Android fans have watched in the last year as the iPhone slowly shifted its perception to become the new corporate mobile standard - but now you don't have to just watch. These 40 apps show that the Android platform can play a serious role in business, too.
What follows is a category-by-category guide to the best Android specialty apps for business users. Whether you're after email management or mind-mapping, I've tracked down a top-notch tool that'll get the job done. It's true that more business apps are available - and in more categories - for iPhones and iPads than for Android devices, but it's also true that business Android users have a solid set of app options.
Email and calendar
Perhaps the most common tool for managing business-based email on Google's Android OS is Nitrodesk's £12.21 Exchange for Android (formerly called Touchdown). The app allows for secure connections between your Android smartphone and your company's Microsoft Exchange email server. It features a wide range of security options, including data encryption and remote wiping of corporate email data. The program can also be mass-deployed by administrators, making it one of the most IT-friendly solutions available.
Email aside, a service called CompanionLink offers a range of methods for synchronising your contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes between a PC and your Android smartphone. CompanionLink works with Microsoft Outlook, IBM Lotus Notes, Novell GroupWise, and a handful of other common desktop utilities. It can sync your data via Wi-Fi, a direct USB connection, or over the Internet by linking up directly to your Google account. CompanionLink costs $40 (£24) for the Outlook edition and $70 (£43) for the Lotus Notes or GroupWise version. Note that the Google sync option will send larger businesses' IT groups into fits, as it circumvents their security controls by forwarding email and other data to the unsecured Google service; for them, CompanionLink offers a secure cloud-based forwarding server product instead for $10 (£6) per user per month.
If your Outlook calendar is all you need to keep in sync, Google's own free Calendar Sync program may be the tool for you. Google Calendar Sync runs on your PC - but not Mac - and, as its name suggests, provides an ongoing two-way sync between your Outlook calendar and your Google Calendar (which is by default linked to your Android smartphone). The program is free to download and use. Like CompanionLink, though, its use will cause security conniptions at many organisations.
Regardless of what synchronisation tool you do or don't use, you may want an Android widget to provide easy access to your calendar from your smartphone's home screen. François Delandes' £1.29 Pure Calendar widget is a highly customisable app that puts your upcoming events and appointments right at your fingertips. You can select from different sizes and configure the widget's look to your liking. You can also actively scroll through your calendar within the widget if you use it with an advanced launcher like ADW or LauncherPro.
NEXT PAGE: Notes and lists
- The apps serious Fandroids should know about
- Notes and lists
- Mind-mapping and whiteboarding
- Cloud storage and FTP
- Business travel