For all but the most tech-averse souls, smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of CPAs’ daily lives. This development can be attributed in large part to the quality of the applications available for mobile devices. Here are five apps that will help CPAs take their mobile productivity to the next level:
Consider Dropbox for document sharing. Dropbox helped define the file-sharing category of apps, a group that also includes Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive), and SugarSync. When a user saves a document to Dropbox or another file-sharing application folder on his or her desktop, the document can then be accessed, viewed, and updated on any device running the same file-sharing app. This is because the app automatically synchronizes the documents placed in the shared folder to a secure location in the cloud—which makes these files available anywhere and anytime on any device that can access the secure cloud location. Files and folders can also be shared with other users, making this a great team collaboration tool. File-sharing apps also provide a convenient way to back up critical data to the cloud.
However, CPAs should be careful about what kind of information they share using file-sharing apps. Content accessibility policies allow file-sharing vendors’ employees to view information in files. CPAs should consider this before using Dropbox or another file-sharing service to handle or store documents containing confidential client information.
Get organized with Evernote. This is among a group of notetaking apps including Microsoft OneNote, Quip, and Springpad. Evernote allows you to take a few quick notes on a mobile device or view notes originally created on a desktop or laptop. It synchronizes notes and information to the cloud and other devices. In addition, content isn’t limited to simple text. Notes can include links, pictures, tables, etc. Notes can be kept personal and private or shared with other users, allowing for the creation of everything from notes in an important meeting to a grocery list to share with the entire family.
Customize headlines with Flipboard. This is a standout among news aggregation apps, which draw news from a variety of sources, curating content based on a user’s stated interest and presenting it in a pleasant and easy-to-navigate format. Mimicking the “page turning” experience, Flipboard collects the latest news and information into a single presentation. Users can now view virtually all the news content they have an interest in from one app.
Stay plugged in to the best podcast with Stitcher. This invaluable podcast app helps keep users up to date with the latest breaking information. In the way news aggregators collect and present relevant text, pictures, and video, podcast players do the same for audio content. It is like a custom radio station that plays content tailored for the end user. So whether listening on their daily commute or during a workout, users can stay in the know.
Keep travel info straight with TripIt. This is a standout among the bevy of travel-related apps. Initially, when a user makes travel reservations, he or she forwards a copy of the confirmation email to TripIt. The service then gathers the travel plans and organizes them into an easy-to-read, concise itinerary that can be viewed and managed from any smart device or via the TripIt website. With TripIt, users have confirmation numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and check-in times handy on their smart device. TripIt also notifies users of flight delays or cancellations and other travel alerts.
Editor's note: This checklist is adapted from the article "Five Apps CPAs Should Have on Their Smart Device," CPA Insider, Feb. 3, 2014.
—By David Cieslak, CPA/CITP, CGMA, GSEC (firstname.lastname@example.org), a speaker on accounting technology topics and a principal in computer consulting firm Arxis Technology Inc.