‘Practical Techie:’ An office in our smartphone

Written by  //  October 1, 2013  //  Biz Views  //  No comments

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Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

The uproar for the new iPhone 5 has died down a bit, so we now sit back and take a calm look at how the new gadget — or rather, a retooled Apple smartphone — can help business folks be more productive in some practical ways.

I say retooled because its six new main features are more of a fine-tuning, rather than innovation. I am referring to the fingerprint sensor, the new color scheme, the A7 chip, the slightly better camera with larger aperture, a longer life battery and the OS 7.

Since business is all about good communication, most entrepreneurs agree that the iPhone does deliver a good connection scheme. One handy feature is how easy the Apple phone allows busy biz people to organize and keep emails up to date. Mail can be categorized according to priority and worth.

Yet, the best advantage lays in the unending set of apps available for the gadget, many of business value for large or smaller companies, including tracking expenses, generating invoices, and planning new projects quickly and easily from a single device.

If you’re a small business owner (or employee), here are 10 amazing apps that you may not know about, which can help you run your business more easily and efficiently.

Let’s look at a few of the apps available for small scale entrepreneurs, whether you’re a sole proprietor, a consultant, or a freelancer.

iMargin Professional

iMargin Professional

Practical tech
If your business is marketing or is selling products, the “iMargin Professional” app is a plus. It is designed to calculate margins and sale prices. In its calculations for sale items, the app factors in associated tax estimates and does it in multiple currencies with some report features thrown in.

All iPhone uses know the apparatus allows you to read and view Microsoft Office documents, but it doesn’t let you create or edit them. That’s where “Documents To Go” comes in. The user can create a Word document while on the road, or tweak sales forecasts in Excel.

Another app, “Biz XpenseTracker,” is great for keeping tabs on mileage, and other travel items or generate reports.

On the other hand, “Billings Touch” helps follow invoicing for clients and all billable time and services in addition to project expenses. One useful plus for this app is that it includes multi-currency support and a range of international tax terms. The app also comes with 30 biz report templates and a feature to create your own.

The “Shoe Boxed” app makes receipts from business expenses more manageable, a life-saver at tax time. The app takes a picture of your receipt, organizes it in your account, and stores it online. It also takes pictures of contact business cards, creating a virtual Rolodex.

Another app, “In Dinero,” converts your IPhone into a financial dashboard. It pulls bank and credit card statements and puts your expenses in the proper categories. As needed, it prepares financial profit and loss reports and can also generate financial forecasting. It also tracks biz spending and allows for budgeting.

Next is “Web Ex Meetings,” which allows entrepreneurs to participate in conferences directly from their iPhone all over the world, on a virtual basis. You can even host your own conference via iPhone and provide for presentations.

Log MeIn

Log MeIn

Connectivity is productivity
Smartphones can do a lot, but a PC or a Mac is more productive. Yet the app “Log MeIn” allows iPhone users to remotely control PCs and Macs over Wi-Fi to get all desktop applications running on the mobile phone. Once connected, the user can remotely access computer files, run applications and control desktops from any place.

What about “White Pages Mobile?” It provides 180 million references, including a people and business search, map and directions, reverse phone number look-up, GPS features, and the ability to save listings to your contacts.

Want voice-activated dialing with steroids? The free “Speech Cloud Voice Dialer” app lets you do just that. Simply press the large button and say a person’s name in your contact list, when prompted and it dials up.

Then there is “Jot.” This clever app voice records your thoughts, ideas, to-do lists and transcribes the recording into text, which allows for emailing or archiving.

Another, “Quick Books Online” links customers to Intuit’s popular Web-based small business accounting software. It allows checking current bank and credit card balances, tracks who owes you money and who you owe, find customer contact info, and even run balance sheet and profit and loss reports.

For even more efficiency, use “Pocket Punchclock” on your iPhone to track the time spent on different tasks. It’s very useful for professionals who bill by the hour or freelancers who need to document their time.

If you’re a writer, journalist, or trainer, then “iA Writer” lets you compose text and edit without interruption. It’s designed for “distraction-free writing” and allows for extended keyboard features that make some important additions to the standard iOS keyboard.

Finally, for the more active user, there is “Bento Filemaker,” a database solution. With the app, a biz person can create a range of custom databases for business needs such as customer contact records, inventory and sales trackers, invoice and payment systems, or all in-between.

In the old days, we use to say we kept an office in the car trunk. Now, it’s an office in our smartphone.

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