Top 10 Mobile Tools for Small BusinessYou remember your desk, right? It's that place where you pile things as you run in and out of the office. Being productive once meant long days at that desk, but today's mobile hardware, apps, and cloud services let you get more work done when you're away from the office—as long as you have the right mobile tools in your arsenal.
Whether you're looking for a slick new mobile device, your very own Wi-Fi hotspot, a portable printer, or essential mobile apps, our top-10 list has you covered.
Droid Turbo 2Since the center of your mobile work universe is a smartphone and not a PC, it better be durable, powerful, and extensible. The Droid Turbo 2, from Motorola and Verizon Wireless, delivers on all three fronts. The phone's 5.4-inch screen, dubbed Moto ShatterShield, is made of a flexible material and guaranteed not to crack if dropped.
As for power, the companies claim that the Droid Turbo 2 provides 48 hours of battery life per charge—impressive for a phone with a screen this large. When you can steal quality time with an AC outlet, the phone's fast-charge technology generates 13 hours of runtime after charging for just 15 minutes.
As for extensibility, this Android Lollipop 5.1 device lets you run any of the 1.4 million apps currently on the Google Play store. And if you're tired of having a phone that looks just like everyone else's, Motorola lets you customize the case with a choice of color nylon or leather backs. The Droid Turbo 2 carries a retail price of $624; or you can spend $26 per month for 24 months with a qualifying wireless plan.
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12For all the power and flexibility that a smartphone affords, it's no replacement for a laptop PC when serious work needs doing. One of the most flexible laptops (and we mean that literally) is the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12.
This ultraportable notebook features a trick hinge that lets the 12.1-inch touchscreen display swivel 360 degrees and lay flush with the base, turning the laptop into a tablet. Or you can rotate the screen part way to use the device in tent mode or stand mode—perfect for an impromptu presentation.
Processing power comes from Intel's latest-generation Core-i chips, and the machine features one of the most comfortable keyboards ever to grace an ultraportable notebook. Prices start at around $925.
AT&T Unite Pro Mobile HotspotYou won't always be working solo when you're on the go, and you may not always be within connecting distance of Wi-Fi. No problem: bring your own mobile hotspot, such as the AT&T Unite Pro by Netgear. This portable Wi-Fi hotspot connects to AT&T's 4G LTE cellular network and in turn puts out a dual-band signal that lets you connect up to 15 devices.
It's not only a handy convenience for group meetings outside the office or when traveling by car or train, it also means your fellow travelers don't need to burn their data allotment with your wireless carrier or pay for individual Wi-Fi access at hotels and the like. It's also more secure than public hotspots. The device features a color touchscreen that displays your data usage, and it delivers up to 16 hours of battery life per charge. It sells for $49.99 with a new two-year wireless service contract.
Brother PocketJet 7If you think paper is just so 1998, think again. From forms to contracts to invoices, there are plenty of documents you need signed by your customers. Instead of emailing a file and asking them to print it, or asking to connect to their office printer (it's never as easy as it sounds), simply travel with your own portable printer.
The Brother PocketJet 7 weighs about 1.3 pounds and measures just 10- x 2- x 1.2-inches, making it easy to carry in your travel case. It employs direct-thermal technology to print on 8.5- x 11-inch paper at speeds up to 8 pages per minute.
The built-in battery delivers up to 600 pages per charge, and various models in the family offer printing via a USB connection, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi to support printing from Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.
Invoice2goGetting paid is nice, but getting paid on the spot is even better. That's what Invoice2go delivers with its cloud-based invoicing system and new Stripe Connect mobile-payment integration. As always, the Invoice2go platform lets you create customer invoices on a smartphone or tablet on the spot—no more spending time at the end of the day (week, or month) doubling back to create and send invoices.
The new mobile payments feature, powered by Stripe Connect, lets you accept credit and debit card payments immediately through Invoice2go. This gives your customers more flexible payment options, minimizes administrative work for you (an average of 3 hours per week, claims the company), and helps you get paid faster—seven days faster, according to the company.
