Smartphones and tablet devices are everywhere. Look around you—whether you’re on a plane, in a restaurant or at work, everyone is doing something on his or her phone or tablet. According to Mediabrix.com, 158 million U.S. mobile device owners will play games on their phones or tablets by 2015, after annual double-digit increases starting in 2011. We also watch movies and TV, listen to music, go shopping and interact with each other via social media. Americans are so tied to their smartphones that, according to an IDC survey, of the 181 million smartphone users in the U.S., almost 79 percent will reach for their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. Sixty-two percent will do so immediately.
We may be more entertained—even more addicted—but are we more productive? Check your phone or tablet. How many of your downloaded apps are time robbers vs. productivity tools? If you're the average working American, the answer is the majority of your apps do nothing more than steal precious time from your busy day.
How can you fix this problem? Start by cleaning up the apps on your phone or tablet. If you don’t use an app, delete it. You can always download it again if necessary. Then create a “Productivity” folder and download these seven apps to get better business use from your mobile device.
1. Waze: This app has saved me countless hours when traveling in my car. It’s a community-based traffic and navigation app that delivers traffic and road information. According to the company, over 30 million people have downloaded the app and input information to help fellow drivers. Users receive alerts about police activity, accidents, road hazards and traffic jams in real time. Waze will redirect you when there's significant congestion on your original route. There's no charge to use the app.
2. QuickVoice: This app is the 21st century version of the Dictaphone and is very easy to use. Have an idea, thought or suggestion? With one touch, you can record, stop and save. You can also send up to 5MB audio messages for free. If necessary, you can upgrade to QuickVoice Pro for a fee and send audio messages via email up to 20MB.
3. BestParking: I once found parking in NYC for $8 by using the BestParking app. It can be used for daily and monthly parking in 70+ cities and at 110 airports in U.S. and Canada. Type in your destination and length of time. BestParking will then populate your screen with nearby garages and their rates based on your information. It even offers special discounts, which, if selected, will be sent to your phone. The app takes away the headache of trying to decide where to park when traveling for business.
4. Skype: A division of Microsoft, Skype allows you to connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time. If your mobile device has a microphone, webcam and Internet connection, you’re ready to get started. At no charge, you can make voice and video calls to other Skype users. For a pay-as-you-go or subscription-based fee, you can make calls to non-Skype users via mobile and landlines, text message and videoconference with a group. Other useful features include instant messaging, file sharing and conference calling. Creating an account is a breeze, and they offer a free trial month for the skeptics.
5. Dropbox: The app allows you to easily share files with employees, vendors and customers who are on the road or who need a document quickly. You can also make realtime updates to often-used files while away from the office. This app is especially useful when you have a file too large to send via email.
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6. Evernote: You can take notes, create to-do lists, record voice reminders, and save your ideas and URLs to websites you visit. Access to Evernote is available on almost any device, and you search through your notes by keyword. Stacks, Notebooks, Notes and Tags are how you keep track of everything in Evernote. It’s a great app for eliminating clutter and staying organized while working on multiple projects or working with several clients.
7. Square or PayPal App: Small-business owners have a new tool in getting paid. If you're a service provider such as a carpenter, roofer or plumber, having either Square or the PayPal app can help you get paid on the spot. No more invoices to be paid in 30 or 60 days. No more having to remember to bill your client. A simple swipe of the customer’s credit card, and the money goes into your bank account. It’s also a useful app for restaurants and other retail locations for increasing productivity and better time management.
When used properly, mobile devices can measurably increase productivity for your business. These seven apps can help you save time and money, connect with people all over the world, share information, organize your projects and ideas and get paid faster. So why are you still playing games on your smartphone? Download these today.
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