Personal Small Business Enterprise

The 5 Smartphone Apps You Must Have

When you first get a new smartphone, aside from charging it up and calling your mother, one of the first things you’ll likely do is download a few apps. But with hundreds of thousands of apps available in virtually every major platform’s respective app store, which ones are the must-haves, the ones you download before all others, and keep coming back to each and every workday?

I’ll speak from personal experience: these are the first five that I download on my own devices. You may find that other apps are on your top five list, but for the typical business user just getting started, the following should cover most of the key bases:

1. Evernote. Smartphones are great devices for taking quick notes while you’re on the go. They’re not so great, however, when you need to share those notes across your multiple devices. Evernote, with client apps for virtually all major smartphone platforms, solves this dilemma. Jot it down in Evernote and it automatically syncs to your cloud-based account. Open up your Evernote account on your PC and everything is there. Anything you do on your PC is similarly synced back to your mobile devices, so you’re never stuck trying to retrieve your work back at the office.

2. Pocket. Small business owners need to read – a lot. Pocket, formerly known as Read It Later, makes it easy to keep track of articles you come across while surfing. This handy app lets you quickly tag pages while you’re cruising the web. Later, when you’ve actually got the time to read them, pull up the Pocket app and all your selected articles and pages are conveniently curated in one place. It works across multiple platforms, like iOS and Android, and also lets you pull up your reading list in a browser session.

3. A mobile banking app. Every major Canadian bank now has a mobile banking app available for customers. These apps sometimes vary in specific functionality, but all of them allow you to perform critical tasks on the go – tasks like viewing your balance, paying bills or e-transferring money.

4. A file sharing app. Leading file sharing services let you share documents across all of your devices via the cloud. They also make it easy to share your files with customers and colleagues – no more emailing attachments or wrestling with versioning issues. Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, and DropBox all offer similar capability in slightly different packages. All offer initial free access, with higher-capacity paid options, so try them all before you pick your favourite.

5. The social media trifecta. Okay, so I cheated: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are three apps, not one. But my point is clear: businesses increasingly need to be involved to at least some degree in social media, and a smartphone-based app is the easiest way to make social media part of your everyday work culture. If your customers are using these tools – and every survey consistently shows they are – then you need to be using them, too.

The problem with lists is that you’ve always got to leave some off – and someone, somewhere always has a suggestion for something you may have forgotten. I’d like to hear your top-app choices, and invite you to let me know in a comment. I have a funny feeling it won’t be long before we publish some more top-app lists!

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