So, were you naughty or nice?
At this most wonderful time of the year, I’m often inundated with phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook pokes and Twitter tweets about the best business apps to get for a smartphone. This year was no exception. I guess people were nice… nice enough to get a brand new smartphone, and now they need to lock and load it with apps that will make them more effective at work. My current weapon of choice is the iPhone 5, but I would be lying if I said that the draw of switching to an Android device wasn’t getting intense as each day passes. So, following are my "must-have" business apps for an iPhone, but I’m more than certain that the majority of these apps are also readily available on your Android too.
The "must-have" business apps for your smartphone (in alphabetical order):
- bitly. If you ever need to tweet from your smartphone (which, should be happening more than on a desktop), the bitly app makes is stupid easy to create a URL shortener. It’s also useful for posting to Facebook, and it also provides a great place to simply bookmark content that you want to save and share.
- Dropbox. I can’t say enough good things about Dropbox as a paid service. It allows me to keep a backup of my computer in the cloud, and the app makes it simple to grab files (of any size) as needed. As someone who travels as much as I do, access to saved backups are critical to peace of mind. On top of that, the ability to share folders and files with others so easily, only magnifies the importance of Dropbox.
- Evernote. Keeping notes in a Moleskine notebook is still my default. I left my notebook on my desk before a business trip and was frustrated the whole way through. I do my best to now keep my notes in digital format and nothing compares to Evernote. If you take notes, have to-do lists or whatever, invest some time in getting Evernote set-up right for the work that you do.
- FlightTrack Pro. If you travel a lot (or a little), there are few apps as compelling as FlightTrack Pro. I have this synced to my private TripIt account, so every time I have a flight, I simply email it to my TripIt account and it winds up in FlightTrack Pro. The wealth of flight information provided in this app makes it worth the price of admission alone. It includes everything from gate information to historical data on how frequently a flight is on time (or delayed).
- Google. It’s everything Google in one, simple and easy-to-use app. From search and Gmail to Google + and Google Translate. It’s one of those apps that you just have to have if you use any of Google’s products (and, who doesn’t?).
- HT Professional Recorder. This is the app that I use with my iRig MIC Cast microphone to record audio podcasts when I’m doing them face-to-face. It’s a great app and the sound quality is even good when I don’t plug in an external microphone. The app also makes it easy to export the audio files out of the app and into iTunes.
- Instapaper. I love Instapaper. It allows you to save content to read (articles, blog posts, etc…). The best part is that it not only formats the content to be readable (like, e-book quality readable), but it also downloads the text, so you can read it while on a plane or while you’re in an area with no connectivity. Instapaper is where I save and tag anything and everything that I may need at some point need to read in the future.
- Kindle. I own a physical Amazon Kindle reader, but I never use it. I do the majority of my book reading on my iPhone (and, occasionally, on my iPad). I should also recommend the Kobo app here for reading, but I’m locked into Amazon because that’s where my e-book collection has been for so long. I can’t imagine carrying physical books on me anymore. I truly love the access to my book library that the Kindle app offers me. I have never read this much in my entire life. I suddenly find myself grabbing a paragraph here and a page there, which is miles away from creating time and space to read a book.
- LodgeNet. I stay in a lot of hotels. I’m not a germophobe, but everyone knows that hotel remote controls are never cleaned and are, probably, one of the filthiest things in a hotel room. The LodgeNet app allows me to turn my iPhone into the hotel room’s TV remote control (if they are using LodgeNet as their TV service provider). You enter a short code and suddenly, your iPhone becomes not only an interactive TV menu, but controls the TV. Germs be gone!
- MyRadar Weather Radar. My good friend, Arjun Basu, turned me on to this one. It’s simple: live radar weather. You can actually see the weather clouds forming and more. Always fun to look at before heading out on a business trip. It also shows you areas to avoid.
- Prey. Anti-theft app for your iPhone. Always good to have a back-up plan should you mis-place or have your device stolen. This one is worth every penny. It tracks your device for you.
- SitOrSquat. Need to find a clean bathroom in a foreign city? The good folks at Charmin (yes, the toilet paper company) have your behind covered. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
- TextGrabber. See something in a magazine, book or newspaper that you would like to have in digital format? TextGrabber allows you to snap a picture and their technology transcribes it into digital format. I’ll even use this for reading on my Kindle. You grab a screen shot and then import the photo into TextGrabber. It’s like magic.
- TweetBot. If you use Twitter and you’re finding their native app somewhat limiting, I’m a recent convert to TweetBot. It’s both sleek and powerful for those who want to just a little bit more with their mobile Twitter experience.
- Uber. Get a black sedan sent to your location within a matter of moments, get into the car, get out at your destination and let Uber do the rest. It’s a little bit more expensive than a taxi (and, recently, you can ever use Uber to hail a cab), but it’s so worth it – especially if you’re entertaining clients or don’t want to wait in line at a hotel for a cab to show up.
- WhatsApp. When I finally got rid of my BlackBerry, I knew that my sore spot would be missing BBM. Now, with WhatsApp, no more sadness. It’s quick, easy and very powerful mobile instant messaging. After a few chats with family members and friends, I found myself saying, "BBM? What’s that?"
Now, it’s your turn: which smartphone apps do you think are critical to your business success? (help out those who are asking me!).