Ever Since BlackBerry started pre-installing applications on mobile devices—and Apple made them customizable and downloadable—these programs have evolved from novelty items to indispensable technology.
Yet I’m always surprised when people buy premium smartphones but only use the big four apps: email, texting, web browser and Facebook.
While those apps are essential, several others can greatly expand the usability and practicality of your smartphone. Here are my favourite six.
Legend: BB-Blackberry, iOS-Apple, A-Android
Vlingo (expanded and rebranded as Dragon) BB, iOS, A
This is a true assistant app. Now owned by Nuance, the company behind Dragon Dictation software, it allows you to quickly and easily dictate texts, emails and notes.
This is very handy when you don’t have the time or ability to pull up your keyboard. I use this software to dictate client meeting minutes and record reminders to myself as I look over handwritten notes.
mySMS iOS, A
This is a slick little program that allows users to both receive and send text messages from desktop or laptop computers. Further, it automatically archives all text messages. This has become vital for me over the last few months as I’ve been exchanging text messages with clients.
Keep texts personal rather than practice-related (sample texts: “Running a few minutes late!” or “Here’s that Mexican restaurant I was talking about.”). Do not initiate any transaction- or financial-related texts beyond an invitation to call, and respond to such text queries with an invitation to call
Texting helps maintain the relationship, and being able to store a history of these contacts enhances that relationship.
CamScanner iOS, A
Another surprisingly handy app. This photo-taking program can easily convert images of documents into more readable PDFs to be emailed, synced or uploaded to a file-sharing service like Dropbox. It’s like having a mini photocopier in your pocket while you’re out of the office. For instance, if you meet a client at a coffee shop or her home and need a copy of her driver’s licence, use this app.
Repligo BB, A
These two apps provide easy ways to read, manage and annotate PDFs. They reconfigure the layout of a document to make reading it on a small screen much easier, allowing your smartphone to function as a part-time e-book reader.
Evernote BB, iOS, A
I’ve raved about Evernote many times (see “Save articles for later” and “6 tips to improve your productivity”). I use it to save PDFs, emails, documents and web pages. It also lets you store, sort, search and review all that material.
Zombies, Run iOS, A
Since you’ll be sitting around using all these new programs, get this fitness app. It uses the phone’s GPS functions to track your run, walk or jog. The best part? It motivates you by simulating a zombie apocalypse. At random intervals, you’ll hear, “You’re being chased by zombies.” If you don’t move faster, it counts down how far away the monsters are. Nothing works up a sweat like hearing “Zombies: 46 metres; 38 metres; 33 metres” and the sound of them getting louder.
Just like the telephone, the fax machine, the cell phone, and the Internet, the modern mobile device has become essential workplace technology. Pick one of the apps, try it out (or ask your assistant to) and let it ease your work life.