That little computer in your pocket has come a long way over the years, huh? Here are 25 incredibly useful apps that can help you run your business a whole lot smarter than ever before. And every one of them is free, at least in basic form.
For Putting Paper in Its Place
Try as you may, sometimes it’s impossible to avoid paper. That doesn’t mean you can’t digitize it, though. Evernote Scannable makes short work of dead trees, automatically cropping documents, business cards, receipts, and whatever else you can scan with your phone’s camera.
For Getting It Done, One Task At A Time
Work your way through the day in 30-minute chunks with 30/30. Feed it your to-do list and it’ll guide you task by task, counting down until it’s time to move on to the next one. Don’t worry: you can finesse the timer in five-minute increments in either direction if 30 minutes doesn’t cut it for you.
For File-Moving Minimalism
It’s 2016: sending huge files to someone shouldn’t still be this difficult! Thankfully, Send Anywhere makes the process about as simple as it can be. Your recipient uses a six-digit code to slurp down whichever file you send, with a 10-minute timeout and no file-size limits.
For Organizing Anything And Everything
There’s not much you can’t do with a custom database. Airtable helps you roll your own in a few taps, whether you’re looking to get organized with lists, catalog a bunch of items, or line up a collection of projects. You can grant real-time access to other people, as well.
For Getting Your Group's Act Together
Collaboration powerhouse Slack finds its way onto many a best-of list, and for good reason. It’s an outstanding way to keep in touch with your team, handling chat and file-slinging with aplomb, and integrating with a heaping helping of third-party productivity services.
For Making Web Conferencing Remotely Bearable
Trying to dial into a meeting remotely is a special circle of hell. MobileDay makes it miraculously easy by integrating with your calendar, figuring out which services you have to call into, and reminding you when it’s time to call in. It works with WebEx, GoToMeeting, and several other popular services—no fumbling around with PINs or guest codes.
For Lining Up A Day And Time
Sometimes just finding a time that everyone’s available to meet is the worst part about meetings. Invite democratizes the process somewhat, letting you send out multiple possible meeting times and letting your potential invitees vote on which times work best for them.
For Airfare At Fair Prices
If a face-to-face meeting is the surest way to seal the deal, Hopper is a good place to find a cheap flight. Tell the app the dates you’re looking to fly, and it’ll tell you whether now’s a good time to buy or if you’d be better off waiting a bit. If prices are too high, you’ll get alerts telling you when things have cooled off a bit.
For Running The Show
Nobody likes meetings, but everyone has to attend them. Minute helps you make the most of your meetings by combining pre-meeting agendas and necessary files, along with in-meeting notes and post-meeting action items. The free version lets you hold up to five meetings each month; it's a good option for those recurring Monday-morning huddles you’re dreading every Sunday night.
For Instant Video Meetings
Set up a four-way video chat in seconds with Room. The app requires no sign-up: you tap the "Get a Room" button, share the link with up to three other people, and you’re off to the races. The service works across multiple platforms, so people can join from Android phones, Macs, and PCs.
For Smarter Social Networking
Being on social media is a must, and being on multiple networks is a must-must. Buffer lets you post to multiple popular social networks at scheduled times throughout the day, and sports built-in analytics so you can see how your updates are faring. The free version hooks into five accounts and lets you load up 10 scheduled updates at a time.
For Quick And Dirty Storytelling
If you’re looking to create marketing videos and you have next to no video skills, Adobe Voice is a godsend. You record your voice in several-second increments, automatically lining each quip up with one of bajillions of built-in images. Once you’re ready, play it all back and watch as the images magically bounce and slide into place atop your narration, all with a pleasant bed of music underneath.
For Connecting Your Contacts' Dots
You know those movies where the big-shot business tycoon has the assistant who whispers in his ear all the details of whichever person is walking toward him? That’s Cloze, in app form. It scans your contacts and pulls in all the times you’ve spoken previously, relevant notes, important email messages, and more.
For Do-It-Yourself Site Building
You need a website. You could pay someone thousands of dollars to build and maintain it, or you could try Weebly—a service so intuitive, you can build a respectable site entirely from your phone. Drag and drop prebuilt elements, upload photos, create blog posts, and a whole lot more. The free version lets you build a site up to 500 megabytes in size, with unlimited pages.
For Getting Someone's John Hancock
Enough with the email-print-sign-scan cycle. CudaSign makes signatures a snap, leveraging the lowly finger as a 21st-century ballpoint pen. Upload a document, send it off for a scribble, and have it emailed back to you without any peripherals involved. The free version is good for up to five signatures each month.
For Putting It Down In Writing
Note-taking apps exist in spades, but finding the right mix of simplicity and features can be tough. Simplenote is an easy choice as a no-nonsense note-keeper, with the added bonus of cross-platform support and notes that sync in real-time to all of your other devices.
For Highly Visual Brainstorming
The free version of Concepts gives you five layers of sketchable real estate to work with, allowing you to import inspiring images or drum up your own doodles using one of several built-in brush types.
For Chosing Your Own Adventure
Sometimes it’s best to slow down and think things through. ChoiceMap lets you build customized decision templates that force you to prioritize your ideas option by option. Once you think you’ve come to your desired conclusion, you can share it with friends in order to get their input as well.
For Planning Without The Pain
A little process goes a long way, even if you have a small team. Pivotal Tracker helps you chip away at a shared backlog, epics, and stories, and integrates with popular tools such as GitHub. The free version lets you collaborate with up to three people across two private projects, with two gigabytes of file storage.
For Thinking Like A Business Superstar
Hammer business fundamentals with SmartUp. The app features new content every day, consisting of quizzes, games, case studies, and more that cover entrepreneurship and innovation. You can join a community of like-minded builders, or simply level your way up through the leaderboards as you complete the various educational modules.
For Keeping Your Ears Occupied
When you just need to strap on a pair of gigantic headphones and tune the world out, TuneIn Radio is a good app to have on hand. Tapping into more than 100,000 radio stations around the world, TuneIn serves up a never-ending supply of stuff to listen to. You can feed your favorite podcasts into the app as well.
For Making Your World Programmable
The best way to deal with busywork is to automate as much of it as you can. If (formally known as IFTTT) helps you create connections between various devices and web-based services you already use, telling one to behave a certain way if another performs a specific action first. There are almost 200 compatible apps and services to play with, making the possibilities nearly endless.
For Getting You Ever Closer To Inbox Zero
Plow through your email like it's freshly driven snow with Spark. It intelligently parses whether your messages are personal, business, or marketing, and groups them together for quick triage. You can pin important messages as to-do items, and quick-reply to other messages with a simple "Thanks" button.
For Making Sure Your To-Dos Get To-Done
Nothing feels quite as nice as checking things off a list. Checklist strikes a nice balance of quick list making with a great interface and nice extras such as nested items and gesture-based navigation.
For Making Distractions Less . . . Distracting
Lock onto your work like a tractor beam of attentiveness with Focus Zen. The app sports neurally enhanced audio tracks meant to stimulate your brain into honing in on the tasks at hand. There are various options for different types of work styles, and pomodoro timers in 10-, 25-, and 60-minute increments.