Advice:The best business Android apps

By , published on 6th August 2010

Evernote for AndroidGoogle’s Android is a hugely popular operating system for smartphones, rivalling the success of Apple’s iPhone. Like the iPhone, there are many thousands of incredible apps, and here we’re focusing on those which are most useful to busy small business owners.

All these apps are available in the Marketplace, which you can access directly from your Android phone. And best of all, most are free.

Barcode Scanner

Price: free

Possibly the first app you should install is Barcode Scanner, as it makes installing other apps so easy. Using Barcode Scanner, and your phone’s camera, you simply scan the QR Codes and go directly to the app’s installation page. It’s also useful for adding contacts, and scanning regular barcodes on books, CDs etc, then suggesting purchasing options. As with any good app, it makes things easy.

Dropbox for AndroidDropbox

Price: free

If you’re not already using Dropbox, then our advice is simple; just do it! In essence, Dropbox syncs your files across computers – and now that includes on your Android-powered device too. But that is just the start. Dropbox is an almost zero-effort backup/sharing solution. It’s elegant, simple, and free for 2 GB. We can’t recommend it highly enough. The video below explains how Dropbox works.

Locale

Price: $9.99

Locale can automatically put your Android phone on silent mode if you are at the office, and then turn the ringer volume up when you get back home. No more loud ringtones at inappropriate moments! Add different settings for different ‘situations’. Locale can also be a battery lifesaver: it can automatically switch off power-hungry components (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) when your handset’s battery level is low. Here’s a video run-through from a fast-talking American!:

Mobile Defense

Price: free

Mobile Defense helps you find your phone if lost or stolen (via Mobile Defense’s website). Mobile Defense displays real-time location information of a lost or stolen phone on an interactive map. Activate an audible alert to further assist in locating the device even if the ringtone is set to silent or vibrate. Remotely lock, backup, and wipe your phone from the Mobile Defense website. You can also be notified of suspicious activity and fraud detection. Oh, and it’s free.

Bump

Price: free

Bump allows you to swap contact information or photos between two phones simply by bumping them together. And it works with iPhones as well. No more having to keep track of business cards, or manually entering contact details as they’ll all be available in your address book. This video shows how simple it is to use (video is for iPhone, but the process is the same).

Hoccer

Price: free

Hoccer is another fun way to share files. Use intuitive gestures to ‘throw’ images, songs, contacts, URLs, messages and whatever else you want through the air to nearby recipients. For example, a speaker at a conference could throw his contact details to the audience, much like throwing a Frisbee at them, and audience members with this app could catch the information by using a Frisbee-catching motion. You can even ‘throw’ between Android and iPhone devices.

EverNote

Price: Free

Evernote makes it easy to remember things big and small using your computer, phone, and the web. You can quickly add a text note, audio note, photo snapshot or file upload to your library from any of your devices. Record a conversation and embed it in a note. Evernote works with nearly every computer, phone and mobile device out there. Here’s a quick video introduction:

Seesmic

Price: Free

Seesmic is an excellent Twitter client; it’s clean and very intuitive to use, and it has some great features. You can integrate your Bit.ly account, making it easy to track how many clicks your tweeted short URLs generate. You can also set notifications and the search features are probably the best for Android. Another good alternative for Twitter is Twidroyd.

K-9 Mail

Price: Free

K-9 Mail is an improved and more full-featured version of the Mail app that comes with your Android phone. It can handle IMAP, POP, WebDav and some not-so-finicky Exchange servers. You have control over how often you check for messages and the number of messages to display. It’s fast too.

OI Notepad

Price: free

This is a simple note app that allows you to create, edit, delete, and send notes. There’s even an optional extension for adding voice notes.

Google Voice

Price: Free

Google Voice gives you a single phone number that rings all your phones, saves voicemail online and converts voicemail to text. Other features include listening to messages while they’re being left, recording calls, making low-cost international calls and blocking annoying callers. This app brings the full feature set to your Android phone. Here’s a run through of Google Voice for Android, by the same very fast-talking American as explains Locale above.

ProOnGo Expenses

Price: Free (Premium Services: from $0.99/month)

Any small business owner knows that receipts can be a pain. This app saves you time with your accounting and receipts. Take a photo of your receipts using your phone and they’re uploaded and entered into a spreadsheet. The ProOnGo free service limits receipt uploads to 5 per month. Purchasing the premium monthly subscription gives you the ability to upload custom spreadsheets to which data uploads. Here’s a quick video intro (iPhone in the demo, but it’s the same for Android):

My Backup Pro

Price: $4.99

Simply the best app for backing up your data and apps, should you need to reinstall or update firmware.

New apps are being released all the time, so keep an eye out for more ways to improve efficiency and make the most of your Android smartphone.

Have we missed any killer apps? Let us know in the comments below!

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