14 Best iPhone business apps
Even Apple were taken surprise by the runaway success of the App Store, and the apps available for a phone are almost as likely to sell the phone as its own functionality. But what are the best tools out there that can make life easier for business users?
Last Summer I finally succumbed and bought an iPhone 3GS, despite being a staunch Nokia user. Since then I've never looked back. Did I miss the better camera and flash of the Nokias? Yes, but in reality there were very few occasions where it caused a problem, and the benefits of the iPhone far outweighed the drawbacks. The biggest of which was the speed of the interface and navigation; performing day to day functions on the iPhone such as browsing the web, checking email or writing notes was far faster than any other smartphone I've used (covering bar, slider, touch screen and slideout keyboards). Now there are occasions when I'm travelling that I can actually make the decision to leave the laptop at home and rely on the iPhone, and here's the apps that allow me to do this:
A word processor and spreadsheet app on your iPhone, which also reads many other files (text, PDF, PowerPoint etc).You can share files between your iPhone and a network via WiFi, and also access online file sharing systems such as DropBox. You can also email files directly from the App, and password protect it so that if it falls into the wrong hands your data is safe. Invaluable when you need to quickly write or edit a file. Price: £5.99
FTP client software with built in text editor. There have been times when a file on a website needs very minor changes that this software has proven very useful. You can store multiple ftp accounts and also password protect the app. Price: £3.99
If you buy Skype credits this app will save you a lot of money, especially when roaming. While in the US recently I called a US number for 20 minutes through Skype on a wi-fi network using Skype credits - the cost was £0.14p. Had I made the call from the phone it would have cost £22.00! The downside is that (currently) the iPhone does not multitask, so you can't just log in, leave it running and use another app. Price: Free
Not really a business specific app, but useful nevertheless. Uses the iPhone's GPS and presents you with a range of categories, from restaurants to ATMs. You can then view them on a map, or rotate the phone to view in 'augmented reality' mode.
A free flight and hotel search application. Allows you to search multiple airlines or hotels very quickly, similar to web based services such as Lastminute.com or Opodo.co.uk.
Allows you to connect to a Windows XP, Vista or 7 PC remotely, showing the desktop directly on your iPhone. I've had occasion to need to connect to a web server when away from a desktop PC, so this app was invaluable. There's also a freeware version. Price: £3.49
The Google App is a mobile version of the search engine, but has been subtly tweaked for the target interface and has one major feature over its PC-based cousin - speech recognition. Hold up the phone to your ear (you don't even need to press a button) and just say your search e.g. Italian restaurants in Westminster - it'll then display the search results, with integration into Google maps and other online services. Invaluable. Price: free
Think PhotoShop mobile (although there is also a Photoshop app by Adobe, this one is superior). Although you can't touch up a photo to the degree that you could on a PC, there are a number of basic filters and functions such as zoom, skew, brightness, contrast etc. Price: £1.19
If you need to monitor your website's performance, this app hooks into Googles free analytics service. It's very impressive to pull up a client's web stats in front of them and drill down into minute detail. Price: £3.99
This free service provides an easy way to keep files in sync with your PC. Install the software on your PC and iPhone. On your PC there will be a DropBox folder in My Documents - any folder placed in here will be synced with the server, and available to any other dropbox enabled device that you log into. Price: Free.
The Swiss army knife of apps, covering everything from a ruler and torch, to currency/weights/measurements conversion and much more. I managed to replace several apps with this alone. Price £0.59p
What the iPhone camera app should be (or may be in OS4.0). Includes a zoom feature, timer and a very useful 'big button' turning the whole screen into a button. Price: £0.59p
An excellent PDF reader for the iPhone. Has the ability to convert 'full page' PDFs into iPhone-friendly width pages where the font (not the page) can be rescaled. Price: Free version and full versions available.
Heart Internet iPhone Control Panel
Not really an app, but a web-based iPhone optimised version of their control panel. Invaluable for a webmaster maintaining multiple domains. Price: Free
By the time you read this many of these apps may also be available for the iPad. You may not even have to pay for the iPad-specific version if the developers provide a combined update, giving you two apps for the price of one. With hundred of new apps changing every day this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it showcases the breadth of functionality that the iPhone can deliver when you are out and about. I can now undertake tasks which previously would not have been possible away from a PC or without a laptop.