Free is good, but when free is also productive, it's even better. Now that so many business users are clamoring to take their show on the road, it only makes sense to load those Android smartphones with free productivity tools that can help get the job done — both well and efficiently. That's where these five apps come in. With this collection of applications at the ready, you should be able to get your work done on-the-go without dropping a single penny on software. Does this sound too good to be true? Let's take a look and find out.
1. Kingsoft Office
Kingsoft Office is, for me, the gold standard by which mobile office suites should be judged. This mobile productivity suite features: Support for 23 different file types, mail app integration, cloud storage support, gesture support, read-mode support, and much more. All of these features are housed in a very efficient interface that doesn't get in the way of usage. It's not a perfect, drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office or LibreOffice, but KingSoft Office will empower your mobile office with a full-blown office suite for working with text documents, spreadsheets, memos, and presentations.
Kingsoft Office on an Android smartphone.
Mint.com is an outstanding way to manage your personal finances. No, you won't be integrating with QuickBooks, but you can track your spending, budget, categorize transactions, track checking/savings/credit card accounts, get email alerts for up-coming bills/fees/low balances, and much more. Mint also allows you to monitor your accounts from your desktop at Mint.com. For users who are concerned about security, the Mint.com mobile application is a read-only app, so nothing can be written to your online bank account information. On top of that, all of your information is transferred with bank-level security (which is monitored by both TRUSTe and VeriSign).
The Mint.com mobile application.
Evernote is another gold-standard app for business. In this case, for note taking. Honestly, Evernote is simply the best choice to fill this need. You can take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record audio notes, and then sync them across all mobile and desktop devices associated with your account. Everything within your Evernote app is searchable, which makes the app an even more efficient choice for on-the-go business users. On top of that, Evernote offers an incredibly well-designed interface that's as professional as it is clean. If you need a way to keep yourself organized on the go, Evernote is the tool.
Evernote is the best free note-taking application available.
4. ASTRO Cloud & File Manager
ASTRO Cloud & File Manager, along with the ASTRO SMB Module, are a great team to enable you to move files back and forth between desktop/server SMB shares and to/from an FTP server. As the name implies, ASTRO supports various cloud services. As of this writing, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive are supported. Facebook is also supported, which gives it all of the makings for one seriously flexible and powerful file manager. Anyone who uses their Android smartphone for business on-the-go needs to install both of these tools immediately.
Install ASTRO Cloud & File Manager on your Android device immediately.
5. Google Drive
Google Drive is the final entry and offers a bit of overlap between KingSoft Office and ASTRO. But if you're a Google Drive user, you must have this app. Not only does it offer up the best way to access your Drive account, but it's also the easiest way to moving files back and forth between your smartphone and your Drive account. From this app, you can also make new documents and spreadsheets, create scans (from the smartphone's camera), and upload files from your device to the associated Google Drive account.
Google Drive on your Android smartphone.
There you have it! These five tools will help make your mobile experience more business-ready and efficient. Of course, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of other apps that do a great job, but this list offers the cream of the crop-level experience and usability. If you haven't tried one (or more) of these apps, install them and enjoy the improvement they'll bring to your mobile business life.
What other free productivity apps would you add to this list? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.