Wednesday 13 December 2017

How you can work smarter with the best apps for Android phones

Android robot
Android robot
Google Drive
LinkedIn app
Hangouts app
Hotel Tonight app
Evernote app
Hailo App
Expensify app
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

We now rely on our phones a lot at work. With business so hectic, it's easy to miss out on some of the handiest apps that help us with daily tasks. Our Technology Editor looks at 31 of the most useful work apps for owners of Android (Samsung, HTC, Sony or Huawei) smartphones

1 Tiny Scanner Pro (€3.99)

This turns your phone's camera into a scanner by capturing a high-resolution image that can then be mailed, merged or tinkered with in a range of other ways as a PDF document. It has some nice features, such as the ability to search scanned documents. And you can share it just about anywhere.

2 Smart voice recorder (free with in-app purchases)

Having a dedicated voice recorder app comes in handy sometimes. This one is good as it lets you choose the quality of recording (and therefore the size of the file). You can share recorded clips across all the usual email, social and networking ways (but not over text).

3 Hailo (free)

Hailo App

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.

4 Expensify (free)

Expensify app

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.

5 Hightail (free)

This app lets you upload large files on your phone 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. Also, it's not brilliant with exotic file types.

6 Splashtop 2 remote desktop (free)

Ever get caught on the road thinking: "dammit, I never transferred those files from the office PC"?

This app lets you call up your office computer in front of you on your phone. It could be a file or a document you think you left on the desktop.

Or it could be something within an application there. Granted, you have to have the permission to run the Splashtop app on your work PC in the first place, so it mightn't suit every office worker reading this.

7 Nimbus Clipper (free)

Being able to mark images and documents can be really useful in business. This app lets you scribble and make notes on most types of document files as well as importing from the web. It also gives nice little arrows to play with so you can highlight important parts of the document things. It's fast and accessible.

8 Hotel Tonight (free)

Hotel Tonight app

This hotel-booking service one which is still principally aimed at discounted booking on the day you need the hotel. However, it now also lets you book in advance, too. It offers a few different options (including "basic" and "luxe"), with which it negotiates special deals. It covers Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, the 'South Coast' and a few places in between.

9 Entry Manager (free)

It seems everyone is organising events these days. But keeping track of who's coming and sales figures is tricky. Eventbrite came up with software some time ago aimed at making this easy. Its Entry Manager app is clear and straightforward, letting you monitor things like attendance and tickets. It even lets you 'scan' people's tickets using the phone's camera.

10 Microsoft Word (free, but paid account needed)

Microsoft has certainly upped its game in terms of improving apps for Android. Word for Android is actually really good, with lots of features and flexibility. As you'd expect, it works well as a cloud-synced service once you have a Microsoft account (which is typically paid for).

11 Microsoft OneNote (free, but paid account needed)

Microsoft came to the professional note-taking game a little later than some rivals. But to be fair, its OneNote service has a lot of extra functionality for those willing to learn how to use it. It's optimised for touchscreen utility and styluses, too. The only cautionary note is that not much is free - to get your value out it, you'll have to sign up for one of Microsoft's subscriptions.

12 Microsoft Outlook (free)

This is a must-download app for anyone using Microsoft Exchange at work. It's not perfect, but it gives you a lot of flexibility and functionality for your Outlook email address. It's particularly useful as Gmail - which says you can add Outlook accounts - isn't always a good fit.

13 Moxtra (free)

'Collaboration' apps are a mixed bag. Done right, they can speed work projects up considerably. Moxtra gives a fairly straightforward platform that lets you collect, share and review ideas with a working group of colleagues. It integrates with some heavyweight enterprise work software, including Salesforce and Zendesk.

14 Evernote (free)

Evernote app

There are lots of note-taking apps, but Evernote has an edge because it's integrated into so many other services. The app works right 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. If you find you're using Evernote a lot, it's well worth downloading Evernote Scannable (a free, separate app), which scans documents and sends them right into Evernote.

