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In Pictures: Top 25 iPhone and iPad apps for business

Apple's iPhone and iPad may have been built for consumers, but the folks in Cupertino correctly guessed that what's good for consumers is good for businesses. The only stumbling block may be the growing volume of apps available: more 140,000 natively for the iPad and over 500,000 that work on the iPhone and iPad. Here are 25 go-to iOS apps for business users, from travel planning to document editing using Microsoft Office tools to time tracking to getting a good night's sleep.

  • Dragon Dictation Free. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Dragon Dictation Not all of us have Siri standing by to type up our text messages and emails (and sass us in the process). Thankfully, we have Dragon Dictation. The app does a remarkable job of understanding what you say (if you aren't in a loud environment) and accurately transcribing it into text. From there, you can send the text as an email, copy and paste it into a document, or post it on Facebook or Twitter. You can give it some formatting commands as well. Saying "new paragraph," for instance, will continue the transcription in a new paragraph. Too bad you can't give it system-wide commands, however, such as "Send an email to Dan." For that, the Siri-less need Vlingo.

  • Due $5. Current version average rating: 4.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Due With iOS 5, Apple finally added a reminders/to-do app to its mobile devices. And though Apple's Reminders app has a cool GPS component, it still leaves something to be desired. Into the void comes Due, a simple but effective to-do app. Due just makes it easy to quickly create and customize a reminder. With a tap or two, you can create a reminder that repeats the same time and day every week; reschedule it; or share it via email or message with others. I also like the orderly list of to-do items it presents, in chronological order. If you have a Dropbox account, you can use it sync reminders between multiple devices.

  • Keynote $10. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Keynote Apple's answer to PowerPoint is a slick, drag-and-drop-easy iOS (and Mac) app for creating visually compelling presentations. The app includes 12 presentation theme templates to get you started. You can also import and edit PowerPoint decks and export back to PowerPoint or PDF. (To start, you may want to email the PowerPoint deck to yourself and open it in Keynote, or open it from your Dropbox folder if you have the iOS Dropbox app.) Apple's Keynote Remote app ($1) lets you use an iPhone as a remote control for a Keynote presentation on your iPad over a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. You can control a Keynote deck on a Mac as well, but only over Wi-Fi. The app also displays your presenter’s notes.

  • Line2 Free. Current version average rating: 3 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Line2 The Line2 VoIP service, which costs $10 monthly, adds a slick business call center to your iPad or iPhone. Line2 includes such business phone features as call waiting, call transfer, and multi-party conferencing as well as optional features that cost extra such as auto attendant and virtual receptionist. Call quality, in my experience, is quite good. You can also port an existing number to Line2, send and receive SMS, and use a Bluetooth headset on a call. As its name implies, Line2 is an ideal way to add a second, dedicated business line to your iOS device while keeping your iPhone number for friends and family. Heads up: You can't make 911 calls using Line2.

  • Wi-Fi Finder Free. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Wi-Fi Finder Sure, it's super easy to find a WiFi hot spot on your iPhone or iPad. But what happens when you’re traveling internationally and don’'t want to use a costly cellular connection to locate a nearby hot spot? That’s when JiWire’s little app comes in handy. The app features an offline mode. Download its database before you leave the U.S. to locate hot spots abroad, without eating into your cellular data plan. You can filter free and paid hotspot results by location type (such as café or store) and provider (such as Surf & Sip or T-Mobile). Tap on a hotspot location to bookmark it or get directions.

  • CardMunch Free. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone CardMunch Remember the Palm Pilot? With a few taps, you could beam your business card from your Palm to someone else’s. Beautiful. Though Palm is long gone, there are plenty of tools for entering business card info into your contact database, and CardMunch is probably the easiest. Take a photo of the business card with your iPhone or iPad, upload it, and before you know it, the card has been transcribed (by humans, supposedly) and downloaded back to CardMunch. From there, you can add the info to your iPhone contacts, email the person, or connect with them on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, the social network for professionals now owns CardMunch.

