Essential Android Apps for Business – all FREE!

I have been an android user ever since the first day the first Motorola Droidwas available for Verizon back in 2009.  Over the years, I’ve accumulated some experience using Android on phones and tablets, and certain apps have made this experience better for me at work.  Here’s my list of essential Android apps for business – and all of these apps are FREE.  Let me know in the comments below if you have any other suggestions.

This list reflects the way I work, and your style of working may require different apps.  I have a lot of meetings (including conference calls and WebEx sessions), travel a lot (locally, domestically, and internationally), and need to view and edit a lot of documents.  I spend a lot of time with customers, have a quota, and need access to the corporate intranet.  I write a lot of Microsoft Office documents, and read and write hundreds of e-mails per day.

Google built-in apps

Let’s start with the standard Google apps, most or all of which come pre-installed on most devices.  Not all Google apps are equally useful for business, but these are all quite helpful.

Calendar Widget: My most useful business app.  This widget comes built in with your Android device.  My home page on my phone is pretty much a nearly fully-screen calendar, plus Google Voice search, a folder for mail apps, a folder for navigation destinations I use a lot (like home and work), a folder for phone numbers I use a lot, and a link to a flashlight app.  By the way, you can also edit which apps show up at the bottom of each Android screen – I like phone, Chrome, Settings, and the Camera, since I use those frequently.  I hardly ever use any other page on my phone.

Chrome: Many older Android devices come with a browser that predated Chrome.  Chrome is now the default browser on Android devices.  It is stable, fast, and has some nice features (see Chrome to Phone).

Chrome to Phone: Chrome to Phone allows you to send web pages from Chrome on your PC or Mac to your phone.  Let’s say you’re looking at a hotel web site on your laptop and want to send it to your phone to have the address (for giving directions in the cab) or the phone (for checking to confirm your reservation) – Chrome to Phone to the rescue.  Since I often use just my phone in meetings, I often use Chrome to Phone to send reference web pages to my phone in advance.

Drive: Drive replaced Google Docs.  You can use Google Drive to edit word processing documents and spreadsheets, as well as to view and share presentation documents and files across devices or with other people.  As long as you have a network connection, Google Drive is a useful tool.

Gmail: Sometimes you need to send yourself information – or deal with personal business while in a meeting.  Manage your Gmail accounts with this app.

Goggles: Google’s goggles may be the Google app that has the most unrealized potential of any Google app.  Goggles works well for QR and bar code scans, searching for information on a company by photographing its logo, and a few other applications.  Where it falls down, however, is in its most potentially useful area for business – business card scanning.  I’ve never successfully scanned a business card with Google Goggles.  Worst of all, it doesn’t even work with Google business cards.

Mail: Android devices come with a second e-mail app that connects with Exchange servers to send and receive corporate e-mail, set and receive calendar appointments and meetings, and access the corporate directory.  If your company, like most, uses Exchange Server for mail and calendar, this app is indispensable.

Maps (and Navigation): When heading to a meeting, this app is a great way to get directions, check traffic, and save places (“star” them) for future reference.  If I’m going to some exotic foreign location, I often scope out sights and places to see, save them as favorites, and then use Google Maps to walk from one to another.  You can get driving, walking, and public transportation directions with the navigation mode, which does turn-by-turn directions.

MyTracks: MyTracks is an app that tracks your travels on GPS.  You can use MyTracks to trace the route you walked from a parking space to a meeting, so you can find your way back later.  You can save any pathway with MyTracks, really useful for retracing your steps particularly when in a strange city.

Other useful Android apps:

Adobe Reader: Open and read PDF files with the authentic app from Adobe.

AK Notepad: Simple way to take notes during meetings.

Alarm Clock Plus: In my opinion, the best alarm clock to use, particularly when traveling.  Very flexible way to set multiple alarms, including in advance.

Amazon Kindle: Another good way to read PDF files.  Also useful for reading other kinds of documentssent wirelessly to your Android device.  Or reading a book (business or otherwise) while above 10,000 feet (listen to your flight attendants!).

AnyConnect: Cisco VPN access to corporate intranet from the road.

ASTRO File Manager: Astro is like Windows Explorer for your Android device.  You can see, open, and manage all your files.  Especially useful for finding that attachment you just downloaded.

Concur: If your company, like mine, uses Concur for expense reporting, this mobile app allows you to take note of any expense while traveling by taking a photo of the receipt and uploading the image.  Very helpful for getting those expense reports in in a timely manner.

Dictionary: Sometimes you run into a word you don’t really know – this is a handy app for looking up the definition of a word.

DroidRecord: There are lots of times when you need to record a meeting – in compliance with all laws and ethics.  DroidRecord is the app to record these meetings for future reference.

Evernote: Some meetings require more sophisticated notetaking, including words, drawings, and photos (screen shots of PowerPoints is a lot more efficient than trying to type it all in or take notes on a presentation you won’t get until later).  Evernote is a cross-platform app that works on many devices (not just Android devices), and allows you to sync notes across them for future reference.

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