According to a new report from RingCentral, 34 percent of small business users surveyed said that they use their smartphone more than their computer to conduct business. That may sound crazy, but think about it, a high-end smartphone is about as powerful as a desktop or laptop computer that many of us had in our offices about six or seven years ago. Plus, a smartphone brings instant access to the Internet no matter where you are. However, thanks to the iPhone and the rise of app stores, it's mobile applications that can really help turn a smartphone into a workstation on the go.
Last month, I wrote about 14 terrific iPhone apps for small business users. However, with more than 185,000 apps in the iTunes App Store, that really only scratched the surface of what is available. For general productivity, there are lots of great iPhone apps that can either supplement or compliment your existing solutions.
Here are some of my favorites:
1. Simplenote (Free, Premium Upgrade is $8.99 a year) - When it comes to note taking apps, there are LOTS of options for iPhone users. My personal favorite is Simplenote. It's a great replacement for the built-in Notes app that comes with the iPhone because it has the ability to synchronize your notes so that they are accessible from any web browser. Mac OS X users can even get a dashboard widget to access all of your Simplenote notes at ease.
If you pay for the premium upgrades to the service, you can even ensure note backup, just in case you happen to delete something that turned out to be important. I love Simplenote because it lets me jot down a note on my desktop, laptop or iPhone and I can then access that info from anywhere else later. That's perfect for phone numbers, web URLs or important to-dos.
2. Pastebot ($2.99) - Pastebot is what I call a Swiss knife application -- that is, it can do all kinds of other things beyond its primary purpose. The simple description is that Pastebot is a clipboard manager for your iPhone or iPod touch. It saves a history of text, photos, links and other information that you copy on your iPhone so that it can be accessed later and either pasted into other applications or in the case of photos, saved to your photo library.
However, Pastebot goes beyond just acting as a clipboard history tool. You can also use it to organize certain clippings or text excerpts, search across folders or collections, apply filters to text -- like convert to lowercase, wrap in HTML tags, create quotes, find and replace, and more. Then you can e-mail or save back those changes to others or easily paste them into an application.
For Mac users, Pastebot has a free companion app called Pastebot Sync that lets you copy assets from your iPhone directly to your Mac and vice versa. This is incredibly useful when doing data entry. I've even seen companies use Pastebot to quickly input content during product demonstrations, just because it's so much faster than trying to keep data on all computers.
3. iTeleport Jaadu VNC ($24.99) - If you are the type of person that really needs to access your Mac or PC from the road, check out the Jaadu series of VNC apps. At $24.99, Jaadu VNC (now called iTeleport) isn't cheap, but in terms of actual performance, it's tops. While I've also had success with ezShare Pro ($15.99) app, in terms of performance and consistency with multiple types of computers, iTeleport remains the stand-out leader.
4. Evernote (Free) - If you haven't ever tried Evernote, sign up for a basic account and see how it fits into your workflow. Evernote lets you capture notes and images with your iPhone's camera, tag documents and notes on your desktop and then stores it all in the cloud so that it is accessible anywhere. It's searchable and it's flexible, which makes it the perfect catch-all productivity tool for many business owners.
5. TextExpander ($4.99) - I've written about text expansion programs before, when discussing Mac productivity applications and the same reasons that those utilities are useful on the desktop apply to the mobile phone. TextExpander for iPhone isn't quite as robust as it could be because of how Apple limits third-party applications from interacting with one another (that might change with the next iPhone OS update), but it's still a must-have for anyone who wants an easy way to access boilerplate text, common passages or other text items that are used frequently and thus really painful to type out over and over again on a small screen.
TextExpander functions with a number of different programs, including Twitter clients like Tweetie 2 and Twitterlator Pro, but I find it works best in conjunction with WriteRoom ($4.99), an app that is very similar to Simplenote in that it can connect to a synching service and that it provides a distraction free data-entry point. However, what makes it special is that you can access your text snippets from TextExpander inside WriteRoom. As a writer, I like to use this in conjunction with Pastebot to create HTML blog posts with correct headers while on the go.