Great mobile apps

Although more and more companies are rushing to produce the next world-conquering app that will win those proverbial hearts and minds (and draw in business), most of them are destined for short-lived success. It’s a sad fact that 60 per cent of the apps in Apple App Store have never been downloaded, and of those that are, 25 per cent are used only once. With so many apps revealed to be thinly veiled commercials, users are both blasé and wary when another app vies for their attention.

But hope springs eternal, and as it turns out, there’s still a lot of life left in the phenomenon yet. Here are just a few examples of businesses that are getting it right by thinking outside the box.

1. For your commute: Haze weather app by Robocat

Scandinavians must have a thing about apps – as well as changeable weather. Haze is a simply gorgeous way to find out any 5-day forecast. Its audiovisual experience includes animated backgrounds and colourful themes, a gyro-driven wind compass and data on sunshine hours, UV levels, cloud coverage, temperatures, sunrise and sunset times and precipitation amounts. Sure, you can get a forecast from a huge number of apps, websites and TV and radio channels but this app goes one step further to helping you anticipate the full meteorological experience.

Details: £1.27 from iTunes.

2. For your morning conference call: MobileDay meeting app

This app takes the hassle out of co-ordinating online calls, conference bridges and regular calls with a single tap. You’ll receive notifications for upcoming meetings, be able to notify attendees if you’re running late, schedule new meetings and join calls on any platform such as WebEx, Lync, and Skype to name only a few. Each call will be validated by a real live human to ensure a smooth connection.

Details: Free for the first 10 calls each month from iTunes and Google App Store. Upgrades to MobileDay Pro and MobileDay Business cost 80p and £3.12 respectively per user per month.

3. For your lunch break: Moves fitness app by ProtoGeo

Clever minds in Finland want to see us ditch wearable trackers in favour of their own app. Users can see how much physical activity they do in a regular day because Moves recognises whether a person is walking, running, cycling or using other transportation, or working out at the gym – something currently unique to this app. You can see the distance, duration, number of steps and calories burned for these activities (just remember to bring your phone along), and the app is always on.

Details: Free from iTunes and Google App Store.

4. For your business plan mega-meeting: StratPad app by Glassey Technologies

Advertised as ‘Rocket Fuel for Business’, this iPad app (StratPad Cloud runs on PCs and Macs) can do an awful lot when it comes to strategic planning. It comes with free tools to help with writing business plans, training videos, e-tutorials and email customer service. The business data you put into the app comes out as full-colour graphs, charts and revenue projections. You can even get advice on applying for funding with a lender or investor.

DetailsPlans range from £6.40 to £35 from iTunes.

5. For your sneaky email check: Mailbox email app by Dropbox

It’s not every day something so functional looks so good – and then gets sold to Dropbox with its creator, Orchestra, for £64 million and a 500,000-person waiting list on launch day. The app is simple and beautifully designed, letting users sort quickly through their email accounts to push the snooze button on messages, auto-archive and delete all the stuff that hangs around for months and even years (by which time it’s utterly useless).

Mailbox is billed as being fast, intuitive and stable and can help you declutter your inbox in what seems like only a few minutes.

Details: Free from iTunes.

6. For your time spent travelling: LogMeIn by

You’re halfway home on the train or flying to a conference when the thought hits: I’ll just finish up that little bit of work I was doing. Then you realise the file is on your PC back in the office. LogMeIn lets you remotely access those computer files from your smartphone. You can remotely run all sorts of PC business apps on your phone, too, such as Microsoft Office, SAP and Salesforce. That idling half-hour or hour spent in transit or waiting for a flight can be turned into something productive – and one less thing waiting for your attention on your return!

Details: Free 14-day trial, then £19 from iTunes and Google App Store.

7. For after work: Be My Eyes volunteer app by Robocat

Not one to rest on their laurels, the Danes at Robocat have created an app to help blind people make a connection with volunteer helpers around the world. Be My Eyes in an open source app that brings the advantages of sight through live video chat, where a sighted person assists with everything from looking at the expiration date on food to navigating a new location. A request for help goes out through the app and a volunteer who answers the notification on their device connects with a video link.

Details: Free from iTunes.

 

Mobile Apps can help us make the best use of our time, as we’ve seen, whether it’s spent in the office, heading home after work or planning to tackle the next big thing on the To Do List. The range of services they offer ranges from the useful to the amazing and it’s clear that mobile apps, no matter the length of their lifespan, are part of a wave of new technology that’s here to stay.

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