Apps for navigating '9 to 5'
Smartphones continue to inherit tasks that were once intended for laptop and desktop computers, so choosing a good mobile smartphone for employees is crucial for businesses. Today's workforce depends on tools that enable multitasking, time management and productivity enhancement. A rapidly growing number of business-friendly Android applications can do much more than anything you'll find in your briefcase.According to a recent study by Forrester, a younger, more tech-savvy generation of information workers is clamoring for Android-powered devices to navigate the "9 to 5." More companies that support smartphones for their associates are listening and allowing them to use these cutting-edge devices for work. From document scanning to travel planning, there are a multitude of business functions. Here are a few of the top apps from the more than 80,000 that are available on the Android Market for business customers: Document scanning: Turn your phone into a document scanner and fax machine with the "Scan2PDF Mobile" app. The software for this app compresses the documents from the camera on your phone and converts it into a high-quality PDF, which can be stored on your phone and e-mailed. A "light" version is available for free on the Android Market. PowerPoint presentations: Take your PowerPoint presentations anywhere with the "MightyMeeting" app. This mobile Web conferencing solution lets users present and connect anywhere, in real time. It can be easily shared via e-mail, blogs, Twitter or Facebook, and supports presentations in Microsoft Office or PDF formats. Acting like a remote control for PowerPoint, this app allows you to upload your PowerPoint to MightyMeeting's server, tag them for easy retrieval and deliver your presentations through your Android-powered phone. You can invite others to view and edit your presentation too. Expense tracking: Spend less time counting money or plowing through receipts when it comes time to fill out expense reports with the "Cashbook" app, a handy way to track expenses, mileage, income and sales whether your needs are for taxes, reimbursement or bookkeeping.Mobile documents: Leaving the office and forgetting your laptop doesn't have to mean leaving your documents and important files behind. With the "Documents To Go" app, view, edit and create Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, as well as view Adobe PDFs from anywhere, anytime. Word and Excel files are available in a free version. Mobile manners: Let your phone take care of itself and not be an interruption in the conference room. "Locale," a smart app, will intuitively know to turn your phone off when you're in meetings and remind you that it needs a charge when the battery is low. "Locale" uses GPS, WiFi and cell signal to adjust your phone settings based on where you are and when. All you need to do to make it self-supporting is define the business locations that are important to you using a Google Maps interface. Credit transactions: The "Intuit GoPayment" app provides a solution to processing credit card transactions on the go. This app lets you accept credit card payments on your Android-powered phone without any additional hardware. After payment is approved, you can also quickly e-mail or text message an electronic receipt directly to the customer.Travel planning: Organize your business travel plans into an itinerary that has all of your trip details in one place with the "TripIt" app. E-mail your confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the app will automatically build an itinerary for your trip that you can access anytime from your Android-powered phone. Depending on your business needs, a basic version is available for free. A $399 business version is available that covers up to 10 travelers and includes a group manager.Eric Conlon is director of sales for U.S. Cellular in New England.