Erica Cardenas

Is your phone business-ready?

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Over the last decade, phones have evolved from relatively simple mobile communications devices to multipurpose smartphones – launching users to new heights of doing business literally from the palm of the hand. From recording expenses to editing office documents, smartphone applications have changed the way business people operate in their day-to-day professional lives while they’re on the go.

In fact, according to recent studies, global sales of smartphones rose by 89 percent, with 100 million units sold during the last quarter of 2010. Answering calls, sending text messages, even checking email is commonplace from a cell phone, but beyond this, is your phone ready for business?

Research shows that as of January 2011, U.S. smartphone subscribers prefer the Android first (31.2 percent), the BlackBerry at a narrow second (30.4 percent) and the iPhone third at 24.7 percent. Choosing a smartphone may be easy, since providers and budget likely determine the model, but with the thousands of phone applications available for smartphones, it can be overwhelming to pick and choose applications that fit your business needs. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the favorite apps for the business professional.

Business to go

Inducted into the Apple “App Hall of Fame” and the NY Times “Top 10 Must-Have Apps,” the Evernote app is at the top of the list. From text notes to handwritten notes using snapshots to audio files, Evernote takes this information and instantly synchronizes it with your smartphone and Mac or Windows desktop.

Whether you’re snapping photos of whiteboards and meeting notes, or recording voice memos of your daily to-do list, Evernote takes the information and organizes it all, both on your phone as well as your desktop. Even better, the application not only works on the iPhone, but also the BlackBerry and Android phones. A free version of this app is available, with the premium version running $5 a month or $45 per year.

Photographer Zach Hewlett of Tucson integrates the Evernote application into his professional photography business.

“The Evernote application allows me to use image association,” says Hewlett. “I’m shooting a high school reunion in June, so I’ll take a separate photo of each person with my iPhone, making note of their face and name on the Evernote application. So later, when I’m sorting through all the actual reunion photos, I’ll have faces to names and I’ll know who is who when they order prints.”

Hewlett has figured out another handy business-related function for the Evernote app: taking photos of business cards. He simply photographs the card on his iPhone, tags it as a business card in the application and instantly has all his business cards electronically filed and synced to his phone, the web and his desktop computer.

Another iPhone app that’s sure to create buzz around the office is BizExpense. This application is designed to help track and report business expenses, and makes it easy to prepare and submit expense reports.

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