Apps Generating Buzz

Young man being productive

We’ve talked about productivity tools for your business but you have another 8 to 16 hours of your day where you could also be more efficient. These tools and apps might give you more work-life balance, more to talk about when you are networking for business, and more time to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Socializing
• Evite
This is a quick way to invite friends and acquaintances to informal gatherings (and those who only respond once they know who else is going to be there can see your guest list).
• Meet-up
Try this to facilitate networking in any one geographical location.
• Social media platforms of your choice
You don’t have to be active everywhere—choose what appeals to you and your close friends and/or those you like spending time with and hang out there.

Good food, fast
• Food delivery services
If you are fortunate enough to live in one of their almost two dozen metropolitan test markets, Amazon Restaurants will deliver food to PRIME members from any one of hundreds of area restaurants.
• Grocery shopping and delivery services
Depending on your zip code and the participating grocery stores in your area, you may have options like Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry, ClickList, InstaCart, and PeaPod.
• Take-out food apps
Speed up ordering and checkout at your favorite places by using their app. Unfortunately, even with an app, Starbucks delivery is currently only available to tenants of the Empire State building in NYC.

Fitness tracking
• Apple watch
• Fitbit watches and activity trackers
• Garmin activity trackers
A daily commitment to fitness activities—like walking 10,000 steps per day—can make you happier, healthier, more creative, better able to sleep at night, and more focused at work.

Personal growth
• Amazon PRIME
Membership includes access to free audio and e-books, podcasts, A PRIME membership entitles you to free books,
• Audible
Listen to books on tape and learn.
• Duolingo
Learn one (or more) foreign languages.
• GoodReads
Explore the world through books.
• Library card
Take advantage of all your public library has to offer. The Chester County Library System here in southeastern Pennsylvania includes an outstanding business center at their Exton location/the District Center.

Personal money management
• Mint
• Quicken
Both of these are designed for ease of keeping track of personal finances.

Travel
• Airbnb and Booking
Use these for booking place to stay.
• Airline apps and App in the Air
These can provide real-time flight updates, gate info, and more.
• Hotel apps
Some guarantee the best price; others offer upgrades or special perks.
• Kayak and Wego
Do your comparison shopping with a reliable app.
• Lonely Planet guides
Go with those who have been there and then wrote about it.
• PA Turnpike’s Preferred Traveler’s tools
Get text alerts about travel problems—for instance, you’ll want to know there is no gas available at the New Stanton service plaza while you still have other options.
• Translation tool
You choose depending on the language you need. Google Translate is an option if you have Internet access.
• Travel+Leisure app
The magazine now has an app and lists of favorites for all sorts of things to make your travels easier or more fun.
• XE Currency
Use this for calculating exchange rates.

Now that you have made your personal life more productive, make your business marketing do more for you, too. Call Tate Design at 610.725.0702 or e-mail info@tatedesign.net for strategic marketing, web development, and graphic design.

Business productivity on desktop

Increase your productivity. Choose to use the right tool for the job and you will save yourself time and energy and, quite possibly, a good bit of frustration, too. Here are some top picks for your business.

Hold better meetings
Apple, Fitbit, Garmin, and Nokia fitness trackers allow you to walk while you take a meeting—either walking with other meeting participants or while on a Bluetooth device and your phone
Interactive-calendar (choose your favorite for your device) allows you to manage your time and your priority tasks and see when others are free for meetings
FaceTime, GoToMeeting, and Skype For Business eliminate the need to gather in the same room to conduct business, saving time and resources

Learn
LinkedIn Learning may appear in your inbox as a free trial for a week, otherwise it is a monthly subscription
TED gives you access to a variety of educational speakers and their TED Talks
YouTube hosts how-to videos, tutorials by professionals, cautionary tales by amateurs, and a little bit of everything else in between those two positions,

Remember
Dragon converts your verbal notes to text
Evernote, as we previously wrote about in “Remember Everything With The Evernote App,” is the cloud version of those scraps of paper and sticky notes you have cluttering your desk
Notes comes pre-installed on Apple devices and can be used for quick lists

