As long as you’re dragging that smart phone everywhere you go, you may as well put it to work. We’ve rounded up nine must-have apps for meeting professionals (and a few more just for fun). All are built for the iPhone, but BlackBerry users take heart: some comparable applications are out there.
The great thing about an app is the low cost. The most expensive on our list is $9.99 and several are free. If you bought the most expensive app in each category below, the most you’d be out is about $41—a small investment in productivity.
Check out our list, but more important, tell us what app you can’t live without as a meeting professional.
1. Track Your Boxes
While shippers including the U.S. Postal Service all have free apps that let you track the status of your conference T-shirt and other meeting essentials, apps such as Package Tracker ($.99) and Delivery Status ($2.99) support tracking from multiple services, including UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the USPS.
2. Track Your Flight
While a number of apps compete in the flight-tracking space, Flight Track ($4.99) allows users to track flights worldwide; check gate numbers, delays, and cancellations; and view live flight maps with weather radar, among other features. The pro version ($9.99) automatically sends users delay information and other updates on the flights they’re following. (BlackBerry users: try FlightView)
3. Better Photos of Big Spaces
When you need a photo of the ballroom or reception space you’re checking out but the view is wider than what your iPhone camera will capture, Auto Stitch ($2.99) can merge up to 20 overlapping pictures to create the effect of a wide-angle camera.
4. Dictate, Don’t Type
If your thumb-typing skills aren’t up to par, Dragon Dictation (free) is a voice-recognition app that creates voice-to-text transcriptions that can be sent via e-mail or text message, or pasted into any iPhone app. In the words of The New York Times technology columnist, David Pogue, “I’m finding Dragon to be a much faster, more efficient way to spit out e-mail messages, notes, text messages and Twitter updates. It’s really, really cool.” (BlackBerry users: try MyCaption)
5. Web Conferencing
Don’t miss a Web meeting just because you’re on the road. The Cisco WebEx Meeting Center app (free) allows users to see the shared-screen content on their phones in addition to listening to the audio. Users can also see a list of participants and initiate text chats with them. Another popular app in the Web conferencing space is Fuze Meeting (free). (BlackBerry users: try Fuze Meeting)
6. Track Your Expenses
Whether traveling on a site inspection or to a meeting, receipts pile up. XpenseTracker ($4.99) makes it easier to track expenses as well as mileage. The expenses can be sorted by date, category, payment type, or client, and exported via Wi-Fi. Using the iPhone camera, users can take pictures of receipts and tag them with location information before exporting.
7. Find a Business
What do you need on the road? A gas station? Movie theater? ATM? Restaurant? The AroundMe app (free) identifies your position on a map, shows you the nearby businesses in any of those categories (and more), and tells you how far away each one is. Super cool: For iPhone 3GS users, the new augmented-reality mode in version 3.5.1 opens your camera and superimposes labels of local businesses on the live image you see on the screen.
8. Get Some Work Done
Let’s be realistic, nobody wants to deal with an Excel spreadsheet on a little phone screen, but if you’re stuck, it’s undoubtedly better than nothing. Quickoffice Mobile Office Suite ($7.99) and Documents to Go ($9.99) are among the apps that allow users to create and edit MicrosoftWord and Excel documents, as well as view other popular file formats, including pdf and PowerPoint. Both were among Apple’s best-selling apps for 2009.
9. Get Organized
There are many, many apps to help iPhone users stay organized. My Lists ($1.99) is a good choice among the lightweight solutions for creating and organizing to-do lists. A more robust choice, Todo ($9.99), earns kudos for its ability to sync with iCal and Outlook, manage multiple tasks, and allow phone numbers and URLs within notes to be clickable.
Just for Fun
MeetDifferent (free): A must-have if you’re attending Meeting Professionals International’s MeetDifferent conference in February.
MultiBS Bingo (free): When the folks on the podium are speaking in clichés and buzz words, don’t get aggravated, play bingo.
Shazam ($4.99): When you want to know what song is playing on the radio, click this app to find out.
Doodle Jump ($.99): A cute, fun, and addictive game that you’ll like as much as your nine-year-old does.