Cell phones have become an indispensable tool for the modern business person. Not only do you have the computing power of what was a powerful desktop just a few years back, you have broadband internet access, a powerful camera, a GPS, tons of storage and many other miracles of modern science in a nice portable package. However, what make them indispensable are the thousands of apps available that take advantage of that digital prowess. Below are my top pics for Apps that can make any business person’s job easier, more productive, and possibly more enjoyable as well.
Evernote is the ultimate note-taking app. However, it is an organizational tool on steroids as well. I use it to take notes and pictures at conferences, save web pages for later reading, make to-do lists and even take photos of things I need to remember; like my prescriptions, oil filter model and many other bits of information that just don’t make it to my conscious memory.
One of the best features of Evernote is you can share these notes with the people you select. Remember that grocery list on the fridge? How about having it in the cloud so that everyone in the family can add to, and buy for when they are at the market. How about a shared trade show itinerary for the whole team? Everyone invited to the note can update in real time. It has alarms to notify you of your to-dos as well.
Evernote also has one of the best search features available. You can search words, tags, and even locations where you were at when you took the note or picture.
Dropbox is one of those tools that once you use it, or something similar; you wonder how you ever got along without it. Dropbox is a kind of synchronous cloud storage that allows you to have a folder on your desktop that syncs with the cloud and any other device you attach to it. For example, I installed my Dropbox on my laptop, my phone and my computer at home. Whenever I save a file to that folder, it gets copied to the cloud and each of the computers. On my phone, it works a little differently and updates the list of files, but doesn’t download the files from the cloud until I open them. This way you save on data charges.
So, how do I use it? Well, I use it as a kind of backup. See whatever I put in Dropbox gets stored in the cloud and one other computer. It also saves revisions, so if I delete something, I can undelete it. As with Evernote, I can share folders with the people I select. Have you ever had files that several of you use, let’s say a spreadsheet? Well, you can put it in a folder and share it with your colleagues. Have you ever had files that are too big for email (as a group of pictures for example)? Just put it in a Dropbox folder and share the folder with your intended recipient(s).
Cam Card is a piece of modern ingenuity. It allows you to take a business card and take a picture of it. The software then scans it, recognizes it and adds the contact information to your phone and your Google contacts as well. No more lost business cards!
Cam Scanner is similar to Cam Card and is by the same company. Cam Scanner allows you to take a picture of a document and turn it into a pdf that you can save or email to a colleague. Imagine having that in your pocket.
I use it to email customer PO’s to my principals, scan articles in trade magazines, and save it to Evernote for later reading or archiving. I even scan and save line cards for future reference.
Audible is an audio book app that is owned by Amazon. Now you can listen to all the books your preppy friends had read in high school, but you never had the time or opportunity to read yourself. Audible is a traveling salesperson’s dream come true. Long hours stuck in traffic fly by. Escape to another world, a different time, or just learn something new. I have gotten the best education in the last several years, just by listening to audio books on subjects ranging from sales, marketing, psychology, to web design, and photography. The app also lets you speed up the pace of reading, so people like me that have a bit of AADD stay focused.
Mag Light is a simple utility app that has saved my bacon more than once. It is an app that uses the camera and light on your phone to zoom in and take pictures of things you would normally have a hard time seeing unassisted.
I am rapidly reaching fifty years old and so are my eyes. I don’t know if it just me, or if there is some conspiracy going on to make the fine print so fine, that you need the eyes of a 12-year-old to read it.
With this app, I can pull out my phone, point and see things in real time while magnifying them up to 5x, then snap a picture to save for later. Now I can see the trademark on a fastener that was unclear to me before, or see the machine marks on a part, to know how it was made. A bonus to this app is that you can use it as a magnifying mirror to check for bats in the cave before visiting that important client.
Glympse is a kind of collaborative mapping program. It allows you and your associates to see each other on a map in real-time when you are on route to meet each other. The way it works is like this: You each have it installed on your phones. You invite the others to join your Glympse, and each accepts and allow you to see them.
You can enter a destination and see everyone’s location in reference to the destination in real-time. Now you can estimate what time everyone will reach the destination, so you can feel less guilty when you start eating without the latecomers 😉
LastPass is a password management app. It allows you to store your passwords in one secure** place and access them across several devices. You install it on your computers and phone. All you have to do is remember the one main password, and you can access all your passwords. Better yet, you can manage your passwords. You can also store credit card information and other information that you would like to “autofill” in on-line forms.
**Keep in mind that I don’t trust any software to store my bank or credit card login information. However, for the other 100+ passwords I need to keep track of, this works just fine.
I use either of these two apps to keep track of my receipts; no more working with faded, unreadable receipts at tax time. Now you can save a digital copy, tagged with related notes, or GL accounts. Trust me, your accountant and hairline will love you for using it.
Uber is disrupting the Taxi business. It is an app that allows you to request a pickup and ride to your destination of choice via an independent driver. Thousands of regular people have signed up to become Uber drivers. So far, it is a safe, convenient, and an affordable option to calling a cab.
Overcast (iPhone) or DoggCatcher (Android) Podcast players
Podcast players are apps that allow you to receive, organize, and play podcasts. So what are podcasts? They are a type of internet radio, whose programs are automatically downloaded to your phone and played at your convenience. Podcasts are making a big splash, and you can find almost any topic of interest or subject matter. From entertainment to education, there is something for everyone.
Most of the preceding have free versions, and most have a paid version with premium features. Of course, you have to pay for some services and products such as Uber and the books on Audible.
Don’t see your favorite app? Please comment below and let us know what you use.