Business meeting action items have never been more actionable than around today's conference tables, filled with as many smartphones and tablets as people -- all of whom face overwhelming options in the apps they choose to use on those devices.

Many apps come down to personal preference, but there are several gold standards for which every business-minded CPA should reserve memory space.

These apps are more universal than those created by the accounting software giants, but just as useful in an office, conference or client meeting. They are also hardly under the radar - many have been acquired by larger companies identifying their unique services and integration potential.

That synergy has worked for these app pioneers, bolstering their user bases, their features and their functionality, while retaining the initial enterprising idea that landed them their vaunted position in the Apple, Android or Windows ecosystems - and on your smart devices.

 

Evernote

iOS, Android, Windows

Free and premium versions

Note-taking and archiving service Evernote has been firmly planted on top of must-have-app lists since it debuted in 2008, with recent enhancements extending its vitality for business professionals.

The company offers a unified workspace across multiple devices and computers to compose and store notes and information incredibly efficiently. Not only can everything from research to small details be quickly organized within Evernote's modern interface, but with the very effective search feature, they can be extracted quickly enough to present in important client or firm meetings. Evernote's myriad features are especially useful for conferences or events filled with "Aha!" moments meant to be scribbled down and shared, which is where some of Evernote's newest features of collaboration have become invaluable, such as Context, which makes colleagues' notebooks accessible to each other.

 

Dropbox

iOS, Android, Windows

Free and premium versions

While file-storing services have faced increased scrutiny in the wake of numerous privacy hacks, Dropbox's history and size - along with the quick and transparent response required of such an industry heavyweight - have made concerns increasingly negligible. Trepidation will always remain, but the company, now 7 million users strong, has been storing data as one of the most recognizable emblems of the cloud since 2008. And more vitally for CPAs, Dropbox for Business establishes a private cloud for a team to easily sync and share information with the protection of secure admin controls and the flexibility of mobile access.

 

Mailchimp

iOS, Android

Free with account

Mailchimp's recent integration with Salesforce makes the e-mail marketing service an especially valuable tool, with the ability to cross-pollinate contacts and subscriber data between the two services. And as more firms embrace e-mail marketing, MailChimp's suite of apps provide a more seamless way for its 7 million users to manage all aspects of every campaign, from lists to adding subscribers to viewing reports, along with the all-important deployment. Scalability options are also available, so sole practitioners can opt for a different plan than midsized firms, and more savvy marketing professionals can even take advantage of MailChimp's API to further integrate with current marketing processes.

 

TripIt

iOS, Android

Free and premium versions

As travel is one of the primary motivations for even maintaining an app arsenal, it's hardly surprising that some excellent apps have been created to manage the more complicated trips.

TripIt has emerged as one of those premier travel organizers, consolidating the many facets of a trip into master itineraries that include the usual flight and hotel information and more dynamic data like weather and directions. Acquired by integrated expense and travel management services company Concur in 2011, TripIt also touts its automated, accessible and agnostic (so your miles are safe) approach to travel management.

 

Instapaper

iOS, Android

Free and premium versions

The best leaders read, and do so voraciously. They also do it without respect to location or Internet connection, which, before Instapaper, usually meant cracking one of those oldfangled newspapers for the day's stories. Instead, Instapaper, once at the forefront of the "read later" tools and now evolving to provide broader functionality than its younger competitors, enables travelers and those with a healthy e-reading habit to access previously saved Web pages offline.

Once in palm, those articles are synced across all devices and can be highlighted, shared and browsed by friends. The simple design also doesn't interfere with the content, and can be adjusted for optimum readability.

 

Tweetbot

iOS

$4.99

An alternative to Twitter's own app, Tweetbot is an exceptional client for the activity that likely occupies the most social media bandwidth on your devices. Twitter clients often come down to personal preference, but this popular option gives users the ability to customize within a very sleek design, with regular enhancements that truly utilize every iOS update. The app, owned by Tapbots, is so dedicated to Apple products that it features separate versions for the iPhone, iPod Touch, the Mac, and the iPad, though this comes at the expense of providing versions for other systems. Regardless, Tweetbot continues to cater very well to its avid customer base.

 

Keynote

iOS

$9.99 or free for qualifying iOS 8 devices with activation after Sept. 1, 2013

Developed by Apple and built for its devices, Keynote is a presentation app that is nonetheless compatible with enough formats, including PowerPoint, to make it the go-to tool for presenters. Users can create presentations showcasing data in a variety of elegant interactive charts, along with utilizing the app's other visual features, including sleek slide transitions and photo editing options. And when delivering the finished product, presenters can take advantage of an intuitive, multi-touch interface to wow the crowd -- members of which can later access the presentation from a shared link.

 

Roambi Analytics

iOS, Android

Free with subscription

Big data got smaller, but infinitely more shareable, when the app version of business application Roambi was introduced, scaling (while optimizing) interactive charts and graphics for the iPhone and then specifically for the iPad (and then Android).

The app has continued to lead the business intelligence pack, providing many ways for a firm's knowledge workers to import and engage with relevant numbers, from various sources, in a single app.

 

Workflowy

iOS, Android

Free and premium versions

In one way or another, apps are all about organizing, so those geared to that specific function have a high bar to hurdle in customer satisfaction. Organizational app Workflowy has cleared it, especially in starting with a clean design that doesn't interfere with the simplicity of its purpose.

Even so, advanced users can go beyond its to-do list features to access its other organizational capabilities, including note-taking, paper writing, journaling and collaborating with colleagues. And all these activities were made even easier (and addictive) since Workflowy made its writing and editing features accessible offline.

 

Keeper

iOS, Android, Windows

Free with subscription, or $9.99 a year for app

More passwords, more problems -- unless you have one of the many password-management services currently available. Of those, Keeper provides some of the best security and simple functionality, along with premium digital vault features like data sync and cloud back-up.

Information can also be shared securely between other Keeper users and groups, and the newest version for iOS 8 includes Touch ID fingerprint authentication and optimized file uploads.

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