Q: I just purchased a new smartphone, and I understand that there are more than 100,000 applications that I can download. Can you tell me some of the better smartphone applications that I should be using?
A: It would take the entire JofA to describe all the useful smartphone applications available for your smartphone; therefore, I will recommend just five. Because my smartphone is my primary computer when I travel, I will recommend five travel applications that I have found most valuable (on my HTC Droid Incredible smartphone).
1. Navigation. My phone’s built-in navigation app is my most useful app. I simply touch the navigation button and speak “restaurants,” and within seconds my smartphone displays a list of the nearest restaurants. Upon selecting one, my smartphone then provides turn-by-turn driving (or walking) directions to my destination. (The navigation app is free and typically is included with your smartphone.)
2. TripIt. The TripIt Pro app (tripit.com) arranges my travel plans into well-organized itineraries. As I receive email confirmation notices for hotels, airline flights and rental cars, I forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org. TripIt uses logic to decipher and organize the confirmations, and adds maps, travel directions, weather reports and other useful information such as a list of my LinkedIn connections residing in (or traveling through) my destination cities. This information is automatically organized on my smartphone, and is thereby assessable at my fingertips. TripIt is free, and TripIt Pro costs $49 a year.
3. Concur Breeze. The Concur Breeze app (concur.com) enables me to record travel expenses as I travel, helping me convert idle waiting time into more-productive time. I use my smartphone camera to capture and attach digital images of the receipts to my expense reports. As I record travel expenses, I assign customer and job codes, and indicate those amounts that are billable to customers. This app allows me to submit expense reports and receipts electronically, and I no longer have to prepare expense reports back at the office. Concur Breeze costs $8 per month.
4. GasBuddy. The GasBuddy app (gasbuddy.com) tells me where the closest gas stations are and displays their prices so I can find the cheapest available gas. Once I select a gas station, the navigation system provides turn-by-turn driving directions. GasBuddy is a free app.
5. Golfshot. Golfshot (golfshot.com) is a smartphone golfing app that allows you to search and book tee times at more than 35,000 golf courses throughout the United States. It tracks and keeps a permanent record of my scores, and on the golf course, it uses GPS to tell me exactly how far I am from the hole. It is hard to think of a more useful business tool. Golfshot costs $29.99.
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