  • Numbers $10. Current version average rating: 3.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Numbers Don’t be fooled: Numbers isn't just a spreadsheet program. It’s also a great list-making app, among other things, especially on the iPad. For instance, before traveling, I use Numbers' Travel Planner template to combine my travel itinerary, packing list, airline and hotel reward program account numbers, and activity list within one visually pleasing, multi-tabbed spreadsheet. The document syncs to my iPhone, too—so those hotel loyalty program account numbers are handy when I’m at the registration desk. The app also has templates for a mortgage calculator, loan comparison, expense reports, budgets, personal savings and more. You can import and export to Excel, of course. But after using Numbers for a while, you may not want to.

  • Wyse PocketCloud Pro $15. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Wyse PocketCloud Pro There are plenty of remote desktop apps that mirror your computer on an iPad or iPhone. Among them, PocketCloud Pro does a great job of mixing ease-of-use (once you get past a short learning curve), performance, and security. (Print the accompanying screen shot as a cheat sheet for controlling your desktop using the app.) CIOs will be comforted to know that the app supports the latest RDP protocol, 128-bit encryption, and FIPS and NLA and claims to be the only iOS app supporting CredSSP, with NTLM and Kerberos encryption levels. If your computer is set up with two displays, PocketCloud Pro will mirror them both, unlike some remote desktop apps.

  • Magellan RoadMate USA $40. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone Magellan RoadMate USA Most business travelers understand there’s no such thing as a perfect GPS device or app. At some point, they'll all lead you down routes best described as "circuitous." Even so, you may come to love RoadMate USA. For one thing, it locks onto a GPS signal quickly, even when you turn your iPhone on for the first time in a new location (such as after a flight). My Garmin GPS sometimes took up to 15 minutes to accomplish this. RoadMate USA’s turn-by-turn, voice-guided directions are mostly accurate. On occasion, however, it will tell you to turn right, then suddenly change its mind. It also displays highway interchange signs. Plus, you won’t have to pack a portable GPS anymore.

  • FlightTrack Pro $10. Current version average rating: 4.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad FlightTrack Pro FlightTrack Pro is the single most useful app for frequent business travelers. So many features, so little space to describe them, but here goes: The app integrates with TripIt and your iOS calendar beautifully. Live flight tracker maps pinpoint a plane’s current location as well as the weather. Maps work in offline mode, so you can use the app in flight. Flight updates are pushed to your device, even when the app’s closed. And for an extra $4, you can view an airport’s current arrivals and departures 'board,' as this screen shot illustrates. To paraphrase that old American Express ad, don’t leave home without this app.

  • White Noise $2. Current version average rating: 5 stars Designed for iPhone White Noise It may seem odd to recommend a noise app for business, but trust me: If you're a light sleeper who travels often, you’ll want this app. I use it to block ambient sounds when I’m trying to fall asleep in a hotel room during a business trip. I also use the app when I’m working to filter out noise from an adjacent office, so I can concentrate. Along with the White Noise sound, I also like Air Conditioner and Airplane Travel. There are plenty of exotic sounds, too, such as Amazon Jungle, Dish Washer, Cars Driving, Tibetan Singing Bowl, and Cat Purring. The Heartbeat sound might help infants fall asleep, but others may find it a bit too Edgar Allan Poe-ish.

  • iFax Pro Free. Current version average rating: 3.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad iFax Pro Fax machines are so 1996. But there are times when someone insists that you fax them a document—while you're on the road. In that situation, iFax Pro will spare you mucho aggravation. The app lets you snap a photo of a document (or anything else for that matter) and fax it directly from your iPhone or iPad. The app integrates with Dropbox, so you can add docs from your Dropbox folder to a fax. You pay $1 to send a fax with up to five pages; $2 for a fax with 10 pages, and so on. As for receiving faxes, you'll need to spend $13 per month or more for a local fax number.

