10 Killer iPhone Apps for Business Collaboration
Creating and editing files
Of course, you don't want to be a passive observer as the rest of your team creates and modifies files -- you want to do work, not watch others work. These elegant apps will help you leave the sidelines and get into the action.
Mind-mapping is a powerful brainstorming tool with which you free-associate ideas in an unstructured way, clump related concepts together and note relationships as they emerge. iThoughts ($7.99) from CMS is an intuitive mind-mapping app that leverages Box.net and Dropbox to allow you and your team members to share mind maps and build off one another's ideas.
Mind maps can be exported and imported in iThoughts' native format, or for team members who don't have iPhones, in any file format used by the most popular mind-mapping applications: Freemind, Novamind, MindManager, XMind, iMindMap or Mindview. Or you can share finished mind maps as PDFs, images or OPML files, which many other apps can import.
One of the most interesting features is iThoughts' built-in file server, which can be accessed over a Wi-Fi network from a computer's browser, allowing you to download and upload files to and from the iPhone directly -- perhaps a quicker way to share a mind map than having a dozen team members go to Box.net or their shared Dropbox folders. Mind maps can also be e-mailed as attachments.
For serious work, you need a serious office suite. Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite lets you view, edit and format word processing documents and spreadsheets and view presentations (editing is coming, according to the publishers) -- just about all the capabilities you can handle on the iPhone's small screen.
What makes it a great collaboration tool is its integration with Dropbox, Box.net and MobileMe, Apple's paid file storage and syncing service, as well as with the Google Docs online office suite. Files can be opened from and saved back to any of these services, all of which let you selectively share documents with others. This makes it easy to review others' work and make your own additions and edits.
Quickoffice also offers a work-around for e-mail attachments: Opening an attachment in the iPhone's Mail app will only open it in the default viewer. But if you forward the e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org, Quickoffice will add them under the "E-Mail attachments" menu in Quickoffice. Then you can open and edit them in Quickoffice. Like iThoughts, Quickoffice can also be accessed over Wi-Fi using its built-in server; the IP address is listed at the bottom of the app's main page.
Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite is $9.99; there's also a free version called Quickoffice Connect, but it can't save files.
Soonr takes a slightly different approach to collaboration. The service integrates document sharing, reviewing and publishing into a backup application. To use Soonr, you install a Mac or Windows desktop client that automatically backs up designated folders whenever a file is changed.
Once your files are saved to Soonr's cloud, you can log in via any Web browser and view, e-mail, fax, comment on or restore files. You can also create projects and add files to them so that they are shared with other members on the project, who can re-upload the file after editing it -- Soonr keeps a full revision history.
With the iPhone app, Soonr users have access to most of the same functions aside from editing documents -- files can be viewed, commented on, e-mailed, even printed via any computer running the Soonr application. The Soonr app is free; the service starts at $7.95 a month for three users and 10GB of storage (a free account offers 2GB storage and one user, without revision tracking).
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