Top 10 Android apps for start-ups
This week’s Apple Developers Conference in San Francisco saw the tech giant ratchet up its battle with Google, unveiling its own mapping service and a beefed-up voice-activated service.
Apple also boasted that it had burst through the 30 billion app download milestone, with users choosing from more than 650,000 apps in its App Store – the largest range of any provider.
Not that Google is taking any of this lying down. Its open-source Android app platform is surging past Apple in our region and it this week unveiled further sweeteners for developers to use the technology.
So what does this mean for Australian start-ups? Well, it means that entrepreneurs have an increasing array of apps to choose from as the two tech behemoths slug it out.
Not so long ago, we outlined the 10 best iPad2 apps for start-ups.
Below, we pick out Android’s best offerings for business owners and operators.
Mind-mapping software may sound like something that should belong in the realm of films such as Inception but, in the real world, they can prove a handy tool for innovators.
Essentially, these apps help organise your thoughts, help you brainstorm ideas and keep track of your projects and meetings.
One of the best mind maps around is MindJet, which was developed by Charlie Chilton as Thinking Space before being acquired and rebranded last year.
The app may look like a series of doodles on screen, but there is method to the madness – it helps start-ups thrash out ideas, analyses risks and even challenges you to think through your proposition in a better way.
2. Task List
Every busy entrepreneur needs a task manager and Task List is the best it will get on the Android platform.
Granted, the app isn’t visually stunning, but that’s not why you need it. You need an app like this to create to-do lists and assign priority levels to them with icons that jump out at you when something is overdue.
The app has speech to text functionality and a handy list of FAQ for the beginner. Plus, it costs next to nothing or, indeed, nothing if you don’t mind putting up with the ads.
Price: 99 cents for an ad-free version
The celebrated payment app, created by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, has been around for two years now, attracting copious press coverage and even investment from Sir Richard Branson.
But it only made the expansion from Apple to Android in March this year, hand-in-hand with a revamp that aims to make it easier for shoppers to find local businesses.
Using ‘geofencing’, Square senses when you’re close to an enabled retailer, allowing you to complete the transaction in-store with your card-backed app.
Retailers can accept payments on their mobiles via a card reader that attaches to the top of the phone. Your business is charged 2.75% per swipe for Visa, American Express, MasterCard and Discover cards.
With the continued growth in mobile payments, this is one app you should consider embracing both as a business and a purchaser.
Box allows you to view documents from anywhere, share them with others and allows for collaboration on works in progress.
Yes, this is pretty much what Dropbox, probably the most celebrated document sharing app around, does. And very good it is for businesses too.
But if you are looking for a step up in functionality and don’t mind a slightly more complex user experience, then Box could well be the app for you.
It allows you to create, access and share all kinds of content, including videos, images and files. It has a built-in search and a widget that allows you to view the comments made on files by colleagues.
Box’s developer boasts 10 million users of the app worldwide, including the rather bold claim that 82% of the US’ Fortune 500 companies use it. True or not, you can see why the top end of town would be impressed by this free resource.
5. Droid Scan Pro
If you need to create professional-looking PDFs on the run, Droid Scan Pro could be the app for you.
The app turns your mobile or tablet into a portable document scanner, turning images you’ve taken with your camera into PDFs.
If your camera work isn’t the best you can still alter the captured images by adjusting the contrast and colour. The app is integrated with Google tools, allowing you to quickly send off the PDFs you create.
6. Expense Manager
Handling the day-to-day finance of a small business can be an onerous task, especially for sole traders and start-ups without a dedicated accountant.
If you’re worried about your business leaking cash, get Expense Manager on the case. It can track incoming and outgoing money by the week, month and year, via a clean, simple interface.
You can schedule payments, take pictures of receipts, create budgets and work out exchange rates. It covers the basics well and packs a decent productivity punch.
If you need to send out invoices while on the move, you should give Invoice2go a try. The free version allows you to complete three invoices at a time, with the limit removed with the paid version.
The app provides 20 different invoice templates to choose from, with total, currency exchange and taxes calculated for you.
You can add a PayPal button for prompt payment and preview the invoices as PDFs before sending them via email. A tablet version is in the pipeline.
8. Google Goggles
Inspiration strikes entrepreneurs in the most unusual of places. If you’re taking a stroll around your local area and spot a sign or picture that sparks a business idea, you could be on to a winner.
But these visual cues mean nothing without context. Google Goggles allows you to search the real world by taking a picture of it and then utilising the app.
Once you’ve taken a picture, Goggles uses its image recognition technology to recognise objects and return search results for them.
As well as recognising pictures, logos and so on, the app can translate foreign language text, scan barcodes and QR codes and even solve Sudoku puzzles.
9. Talk to Me
If you are grappling with a language barrier when dealing with your suppliers in China or a client in Europe, technology can give you a hand.
Talk to Me allows users to talk into the microphone with an instant translation to English made by the app.
A total of 15 languages are recognised by the app, with translations sent by SMS or email. It doesn’t negate the need for you to learn a few handy phrases before meetings, but it should help you out if you’re stuck on a particular point.
Android apps are rather useless if you don’t have your phone or tablet due to theft or simply the fact you’ve lost it.
AntiDroidTheft uses your device’s in-built tracking ability to locate it via the web. The app will email you if someone has changed the phone’s number, allowing you to call the unscrupulous thief to give them a piece of your mind.
It even has a “spy camera” feature that shows you pictures taken by the phone. Hopefully, the thief will be daft enough to take a picture of their home address.