Mobile apps can be a lifesaver in business. When you are running late for a board meeting or you need to keep tabs on social networks on the go, apps can make the difference between being highly connected or completely out of touch. Over the past year, these five apps earned a prominent place on my home screen for daily business activities.
The Cloze app for iPhone aims to make sense of digital pandemonium. Once you link your email and social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, the app shows you buckets for your most important contacts (called "key people") based on actual interactions. There's also one for tracking those who mention you the most--and those who don't mention you at all. It's like Tweetdeck combined with email in a simple, small interface.
The Web service IFTTT (If This Then That) launched in 2010, but the recently launched IFTTT app is even more useful. The service creates a chain of trigger events--say, anytime you are tagged in Facebook you can post the image to your Dropbox account. For business, it's amazing what you can do on your phone--set up a "recipe" to receive an email if there will be inclement weather at the home office or save all Gmail attachments as notes in Evernote. It's indispensable.
I hate scheduling appointments of any kind, and I hate having to track them. But the Canary app makes the whole process a little more palatable. The interface is smart enough to know when you have free time, and tells you how much time you have until your next meeting--not just that you have one at 3 p.m. You can quickly send a stock message like "running late" to the meeting organizer. A summary view, always a quick swipe away, shows your weekly activities at a glance.
While the Mailbox app is similar to Cloze, it has an entirely different goal: getting you to inbox zero. The main innovation is the snooze swipe. You just press and hold, then move to the left to see the snooze option. Mailbox then holds these emails in a special Later inbox. You can snooze messages you don't need to deal with right now but are still important. There's also a handy "archive all" option that can, say, dump all read messages at once.
5. Any.Do Cal
There's something unique about Any.Do Cal. Despite my early trouble with crashes, the app seems to work fine now. Someone had the bright idea to make the calendar more photo-centric with background images that pop up when you open the app and create a meeting. There are handy features for finding a place to meet nearby, adding the location on a map, and checking who is in an upcoming meeting. But the best feature is how the app shows you just what's coming up next--not a whole laundry list of appointments.