Mobile Download Guide: 80 Essential iPhone Apps for Small Business
The ever-expanding smartphone and mobile application market, as with the economy at large, depends on the support of small business to keep the engine of growth running smoothly. You could say--as we often hear from politicians regarding the country in general---America's legion of small, privately-owned companies are the foundation upon which the continued success of the wireless sector stands.
For Apple, it may have been consumers that first launched the iPhone into the stratosphere, but it is Steve Jobs and company's flagship product's growing adoption by business, particularly the millions of smaller ones, that will keep it, if not on top--Google's Android platform is quickly catching up and RIM's BlackBerry isn't going anywhere--then near the summit of today's unprecedented mobile device boom.
Like other mobile device manufacturers and software developers, Apple knows this of course. It would be imprudent, if not downright foolish of them to ignore the combined buying power of small businesses. That's why so many vendors in the wireless sector, Apple included, take the mobile computing needs of smaller companies so seriously when developing new products and marketing plans. And it is one reason why the 300,000-strong App Store contains tens of thousands of applications capable of helping the owners and employees of proverbial mom-and-pop establishments run their companies and get the most out of their iPhones--whether or not the apps in question were even targeted in their direction in the first place.
In this article, we've done the heavily lifting to help you decide what apps to install on your iPhone(s). We have sifted through the App Store with a fine tooth comb, distilling our list down to 80 essentials. As with previous articles in our series on great iPhone apps, every program listed below won't meet the needs of every small business operator, of course. They simply can't.
After all, as it sometimes appears, there are nearly as many different types of small businesses (i.e. medical and legal practices, accountants, dry cleaners, pharmacies, coffee houses, independent booksellers, restaurants, decorators, retail stores, franchises, etc.) as people running them, with each type and sub-type--let alone individual owners and employees--having their own unique mobile requirements. Most readers will find plenty of applications to help them better perform the mobile (and not so mobile) tasks at hand, however.
1Password ($9.99,download) - Securely stores and encrypts data, such as credit card and account numbers, and automatically logs you into Web sites that require usernames and passwords when you visit from the mobile edition of Safari.
AccessMyLan (Free, download) - Permits registered users of the AccessMyLan VPN to remotely log into their office network.
Access RPN Calculator (Free, download) - A four-function animated calculator that provides you intermediate results on its way to the final answer.
Analytics App ($6.99, download) - Parses Google Analytics traffic data for your company's Web site(s) into 55 reports.
Air Sharing ($2.99, download) - Use your iPhone to access and share desktop (Mac, Windows or Linux) files and more.
Around Me (Free, download) - Leverages the iPhone's GPS function to locate the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, taxi, etc. in your vicinity.
AT&T Virtual Receptionist (Free, download) - Can't afford a receptionist? No problem. This app and service provides you with your own 800 phone number where you can receive business calls and faxes on your iPhone. It displays your business CallerID number when you make or answer a call.
Balance (Free, download) - Track and manage all your various account balances while on the move.
BalanceDo (Free, download) - Mobile companion to the Internet-based invoicing software of the same name; send and track receivables from your iPhone or iPod touch.
Bills ~ On your Table ($3.99, download) - Helps you track and manage any type of bill by alerting you to when it's due.
BizExpense ($1.99, download) - Easily track and report your business expenses.
Box.net (Free, download) - View, access, share and read up to 5GB of files and documents in the cloud for free; premium accounts deliver up to 500GB of storage and beyond.
Bump (Free, download) - Wirelessly share contact information and much more, such as photos or even stream music, with other Bump users; instantly connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with a 'bump' of your mobile devices.
Calengoo ($6.99, download) - Access, modify and perform all your Google Calendar functions (i.e. invitations) from a mobile app that looks very similar to Google's web-based calendaring solution.
CheckPlease (Free, download) - Tip calculator that is also capable of splitting a bill between multiple parties; supports a variety of currencies.
Credit Card Terminal ($0.99, download) - Turns iPhone into credit card terminal to accept payments for those with an Authorize.Net account; enter numbers manually or through a swiper.
Currency (Free, download) - Currency converter supports the exchange rates of over a hundred currencies and countries.
Currency Converter (Free, download) - This app, like the one above, converts currencies, but for over 180 currencies and four precious metals (that latter useful if you're a jeweler); even includes the rates for some obsolete currencies.
Delivery Status Touch ($4.99, download) - Highly rated app for tracking the status of shipments across multiple carriers nationally (e.g. UPS, FedEx and USPS) and internationally (i.e. Canada Post, Posten Sweden and Royal Mail) as well as online orders from the likes of Amazon, Apple, Adobe, Nintendo and Google Checkout.
