There’s a lot more to working as part of a team than simply having a PC with Microsoft Office installed, and the same is true once you go mobile.
For many PC users, Microsoft Outlook is where they spend much of their day. It brings together your email, contacts and calendar in a single application and makes it easy to switch between them - for example to share availability and schedule a meeting. The problem until quite recently was that there was no real equivalent for a smartphone.
That has all changed now with the availability of Outlook for both Android (from version 4.0) and iPhone (iOS8 required). Billed primarily as an email app, it does a good job of handling the overlap between messages and diary on a pocket device.
It also attempts to automatically triage your inbox, moving less important email to an ‘Other’ folder - if it gets this wrong you can move the message back yourself, in which case it offers to create a new rule for the future. You can defer messages from your inbox too, sending them to resurface at a later date, and it allows you to attach and send files from cloud storage, even though you haven’t downloaded them, set reminders, attach files and so on.
Its calendaring style won’t suit everyone, but will be familiar to existing Outlook users. As well as the obvious Microsoft options such as Outlook.com, Office 365 and corporate Exchange servers, it supports all other major email and calendar services, including Gmail and Yahoo. It can connect to generic IMAP mailservers and Box and Dropbox.
Free or from £3.49
We all have physical documents that we want to save or send, but a photo taken with a phone camera is not an ideal solution to the problem, not least because the image must be manually aligned and multiple pages are not linked. Tiny Scanner (or TinyScan) takes over your Android or iPhone’s camera and turns it into a pocket scanner, converting your paperwork into PDF files that you can view, send or save to cloud storage.
The one caveat is that they are still images, so you cannot search the text. However, the app enhances them for readability, plus it’s easy to create multi-page PDFs and the resulting files can be significantly smaller: on an iPhone (but not on Android), a PDF of a page can easily be quarter the size of the photo it was generated from. PDFs can also be password-protected.
Tiny Scanner tries to automatically detect the page edges and can scan in colour, greyscale or mono. You can set it to generate several different page sizes, with five levels of contrast for better text capture, and then view your scans as thumbnails or a list. The app also includes a built-in webserver, so you can access and download your scans from another device on the same network. The Pro version also offers batch-mode scanning.
From £14 a year
Invoicing and accounting is a tedious task, yet is absolutely essential. So the ability to fire off an invoice from your phone could be very useful - and much better than having to sit in front of a computer and sort through assorted notes and memos.
That is the idea behind Invoice2go, a web-based service with apps for Android and Apple. It enables you to create invoices, estimates, credit memos and purchase orders straight from your device, keep track of who owes what, create statements, and optionally receive payments via PayPal. Its developer claims that its users get paid on average seven days faster.
You can customise the design of your documents, and choose what fields and columns to include. For example, you might add inventory codes, or separate columns for parts and labour. The estimate or invoice can then be emailed straight from the phone. The app can also generate reports, for instance showing quarterly sales - these are easier to view via the web interface of course, but the service is fully operable from a tablet or phone.
Invoice2go was developed in Australia but is now available in a dozen more languages and with 24/7 local support. There is a 14-day free trial, then a range of subscriptions of which the most popular is £69 a year (discounts are sometimes available online), which allows a user to create an unlimited number of invoices, and store details of up to 200 clients. For bigger businesses, a £99 Enterprise subscription lets you have five users, with the option to add more.
A subscription also covers online storage for documents - this allows Invoice2go to sync invoices across your devices and the web - and a group of other applets, for example to send statements, track your time on a job, and track your expenses.
Free or 60p
Business cards are still a vital networking and business-building tool, even in these web-enabled days, but filing them is a thankless task. Fortunately you can now use your phone as a free alternative to the expensive mini desktop scanner connected to optical character recognition (OCR) software on a PC.
Snap a card with CamCard and it automatically selects it within the photo, corrects it for the camera being at an angle, then processes the text, assigning it to fields within its database. As you click on a field, it pulls up that section of the scan so you can verify the original, check for recognition, etc.
It tries to recognise all sorts of business card elements, such as websites and Twitter names. It is not perfect - there are just too many ways to format a business card, even without icons, cursive text or hard-to-scan colours - but you can edit the results, plus the image is stored with the text. The data is added to your phone’s address book and synchronised across devices. Scanned cards are also uploaded to your account on CamCard’s web service.
Other features include the ability to exchange business cards electronically with other users, for example by generating a two-dimensional QR-code on the phone screen for others to scan. You can also add notes and reminders to contacts within the app.