Sometimes it seems smart phones and tablet computers can do just about anything, but how can you get them to do exactly what you need? We asked dealers and scoured the Web to find the applications most likely to boost your productivity. Here are the 10 that you–and we–liked most.
Dropbox This file storage app enables you to access important documents and files from any of your computers, smart phones, or tablets. You can also transfer files to other people with Dropbox accounts. Cost: No charge for up to two gigabytes of data. Larger storage capacities of 50 gigabytes and 100 gigabytes are $10 and $20 a month, respectively. The company recently rolled out a Teams service for businesses that is custom designed and priced.
Google Maps Many dealers have started outfitting their trucks with navigation systems to eliminate the use of print maps and their drivers with smart phones to make sure deliveries get made, so why not combine the two? When coupled with a car charger and a dashboard holder, any smartphone with this place finder and navigation app can replace most navigation systems. You won't be able to find a house that hasn't been built yet, but the app can get your driver to the correct street or a landmark nearby. Cost: The app is free, but the car charger and dashboard holder will probably set you back about $50 depending on the phone.
Adobe Connect Mobile This is good for dealers who oversee multiple locations spread over a large area. Adobe's Connect Mobile app is one of the highest-rated meeting apps in the Android market, and while not as well known as GoToMeeting or WebEx, it has received better reviews. The product allows for users to launch, or start, the meetings, which many mobile meetings apps don't permit. With virtually all smartphones having cameras, you can also do video conferencing. Cost: The app is free, but the service will cost you. The Adobe Acrobat Pro Meeting Service has an annual rate of $540, a monthly rate of $55 a month, or a pay-per-use plan that charges 32 cents per minute per user.
LogMeIn Considered one of the best remote access programs, this software allows users to share data and files, manage whole software systems, back up data, and collaborate with others, all from any device with an Internet connection. Cost: LogMeIn Pro, which allows for remote access, printing, and file transfers, is $69.95 a year. LogMeIn Ignition, which has one-click remote access for both Windows PCs and Mac devices, is $39.99 a year for Windows devices and $29.99 a year for Apple products.
Toodledo Use this to create to-do lists, organize your tasks and meetings, share projects with fellow collaborators, set subtasks, create alarms, and access information from any mobile device. What's on Toodledo can be accessed on mobile devices, viewed via e-mail, integrated into a web browser, or synced with whatever calendars or lists you already have. Cost: A basic account it free, but you can upgrade to Pro for $14.95 a year or Pro Plus for $29.95 a year to access all features.
LinkedIn Yes, it's a social media platform, but that's what makes it important. Use LinkedIn while on the go to research people you do business with or, if you are a salesperson, look up and learn about potential new clients. You can also use the service to track changes in job status as well as what's discussed in the interest groups. Cost: A basic profile is free and so is the app. There are three upgrade plans that range from $25 to $100 monthly.
Quickoffice Pro allows for the creation, editing, and sharing of Microsoft Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, and Excel spreadsheets. Users can access and save information to other sources, including Evernote. Quickoffice files can be shared using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. It can also be used to view PDF files, e-mail attachments, and zip files on your mobile device. Cost: $19.99 on the iPhone and Android phones. There is an HD version for the iPad and Android-powered tablets that costs $24.99.
Evernote Found a web page that you wanted to save? You can bookmark it or e-mail the link to yourself, but it could get lost in the inbox. Use Evernote instead. A bit like Toodledo, this is an organization and productivity program that lets you organize web pages, ideas, and photos and store them in the cloud. The app also allows you to write notes to yourself, record voice reminders, and produce to-do lists. Cost: Both the application and a basic account, which you will need to use the app, are free. You can upgrade to Evernote Premium–which allows for more monthly uploads, collaboration abilities, and security locks–for either $5 a month or $45 a year.
Hoccer Warning: Don't use this app if you have sweaty palms or have trouble holding things. Hoccer is a unique twist on file sharing that allows for the transportation of files with the drag of a finger, a bump of the phone, or even the flick of a wrist. You can share files with other employees with the app by either dragging the file from your phone to theirs (if they are next to each other), by bumping your phones together, or, if you are farther apart, by pretending to fling your phone like a Frisbee. Your partner can catch the file by holding their phone up so it's facing you. When done right, it's cool to watch. Cost: Free.
CamCard The app turns your phone's camera into a scanner that reads the business card and stores the data in your contacts list. You will most likely have to do a little editing, but the app does a good job picking up and attempting to properly organize addresses, phone numbers, and names. Cost: There is a free version called CamCard Lite, but it limits how many cards you can scan. The regular version is $6.99.