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Adrian Weckler: The 50 must-have apps for business

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It's time to update your phone with new business-friendly apps.

It's time to update your phone with new business-friendly apps.

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It's time to update your phone with new business-friendly apps.

Now that the work year is fully underway, it's time to clear out your phone and update it with some new business-friendly apps. Whether you're a late adopter to smartphones or a power user, here are 50 of the best business apps...

For late adopters

Viber

iOS, Android, WP; free

This app, which allows you to make calls or send messages to anyone else using the Viber app, is useful when you're abroad and have access to wifi but not a decent roaming package. It works by allowing you set up an account using your own mobile phone number.

LinkedIn

iOS, Android, WP; free

LinkedIn's app may not be as well designed as rival social or networking apps, but it's a must-have for many of us. It gives you access to LinkedIn's best features quickly.

Google Drive

iOS, Android; free

If you ever use Google Docs - and if you don't, you should - then this is a must-have app. It allows you to access and edit documents you have created on a PC, or create new ones. This includes word processing documents, presentations and other formats. The app also allows you to work with the apps offline, too.

Dropbox

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iOS, Android, WP; free

Dropbox allows you to upload, download or access documents, photos or other files across lots of devices. Just download the app, sign in and it feels like you're accessing the files on your own phone. It's particularly handy if you want to give lots of people access to a collection of large files without having to email them.

Documents To Go

iOS, Android; basic version free, premium version from €10

This is a fairly decent full-featured office software app that allows you open, read, edit, create and share files in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

Evernote

iOS, Android, WP; free

If there is one note-taking app you should download, this is it. It works across almost every type of device, meaning that you can access all of your notes, memos and documents (from years back, too) on any gadget you like. It also allows voice notes and images.

Voice Record Pro

iOS; free

A really nice voice-recording app that allows you convert audio clips to MP3 format and to share across a whole range of networks. It's ad-supported and costs €2.70 to knock them off. (One free Android alternative is Smart Voice Recorder, while a Windows Phone alternative is Voice Recorder Pro.)

PDF Reader Pro

iPad; €9

The Irish business landscape is littered with PDFs. From Revenue guides to tender documents, there's no escaping them. This app gives you about as much control as possible over PDFs, allowing you to annotate or even sign them.

Hangouts

iOS, Android; free

Hangouts is probably one of Google's most underused (and underrated) free feature. It lets you hold impromptu conferencing sessions, either social or professional in nature, using your phone, tablet or PC. Up to 10 people can participate on the same Hangout call.

Google Search

iPhone, iPad; free

Most of us need to look things up several times a day. Having to first open a browser and type in g-o-o-g-l-e-.-i-e wastes time. Google's Search app (not pre-loaded on iPhones) is an essential basic.

Hailo

iOS, Android; free

Hailo gives you a real-time view of taxis in your area (Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick) and allows you to request one. You can pay by credit card, call the driver at any time and get a receipt via email. A lot of taxi drivers use it in Ireland. An alternative app, Lynk, is also worth looking at.

Expensify

iPhone, Android, WP; free

Receipts and expenses are the bane of the business person. This is a very easy-to-use, well laid out app to log bills, credits, receipts, mileage and other common expenses. It gives you extra functionality, such as being able to import expenses from credit card or bank accounts.

SwiftKey 3

Android, €4

Typing errors on touchscreens are rife. What this app does is to apply extra 'intelligence' (based on phrases or sentences you often type) that informs its predictive system.

Wunderlist

iOS, Android, WP; free

This is a superior personal to-do management app. Its arrangement of scheduled tasks is top notch while its ability to share and draw comments from others is great. (Another top quality to-do management app is Any.do.)

Microsoft Office Mobile

Android; free with Office365 account

If you want access to Word, Powerpoint and Excel in one place, Microsoft gives it to you via this mobile app. There are some limitations to it, however. It's fine for basic personal use, but for extensive business use, you need a paid-up account.

For casual users

LastPass

iOS, Android, WP; free with premium upgrades

Allows you to pick one password which gains you entry into an online 'safety vault' where you store other passwords. It also has a brilliant new feature that lets you change all your passwords with just one tweak within the app. This is good because security experts advise that we need to change our passwords every few months.

