Mobility

Top mobile apps for business users

Shawn Morton lists eight useful business apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices. The categories for the apps are productivity, travel, networking, and business news.

There are now more than 175,000 mobile apps available across the three leading smartphone platforms: iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. With all of those apps, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the good ones, especially for business users.

I've picked eight apps across a handful of categories that I consider the top mobile business apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android smartphones. (Note: Some of these apps are also available for Palm and Windows Mobile.)

Productivity

Evernote (iPhone/BlackBerry/Android | free/premium option)

This is the Swiss Army knife of note taking. Evernote allows you to snap a photo, take a screenshot, type in text, or speak your note to capture information on the go. And once you've captured it, Evernote helps you organize and find it by making all of the information in your photos or notes searchable. For example, if you take a photo of a book as a reminder that you want to buy it later, Evernote will make all of the text on the book cover searchable. It's pretty neat to see it in action.

Documents to Go (iPhone/BlackBerry/Android | free/premium option)

Documents To Go is an all-in-one application with support for Microsoft Office, PDF, Apple iWork, and other files. So if someone e-mails you a PowerPoint presentation, you can view and edit the file on your mobile device. I have used it several times in meetings when I forgot to bring a printed copy of a file. I've also used it to prep for a presentation while on a plane; i is much easier to whip out my BlackBerry than my laptop.

Travel

TripIt (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android | free/premium option)

I have been using the TripIt Web site for a couple of years; it is a great way to share your travel plans with friends. TripIt's mobile app is a nice complement to the Web site and allows you to perform most of the main functions while on the go.

My favorite feature of TripIt is the ability to see which of my friends or colleagues are traveling to the same city as I am at the same time. I also like the ability to retrieve all of my travel information such as flight times or hotel reservations from the TripIt app rather than sifting through my inbox for the various confirmation e-mails I received from the airline or hotel.

FlightTrack (iPhone, Android | $4.99)

If you travel often for business, you want to spend as little time at the airport as possible. It's much better to wait out a flight delay from home than find out after you've arrived at the airport.

FlightTrack allows you to find flight schedules, track flights worldwide, and get flight status alerts from your iPhone or Android smartphone. I really like the mapping feature, which lets you see your flight map and see weather conditions on your route. The maps are even available offline, too.

Networking

LinkedIn (iPhone/BlackBerry | free)

Whether you're a big social network user in your personal life, having a LinkedIn account is a great way to keep track of your business contacts online.

The LinkedIn mobile app brings many of the Web features, such as your Connections and Status Updates, to your smartphone. My favorite mobile-specific feature is InPerson, which allows you to quickly share contact information with another smartphone user via Bluetooth.

Facebook (iPhone/BlackBerry/Android | free)

Okay, so this isn't technically a business-focused app; however, the lines between personal and business networks are blurring more and more. I find myself connecting with colleagues more frequently on sites like Facebook than I do on sites like LinkedIn.

The most valuable feature of the Facebook mobile app for me has been the phonebook. It allows you to browse through the list of all of your friends' phone numbers. Because it uses the latest number your friend has entered into Facebook, you don't have to worry about keeping your address book up-to-date — you can simply click the number in your Facebook phonebook to make the call. It can be a lifesaver when you're on the road and don't have a phone number available via your phone's contacts list.

Business news

The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader (BlackBerry | free registration required)

The Wall Street Journal Mobile Reader for BlackBerry is a source for breaking news and real-time quotes. It is currently a BlackBerry-only app and is only supported on the following devices:

  • BlackBerry Bold
  • BlackBerry Curve
  • BlackBerry Pearl
  • BlackBerry Storm
  • BlackBerry 8700 Series
  • BlackBerry 8800 Series
BusinessWeek Mobile Application (iPhone/BlackBerry | free)

The BusinessWeek app allows you to create a personal watchlist of companies, giving you quick access to information on your selected companies. The app is customizable and allows you to organize the news by what's important to you. You can also easily share BusinessWeek content right from your phone via email and Twitter.

What business apps would you recommend? Did we miss a great one, or did we include one that you think is overrated? Leave a comment and let us know.

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