiple Apple operating systems including iOS, iPad, and macOS. Connected Stargazing uses Apple’s SharePlay. Follow @NightSky for the latest updates.
SharePlay apps worth tracking
Many of the original apps that supported SharePlay allowed people to listen to or watch music together. However, many developers have added SharePlay support to apps with work or educational focus. SharePlay allows you to whiteboard with Explain Every, have a timed session with blueBird Focus Timer, or collaborate with the drawing app Flow by Moleskine.