25 essential business apps for Android

Plenty of business-related tasks are moving to smartphones, including expense tracking, social media, and even on-the-go invoicing. Here are 25 essential apps for Android

As Android devices continue to invade the enterprise, workers are beginning to rely on them as much as, if not more than, than laptops and desktops. In addition to basic email, plenty of other business-related tasks are moving to smartphones, including expense tracking, social media updates and even on-the-go invoicing.

It can be tough finding the right app for the right task, but here are 25 essential business apps for Android (note: the last five require an enterprise component).

[ Also check out Android 4.0: The ultimate guide (plus cheat sheet) and 16 free and great Google Nexus 7 apps. | Get the best apps for your mobile device: InfoWorld picks the best iPad office apps, the best iPad specialty business apps, the best Android office apps, and the best Android specialty apps. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with the Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]

1. PocketCloud

Developer: Wyse

Cost: Basic version for one computer, free; premium version, which provides connections to multiple computers, $5/month.

Available on iOS too? Yes

Pocket Cloud provides secure remote access to a Mac or Windows desktop from your Android phone or tablet. You can access your files, photos, and applications, like PowerPoint and Photoshop. Recently added features include an “explore” capability that provides a streamlined view of desktop file systems, so you can actually find what you’re looking for from that small smartphone screen. This feature also helps facilitate file sharing, especially when files are too large to email or download to your phone. A cloud storage component is still in beta.

2. Mr. Number

Developer: Mr. Number

Cost: Free; however, the call ID feature is only free if you let Mr. Number look through your contacts to help it identify unknown numbers. If you block it from doing this, you can get the Caller ID features for $1.99/month

Available on iOS too? No

This app serves as a spam/nuisance filter for both your texts and calls. Mr. Number consolidates features that you used to have to cobble together through separate apps. It provides advanced Caller ID, so you know who’s calling, even from cell phones. Call blocking lets you block and even report annoying numbers that you used to have to go through your carrier to block, while text blocking allows you to banish spammy or just annoying SMSers.

3. Auto Memory Manager

Developer: Mad Squirrel

Cost: The free version is ad supported. To get rid of ads, pay $1.59 for the premium version.

Available on iOS too? No

Is your smartphone starting to get slow and sluggish? You could have memory issues. On PCs, it’s easy enough to add more RAM. On your phone? Not the easiest chore. However, you can better manage memory with this app to help free up resources and boost performance.

4. Brainshark

Developer: Brainshark

Cost: Free

Available on iOS too? Yes

At first glance, Brainshark is simply an easy way to view PowerPoints on your Android. Dig deeper, though, and it offers tools to create, share and track mobile presentations. The app also helps you transform static content, such as text-heavy PowerPoints, into voice-enriched video presentations that can be accessed on-demand.

5. Google Drive

Developer: Google

Cost: Free

Available on iOS too? Not yet, but soon.

One of Android’s advantages has always been the tight integration with popular Google Apps, such as Gmail and Google Docs. However, raw storage has been lacking. Drive integrates Google’s office suite (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations), along with up to 5GB of free storage. Drive also includes features that enable sharing and collaboration. Users can set policies to control who can access various files and what collaborators are able to do to them. You are also able to track all changes that have been made on a document.

6. Quickoffice

Developer: Quickoffice

Cost: $14.99 for smartphones; $19.99 for tablets.

Available on iOS too? Yes

Quickoffice gives mobile workers on-the-go access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Mobile editors provide a mobile-optimized way to create, edit and share various documents. Features recently added include connections to cloud storage providers, a PDF annotation tool, spellcheck (English, French, Italian, German and Spanish) and external keyboard shortcuts for tablets.

7. Evernote

Developer: Evernote

Cost: Free for the basic version; $5/month for the premium version, which shuts off ads, includes a PIN lock, boosts the monthly upload limit and enables PDF searching.

Available on iOS too? Yes

Evernote helps you stay organized across your various devices, from desktops to smartphones. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, and record voice reminders, and it makes all of these things completely searchable. This app helps you sync all of your notes across devices. The search feature even lets you search for text inside images. The Web Clipper add-on lets you save anything you see online, including links, text and video, into Evernote with one click.

8. Recall

Developer: Meshin

Cost: Free

Available on iOS too? Not yet, but it should be soon.

Recall is an Evernote companion that adds context to your calendar. With this app, you can sync your calendar events with notes, images and audio on Evernote. You’re able to create and share an agenda, capture and read notes, and organize and tag notes for easy searching.

9. OfficeDrop

Developer: OfficeDrop

Cost: Free for the basic version, while the paid versions (staring at $9.95/month) provide larger file uploads, better search capabilities, and more storage.

Available on iOS too? Yes

OfficeDrop turns your smartphone into a portable scanner. While any file type can be uploaded into OfficeDrop’s cloud filing cabinet, anything scanned by your phone is immediately converted into text-searchable PDFs. With this app, you can access and search any documents that you’ve scanned into the cloud, and you can share the document with select team members.

10. Expensify

Developer: Expensify

Cost: Free for individual users; for business users, $5 per month per person who submits an expense report.

Available on iOS too? Yes

This app helps you track work expenses as you travel. It lets you use your phone’s camera to scan in receipts, and it’s smart enough to capture the date and amount charged for each receipt you upload. You are also able to track mileage and import expenses from bank and credit card accounts. While the app connects to QuickBooks, you can also file an expense report directly from the app itself.

