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10 handy apps for Google Android phones that take the sting out of business travel and keep you productive on the road
Documents to Go
No one is going to edit a novel with an Android phone, but Documents to Go lets you browse through Word files and Excel spreadsheets. The free version just lets you open and view Word and Excel files you copy to your phone, but the full version allows you to create and edit them too. It also adds PowerPoint editing and PDF viewing. Price: $29.99
Lonely Planet Guides
The guides from Lonely Planet may not be as goal-oriented as the fictional Accidental Tourist line, but they strike a good balance between covering what a business traveler might need to sign a deal during the day, then find a way to celebrate at night. Price: $4.99 for each major city
Maps, maps, and more maps
If the wonderful Google Maps aren't enough for you, there are dozens of specialized maps for cities, transit systems, and amusement parks. Transit Maps, for instance, lets you load up hundreds of bus and metro maps from around the world. Most are free.
Even though the market for Android apps is still emerging, there are a number of good programs for business users. Take InfoWorld's quick, at-a-glance tour of 10 Android apps that help you find where you're going, track your expenses and exchange rates, overcome language barriers, view and edit Office documents, and connect remotely to a company database or your desktop PC.
When meetings get rough, program Fake-a-Call to fake a lifesaving call. After the screen pops up, you can trigger one of several half-conversations that play just loud enough for the others to hear. Mr. Williams, for instance, can be ticked off that you never finished that IUW report. Or a woman can ask whether you're really coming to the event. The actors don't pause enough to make this truly believable, but you can always record your own script. Price: 99 cents or free with ads
BabelDroid or Google Translator
You push the Start button, speak your sentence into the microphone, and wait three or four seconds -- the phone magically starts speaking the words in German, Spanish, French, or Italian. It's pocket-sized magic that's almost fast enough to replace Nicole Kidman in "The Translator." Google Translator offers more variety in languages but can't vocalize many of them. Price: Free, and worth infinitely more
You Keep Your Money
You Keep Your Money is a collection of apps for recording expenses, then graphing them to keep them in control. The basic YouKym app is free, while the YouKym Family version adds trending and support for multiple accounts. Alternatives include simply using Web sites like Mint.com from the browser, also quite useful. Price: Free or €2
Whether you're traveling or just negotiating borders across country lines, knowing the exchange rates is key. This app tracks the major exchange rates and converts arbitrary amounts. Price: Free with ads.
Android VNC Viewer
How many times have travelers wanted to reach out and just do one quick thing on that PC on your desk? The Android VNC client is GPL-protected open source software that lets you create a secure connection to a distant machine. Price: Free, as in beer and speech
This tool for raw access to a remote database isn't for average mortals, and only programmers will enjoy making it work. But it is a great shortcut to remotely accessing your company's data. There's no need to get someone to write a special app that's customized for in-house use. Just get your DBA to write a query to the database, then everyone on the road gets access to the data about the invoices, the inventory, or whatever fills your SQL tables. Price: $2.99
One of the cuter apps around, Bump lets you swap contact information with just a fist bump or, for that matter, any rapid movement that sets off the accelerometer. It's much simpler than swapping business cards, but without the variety in texture and shape. Maybe the next version will allow you to share an animated presentation? Price: Free, at least until the VCs wonder what's happening to their cash