Run a professional office
Apple Pay, PayPal, and the Square makes getting paid easier
ColdTurkey, Focus, and SelfControl (depending on your operating system) limit access to distractions while user focus is on what is important or high priority
Office apps from Apple and Microsoft produce documents, e-mail, images, spreadsheets, and more—learn to use the features that will save you the most time like document styles, short-cut keys, rules for e-mail folders, meeting scheduling, macros for spreadsheets, etc.
Track
Accounting software from Freshbooks and Quickbooks allows you to track accounts payable and accounts receivable without having to outsource the work
Evernote, Expensify, and TinyScannerPro—all scan and capture receipts for you; Expensify works with Quickbooks
MileIQ tracks your mileage (and when you sign up through my MileIQ link for a free account, you’ll get 40 free drives every month plus, if you ever upgrade your account, you will automatically get 20% off your annual MileIQ subscription and I’ll be paid a small reward)

The list of apps and tools continues to grow. You can still be productive without having to try them all out. Let Tate Design handle your strategic marketing, web development, and graphic design. E-mail Tate Design at info@tatedesign.net or give us a call at 610.725.0702.

top rating for apps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With so many mobile apps for business professionals to choose from, it’s easy to get confused by the plethora of possibilities. We’re making it easy for you by placing top choices in the categories that most affect your business life.

Be Productive

Apple and Microsoft still provide top-notch office apps for getting work done, as mentioned in our earlier post “Forget the Pen! The Palm is Now Mightier than the Sword Thanks to These New iOS Business Apps.”

The Dragon dictation software app allows you to speak your thoughts into words, making agenda building, content creation, and action planning so much quicker and note taking on the go so much easier.

Evernote  continues to be a favorite note-taking app. Users like being able to capture ideas, images, links, and notes of all kinds in one easy-to-access-from-anywhere location.

Toggl lets you track exactly where all your time goes. This is especially helpful when determining billable hours and creating estimates. However, there are so many time tracking apps out there that you need to find the ONE that will be best for you.

Connect

LinkedIn continues to offer corporate insights, provide essential job search tools, and connect professionals in a way that is more business-like than other social media sites.

FaceTime and Skype give you the ability to quickly share long distance one-on-one time, perfect for answering quick questions where visuals are a plus. GoToMeeting and Skype for Business allow meeting participants from around the world to gather virtually in one place.

Go With Fewer Glitches

Device-specific GPS systems, Waze (for real-time traffic reports by users), and Google Maps, mentioned in our post “There’s an App for That! Favorite Mobile Business Apps For 2015,”  continue to be invaluable for getting users to appointments on time.

Gas Buddy will help you find the best gas price near you.

Manage Data

HootSuite allows for easier management of social media posts and analytics.

Manage Money

Expensify allows you to photograph receipts to report and track expenses. This app also tracks mileage and time, reconciles credit cards, and integrates with QuickBooks.

Mint earned high marks for budgeting and bill-paying functionality. FreshBooks and QuickBooks allow you to keep your own accounts without needing advanced bookkeeping knowledge.

Apple Pay and PayPal allow you to make secure payments. Square and PayPal Here are the better-known credit card reader options.

Have a mobile app you and your business can’t live without? Tell us about it in the Comments section or in an e-mail to Tate Design at info@tatedesign.net.

business drivingWhen it is time to do your taxes, you can deduct mileage as an expense IF you have kept the appropriate records. Put the GPS tracking on your smartphone or tablet to good use with one of these apps designed to automatically track your mileage (just be aware that continuous use of the GPS-tracking function will drain your device’s battery power).

MileIQ for Android and iOS
• Automatically captures your starts and stops with your GPS-tracking-enabled device
• Remembers your drives
• Lets you categorize trips as business (swipe right on your device), personal (swipe left), or create a custom category
• Keeps a tally of how much you’ve racked up in business-related mileage expenses
• Allows for personalization by location, preference, vehicle, etc.
• Works with Freshbooks and Concur for generating reports
• Guarantees that “your drive history is secure and available when you need it,” that your data is “never sold or shared,” and that all versions of MileIQ are free of ads
• Free and paid plans

When you sign up through my MileIQ link for a free account, you’ll get 40 free drives every month. If you ever upgrade your account, you will automatically get 20% off your annual MileIQ subscription and I’ll be paid a small reward.