15 iAuditor (free with in-app purchases)

If you need the digital equivalent of a clipboard checklist, this is a good app. It basically lets you build a checklist form quickly. It can be simple or complicated, branching out into different sub-categories. You can write your own template or use one of over 50,000 it has stored as guidance. And the forms can be shared easily. Very useful for anyone in an inspectorate role.

16 Cisco WebEx Meetings (free)

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 allows you to transfer other items - such as documents - among participants as you speak. It's free to download and free to join a meeting. The only thing is that whoever hosts the Webex meeting has to have an account and that's pricey.

17 GoToMeeting (free)

This offers a similar high level of functionality as WebEx and is based on the same commercial principle - it's free to join a meeting but you have to be a paying subscriber to set one up. It's excellent for sharing and reviewing documents as you conference, though. You can upload all sorts of files (including spreadsheets, presentations or word documents) and look at them together as you talk online.

18 Dropbox (free with in-app subscriptions)

There are many cloud-sharing services to choose from, but this is still one of the best choices, partially because it's used as a default sharing option by many other services. Just like rivals, it lets you 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. You get an initial 2GB of free space, which rapidly expands as you perform basic tasks. A 'pro' account, with 1,000GB of storage, costs €10 per month or €100 per year.

19 Facebook Pages Manager (free)

Many small business owners 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 page.

20 Box (free with in-app subscriptions)

If you're looking for slightly more business-focused functionality than Dropbox, Box is a good choice. With an initial 10GB of space (you pay a monthly or annual subscription for more), it's a well-made, efficient online storage and sharing facility with way more features than most of its rivals. For example, you can search within files stored there, including PDFs, Excel and Word documents. Also, it shines when dealing with exotic file types - over 100 are supported.

21 LinkedIn (free)

LinkedIn's app may not be as well designed as rival social or networking apps, but it's surprising how many people use it on the go for information and messaging. As such, it's a must-have for many people in business. This app gives you access to LinkedIn's best features quickly.

22 Hangouts (free)

If you fancy holding impromptu video conferences but don't want or need the fancy effects or resolution of the likes of Cisco's Webex, Google's Hangouts is an excellent option. You can include up to 10 people in a conferencing session (voice or video) and you can also dial in people on ordinary phones if you want (although you'll pay a network charge for that). You also have a limited ability to attach or display files, such as jpegs. You can even kick users out of conversations if you want control the flow better.

23. Slack (free)

In some businesses, Slack has replaced email as a means of continuous work communication. The app, which can be used across any device, basically speeds up messaging and file-sharing between co-workers. Other than its speed and simplicity, its strengths include being able to search for things quickly and integration with lots of other apps out there, including Dropbox, Zendesk and Google Drive. If you get used to this, it's hard to return to email.

24 (free)

If you want to try hosting a professional online conference session without incurring fees through the likes of WebEx or GoToMeeting, is an excellent taster. Unlike Google Hangouts (which is also free), it's designed for people who what to share and review documents while talking or conferencing online. There is a 'pro' version you can upgrade to, which gives you a dedicated name, your own background decoration (branding or whatever you want) and the ability to hand over presentation functionality to another conference call participant.

25 Magicplan (free with in-app purchases)

This is one of those 'wow' apps that amaze people when you show it to them. It takes pictures of the room or space around you and then calculates a professional-looking floor plan. The application here is obvious for estate agents, craftsmen or interior designers. But it's also very useful in planning out office expansion. If you want to share a PDF or file of the floorplan, you buy it in-app.

26 Google Drive (free)

Google Drive is something of a utility these days. When all else fails in storing or saving something, it's a very handy (free) resource. It supports word-processing documents, presentations and other formats, admittedly through Google formats by default. As a cloud app, it then allows you to access and edit documents almost anywhere, including offline.

27 IF by IFTTT (free)

Even within the panoply of smart apps, this app is pretty clever. It lets you program hundreds of 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. It now also supports MailChimp.

28 DocuSign (free with paid upgrades)

It's been almost 20 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 and use it for online documents.

29 AutoCad 360 (free with in-app purchases)

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

30 Dublin Airport (free)

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

31 SeatGuru (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.

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