Does productivity have to plummet if you aren’t sitting in front of your PC? In today’s connected world, a bevy of mobile phone apps can keep your efficiency soaring while you’re on the go.
Here are eight truly useful Android apps for business owners.
1. Package Tracker Pro ($4.99) Juggling package shipments is a tedious yet often necessary task. Rather than hopping from carrier site to carrier site, why not just download Package Tracker Pro? This app keeps tabs on your deliveries from a single, well-designed interface and supports a wide swath of parcel carriers (including all the major U.S. ones). You can also arrange to be notified when packages reach their final destinations.
2. Splashtop Remote Desktop ($4.99) Rut-roh! Not only did you leave that important presentation/document/spreadsheet on your desktop PC, but you also forgot to upload a backup copy to your Dropbox — and you need it to seal the deal with a client. What’s a small-business owner to do? With Splashtop Remote Desktop, you can access and browse the file(s) on your office computer through your mobile phone.
3. PdaNet 3.02 (free app plus $15.95 license) Need mobile internet access but don’t want to pay the $20 to $30 per month that cell phone carriers charge for hotspot capabilities? PdaNet to the rescue! This widely used app allows your laptop to share your phone’s internet connection via USB or Bluetooth, no rooting required. Although the app is free, you’ll need to pay a one-time licensing fee to visit any secure website (e.g., Facebook, banks, your company’s servers, etc.). Also, keep tabs on your data usage; it’s easy to accrue overage charges while tethering a PC to your phone. (A tablet version of PdaNet is available in beta.)
4. PrinterShare Premium ($12.95) What? Thirteen bucks for a printing app? Yep, and it’s money well-spent if you need to print documents on the road. PrinterShare Premium is a cinch to set up, sends documents directly to printers via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, connects to nearby PCs wirelessly, and even allows remote printing using a web-based interface. (Of course, connected PCs must also have PrinterShare software installed.) What’s more, the app plays well with Google Cloud Print. It’s a lifesaver when you need to print something at a client’s office. This update unlocks the full capabilities of the very neutered free version.
5. ezPDF Reader ($2.99) On top of doing exactly what it advertises — displaying PDF files — this app lets you fill out PDF forms and even sign them in its Freehand mode. It’s great for viewing files and nabbing signatures on the run.
6. SeekDroid ($5) Turns out that, beyond death and taxes, another certainty in life is that you will lose your phone during a business trip. SeekDroid can help you find it. Sign into your web-based account and SeekDroid reveals your missing phone’s current location, thanks to handy GPS capabilities. Once you get close, you can order your phone to start vibrating and ringing — even if you left it set to silent mode. A custom lock option lets you lock down the device until you retrieve it, and, if it’s irrevocably lost, you can erase your phone and SD card remotely.
7. Evernote (pictured) (free; $5 Premium monthly subscription) Yawn. Doesn’t everyone have this note-taking app already? Sure they do, but many people stick with its free basic functionality and, in doing so, fail to take advantage of everything Evernote has to offer. Upping to a Premium account nets you more storage and business-friendly features, such as PDF searching and the ability to work cooperatively with others in a notebook. Don’t fill your pockets with client business cards: Just snap pics, hand them back, and let Evernote’s speedy OCR recognition for photographed text/writing keep track of your contacts in the cloud.
8. Intuit GoPayment (free plus transaction fees) After installing the GoPayment app (an Intuit offering) and receiving a free card reader, you’ll be able to process credit-card orders anywhere. The software and hardware are free; you pay a small transaction fee per order. (A tablet version is also available.)
Did we miss any? Let us know which Android apps you find most useful in the Comments section below. For more Android app tips, check out “15 Best Android Apps for Small Businesses.”