The $199 Amazon Kindle Fire has been burning up the Android tablet sales charts and, at less than half the price of an iPad, it’s easy to understand why. Although many people use the Kindle Fire exclusively for media consumption, the device can also serve as a capable, portable productivity platform for small-business owners — if you install the right applications.
However, given the thousands of apps available from Amazon’s App Store, separating the diamonds from the coal could take weeks, if not months. Time is money, so the Intuit Small Business Blog did the mining for you, testing dozens of apps to find more than two dozen gems.
Here’s our list of 25 essential Kindle Fire apps for small businesses for 2012. (Looking for one more? This blog has an app, too.)
1. OfficeSuite Professional 6 ($14.99)
Your productivity suite is the cornerstone of any virtual office. Several apps fit the bill, but OfficeSuite Professional 6 gets the nod because of its simple yet flexible interface, Google Docs integration, and built-in Dropbox, SugarSync, and Box cloud-storage support.
2. SugarSync (free for 5GB)
Cloud storage is vital for Kindle Fire owners, because the tablet comes with just 8GB of internal memory. Dropbox isn’t yet available from the Amazon App Store, but Sugar Sync is — and in many ways, it’s superior. The app lets you hand-pick individual folders to sync from your office or home computer, then makes the files instantly available on your Kindle Fire.
3. Box (free for 5GB)
Another cloud-storage solution, but this one acts as a “hard drive in the sky” rather than syncing with your office PC. It’s chock-full of business-friendly features and security options.
4. WiFi File Explorer Pro (99 cents)
You need to access your Kindle Fire docs from a PC, but you left your USB cable at home. WiFi File Explorer Pro lets you access your tablet’s files from the web browser of any computer connected to the same wireless network — if you know the right URL and password, provided by the app itself.
5. Intuit GoPayment (free)
Accept credit card payments straight from a Kindle Fire using a free card reader. Small transaction fees apply.
6. Wi-Fi Analyzer (free)
Without a 3G/4G radio, Kindle Fire connectivity lives and dies by the strength of your Wi-Fi signal. Wi-Fi Analyzer tells you which available signal is the strongest.
7. TripIt Travel Organizer (free)
TripIt keeps track of your itinerary so you don’t have to. Highly recommended for small-business owners who spend a lot of time on the road.
8. TripAdvisor (free)
A perfect companion to TripIt, TripAdvisor helps you find and book travel arrangements.
10. Splashtop Remote Desktop ($4.99)
Forget to add that critical file to SugarSync and now its stranded back at the office? The Splashtop Remote Desktop app connects to your PC from anywhere and gives you full control of your desktop from afar. It’s basically a monitor on your phone.
11. TeamViewer for Remote Control (free)
You might prefer this remote desktop app to Splashtop if you’re already a TeamViewer user.
12. Evernote (free)
Evernote is the premier cloud-based note-taking app for a reason: It’s flexible, powerful, and all-around wonderful. Free accounts are good for up to 60MB of uploads per month. A premium subscription increases that to 1GB.
13. ES File Explorer (free)
This handy app lets you control your Kindle Fire’s folders and files the same way you would on a PC.
14. LinkedIn (free)
Update your profile or exchange LinkedIn invites with new acquaintances instantly with this app.
15. Astrid Task/To-Do List (free)
There are a lot of to-do list apps out there, but Astrid’s our favorite, thanks to its attractive and intuitive interface, Google Calendar integration, and that smarmy little octopus. Tasks sync among your Fire, your phone, and the Astrid website.
16. KeePassDroid (free)
Simply put, the best password manager available on the Kindle Fire.
17. Convertr ($1.99)
Worth the two bucks because it converts all kinds of stuff, including measurements, mileage, and money. Currency conversions require an active Internet connection, though.
18. iTranslate (free)
What Convertr does for numbers, iTranslate does for words: It supports more than 50 languages.
19. WordPress (free)
If your website runs on WordPress, this app makes it easy to make updates from the road.
20. Trillian (free)
Trillian lets you manage myriad instant-messaging accounts (AIM, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, etc.) from one easy-to-use app.
21. textPlus: Free Texting + Group Text (free)
TextPlus gives you the ability to send free texts over an internet connection. Handy in situations where you can’t get to a phone.
22. Office Calculator (free)
This basic, virtual calculator even has a Tape mode that works like an adding machine. Accountants rejoice!
23. AK Notepad (free)
If you don’t need Evernote’s power and features (see above), AK Notepad is a great basic note-taking app with sharing and syncing options.
24. Pulse News (free)
Keep tabs on your favorite feeds with this visual RSS news reader.
25. Exchange by TouchDown ($19.99)
If your business uses Microsoft Exchange Server, this app is much more secure and Exchange-friendly than the email app that’s built into the Kindle Fire. Some users complain about bugs, so take advantage of the one-month free trial before you buy the full version.
What are your favorite Kindle Fire apps for doing business? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the Comments section below!