Exploring apps that can help business operations
Navigating the world of technological applications can be challenging for some. While we all know that these “apps” can assist us in our personal lives and the business world, we often wonder, “Where do I start?”
Today, mobile apps and mobile websites are becoming very popular. This is because the majority of the consumers can now browse the Internet using their smartphones or tablets. These devices offer convenience, accessibility, interactivity, personalization and much more without the need for an Internet connection.
What is an app you ask? A mobile app is a software program you can download and access directly using your phone or other mobile device. Keep in mind mobile devices have different operating systems (OS), and once you have your device (Android, Apple, Blackberry, etc.) you are committed to that OS and the apps that are created for that OS.
Here are several mobile apps for business contacts, transportation and credit card processing. Best of all, they are FREE!
Apps for Contacts
Bump (Apple/Android) — The software shares information (contacts, photos and other files) when you tap your smartphone against another Bump-enabled mobile device. It now works with your computer (you just “bump” the phone in conjunction with the space key). The app works across different mobile phone platforms and it includes the ability to connect your contact information to social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
CardCloud (Apple/Android) — This is actually a clever twist on the business card concept. It is a mobile app that creates “an infinite stack” of digital business cards that you can share wirelessly between iPhones and Android smartphones. You can also email them via the CardCloud service. Another feature that is especially beneficial for those who don’t always remember who’ve they exchanged business cards with before: the software will remind you if you have already “met.”
CamCard (Apple/Android/BlackBerry) – This app takes a photo of the business card and turn it into a digital version. The information is organized for easy access later. The app also allows you to share the information on the card via text message and email. It can also export the details into Excel documents. Creating a CamCard account means you can synchronize your business cards across multiple platforms.
Apps for Credit Card Processing
Square (Apple) – This handy app can be used with or without the proprietary Square dongle (it plugs iPay POS by Apple). One of the most flexible credit card processor apps, iPay POS is a good option for merchants that already have a merchant account.
iPay POS is compatible with dozens of the most widely-used payment gateways. You can also set up a gateway with iPay POS for $7.50 per month. For a small merchant that may not attend many events, iPay POS comes with 10 free transactions and additional sets of 10, each for $.99. Or for a merchant with a larger budget, $29.99 will allow for unlimited transactions. It has limited compatibility with dongles, but it is compatible with the iMag credit card swiper and portable receipt printers like the RedFin P25-M.
Intuit GoPayment (Android/Apple) – This free app allows you to accept credit cards, debit cards and checks. Type in the customer’s credit card info, click “Charge” button and the fees go directly into your bank account. If you run a particularly large shop, you can even add up to 50 employees to a single GoPayment account. It is not compatible with the Mophie dongle reader but it is compatible with the iPhone. You will need to set up an Intuit GoPayment Merchant Service account to use this app. There is 2.7 percent charge on all typed-in credit card information transactions and a 1.7 percent charge when using with the Mophie reader dongle.
Mobile Merchant Pro (Android) – This app provides a very simple, no-frills way to accept all major credit cards. It has limited gateway support, but it is compatible with two of the most popular gateways: Authorize.Net and PayPal Website Payments Pro. Simply type in the customer’s credit card info and click “Charge Now” and that’s it. There are no additional transaction fees from Mobile Merchant Pro, but standard Authorize.Net and PayPal gateway fees apply for each transaction.
MerchantWARE Mobile (Blackberry) – Process credit cards on the BlackBerry Storm, Curve, Pearl and Bold and email your customer a receipt at the end of the transaction. Although the MerchantWARE Mobile app is limited to use to a Merchant Warehouse merchant account (makers of MerchantWARE), there are no additional gateway transaction fees or percentages. There is just the monthly cost of the merchant account, which varies depending on merchant needs. The app is also compatible with MagneSafe BT90 wireless Bluetooth credit card reader.
Apps for Transportation
Taxi Magic (Apple/Blackberry/Android/Palm) – Taxi Magic has the numbers for all taxi services operating in your area preprogrammed for one-click calling. Alternatively, you can book a cab directly through your phone, providing your pickup address and destination with no hold time. Finally, you can track your cab as it wends its way to your address.
UberCab (Apple/SMS) – This app provides a real-time map of private cars (sedans, towncars, etc.) that offer an upscale alternative to taxis. UberCab drivers charge 1.5 times the going cab rate, but you may run less risk of encountering sticky seats and you can pay directly through the app.
Avego Driver (Apple) – For casual commuting or ride sharing, carpooling makes sense both financially and environmentally. But unless you are standing at an official carpool pickup spot, arranging a ride can be tricky. Avego doesn’t have a huge user base yet, but it’s the best attempt to connect the low-tech task of sharing a ride to the high-tech world of mobile apps.
Foursquare (Apple/Blackberry/Android/Palm) – The destination-focused social network continues its rise with an app that does more than let you keep tabs on where your friends are and win badges for completing various travel-related stunts. Foursquare is also a handy to-do list maker, letting you plan what bars and restaurants you want to visit in each city your travels take you to. Be sure to check out the “Specials” feature to see which local businesses/restaurants have a current special going on for some savings!
Kayak Mobile (Apple/Blackberry/Android) – Kayak gives you one-stop shopping for planes, cars, hotels, and more. Kayak is a website for travelers looking for bargains and exotic destinations.
TripIt (Apple/Blackberry/Android) – TripIt stores all of your frequent-flier information in one place and organizes multiple confirmation e-mail messages and itineraries in a simple, easy-to-browse list. Need to make changes? Phone numbers are automatically linked to each destination.
The Weather Channel App (Apple/Android/Blackberry/Windows) – This is not only used as a travel application, but it prepares the user with what to wear and if an umbrella is needed. Some phones have a built in weather app. Even without this, the Weather Channel App is still one of the best.
Google Maps (Apple/Blackberry/Android/Windows) – The Google maps application gives you your location at any moment. An option called “traffic layer” uses color coding of the roads along your route. Excellent app for navigation so you can throw your GPS away!
Of course, there are plenty of apps out there you may have found to be utterly priceless. These are just a few of our favorites.
Once you have finished checking out all these apps, we could start recommending some more “fun” ones: NFL Mobile, Netflix, Pandora, etc. But for now, back to work.
This piece was written by the following members of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber’s Technology Committee: