Top 5 Apps To Make Business Easier
It’s not only high-flying corporate executives that can make the most of business apps these days. The Guardian highlighted a range of apps that are ideal for the work-from-home entrepreneurs to keep their business running smoothly. From finance and invoicing, to customer data organization, printing and presentations, “you might assume you could run an entire business with nothing more than your phone or a tablet and a series of apps. The latter started as mini-applications that you could download, small bits of software that would perform specific functions. Given that Apple now issues basic versions of its operating system through its app store, it’s likely that this will become the main way in which people will get at their software over time.”
But whether you’re operating a big business or a small one, jet-setting or working out of the shed, here are five top apps that will make business easier – not matter where it’s happening.
Square – Monthly fee or % – Apple iOS, Android
Will Thomas from Eccount Money says, “business that has no money coming isn’t struggling, it’s just dead. And business that can’t keep their finances straight will end up in one place, bankrupt. Having a good smart phone app can actually help a small operator balance their books effectively.”
Square turns your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch into an effective cash register. If offers a free card reader and point of sale tools, and accepts all major credit cards. Square is ideal for collecting entry fees, completing transactions at pop-up events, festivals and markets, or when you’re busy and simply need more tills. There’s a 2.75% per-card swipe with no merchant accounts or fees, and swiped funds are deposited within 2 working days. You have the added security of receipts delivered via email or text message.
PC World’s review says that Square’s hardware was the smallest of the mobile payment card readers tested, but could be fiddly. Both Android and iOS versions were simple to use, but the iOS version boasts more advanced features like allowing the user to “select items from their inventory and add multiple items to each transaction.” With the Android app, be aware that it “keeps you logged in even after a device restart”, creating a potential “major security vulnerability”. This can be addressed by simply logging out after a transaction.
Turboscan -$1.99 – Apple iOS
Turboscan enables you to use your iPhone as a multi-page scanner, ideal for transferring large volumes of print data to colleagues and clients. It can be used on documents and notes, allowing them to be stored or emailed as PDF of JPEG files. The app is simple to use, requiring you to take three separate pictures from which you choose your preference. Turboscan is regarded as swifter and more efficient than a standard scanner, and producers good quality images without the need for additional hardware.
Brighthand’s review found that “TurboScan produces good quality images and easy doc sharing, although it might take you a little bit of work to optimize your images.” It found occasional problems with distortion, and that you’d frequently get the best results if the image was placed against a dark background.
Audio Memos – free – Apple iOS
Free-to-download and simple to master, Audio Memos is a voice-recorder app for iPhone and iPad. Advanced features include volume-boost, recording, editing and volume normalizing. Recordings are stored on the device but can be backed-up to your computer via a web browser or email. The free version allows you to send files of up to 3MB via email. The pro version offers more sophisticated features including voice or timer activation, use of bookmarks to expedite navigation, and the opportunity to delete or send multiple files simultaneously.
Lifehacker says “Audio Memos is one of the most feature-rich apps” around. Cleverly, it enables you to conduct extensive post-record edits, “add markers, insert a new recording inside of an existing record, and combine multiple recordings already saved”. Downsides? Lifehacker claims the app can be confusing initially, primarily because Audio Memos boasts so many features. For most effective usage, it recommends watching the video tutorial.
Wifi Finder – free – Android
Wifi Finder is a network finder utility which enables the user to locate free or paid-for Wifi hotspots when traveling. Locations can be downloaded offline for later use. The GPS function both sources the location and navigates the user to the hotspot. This app is useful for those who work on the go. It alerts users to SSID of new premises. As a wireless monitor, it can assist in identifying competing networks and identifying the strongest signal.
PC Advisor gave Wifi Finder 4 stars – calling the maps “aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-digest.” The beauty, it claims, lies with Wifi Finder’s offline feature, enabling you to accurately identify hotspots all over the world. The expert reviewer found the app easy to master and said “it’s a thoroughly good app, that we’d strongly recommend you download if you’re a frequent traveler, or do not have 3G on your Android device.”
Waze – free – Apple iOS, Android
Winner of the Best Overall Mobile App at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, free-to-download Waze is said to be the fastest-growing community-based traffic and navigation app. It’s a GPS-based system that operates on most smartphone systems, providing routes and real-time traffic information.
Unlike traditional GPS systems, Waze gathers useful complimentary map data from users. Traffic jams, police activity, accidents and speed traps can all be reported. The app can also help you seek the best-value fuel along your journey.
Business Insider warned that Waze can be distracting and drains phone batteries rapidly, but also noted that it “has some safety features in place….the app won’t let you type while you’re driving….and sounds can be turned off’. You can also render yourself ‘invisible’ so others can’t locate you.
PCMag found Waze has improved a lot over the past year, and tends to give more realistic travel times than many other navigation apps. “Where Waze really shines”, the mag said, “is when it comes to the real-time, community-reported alerts.”
Jessica Bourne is a personal finance writer based in Chester. You’ll usually find Jessica reporting about how consumers and business owners can make life easier and manage their money more effectively using the latest banking and business technology.