TripLog for Android and iOS
• Auto starts when your car moves at 5 or more miles per hour, your phone is connected to a car charger, your Bluetooth makes a connection, or it is during a pre-set time period
• Offers manual and GPS logging to track mileage and record locations
• Lets you categorize trips as business, charity, medical, or personal
• Tracks travel-related expenses like gas purchases, oil changes, and parking fees
• Calculates miles per gallon for your vehicle
• Uses cloud storage for photos of your receipts so this information can be accessed anywhere
• Provides reports in HTML and spreadsheet formats
• Free and paid plans for personal use or business

Mileage Expense Log exclusively for iOS
• Automatically tracks mileage when your iPad, iPhone, or Apple Watch has GPS enabled (Pro version only)
• Sorts information by date, purpose, and/or vehicle
• Provides a very basic user interface
• Lets you keep track of travel-related expenses like tolls
• Allows you to store your data in the iCloud or in Dropbox
• Provides data/reports as CVS spreadsheets and as HTML files
• Free and paid (without ads) version

Here at Tate Design, we take privacy issues very seriously so the MileIQ guarantee—in addition to the app’s many easy-to-use features—makes this our top pick. Sign up for your free MileIQ account and start logging those miles for your expense report.

Contact Tate Design at 610.725.0702 or e-mail info@tatedesign.net for assistance in addressing privacy issues on your Web site or creating compelling copy like a guarantee that will attract your ideal customers.

Couple Lying In Bed Using Digital Tablet And Mobile Phone

Good news for Apple users: you can now enjoy all the benefits of the blue light blocking f.lux app (justgetflux.com) on an iOS. Apple calls their version Night Shift but the basic principles are the same.

F dot lux dashboard imageF.lux takes your geolocation—based on the address you enter or your longitude and latitude—and then calculates your sunrise and sunset.

Using your device’s clock, this app then simulates daylight and artificial light at the appropriate times. During daytime hours, it makes sure your Windows-powered computer monitor or Android device is as bright as natural light. At night, it dims your screen to mimic the kind of artificial lighting you use—incandescent, halogen, or fluorescent lighting. With F.lux, you can choose to transition quickly or slowly from day/night, and you also have the option to block the app for an hour if you are working with color-sensitive material like photos or videos. With Night Shift, you may choose automatic or manual switching from day/night and back again.

Why are these apps generating buzz? Computer monitors, e-readers, smartphones, and energy-efficient lights all give off blue light. These apps decrease this blue light, providing increased health benefits to users in the process.

According to research funded and published by the National Institute of Health
• The human circadian system adapts to prior patterns of light exposure
If you often spend time on your computer or mobile phone right before bed, your body will remember this brightness as “daylight.” The use of a blue-blocking app will help your body get back into a more natural rhythm of wakefulness and sleep.
• Light exposure affects not only the human circadian system but also the production of melatonin
By decreasing exposure to the blue light—either with an app or by turning off bright lights, e-readers, iOS devices, monitors, smartphones, and TVs—you give your body the signal that it is night, time to produce the melatonin that will help you sleep.
• Chronic sleep loss affects human performance
By turning off devices well before bedtime and using f.lux or Night Shift, your performance improves along with your sleep.

Be aware, however, that using a blue light blocking app to stimulate melatonin production and regulate sleep has limitations. What you choose to do on your glow-in-the-dark device right before bedtime plays a significant role in your ability to fall asleep.

Prevent insomnia by delegating your brand development, copy development, graphic design, Internet marketing, social media marketing, strategic marketing campaigns, trade shows and events, and Web design and development to Tate Design. Call 610.725.0702 or e-mail info@tatedesign.net.

use an app to remember

The Evernote app has been helping people record and remember everything since 2008. We wrote about Evernote in One in a Million…Apps for Business and again in There’s an App for That! Favorite Mobile Business Apps for 2015.

Their success may be attributed to several factors:

  • Evernote is not just a mobile app. It works on a wide variety of devices—including both mobile phones and desktop computers (for those without smartphones)—and with platforms including Android, Apple iOS, and Windows.
  • The Evernote Stacks, Notebooks, Notes, and Tags you store can be accessed on numerous devices by multiple people of your choosing from anywhere that has an Internet connection, thanks to Evernote’s cloud storage.
  • They offer free/Basic, Plus, Premium, and Business versions. The Basic version is very functional but there are limits on Note size and on the number of uploads allowed, and you can’t save e-mails to Evernote in this version.
  • Evernote won an Apple Design Award.
  • They search out interesting apps that integrate with their product to make the user experience even better. Small businesses will benefit from their Business, Productivity, and Paperless collections of apps. Education and Lifestyle collections are also available.

It’s easy to get started. Sign up for a free account with a username OR e-mail address and a password. Take the Evernote tutorial or begin recording notes immediately.

