Mobile devices have changed the way we work. Work is no longer where you go, but what you do.
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I am frequently asked which mobile apps I utilize the most. While I am not afraid to experiment and test apps, I find I utilize 10-15 apps on a regular basis, even though I have downloaded over 150 apps over the past two years. Many have come from recommendations like App Advice, but more from experimenting and referrals. This article will provide you with insight as to the apps and how I am using them.
1. Evernote. Evernote is a must-have app for those who want to get organized and file/find disparate information, including notes. I started using the app as a notebook with tabs, but have expanded well beyond due to the search capabilities and the ability to send e-mail files and notes from my Livescribe Smartpen directly into Evernote. The ability to access files from Windows, Mac OS or iOS is valuable. The app is free, but I use the premium version ($45 per year) and it reads multiple files, including PDFs, photos and documents. It's also a great way to share information and collaborate with co-workers. A business version is coming in December. Prior to Evernote, I used Microsoft OneNote, but it was difficult across multiple platforms.
2. Open Table. With this free app, you can take care of restaurant reservations faster than calling an assistant. The reservations are confirmed instantly. Searches can be by location, price, cuisine, time or points.
3. Skype. I have used Skype for years, starting with international calling to the United Kingdom and India approximately 10 years ago. The service provides free Internet calls and cheap online calls to land lines or cell phones. It works well internationally and also provides video conferencing with multiple participants. The application will run on multiple devices, including iPhones and iPads.
4. Find iPhone. Mobile device management is an issue for all firms. This free app not only locates your iDevice, but is capable of locking or deleting all of the data. I made the mistake of demonstrating the notification feature to an audience by send a message to my wife's iPhone. It was funny until I got home and learned she was at a funeral when the unknown alarm went off. It took several seconds for her to realize the noise was coming from her purse due to the fact that it was not her usual ring tone. I probably won't try that again.
5. ShareFile. If you need to send and receive files of up to 10GB and comply with state and federal security regulations, this is one of the best alternatives. You can also provide clients with 24/7 portal access. With the Outlook plug-in, I use it almost daily. The iPhone and iPad app are free, but there is a charge starting at $29.95 a month for the basic service. The professional, corporate and enterprise editions offer an Outlook plug-in, file encryption and desktop sync. This is far more than a mobile app, and many firms are using it to ensure privacy and security.
6. Sugar Sync. You can sync files across multiple computers and devices with this excellent app. I must admit I started with Dropbox and moved to SugarSync at the recommendation of our chief technology officer. The added advantage is that the app not only syncs files across multiple devices, it also backs up files to a secure personal cloud. Five gigabytes of storage is free, but we utilize the commercial version. I utilize multiple mobile (iPhone and iPad) devices, as well as computers (both Windows and Mac), so my files are always available wherever I go. I can also allow access to certain files and folders to others for collaboration.
7. LastPass. Password management has become one of the biggest challenges of users and IT departments. We utilize LastPass due to the fact that it will work on both Windows and Mac devices. LastPass premium includes mobile devices and runs $1 per month per user. It saves on support time, as well as putting users in control.
8. Fast Customer. If you have ever wondered how to avoid the telephone maze at most companies, this is the free app for you. It includes customer support contacts for major companies. My first experience was with Microsoft licensing when I upgraded to a new MacBook Air. I had trouble transferring the license from the old machine to the new. I put a call into Fast Customer, and within two minutes received a call back that took care of the problem. I have also used it with Southwest Airlines to solve a complex ticketing situation.
9. LogMein Ignition. This app offers free remote access to your PC or Mac so you can open files, check e-mail, run programs and stay productive. There are versions for iOS, Android and Windows. We use it as a support tool with desktop access that saves time and travel to remote users.
10. Zite. Aggregation of data and information has always been a strength of the Internet. I read multiple newspapers online when I travel and Zite is now my favorite aggregator. It provides me with the latest news and articles I am interested in. It takes seconds to set up your areas of interest and then provide a "Yes" or "No" response to the provided content. Within days you have a personal magazine that saves you significant reading time and is always up to date. Prior to Zite, I used Flipboard and Early Edition.
There are many apps of personal interest, such as Art Authority, TED, BleacherReport and Songza, that provide entertainment and cultural value. I especially enjoy our Boomer Technology Circles and the CIO Advantage programs, as I constantly get reminders of new and worthy apps. PDF management and signatures are also an area gaining increased attention (LifeForms, PDF Expert and EchoSign). Finally, if you want to use your iPad as a second monitor, try AirDisplay. Don't hesitate to e-mail me your favorites.
L. Gary Boomer, CPA.CITP, CGMA, is the president of Boomer Consulting, in Manhattan, Kan.