December Writer’s Forum Question
Apps, or software applications, are big business nowadays. What are some of your favorites? How do you use apps to improve your professional life or business?
Wow, we had a great response on this one. Apps seem to be geared toward anything you need in your business, but we especially liked hearing about the following ones that seemed most applicable to writing.
Mari Lewis of Birmingham is a freelance technical writer who says:
Okay, I know this is pretty basic, but it’s amazing how many people just don’t use a dictionary. Well, my business depends on accuracy, and I love having the app for Dictionary.com on my phone. I can get not only definitions but also synonyms, which helps me to keep my writing both correct and fresh. And hey, did I mention it’s free?
Sanjay Patel of Houston also runs a writing business, concentrating on creating speeches and business presentations. He says:
I travel a lot and balance multiple clients, so an expense tracker is indispensable for me. I use ProOnGo, and I like that I can photograph receipts and eliminate paper. It also helps me organize my client list and keep track of billings. There are lots of similar apps to choose from. Just make sure your app has all the features you need and that it can export your data to Excel or another program. What good is that information if it’s locked in your phone?
Jason Remer found a similar app that works for him:
As a freelancer, I need to keep precise records of the time I spend on each client. I like using the WorkLog app for that. It lets me either put in my hours or use it like a timer. Really helpful.
Our frequent contributor Vivien Yoshoko-Cooper of Los Angeles checked in, anxious to tell us about her favorite app:
Hi again. I just had to tell you about my new favorite app, a backup program that keeps track of all my important data like passwords, credit card info, and more. It’s great to be able to take all that stuff with me wherever I go, and I know that it’s secure in case I lose my phone, too. I use mSecure, but there are a bunch of similar programs out there, and if your readers don’t have one, they really, really need to get one.
Harrison Sanders likes writing even more when he can simply dictate:
I found an app called Jott that lets me talk my writing into my phone, and then the program makes my words into text that I can save as a file or actually send as an e-mail. What a time-saver!
And finally, we had to include this note from Paul Reznick of Long Island, NY, simply because we thought it was fun:
My favorite business app? How about one that helps me keep from stressing out? I discovered the Ambiance app, and now I can play sounds like rain or waves to give me a background noise that helps me relax. Maybe it doesn’t help business, but if I’m mellowed out, I sure am more productive!
And from the home front . . .
This forum question brought in a lot of responses—everyone, it seems, has favorite apps. In fact, it generated some interest here at UpWrite Press as well!
Chris Erickson, our company president, really loves his apps! He writes:
I use a number of apps; some are local/client apps, some are Web apps, viewed through the browser, and others are iPhone apps, specific to that device. A couple of Web apps we use at the office are Basecamp (http://basecamphq.com) and Highrise (http://highrisehq.com).
Basecamp is perfect for all our project management. It coordinates projects, people, and communication. In addition, it acts as a file repository, and we log our time in it.
I like Highrise for customer relationship management. It logs contact information for all our customers and potential customers. It also allows us to designate “deals” when customers make purchases, record notes of conversations with customers (that other team members can access), and assign date-specific tasks for a customer.
Lester Smith, writer and Web technologist at UpWrite Press, says:
My iPod Touch is simply indispensable for business. Here are a few apps I use daily:
- Mail: Being able to check and respond to essential messages while I’m on a lunch break, waiting at a doctor's office, or relaxing in my recliner at home means those messages don’t get buried under all the unessential mail a day delivers.
- DocsToGo: This is a program for viewing and editing Word, HTML, and TXT files on a smart phone or PDA.
- To Do: Calendar and notepad apps have their own uses, but I’ve found this app handier for keeping a checklist of items and arranging it by importance.
- Yellow Pages: Search for a business type or name, and this app will list those nearest your current location. Autodial from a listing, or add the business to your Contacts app with one touch. A similar White Pages app serves up residential listings.
- Skype: Make phone calls over a wireless hotspot. Skype-to-Skype calls are free. An account for Skype-to-phone costs only about $8 per quarter year. And Skype works on pretty much any computer or PDA. I love being able to dial anyone from my Contacts with just a couple of touches or mouse clicks.
A Final Thought
In line with our apps forum, we thought we might mention that the advent of texting has created its own set of typing troubles. Tiny keyboards pose problems for those of us with larger fingers, and there are even physical problems associated with phone typing!
Several new styles of keyboards have cropped up recently, including Swype and 8Pen, two different ways of writing by sliding your finger around the screen. Check out each and see if one will work for you.