The Invoice2go Starter package costs $49 per year (for up to 50 invoices), and fees for Stripe Connect mobile payments are 2.9 percent of the transaction total plus 30¢ per successful charge (or less based on volume).
ShareFileShareFile, an online file-storage service from Citrix, delivers an enterprise-level data service accessible to businesses of all sizes. ShareFile works across all your desktops and mobile devices, letting you access, sync, and securely share files with people both inside and outside your organization for easy collaboration and enhanced productivity.
With the addition of RightSignature last year, ShareFile does similar services one better, allowing you to send electronic files for digital signature right from your mobile ShareFile account. For added security, Restricted Storage Zones keep all information about files and folders encrypted with a key that's unique to each of your employees. Plans start at $16 per month for a single user and $60 per month for team use.
Mast MobileAs a former Secretary of State famously noted, carrying two phones—one for business use and one for personal use—is a hassle. Mast, a new smartphone platform from Mast Mobile, lifts that burden by letting you have two distinct numbers on one phone and to seamlessly navigate between the two.
Both numbers exist natively on your choice of iOS or Android device, with work-related calls and texts linked to one number and personal communications linked to the other. Even better, the number designated for work calls can automatically transfer call data directly into your choice of CRM platforms (including salesforce.com), while personal call data remains totally separate and owned by your employees. That alleviates their concerns that the boss might have access to their personal contacts.
You can even set a Do Not Disturb mode for either of your numbers, giving you and your employees the ability to control when work or personal contacts can reach the recipient. Mast works directly with employers, which lets them pay only for business use. In turn, employees using Mast have the flexibility to cover the cost of additional data and device upgrades for personal use.
Join.meThanks to LogMeIn's popular online meeting app, Join.me, you don't need an expensive subscription to an online meeting service to pull together video meetings with clients and employees. Like the big guys, Join.me offers screen video- and voice-conferencing, screen-sharing, and even mobile whiteboard capabilities, all in an easy-to-use app that takes no time to learn.
The app lets you see a split-screen view on whatever device you use (smartphone, tablet, or PC) so that you can join the meeting while simultaneously keeping an eye on email or attending to other tasks. You can join meetings with the touch of a button (no need to waste time downloading software), and you can record meetings for non-attendees to view at a later date.
Join.me's mobile whiteboard lets you capture and share ideas in real time for more engaging discussions during any Join.me meeting hosted on an iPad or an iPhone. The mobile whiteboard then becomes a living document that you can share, offline or online, with the whole team to access and modify. The free version delivers instant screen-sharing and videoconferencing (with VoIP), while the full-featured subscription service starts at around $20 per user per month.
GlympseIt's going to happen to any on-the-go professional at some point; traffic or other circumstances will have you running late for a client meeting. But with Glympse, a free mobile app for Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile devices, your clients will know your exact location and your ETA.
As you're heading out (or as you're stuck in traffic), simply send other attendees a "glympse"—an email with a link to follow your progress online, in real time. In their browser window (no need for recipients to download the app), they'll see a map showing your whereabouts and your estimated arrival time based on your speed and current traffic conditions.
And to help you keep track of your employees' locations, as well as to let customers know your service personnel's ETA, Glympse for Business empowers your business with real-time location updates for workforce and service fleets.
Neatly.ioDashboards for business applications such as CRM and accounting are a real convenience, letting you see pertinent data at a glance. But once you have a few in the mix, keeping tabs on them becomes a juggling act. Enter Neatly.io, an all-in-one dashboard for your dashboards. It lets you integrate different data providers into one place giving you easy, one-login access to all your data. The app currently offers more than 30 integrations ranging from social media to marketing to ecommerce to accounting to CRM—the app supports most of the big names. You can create custom dashboards, and pull the metric from each service that's most important to you. The free version supports one person and integration with up to three services; for-pay plans start at $14.99 per month.
Work doesn't stop when you step outside the office. Our top-10 collection of mobile apps, hardware, and cloud services will help keep you connected and productive no matter where you roam.