Polaris Office

iOS, Android; free

Has two advantages over some office app rivals. First, it's free. Second, it works as a very effective PDF reader, which some other office apps struggle at. It's worth downloading it for this function alone.

Inbox by Gmail

iOS, Android; free

Although Gmail has smartened up a little in recent times, it can still be a bit of a mess if you're on various emailing lists. Inbox streamlines your account into a much simpler interface, using swipe-left and swipe-right controls to dismiss, archive or reply to individual mail.

HootSuite

iOS, Android; free with premium upgrade

Social media can take a lot of time. For businesses without that much time to spare, Hootsuite lets you organise most of your social account activity from a single app. That means Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others (you can add three for free). It also allows you to schedule social media posts in advance.

CloudOn

iOS, Android; free

An alternative option for Office-compatibility is CloudOn, one of the most straightforward options around. With the ability to read, edit and create presentations and documents in Microsoft formats, it also now has a printing function.

Hightail

iOS, Android; free

Anyone who finds YouSendIt useful might find this app handy. It lets you upload large files on your phone or tablet and share them instantly. It's an efficient way to allow access to stuff. The only downside is that, unlike YouSendIt, you have to sign up for it.

Box

iOS, Android, WP; free with additional premium services

What Dropbox is to ordinary punters, Box is to businesses. With an initial 10GB of space, it's a well-made, efficient online storage and sharing facility with way more features than most of its rivals. However Box really shines when dealing with exotic file types.

KeyNote

iOS; €10

As Apple Mac owners have known for some time, Keynote is a superb alternative to PowerPoint. Its templates and ease of use make assembling a really nice-looking work presentation something of a pleasure.

Penultimate

iOS; free

While Samsung features physical writing as a prized function of its tablets and 'phablets', this does a good job as a handwriting app for the iPad. There's also a growing range of stylus devices on sale that can be used as digital pens.

Skitch

iOS, Android; free

If you want the freedom of marking and annotating documents and photos, Skitch is a fast, accessible way to do it. It's particularly effective on the larger screens of tablets. A nice alternative worth looking at is Notability.

Microsoft Powerpoint

iOS, Android; free with Office365 account

We haven't needed a laptop to make a PowerPoint presentation in some time. But generally, it was apps such as Documents To Go that we turned to whenever we wanted to hack one together. Now, you can do so straight from Microsoft's own dedicated app. It's fairly straightforward to use and, unless you want to make something very fancy, it perfectly adequate.

eFax for iPad

Free for 1 month, €11 per month after

For some reason, faxes are still among us. This app lets you send and receive 150 per month from (and to) your iPad.

PrintCentral Pro

iOS; €5

Sometimes we need to print documents off. This allows you to do so from your iPhone or iPad to most wifi-enabled printers without any other software. Print most files, including PDFs and word documents.

SeatGuru

Android, free

For planning neurotics, this app allows you to check the seating plans of a flight to suss out where the best places are. It works for flights on 100 airlines, including Aer Lingus.

Dublin Airport

iOS, Android; free

This is very handy for live information on departures, arrivals, airport layout and other important information.

Hotel Tonight

iOS, Android, WP; free

Aimed at booking on the day you need the hotel. It offers a few high-end options, with which it negotiates deals. It covers Dublin, the 'West Coast' and the 'South Coast'.

LogMeIn

iOS, Android; 14-day free trial before but then requires paid subscription

This app basically lets you take control of a PC somewhere else, so long as that PC have downloaded Logmein's PC software, too. Very handy for light tech support.

OneDrive

iOS, Android, WP; free

This is Microsoft's answer to Dropbox and Google Drive. It's quite easy to use and works well, although it is a different thing from Microsoft Office.

Camcard

iOS, Android, WP; free with premium upgrade

One of a number of apps that takes a photo of a business card and integrates the information into your phone's contacts.

Document Scanner Pro

iPhone, €3

This optical character recognition (OCR) can translate a photo into text. Take a snap of a page of text and it does a reasonable job of turning that into editable text that can be emailed.