11. Skype

Developer: Skype (now part of Microsoft)

Cost: Free for basic use; if you want to make Skype calls to non-Skype users, pricing starts as low as $0.012 per minute.

Available on iOS too? Yes

Skype is a must for business users who travel overseas often, or for workers who must often collaborate with people overseas. The app will save you big time on your telecom bills, giving you the ability to make free calls, no matter where in the world you are, to other Skype users. The mobile app also lets you make video calls from your smartphone, share your screen, and send and receive instant messages.

12. Quickbooks for Android

Developer: Intuit

Cost: Free with an existing Quickbooks subscription, which starts at $12.95/month.

Available on iOS too? Yes

If you already use Quickbooks for your small business accounting, Quickbooks for Android will help you streamline your bookkeeping by adding a mobile client to the mix. The mobile app lets you track sales, send out invoices, and see recent payments from your handset.

13. SignEasy (formerly EasySign Mobile)

Developer: Glykka

Cost: $14.99 for a lifetime subscription, or you can buy document credits at $1.99 for 5 docs, $3.99 for 10 docs or $5.99 for 20 docs.

Available on iOS too? Yes

SignEasy lets you electronically sign documents (and get documents signed) directly from your smartphone. Simply draw your signature on your touchscreen, and then the app will let you resize it to fit any document.

14. HootSuite

Developer: HootSuite

Cost: The free version lets you unify up to 5 profiles; the Pro version, at $9.99/month, lets you consolidate an unlimited number of social profiles and integrate with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights, among other features.

Available on iOS too? Yes

HootSuite unifies your various social media profiles into one console. It lets you form groups of users you want to follow, schedule messages to post at a later time and even track analytics. The mobile app lets you do all of this from your handset.

15. Yammer

Developer: Yammer (it was purchased by Microsoft earlier this year)

Cost: Free for the mobile app; Yammer itself operates on the “freemium” model – for now. The acquisition by Microsoft could change the pricing model eventually.

Available on iOS too? Yes.

Yammer is a secure, private social network for the enterprise. With Yammer, employees are able to collaborate, share ideas and self-organize into teams. Yammer can also be used to improve relationships with customers and partners using one central repository. Yammer will be rolled into Microsoft’s Office cloud effort, filling gaps in SharePoint.

16. Simple In/Out

Developer: Simply Made Apps

Cost: Free for up to 3 users; $5/month for up to 10 with prices going up from there.

Available on iOS too? Yes

This is a digital in/out board for office workers. The app has a GeoFencing feature, so you can set your Android up to automatically check you in or out of your office as your phone enters or leaves.

17. 1Password

Developer: AgileBits

Cost: The mobile app is free, but it requires a desktop/laptop counterpart ($49.99) to actually work.

Available on iOS too? Yes

1Password gives you an easy way to stop reusing passwords. The app saves your online user names and passwords, as well as sensitive information, such as bank account and credit card numbers. Your data is then locked behind either a strong password or a PIN. The app requires a desktop version, and once the desktop app is in place, data can then be synched to mobile devices through Dropbox.

18. Lookout Mobile Security

Developer: Lookout

Cost: Free for the basic version; the premium version ($2.99 month or $29.99/year) adds safe browsing features, privacy protection and the ability to backup photos and your call history.

Available on iOS too? Yes

This app protects your smartphone against viruses and other types of malware. The app backs up your contacts, helps you remotely locate your device if you misplace it or if it was stolen. If your phone was stolen, you’ll want to upgrade to the premium version, which lets you lock and wipe your phone and even set off a “scream” alarm, which should be loud and intrusive enough to convince thieves to set down your phone and walk away.

19. herematch

Developer: Tangletech

Cost: Free

Available on iOS too? Yes

Have you ever left a networking event wondering why you haven’t met anyone that you can do business with? Herematch is intended to solve that problem. The app’s location-based services help you make new business connections in real time. The app can be linked to your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts, so that when you check into a place or event, your status will be automatically updated on social networks. When you are at a networking event, herematch shows you a list of people who have checked in using herematch and who match with you either because they need the services you provide or you need the services they provide.

20. Divide

Developer: Enterproid

Cost: $60/user/year; individuals can get a free but limited version of the app that is ad-supported.

Available on iOS too? No

Divide is an app intended for enterprise-wide use. For organizations struggling to secure Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives, developer Enterproid offers an elegant solution. Divide splits your phone into two containers, a work and a personal one. The app lets you switch between personal and work personas at the touch of a button. The work persona is containerized, encrypted, and can be managed by IT policies. The personal side, meanwhile, is kept completely out of the reach of IT. So, for instance, if IT tries to wipe your phone after you’ve left the company, your personal data won’t be lost.

21. Mobile App Protection (MAP)

Developer: Mocana

Cost: Varies.

Available on iOS too? Yes, but currently only for those invited to the Early Adopter Program.

Mobile App Protection helps protect users against rogue mobile apps that try to launch malware. The app automatically wraps security and usage policies around individual mobile apps. MAP also allows the enterprise to add multiple layers of protection to any app that needs more security. This includes FIPS 140-2 certified encryption and NSA Suite B algorithms to protect both data at rest and in motion. MAP lets enterprises implement app access and usage polices to help address data-loss prevention concerns, and IT can enable any app to establish its own app-specific VPN connection.

22. McAfee Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM)

Developer: McAfee

Cost: Varies.

Available on iOS too? Yes

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