Specialty Android Apps for Business Users
File management and printing Unlike iOS, Android makes it possible to use your smartphone as a hard drive and freely browse its file system. You can always connect your smartphone to your PC via a USB cable to do this from your desktop, but for mobile-based file management, you'll need an app like Metago's $4 Astro Pro. Astro Pro lets you navigate through your smartphone's internal and external storage, moving, copying, and sharing files with a couple of quick taps. (There's also a free, ad-supported version.)
Google's free Google Cloud Print tool lets you connect your office printer to the cloud using your networked PC as a waystation, then wirelessly print emails and documents straight from your smartphone. Cloud Print works only with Windows-based PCs, though Google says Mac and Linux support will become available.
Cloud storage and FTP For cloud-based storage and easy PC-to-smartphone (and smartphone-to-PC) file transfers, try Dropbox or Box.net. Both give you a free account for storing your stuff -- Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free, while Box.net provides 5GB -- and both include a simple Android app that lets you access stored files from your smartphone. Each app provides the ability to upload and download files throughout the operating system. You can configure uploaded files to be private or shared with selected users.
Lysesoft's AndFTP is a free app for making FTP connections from your Android smartphone. It provides all the basic FTP functions: uploading, downloading, opening files, renaming files, changing permissions, and so on.
To turn your smartphone itself into a functioning FTP server, install Dave Revell's SwiFTP FTP Server. The free utility assigns you a working URL that can be reached over Wi-Fi from any PC-based FTP client, allowing you to wirelessly access your smartphone's file system to manage and transfer files. But note that Revell, a graduate student, says he can't afford to keep the SwiFTP servers running and is looking for someone to take over both the servers and the app's code.
Prefer a more graphical interface? Check out NextApp's $3 WebSharing File/Media Sync. The program provides you with a URL that, when typed into your PC's browser, brings up a Windows-like visual directory of your smartphone's storage. You can transfer files individually or in bulk, stream music from your smartphone to your computer, and view and play stored photos and videos. There's also a free version that includes only the basic file-transferring functionality.
Remote access Both SoftwareForMe's $10 PhoneMyPC and LogMeIn's $30 LogMeIn Ignition provide full remote access to a PC from your Android smartphone, allowing you to control your computer, run programs, and manipulate files as if you were sitting in front of your monitor.
If you're using Citrix-enabled servers, look for Citrix Systems' free Citrix Receiver application. It lets you sign in to your system from your smartphone and access all of your programs and documents.
Business travel Expensify.com's free Expensify app gives you everything you need to manage expenses while out and about: It offers simple forms for entering expenses, photographing receipts and invoices, and syncing the data to your account at Expensify.com. (Accounts are free for individuals and cost $5 per month per user for companies.)
For even more expense-tracking features, take a peek at ProOnGo's ProOnGo Expense. It can track your mileage using your smartphone's GPS, track time spent with clients, and export all of your data to QuickBooks or to your own custom expense template. ProOnGo charges per user per month, with plans ranging from $27 for 5 users to $290 for 100 users.
Square, created by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, lets you accept credit card payments with your Android smartphone. You'll be sent a special card reader when you sign up for an account. Both the reader and the app are free to use, but Square charges a 2.75 percent fee from each transaction.
Get your travel organized with TripIt. Once you've set up a free account, you just forward all your travel confirmations -- airline plans, hotel bookings, you name it -- to an email address set up for you at tripit.com. The service reads all your plans and translates them into easy-to-follow itineraries, all of which are available within the Android app.
FlightView's $1 FlightView Flight Tracker is a must-have for any frequent flyer. The app gives you real-time status updates on your flights and can even send you alerts when something changes. A widget lets you keep the info right on your home screen, too.
Consistently named one of the best apps for Android, Edward Kim's $4 Car Locator provides a simple way to save your car's location and navigate back to it later.
RideCharge's free Taxi Magic app helps you find a nearby cab, book a ride, and track your cab's location. It works all throughout the United States.
If your travels take you to a foreign land, Google's free Google Translate app could come in incredibly handy. The program provides instant translations between more than 50 languages and offers voice-based input. Capice?
Business miscellany Marc Stogalitis and Mimi Sun's free Gmote lets you use your Android smartphone as a remote control for your PC-based PowerPoint presentations.
For complex business calculations, try Edward Falk's $5 RpnCalc Financial calculator.
Make your smartphone especially intelligent with Probeez's $4 Setting Profiles. The app lets you set custom profiles for your device that can be activated based on your location, the time of day, proximity to events on your calendar, and a slew of other conditions. The profiles can completely control your smartphone's behavior, changing everything from ringer sound and volume to Wi-Fi settings, screen brightness, and even your wallpaper.
Track all of your shipments with Timo Berhmann's free Parcels app. The program supports FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, DHL, and other mailing services. It can track continuously in the background with the option to activate notifications whenever a package's status changes.
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