Latest iPhone Apps Boost Its Business Acumen

When it comes to smartphones, the choice was easy: If you were a 20-something hipster, you got an Apple iPhone; if you had a business to run, you considered a BlackBerry or a Windows Mobile device. But a growing library of titles essential to small business should make you give the iPhone another look.

For example, earlier this month Intuit announced that its QuickBooks Online accounting software offers improved mobile Web-browser features for the iPhone, including the capability to create and send invoices from the device. In conjunction with that, the company announced support for Apple’s Safari browser, so you can commit to the Mac platform and access a QuickBooks Online account seamlessly from any Apple hardware.

Intuit offers a free version of the SaaS (software-as-a-service), QuickBooks Online Free, for smaller businesses that have outgrown pen-and-paper or spreadsheet-based accounting. There are also two for-pay levels of service, QuickBooks Online Basic ($9.95 per month) and QuickBooks Online Plus ($34.95 per month) that offer more advanced features. For all versions, the improved features for the iPhone let you not only view key data such as bank balances and profit and loss reports, but now also edit customer, vendor and employee information.

Database stalwart FileMaker has also announced support for the iPhone, along with the iPod Touch player. Bento for iPhone and iPod Touch is a portable version of the company’s Bento personal database program. Designed to be more than just a bare-bones portable database or to-do list organizer, this mobile app links together your iPhone contacts and lets you keep track of anything, from business-related sales to digital media.

With Bento for iPhone and iPod Touch, you can keep client information with you, organize an event, and make changes on your iPhone or iPod Touch that can then be synchronized wirelessly with FileMaker’s Bento 2.0v4 for Mac desktop software. The app’s 25 built-in templates make getting started easy, and include business-oriented database forms for time billing, customer information, expenses, products for sale, inventory, projects, equipment and more. The program costs only $4.99 and is available for download from the Apple App Store.

Creating content is only half the task; often, you also have to print it out. Earlier this month, Epson America, Inc. announced that its line of home and office printers and all-in-ones now work with EuroSmartz Print & Share app for direct printing from an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch. “Smartphones, especially the iPhone, are increasingly being used in place of laptops,” explained Steve Semos, product manager for consumer ink jets at Epson. “As an iPhone user, I can now print PDF files, business documents and photos stored on or taken by my iPhone to any Epson printer.”

Print & Share lets you print a wide range of file types, e-mail and attachments, Web pages and photos directly from your iPhone of iPod Touch. When used in conjunction with the free WePrint helper software loaded on your laptop or desktop PC, the software will automatically find your computer’s installed printers and allow the iPhone to select which printer to use. You can even print remotely via the 3G network to your home or office printer. Print & Share is available for $6.99 from the Apple App Store.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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