Once upon a time, instead of holding a passenger, the front seat of my car held a mini hanging-file folio and a portable printer via seat-belt. Safety first! My beverage holder cradled a cup filled with pens and multi-colored highlighters. Such was the life of a transient with a mobile office. Until the digital age, I made do with this ‘mobile office’ as the only way to conduct business while on the road.
Now, my office is largely digital. Most of my files are stored in the cloud, documents can be sent digitally, and I no longer need a fax machine since most documents are sent via email. Through the magic of technology, I have been able to pare down that passenger seat office into a few handy smartphone apps, so I can actually transport passengers rather than papers. If you would also like to reclaim your passenger seat, here are the essential mobile apps that will allow you to take your office with you: in your pocket.
PDF Max Pro super-charges your PDF viewing experience. You can fill out PDF forms, sign documents, and even annotate a PDF to send to a client. My preference is to use this app on an iPad to highlight text and scribble notes to myself. Zoom in to read tiny text or write in a small space. Those notes can take the form of text, sticky notes, or recorded audio notes, if you prefer to dictate. PDF Max supports Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and Box for importing or exporting documents. iTunes/iCloud support allows you to synchronize changes between devices and a built in browser is also available so you can download documents from your computer or server when you’re on the road.
iPhone & iPad $4.99
(the free version does not let you edit)
The Cloud holds everything these days. Many people rely on Google Drive to collaborate with colleagues or to share documents. My Google Drive is filled with documents that I want to be able to access anywhere. One would think that the Google App could handle the task of managing their documents, but I have found iDocs Pro to have features beyond that offered by Google’s mobile app. This app’s interface is very user friendly with a search bar to help you find a particular document when you have too many to count. Spreadsheets, which are usually difficult to edit through a browser interface, are easy to navigate and edit. You can easily change the sharing settings on documents and utilize the folders set up in Google Drive. You can even toggle between multiple Google accounts, which is perfect when you have a personal account and work account that you want to access easily. If you’re worried about security, there is even the option for an additional passcode lock.
No scanner? No problem. If you only keep your scanner around to email the occasional document, I have got an app for you. Scan multiple pages using the camera on your phone, convert pictures in your iPhone Photo library to PDFs, email them, or send them to the cloud. Jot Not Pro supports Dropbox, Evernote, Box, Google Drive, iDisk or WebDAV. You can even send documents to a physical fax machine via the fax function. The interface allows you to crop your document to the edges of a page and has a stabilization feature to ensure clarity. It will look like your documents were scanned using a traditional scanner or fax machine. Alternatively, you can use this app to scan receipts for expense reports or to keep a digital record of your whiteboard brainstorming sessions in Evernote. Jot Not will even convert your images to black and white to optimize for printing. If you have a network-enabled printer, you can print the document straight from your phone.