To record a Note, you can

  • Type
  • Handwrite a note with an Evernote-friendly handwriting app
  • Record an audio note or voice note
  • Speak a note using voice-to-text software or let Evernote transcribe it
  • Use your WebCam to record a note
  • Use the Evernote Web Clipper (where available)
    The Web Clipper lets you
    – select the Web content you want to save
    – specify where you want to save it
    – tag it so it is easy to find later
    – save it from the Web page you are on to your account

A Note is a single record but it can contain more than one kind of information. For example, you may want to capture a blog headline and its corresponding URL. Add images as visual cues to the content. If the blog post contains very little text, you can also add audio notes or attach a document or PDF file.

Once you have created a Note, you can store it in a Notebook with a theme of your choice. This will make it easier to find information at a later date. Some people choose to file Notes chronologically. Others choose labels that correspond to project names, clients, content themes or titles, and locations. The choice is yours.

As you become more and more comfortable with Evernote, you will find more uses for this app and your Notes and Notebooks collection will grow. You can then create Stacks to further categorize and subdivide your material. An individual may have Personal and Professional Stacks. A small business may have Stacks for each project, each client, or each department. Evernote’s Help & Learning and Tips & Tutorials tell you how to do this and more.

Other Evernote features we think you’ll like:

  • Evernote’s Optical Character Recognition recognizes text that appears in photos as well as text in documents, on receipts, in PDF files, and in subtitles. This makes it easier than ever to find text.
  • The voice notes you create are searchable.
  • You can search based on WHERE you created a Note.
  • If your Note is time-sensitive—like an appointment—Evernote can send you a reminder.

Sign up for an Evernote account and start remembering everything.

dollar-499481_1920   finger-1002577_1920

It is estimated that there are millions of apps currently available for mobile devices. In the hustle and bustle of the business world, how do you find that one-in-a-million app that saves you time or makes you money? What is true for your business is true for your business apps. You succeed in business when you solve a problem that troubles your customers enough to have them willing to pay you to solve it. Similarly, an app wins you over when it solves your high priority problems.

In the current mobile app melee, these top 10 business-related solutions have won high marks for usefulness.  We had reviewed Evernote in prior posts. Evernote allows you to take notes, create checklists and harmonize across devices. Once you have gathered relevant content for your business and added your spin on it, how will you ensure it is sent to your target audience?

Hootsuite simplifies management of social media messages and provides analytics to track effectiveness of campaigns. Buffer also posts to all of your social networks. The advantage is that you can add content easily, and either post the same message to all accounts or adapt the content for each social media account. Both Hootsuite and Buffer can expand your marketing reach and let you use your time efficiently.

CamScanner and Sign-n-Send provide document management services in unique ways. CamScanner turns your mobile device into a scanner. You can take a photo of a document and the app converts it into a digital file that can be searched or emailed. Sign-n-Send allows you to modify and sign document using your finger on the mobile device screen, and then allows you to send them to desktop programs.

With all that data you are collecting, do you need storage space? Dropbox provides storage for photos, documents and videos and makes them accessible on all devices. How would you like to have easy access to information, even when you are in airplay mode? Pocket lets you save interesting articles, videos and webpage text and lets them be viewed on any device, even offline. These two apps essentially allow you to bring your office with you when you are on the go.

Wish you could bring an office assistant with you on the road? EasilyDo can update you on all the information that is important in your life and organize your business priorities. It keeps track and can alert you about birthdays, events and tasks. LinkedIn Connected keeps you informed on news related to your business network. (April 2017 update–LinkedIn Connected is no longer supported because this functionality is now built into the LinkedIn app.) You can enhance your business relationships by knowing what is important to your contacts, and this enables you to reach out in a timely and efficient manner.

Do you need to catch up with your contacts while you are traveling? Add WingUp to show you which of your key contacts is in your area whether you are at the home office or abroad. If you regularly attend conferences and events, you can quickly see who you may know that is also present, and connect with them at the event. It can be an essential aid to hosting business meetings on the fly.

As a business professional it is important to remember that time is finite, and therefore it is the only true luxury. Acquiring and using mobile apps need to give you a time advantage for your business. There are plenty of apps being launched every day. The app that rises up as a one-in-million will be the one that makes time management a priority, and ultimately brings prosperity to your business.

  telephone-586268_1280  sword-370325_1280

Today’s business professional is always on the go. With meetings in airports, on trains or in lobbies of hotels, it’s important to have time management tools, literally, at your fingertips. Some recent apps available for the iOS devices can be a dependable, virtual assistant for your mobile lifestyle. Which ones make the most sense for your business needs?

