These iPhone applications help extend your business desktop to the phone. Some sync contacts, calendars, and documents; others provide direct access to your PC or Mac; and a few conquer notes and memos with speech-to-text or handwriting recognition. All are native, except for iGoogle and Google Apps, which are tuned to the mobile Safari browser.
Google's been a staple on the iPhone, but now there's more to the experience than integrated search and maps. iGoogle for the iPhone lets you select personalized modules (such as news) to be optimized for the smartphone. iPhone versions of Google Apps help you view and respond to e-mail, update your calendar, and edit documents. Moreover, the main Apps screen has custom tabs for fast access to your three most-used Google mobile products.
Bloomberg is a trusted source of financial data -- information that's now available on the iPhone and iPod touch through this free application. Naturally, you can create customized lists of stocks that you follow. Going beyond Apple's stock application (which is powered by Yahoo), Bloomberg offers news, company descriptions, market leaders, price charts, and market trend analysis.
Sharpcast's SugarSync for iPhone provides remote access to your PC or Mac. Sign up for the service (US$49.99 per year for 30GB of storage) and install the free iPhone app. On your PC or Mac, select the folders to automatically sync with your iPhone or iPod Touch. The instant you make a change on your computer, it's reflected on the iPhone. Moreover, with a couple of clicks, you can share files or photos -- even those too large for e-mail -- with anyone.
Vlingo lets you dial contacts, search the Web (through Yahoo or Google), and look up phone numbers and maps. Significantly, you don't have to memorize commands; the software translates your voice, word for word. Another well-executed feature of this free speech-to-text application is that you can send status updates for Facebook and Twitter.
The free Evernote application lets you capture text notes, snap photos, and record voice memos on your iPhone or iPod Touch -- then automatically synchronize them to your desktop (the free Web account gives you 40MB of storage a month). Additionally, Evernote has fantastic image recognition. Take a snapshot of, say, a whiteboard or business card, and Evernote renders text searchable within the photos. Also, you can filter files by tags, date, location, and other criteria.
Griffin Technology's no-cost iTalk Recorder and the ad-free premium application ($4.99) are serious sound recording software. iTalk Recorder lets you choose quality levels, provides a one-button recording interface, and makes it easy to add on to existing recordings. With the free, companion iTalk Sync program, you can drag recordings as high-quality AIFF files to your computer over a Wi-Fi connection.
Jott for iPhone
This free application from Jott Networks turns your voice into notes. Record for up to 15 seconds; the software then transcribes this speech into text and places the results on your list. After you complete a task, just swipe your finger to cross it off your to-do list. Further, all your lists are saved to Jott.com, where you can access and manage them from your computer.
Sure, the iPhone's on-screen keyboard can be mastered. But ShapeWriter's free WritingPad text input technology offers a different take on a soft keyboard. Instead of typing, you trace word shapes with your finger. In practice, this application is more efficient than handwriting recognition.
The iXpenseIt Lite (free, limited to 10 expense categories) and iXpenseIt ($4.99) applications are great for tracking personal expenses against a budget. But for business people, especially travelers, these programs can be a real godsend. You can customize the expense type, generate all sorts of reports, search for expenses by various criteria, enter expenses in various currencies, and even export individual records with a photo receipt attachment.
PocketMac for iPhone
This $29.95 stand-alone application lets you sync contacts and calendars from Microsoft Entourage, Lotus Notes, and Meeting Maker with your iPhone. Plus, PocketMac's software backs up text messages and phone call records, then saves them to your Mac. This is essentially the same software that BlackBerry licenses and provides for free to its users, but few data sync packages work as seamlessly for iPhone fans.
WinAdmin ($11.99) lets you remotely access and manage Windows computers from your iPhone. You scroll around the Windows desktop by dragging on the screen, and zoom in and out using pinching and stretching gestures. You may save connection information for each server, which simplifies login. But the current version lacks some functions; notably, it doesn't recognize Ctrl-Alt-Del keystrokes.
Mocha VNC Lite (free) and Mocha VNC ($5.99) permit you to connect to a Windows or Mac OS X computer and see resources as if you were sitting at your desktop. The full version provides a Ctrl-Alt-Del key, supports right-clicks, includes macros, and handles 20 different host configurations.
This story, "Best IPhone Apps: Office and Personal Productivity" was originally published by InfoWorld.