Gone are the days when the Blackberry was the ubiquitous 'business phone' and iPhone, merely the young pretender.
The iPhone is, these days, a seriously viable alternative to the Blackberry, due in part to the multitude of apps being developed to help business people use their phone for work.
Here, I've put together a list of some of my favourite apps for iPhone and iPad for business users.
There are lots of apps which help you work on the go, collaborate and make your business travel easier. If you've just made the switch from a Blackberry to an iPhone, then these apps should be all you need to help you work whilst on the move.
If you need to be able to work on the go, without carting your laptop around with you, you'll need either QuickOffice or Apple's version, iWorkQuickOffice.
Of the two big hitters in workplace apps, QuickOffice would be our choice in terms of usability and value for money. The app allows users to manage local files, access cloud accounts, and work with your email attachments so you can work anywhere, anytime - online and offline. This app includes Word, Excel, and Powerpoint as well as enabling you to view PDFs, and will set you back £13.99. (If you don't fancy spending the £13.99 on the app suite, you can purchase QuickSheet and QuickWord individually for about £4.00).
Apples own iWork app. The suite of apps (Keynote, Pages and Numbers) are Apple's answer to Microsoft Office and are 100% compatible with all major file types. If you want to be able to work out-and-about without taking your laptop with you, these are the apps for you. Keynote, Pages and Numbers will each set you back £6.99.
If it's remote working and collaboration you're looking for, again iTunes has some great solutions;
Huddle provides cloud-based content and collaboration software, allowing you to instantly access your files, tasks and 'what's new' feed. Through this app, content from your Huddle workspace is automatically downloaded to your device for offline reading. Benefits include file-sharing and project collaboration. One drawback is that to use the app, users must have an account with Huddle which is £5 per month for a single workspace with 1GB storage. Company-wide subscriptions to the range of Huddle services are also available.
DropBox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, documents, and videos anywhere. Users can share their files with others through their DropBox, rather than emailing attachments. DropBox really comes into its own when distributing a lot of files, or files to a number of people. DropBox is also a storage facility, if you break or lose your devices, files are always secure in your DropBox.
Trello is a free cloud-based service which helps you to organise and manage one-off projects and on-going work. Because it's cloud-based the web and app versions synch in real-time and you can share your Trello board with offsite team members (contractors on a house extension?) or your sales team managing leads.
This mind-mapping app, helps you to 'visually organize' your thoughts during brainstorming sessions, present and share task lists and revision notes and a multitude of other uses. Features include hyperlinking to websites and other mind maps, linking maps by theme and adding notes. (£5.49)
Roambi Analytics Vizualiser
With a focus on great design, Roambi apps are all about presenting business reports and data (from many common business intelligence systems) stunningly. With varying levels of complexity within one app, you can create custom presentations just by importing data from Excel. If you're using the iPad version, you can easily create charts and graphs which are interactive, for example more information is shown when you tap a segment of a pie chart.
'Roambi Analytics quickly transforms existing business reports and data - from many common business intelligence systems - into stunning visual displays that capture the attention of users.'
Single User account - £69.99 per year.
For business people who travel often, there are a wide range of apps designed to make business travel easier.
Kayak was founded in 2004 and the websites (there are local versions in 14 countries) are very successful. The app supports the websites with little feature difference between the two. Kayak helps users find the best deals on flights, hotels and allows for filtering of search results depending on preference. Free.
There are over 9 million travellers already using this app, which is a strong endorsement! This app has useful features if you're travelling for business or pleasure. Features include;
- flights search
- flight delay alerts
- hotel booking (bookings are automatically added to the online travel planner which is synced with calendar)
- travel itinerary
- car rentals
- local weather information
- easy to share travel planner with colleagues, family and friends
If you're in an unfamiliar city and unsure of where to eat, this app could really help you out. Just shake the iPhone and the Urbanspoon slot machine will suggest a restaurant, using the phone's GPS. UrbanSpoon can also tell you what's nearby but not directly where you are. You can also use the app to make a reservation and of course check in at your favourite eateries. There's also a search feature so you can set the budget and decide on French or Thai food. [UrbanSpoon presently only covers the USA, Canada and cities in the UK and Australia.]
So there's my round up of useful business apps, but whilst I'm on the subject of useful apps it would be remiss of me not to mention a great new app developed by PDMS for the Police National Legal Database. The Ask the Police App provides users with information on a wide range of non-emergency 'policing' issues including answers to questions such as "what is the law relating to clamping?" to "I've knocked over an animal, do I have to report it?". The app is free to download - take a look and let me know what you think, we'd love to hear your feedback.