Documents To Go Premium - Office Suite ($16.99, download) - Edit, view and create Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents; sync files with desktop and with cloud-based storage services such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, iDisk and SugarSync. The cheaper Documents To Go Office Suite ($9.99, download) does not support remote storage access.
Dragon Dictation (Free, download) - Speak e-mails, text messages, notes and more; latest update adds voice input to Facebook and Twitter's mobile apps.
Dropbox (Free, download) - Enables Dropbox account holders to access, sync and share documents and files from their iPhone.
EasyTasks Todo ($0.99, download) - Task manager and note taker that makes it easy to add, view and delete tasks from a single screen.
Evernote (Free, download) - Text, picture and audio note-taking application and organizer; synchronizes with Mac or PC desktops.
eWallet - Secure Password Manager ($9.99, download) - Protect and carry around personal information in a single file on your iPhone; password-protect PIN numbers, bank account information, credit card numbers and even passwords themselves, for example.
Facebook (Free, download) - Elegant, easy to use app places your personal and business Facebook accounts and friends at your fingertips.
FedEx Mobile (Free, download) - Track and receive updates on shipments; create labels and obtain rate quotes on your iPhone as well.
FileMagnet ($4.99, download) - Copy and view files in various formats--including PDF, Microsoft Office, RTF, and iWork '09-between your desktop and iPhone.
FlightTrackPro ($9.99, download) - Essential app in the frequent travelers toolkit delivers real-time flights updates through push alerts and notifications covering more than 1400 airlines and 4000 airports worldwide.
Fring (Free, download) - VoIP and instant messaging client connects you with friends and colleagues through Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter and SIP for free; supports live chat as well as video and voice calling across multiple platforms.
Fuze Meeting (Free, download) - Schedule and host web conferences and meetings from your iPhone.
Gas Buddy ($2.99, download) - Locate the cheapest gas nearby, throughout the U.S. and Canada.
GoodReader ($2.99, download) - Read and annotate very large PDF and TXT files, freehand drawings and more before sharing these manuals, schematics, meeting notes, etc. with friends and co-workers.
Google Voice (Free, download) - Provides personal phone number you can link to as many phones (landline and cellular) as you like; also transcribes voice mail, displays Google Voice number when making calls from within app; and allows you to send free SMS messages and make cheap international calls.
Hoover's Near Here ($9.99, download) - Billed as a sales partner that travels with you, this lead-generating app assists in finding, researching, contacting and directing you to business leads in the U.S. and Canada.
HoursTracker ($2.99, download) - Helps contractors, hourly workers and others keep a handle on the amount of time they've worked and what to bill clients or employers; export your hours and earnings via email body or attachment or in CSV data format.
iFax (Free, download) - Send and receive documents and images with your iPhone.
Invoice2go ($9.99, download) - Total a bill and then invoice for work done to a client right from your iPhone.
iTranslate ($1.99, download) - Translates words, phrases and sentences into 52 languages; capable of speaking translations for 16 of those languages.
JotNot Scanner ($0.99, download) - Converts iPhone into a mobile document scanner and fax machine; processes images on iPhone (converting them into PDF, PNG or JPG files), can handle multipage documents, and lets you upload them to a variety of cloud-based storage services.
Line2 (Free, download) - Adds second line to your iPhone; make calls using VoIP over a 3G or Wi-Fi connection for $9.99 per month with unlimited text messaging.
LinkedIn app (Free, download) - Mobilizes access to the 80-million strong social network for professionals.
Map Mailer ($1.99, download) - Show folks exactly where you are and direct them on how to get through the creation and emailing of a JPEG map.
MileBug ($1.99, download) - Keep a handle on tax-deductible mileage for multiple businesses and charities.
Milog ($3.99, download) - Mileage log tracker for expense reimbursement and tax purposes. Try before you buy with Lite edition (free, download), which lets limits you to only five logs in the app's database at a time.
Minibooks for FreshBooks ($14.99, download) - A mobile app that Syncs with web-based FreshBooks invoicing software; manage clients, send invoices, run timer and record payments from your iPhone. Lite version (Free, download) limits iPhone access to viewing the data of only three clients.
MobileMe iDisk (Free, download) - Add-on to Apple's MobileMe multi-computer/device synchronization service enables you to share and view your iDisk files and documents from your mobile device.
Mobile Personal Assistant (Free, download) - Stay informed regarding flight reservations, ground transportation and more for your Rearden Commerce account; includes maps, weather and customer support features.