10 great iPhone apps for business users

InfoWorld presents a grab bag of handy productivity apps that can make your iPhone as useful as it can be

As a member of the nomadic business class, I appreciate how Apple has managed to make a device as small as the iPhone a truly useful enterprise tool. Thanks to the wildly successful App Store, an amazing number and variety of apps promise to keep me organized, on time, on track, and productive even if my ever-present laptop isn't available.

The question for me, as it is for most users, is exactly which App Store apps will make the iPhone as useful as it can be. What follows is my own personal top 10 list, plus a few extras for good measure. If you use your iPhone (or iPod Touch) for business purposes, you'll likely come to rely on a few of these apps too.

[ Take a quick slideshow tour of these 10 great iPhone apps for business users. Discover 10 top iPhone apps for IT pros and 21 apps Apple doesn't want on your iPhone. ]

There were a few ground rules I used in putting this group together -- guidelines that made sense to me, as I think they will to a lot of other users. First, because I'm living inside the current economy, I wanted the applications to be as inexpensive as possible. A bargain-priced iPhone app that requires an expensive desktop app or subscription was at a serious disadvantage.

Second, I wanted my iPhone software to work, to the greatest extent possible, with software I was already using on my laptop. I know that this introduces some biases, but the companion services and applications I'll mention are popular and widely adopted, so this is not as great a limitation as it might otherwise be.

Finally, there are more than 100,000 applications available on the Apple App Store. I didn't try them all. I didn't even try to try them all. I talked to other users, peered over the shoulder of iPhone-wielding business folks, and read reviews, articles, and blog posts from as many people as I could to narrow the field -- pretty much the same process most business users go through when selecting software. The following list of applications, then, is the one I've come to depend on. I'll look forward to reader comments telling me what I've missed.

Dropbox
When you need to move files back and forth between two (or more) computers on the same desk or in the same office, you have a number of options. When you need to move files between devices in different states, your options are rather more limited, and most of those options are in the cloud. One of the most popular for desktop computers is Dropbox, which is now available for the iPhone.

With Dropbox, you designate a desktop folder or subdirectory to synchronize, and then sit back and let the cloud-based storage system do its thing. On the iPhone, Dropbox allows you to upload and download files, and it provide links to individual files for collaborators to share entire subdirectories with coworkers. Dropbox also lets you view common file types like documents, spreadsheets, and photos.

For a business user on the go, the ability to provide the link through e-mail is critical, and the ability to view the files can be a lifesaver. In my case, I was already using Dropbox as a way to share files between my Macintosh and Windows machines, and the Web-based interface allowed me to reach my files when I was away from any of my computers.

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