Top 20 Most Useful Mobile Business Apps For 2015
Looking for the best apps to serve your needs as a marketer? Columnist Aaron Strout rounds up his top picks for personal productivity, travel and more.
During the last two years, I’ve annually dedicated one of the 12 mobile marketing articles I write for Marketing Land to covering some of the most useful mobile business apps available.
My methodology isn’t scientific. I use a mixture of my own experiences along with some crowd-sourced suggestions from a narrow group of friends — entrepreneurs, business leaders, and in general, people who tend to spend a lot of time on the road.
Of course, there are a ton more apps that I could cover. But the goal here is to give you ideas for some useful apps that you should consider adding to your smartphone.
While this article veers slightly from my regular focus of delivering insights to marketers specifically interested in mobile and location-based technologies, there is a greater point to make here: As someone who has pushed marketers to think long and hard about the need for a mobile app, the list below should serve as a good example of technologies that are serving the simple to complex needs of business people.
If as a marketer you’re considering developing an app for your company, I would encourage you to take a look at several of the examples listed below, as many have become fan favorites based on their excellent user experience and intrinsic usefulness.
As in previous years, the apps are bucketed by category. One addition I made this year is that I split “Productivity” into “Personal” and “Enterprise,” as a host of more enterprise-focused apps like Asana, Trello, Salesforce and Jira have started to go mainstream. I also collapsed Internal Collaboration Apps into this category.
The last tweak I made was to fold the “Mapping/GPS” category into “Travel,” as these two categories overlap quite a bit.
One last item to call out … over the last three years, Evernote is consistently one of the highest vote-getters. Last year, it received 19 mentions. This year, it only received six. But given the fact that it has been around for eight years, it has impressive staying power.
Personal Productivity Apps
- Concur – a repeat from last year’s list, but this expense-reporting tool got several mentions this year as a favorite. Ironically, the kudos for this app was on the expense-tracking side versus travel booking which is one of the main features of the online service.
- Expensify – it’s hard to argue with an app that describes itself as “expense reports that don’t suck.” This app provides easy scanning of receipts and categorizing of trips with a clean and intuitive UI.
- Evernote – not new, but this note-taking/collaboration app continues to be a fan favorite. Note: There is now a premium version of this service as well.
Enterprise Productivity/Internal Collaboration Apps
- Jira – definitely more geared toward geeks versus marketers, this issue and software tracking tool is becoming more and more prevalent as everything becomes digital and mobile.
- Asana – an “email-less” project management tool similar to Basecamp. Having the ability to access tools like this is becoming increasingly important.
- Confluence – another collaboration software tool — also by Atlassian. (Jira is also owned by Atlassian.)
- Trello – self-described as the “free, flexible, and visual way to organize anything with anyone.”
- Slack – team communication platform that is searchable and can be segmented by hashtags. It is a powerful tool once you understand how to use it, but the UI isn’t completely intuitive.
- Uber – continues to be the go-to travelers’ best friend, but additional “crowd” services like Lyft and Sidecar are starting to eat into its market share after the “foot-in-mouth” PR debacle by Uber’s CEO last year. All three services are geo-aware, thus enabling one to summon a car near one’s location.
- Car2Go – this company makes renting a car for two hours or two days easy, all through the mobile app. Pickup and drop-off points are all over San Diego, Austin, Portland, Ore., and other cities where the service is available.
- Localeur – want to experience a new city like a local? Similar to Foursquare and Yelp, this app uses crowd-sourced suggestions by locals to serve as a virtual tour guide.
- MobileDay – for those who find themselves on a steady stream of conference calls on their mobile phone, this app makes one-click dialing a snap.
- GoToMeeting – this made last year’s list as well. The updated version is not only good, fast and reliable, but also makes one-click dialing that much simpler for those always on the go.
- Google Maps – this app continues to get smarter thanks to Google’s 2013 acquisition of Waze. Similar to INRIX (disclosure: INRIX is a WCG client), these apps are now using drivers as sensors to detect accidents and other slowdowns in real time.
Mobile Payments/Wallet Apps
- Apple Pay – this app/service has added the ease of paying with one’s phone thanks to the NFC chip in all iPhone 6 and 6 Pluses. Add the biometric login from a security feature, and you have a winning combination. The fact that Apple partnered with Visa, MasterCard and Amex right out of the chute was also brilliant. You can read more about this killer app here.
Contact Management/Business Social Networks Apps
- LinkedIn – this might seem to be another surprise since the site itself has been around for nearly 10 years. However, the mobile app, which in the past was described by some as horrible, has been majorly upgraded in the last 12 to 18 months and is now fast and much more useful.
- HBO Go – while this may seem like a stretch as a “business” app, for the frequent traveler, having access in one’s hotel room to favorite movies and shows is a nice perk.
- Chromecast – more than just an entertainment streaming app, this tool also allows for wireless screen-casting from laptops and tablets to any television or display monitor with an HDMI port (physical Chromecast device also required).
- Snapseed – while this could easily be under a “photo editing” category, it’s one of two suggested apps that allow for quick and easy photo editing for brands that are regular posters to Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.
- Wordswag – also for the heavy business Instagram users, this easy tool allows for on-the-fly creation of word art and type over images.
It is worth noting that while I got fewer recommendations this year, the ones I did receive overlapped more than in past years. Also worth noting is that mentions of many of the social media management tools dropped off save for some image/video editing recommendations.