  • Xmarks Free. Current version average rating: 2.5 stars Designed for iPhone Xmarks On my iMac and MacBook Air, I alternate between the Chrome and Firefox browsers. When on my iPad or iPhone, I use the default Safari browser. You might assume keeping bookmarks in sync across all these browsers and devices is a nightmare. It isn’t, and that's because of Xmarks. All my bookmarks are stored automatically on Xmarks’ servers and synced across the browsers on my Macs. The Xmarks app gives me access to all my bookmarks when I’m using my iPad or iPhone, too. I click a bookmark in the Xmarks app; it previews the web page; and I can choose to open it in Safari. Though the iOS app is free, it only works for those who pay $12 annually for the Xmarks.

  • HootSuite for Twitter Free. Current version average rating: 4.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad HootSuite for Twitter Are you tweeting regularly for business? On LinkedIn? Facebook? If so, you need one easy-to-use dashboard app to manage all your social channels on the go, and the best one I've seen is HootSuite for Twitter. Despite its name, this app makes it easy to post one status update simultaneously to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Foursquare. Scheduled updates enable you to write posts on the weekend and automatically send them during the week. The free version limits you to managing up to four social media profiles, but a paid account ($6 monthly) gives you unlimited social profiles, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights integration, and more.

  • BatteryBoost Magic App Free. Current version average rating: 4.5 stars Designed for iPhone BatteryBoost Magic App (Free) This app's graphical display spells out how much time remains for WiFi web browsing, GPS navigation, music or video playback, watching YouTube videos, using apps, playing games, taking pictures and recording video. While we recommend the free app, the paid version ($1) reportedly adds a three-step, automated, full-cycle charging feature to maximize battery life. According to some recent user reviews, however, the paid app doesn’t actually add much value beyond some basic battery-saving tips.

  • Toggl Timer Free. All versions average rating: 2.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Toggl Timer Though it has room for improvement, Toggl Timer (available as a free app as well as free cloud service) is the best time-tracking software I’ve used. The iOS app has always been easy to use, and a recent update has further refined the interface as well as delivered an iPad-native version. Toggl Timer syncs your information to the cloud from your iPhone, iPad, or the free desktop Toggl app, but you can still use it offline. Additional features, such as the ability to assign billing rates to clients and export to Quickbooks, require a $5 monthly account. My only complaints: You must log into Toggl.com to create and export reports, and neither the app nor the web site lets you generate invoices based.

  • WebEx for iPad Free. Current version average rating: 3.5 stars Designed for iPad WebEx for iPad WebEx for iPad is like FaceTime or Skype, only it's geared toward business video chat within a group. On your iPad screen, you can see multiple participants and they can see you (as long as you have an iPad 2). Whenever someone speaks, their video window dominates the screen. You can also view what's been shared from a participant's computer screen, control the audio, and send messages to the group or to one individual. As with WebEx in a desktop web browser, you don’t need to have a WebEx account to join a conference. But a heads up: You'll need a Wi-Fi connection for video chat.

  • Skyscanner Free. Current version average rating: 4.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Skyscanner Just like anyone else, business travelers need to find the lowest airfares. Skyscanner helps you out by visually display on bar charts how fares fluctuate day by day for a given itinerary. Another cool feature: Using the Explore feature, you can type in your home airport, select "Everywhere" as the destination, and "Any Day" as your departure and return dates. Skyscanner will then display a slowly spinning globe, with airfares to various destinations pinpointed. The Search feature lets you more quickly locate the least expensive routes from your home base. Downside: You don’t get the filtering options of Kayak (another great iOS app), such as the capability to block red-eye flights or commuter jets.

  • PrintCentral Pro $10. Current version average rating: 3.5 stars Separate apps for iPhone and iPad PrintCentral Pro Printing from an iOS device is more complicated than it should be. PrintCentral Pro takes some of the sting out. To print, you launch the app, navigate to your Dropbox, iCloud or other documents, and print. Unfortunately, PrintCentral Pro doesn’t allow you to print documents directly from Apple's Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps. The workaround is to email the documents to yourself and use PrintCentral Pro's email client to open the files. (I told you printing from iOS is too complicated.) Beyond printing, the app lets you convert files to PDF, zip and unzip files, remotely share files with Macs and PCs, save web pages as PDFs, and more. Note: PrintCentral ($5) and PrintCentral Pro ($9) are separate iPhone apps.