For power users

Workflow

iOS; €5

Workflow does two things very well. First, it lets you create your own app taskbar for your most-used functions. Second, it allows you a certain degree of smart programming for apps' interaction with your phone. For example, you can use it to automatically send alert texts (to anyone you want) whenever a certain type of email comes in.

Slideshark

iOS; free with premium upgrade

Once you've done your Powerpoint presentation, what then? Slideshark offers a very novel way of showing it off. It offers a full set of controls from your iPhone or iPad once the presentation is up and running. You can also broadcast it online for anyone who has a connected device themselves.

Duet Display

iOS; €16

Second displays are all the rage for those serious about multi-tasking productivity. Duet Display lets you turn an iPad or an iPhone into a second screen for your MacBook, thus allowing you to park things off screen. It works by connecting the two machines with your mobile device's charging cable, so no wifi-lag.

Contactually

iOS, Android; free

Some people have fantastic memories. If you're not one of them but need to keep relationships with hundreds of business contacts active, this is a handy app to use.

It tells you when you last interacted with someone and reminds you that it might be a good time to get in touch again. You can guide it as to how often you want or need to be in touch with different contacts and set up courtesy templates for follow-ups.

Teleprompt+ for iPad

€14

Turns your iPad into a teleprompter. You cut and paste speech, hit 'start' and it becomes a teleprompter, with scrolling text. You can also control speed and pause the text, mid-flow.

Accompli

iOS, Android; free

If you need to schedule the sending or receiving of emails, this is a decent app. Works with almost all main email accounts (including Gmail and Microsoft Exchange) and allows you to track and control email conversations a lot better.

Evernote Scannable

iOS; free

For those who come into contact with lots of paper during the day, this is a really handy app from Evernote.

It scans whatever you put in front of it, saves it and lets you share it with others or save it in your own Evernote files. If it's a business card, it automatically checks LinkedIn for the person's details and saves them into your contacts.

Facebook Pages Manager

iOS, Android; free

A lot of small business owners now maintain Facebook pages as marketing tools. This is a useful tool for anyone who doesn't have much money to spend on Facebook marketing but who wants to keep on top of what's happening with their business page.

IFTTT

iOS, Android; free

Even within the panoply of smart apps, this app is pretty clever. It lets you program 161 apps to react to certain events (IFTTT stands for 'If This, Then That').

So if you get a certain type of Gmail, you can forward it on to OneNote.

Or if your weather app shows the temperature sinking below a certain level, it can your home heating on via your Nest app.

Asana

iOS, Android; free

Managing projects can involve an annoying flurry of emails, an activity that wastes time. Whereas many will be familiar with Basecamp as product management software, Asana is probably the better choice. It lets you set tasks and, instead of emailing back and forth, you can simply update the tasks with individual discussions or additional sub-tasks applicable. It's easy to keep track of and gives a good overview of how everything is progressing (or not).

Splashtop 2

iOS, Android, WP; free

Sometimes there's no substitute for your work PC. It could be a file or a document you think you left on the desktop. Or it could be something within an application there. This app allows you to get a look at your desktop PC from your mobile device.

Cisco WebEx Meetings

iOS, Android, WP; free, but part of WebEx subscription

If you're looking for high-class video conferencing, this is probably the best you can get. As well as top-class audio-visuals, it lets you to transfer other items - such as documents - among participants as you speak. pricey, though.

Quora

iOS, Android; free

Some of the brightest Irish business brains - including Stripe's Patrick Collison - use Quora as a regular advice forum. It's generally a very useful advice service and its business tips are generally good. It's largely done in a question-and-answers format, where the best answers to thousands of questions (posed by you or anyone else) are 'upvoted'.

DocuSign

iOS, Android, WP; free with premium upgrade

It's been 15 years since 'digital signatures' were first flagged in Ireland. But most Irish institutions still look for faxed responses to signature-specific documents. DocuSign allows you to capture your signature for online documents.

AutoCad 360

iOS, Android; free

A very nice implementation of Autocad's technical drawing application. You really need a (paid) online Autocad account to get the most from it, but it's worth looking at.


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