Office Mobile apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint and Apple’s own iWork suite have versions that work on mobile devices. The latest versions include formatting and editing features that help you get prepared for business meetings on the go. Once you have your content ready, you can use the Outlook email app to jet it off to team members or clients or host a conference using the GotoMeeting app (reviewed in a previous post).

Some of the best ideas in business come from networking. How do you keep all the facts straight and remember who said what to whom? Start with Evernote (reviewed in a previous post) to jot done those million dollar ideas and add a photo of the prize-winning design from your cocktail napkin, which will now be safely backed up and stored on the cloud using OneDrive. Take those handshakes one step further by using CamCard to keep all those business cards organized in your address book automatically using text-recognition software.

Ready to a make deal? Get paid faster and more conveniently by using your mobile device and Square Register to take credit card orders right from your phone. Tallying up all those receipts and orders can make for quite an accounting headache. Not when you use the Freshbooks accounting app, which can record business expenses, assess profits and even track hours you spend on projects for generating invoices.

So if your business is comprised of road-warriors, these new iOS apps can certainly prove that the palm is mightier than the sword in today’s mobile business world. Man your smartphones and tablets and get ready to conquer the world.

We once thought that automation and technology would make us exceptionally efficient. What has been your experience with all this new software and apps? For many busy people, the explosion of mobile apps to automate our lives can also be daunting. How can you sort the effective from the distractive apps? We certainly recommend turning to the experts who follow the trends to show us the benefits and staying power that certain apps provide.

mobile-phone-426559_1280   app-68002_1280

How do trend trackers decide which apps work best for busy professionals? They categorize the apps based on the problem they solve. Those categories tend to be similar among people in various types of business. We all tend to travel to unfamiliar areas, keep notes, find colleagues, manage expenses and simplify how we meet and seek entertainment.

The expert’s 2015 list of top mobile business apps include:

  • Traveling/car service – Uber
  • Mapping/GPS – Google Maps/ Waze
  • Taking notes – Evernote
  • Finding colleagues – LinkedIn
  • Managing expenses – Expensify
  • Meeting online – GotoMeeting
  • Enjoying entertainment – HBO Go

Several on the list have won the category multiple years, so continue to be useful to a majority of business professionals. In each case, personal choice will certainly come into the final decision.

Start by thinking about your business needs in problem-solving categories that will help you to whittle down the lists to the most relevant resources. Next you can narrow your choices to the top three for each category to assess in further detail. Personal choice and preferences then will help you find the one that best meets your current needs.

The actions you take to make these choices should remind you of how you make a major purchase, like a car. While apps may not be costly compared to buying a car, choosing the wrong one will cost you something far more precious – time. Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice contradicts the conventional wisdom that greater choice is for the greater good. He argues that infinite choice is paralyzing and exhausting to the human psyche. His tips will help you chose wisely and quickly too.

The goal in choosing and using mobile apps should always be to make your life more effective and efficient. There will be tasks that must be done in business, but may not be enjoyable or easy for you. Those are the ones that should be tackled first with an app that ultimately improves on your limitations of time and enthusiasm. We already know out there, somewhere – there’s an app for that!

Web

 

Photo: Waze Press Resources

If you positively have to be somewhere on time or spend a great deal of time driving from place to place, you should consider adding the Waze app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch or Android devices. The app incorporates the collective knowledge of user community to inform you about traffic, detours, accidents and even potholes in real time.

The Waze community is nearly 40 million strong. Their claim is that you can join forces with other drivers nearby to outsmart traffic, save time and gas money, and improve everyone’s daily commute. The goal is to always find the best way to get you to your destination as easily and quickly as possible. If you drive with Waze app open, the GPS-based navigation on your device allows for real-time traffic data to be collected and alerts to be sent about what’s happening along your route.

You can also take an active part by reporting accidents, hazards and other events you see on the road. Another nice feature for those who want to save money is information about the cheapest gas prices along your route.

Waze was bought by Google in 2013 and can be downloaded for Free. There is a new version available as of April 2015, the Waze version 3.9.4. Several improvements were added such as faster and smoother navigation, quicker route selection, support for U-turns and improved re-routing. You now can get a confirmation when sending your ETA and receive an instant response “Got it, thanks.” The Waze “Let’s go via” voice instruction helps tell you the route you are taking and the new traffic bar shows how long you will be in a jam and tracks your progress as you go.


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