  • Weather+ $1. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Weather+ Before you hit the road (or get out of bed, for that matter), check out Weather+. It's not only one of the most attractive weather apps, it’s one of the most informative, too. The animated landscapes in each screen are cool, though they'd be even cooler if they were actually related to current weather conditions. Along with current temps and sun/rain conditions, Weather+ tells you the humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, visibility, and cloud cover percentage. Plus, you get detailed five-day forecasts and a big retro clock. You can customize the layout, dim the foreground and background, and choose how frequently to refresh the weather data.

  • Dropbox Free. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Dropbox There's no reason why you shouldn't have a free Dropbox account and plenty of reasons why you should. The service (you get 2GB of storage for free) makes it easy to have your most important computer files available on your iPhone or iPad via the Dropbox app or from another computer. The Dropbox app lets you view and share those files and open them in other iOS apps. For instance, when stuck in a long checkout line during the holidays, I finished editing an article on my iPhone by grabbing the file out of Dropbox and working on it in Apple's Pages app. One quibble: I wished the Dropbox app sorted files by date.

  • Pages $10. Current version average rating: 3.5 stars Designed for iPhone, iPad Pages Apps like Apple's Pages word processor make it easier to leave the laptop behind. Those who live in Microsoft Word (and who doesn’t?) will have a little learning curve. But once you get past it, Pages' templates let you easily create both straightforward text files and attractive graphic documents. Pages files can be exported to Word and PDF, though you might lose some font or other formatting. You can easily email your files or share them on Apple's iWork.com site. You'll get some desktop word processor features such as Word Count and Find and Replace, but others—such as Track Changes—are MIA. Apple's iCloud service does a nice job syncing docs between iOS devices, too.

  • PrintCentral Pro $10. Current version average rating: 3.5 stars Separate apps for iPhone and iPad PrintCentral Pro Printing from an iOS device is more complicated than it should be. PrintCentral Pro takes some of the sting out. To print, you launch the app, navigate to your Dropbox, iCloud or other documents, and print. Unfortunately, PrintCentral Pro doesn’t allow you to print documents directly from Apple's Pages, Numbers, and Keynote apps. The workaround is to email the documents to yourself and use PrintCentral Pro's email client to open the files. (I told you printing from iOS is too complicated.) Beyond printing, the app lets you convert files to PDF, zip and unzip files, remotely share files with Macs and PCs, save web pages as PDFs, and more. Note: PrintCentral ($5) and PrintCentral Pro ($9) are separate iPhone apps.

  • CloudOn Free. Current version average rating: 4 stars Designed for iPad CloudOn CloudOn will be catnip for business execs on the go. It provides a free, cloud-based version of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint on your iPad. With CloudOn and a free Dropbox account, you can create and edit files native to all three Office applications. It's as if your desktop apps have magically appeared on your iPad. Once you’ve finished your edits, the file is automatically synced with your computer’s Dropbox folder. In addition, CloudOn adds useful keys to the tablet’s virtual keyboard such as Esc, Del, Ctrl, Alt and all 12 function keys. Downsides: Because it's cloud-based, you must be online to work with your files, and rumors are the app may soon have tiered pricing.

  • Vlingo Free. Current version average rating: 4.5 stars Designed for iPhone Vlingo If you’re living in a Siri-less world, you don’t have to forgo the conveniences of Apple’s sassy virtual assistant entirely. Vlingo brings Siri-like features (minus the backtalk) to your iPhone. Using Vlingo, you can use your voice to dictate and send an email or SMS; find locations on a map; post updates to Facebook and Twitter; dial by voice; and perform web searches. Example: After I asked Vlingo “What is the weather in San Francisco?,” the app instantly presented Google results showing it was sunny and 54 degrees. If you want longer dictations transcribed into text for copying and pasting, download the free Dragon Dictation app, too.

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