A Small Business in Your Pocket: Specialized Business Apps

The best thing about today’s powerful smartphones and tablets isn’t that they can help you perform PC-based tasks on the go, it’s that they deliver a whole universe of functionality you never thought you could have in your pocket. The best business apps leverage the inherent mobility and at-the-ready convenience of mobile devices to let you be more productive and do things you couldn’t do before. Here are some of our favorite examples.

5 Handy Business Apps You’ll Love

Glympse (Android, iOS and Windows Phone; free)  

If your business involves traveling to customer sites, be a considerate guest and send your host a Glympse. Like other location-tracking apps, this app uses the GPS receiver in your device to track your movements in real time. But Glympse does not require that your counterpart install an app, sign up for a service or join a social network to see where you are.

Glympse small business app

Give your clients a glimpse into where you are, and when you’ll arrive at the meeting, with Glympse.

Simply send them a link, and they can use any Web-enabled device to view your location and ETA for the length of time you choose. (Worry not: When the timer you set on your Glympse expires, they can no longer see your location.) It lets clients know exactly where you are and when you’ll arrive, so they know if you are stuck in traffic—or if they have time to grab that cup of coffee before your scheduled meeting.

CamScanner (Android, iOS and Windows Phone; $1.99)

You’re well aware that your smartphone is a pretty darn good camera, but did you know it’s a good document scanner as well? The high-res cameras in current phones and tabs can make a dedicated scanner obsolete—with the right app. CamScanner lets you capture a document on your phone and convert it to a universally usable PDF literally in a snap.

CamScanner small business app

CamScanner packs all the features of a document scanner and its associated utilities—PDF conversion, OCR, annotation—into a single app.

Use it to “scan” receipts, notes, invoices, whiteboard discussions, business cards and documents of any kind. And unlike simpler scan apps, CamScanner offers optical character recognition (OCR) to turn the image into searchable, editable text. You can even use the built-in editing and annotation tools to crop and enhance the image and make notes on your captured documents.

MiFlight (iOS; free)

It never fails: You’re either arriving at the airport too early, or you’re sprinting for the gate. Next time you fly, give MiFlight a try. The app shows the wait times for security checkpoints at more than 50 of the world’s busiest airports, calculated from crowd-sourced data in real time. The app also shows you terminal maps and the social-sharing capabilities of each airport.

MiFlight small business app

How long are the security lines at the airport? Find out with MiFlight.

When I Work (Android and iOS; free for 1-5 employees, $1/ month per employee for more than 5)

One of the biggest headaches for shift-based small businesses, such as stores and restaurants, is employee scheduling. You have to create schedules, alert each employee, track their time and then scramble to find a replacement when someone can’t show up. When I Work puts employee scheduling in the cloud, and now its mobile app puts it in your hand.

When I Work small business app

When I Work lets you create shift schedules on the go, and quickly send a message to all employees about an open shift.

Equip yourself and your employees with the app, and you can use it to create, update, cancel and publish shifts, then send your employees text and email alerts about their schedules. Now a no-show is no problem. The app lets you blast out a text message about an open shift to the entire staff to fill it quickly (no more phoning around). You can also monitor time-off requests and shift trades and keep your employee contact information and schedules neatly in one place.

GoToMyPC (Android, iOS and Windows Phone; free app with monthly subscription)

While our phones and tablets can contain enough tools to keep us productive away from the office, there are times when there’s no substitute for having access to your PC. That’s when you need a remote PC viewer, and there’s no better app than the one by the folks who essentially invented the concept.

GoToMy PC small business app

GoToMyPC can put your Windows desktop in your hand on your iPad or smartphone. Sweet!

GoToMyPC lets you access your Windows or Mac PC from your mobile device. You can access any application or file, and the program has been designed to work seamlessly with your existing firewalls, so there’s no worrying about configuration hassles. And for working on a small screen, the app’s 300 percent zoom and precision cursor control will let you see clearly and click accurately.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with more than 20 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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