The apps that feed our mobile communication addiction

When I originally thought about writing this post a few weeks ago, Steve Jobs had yet to resign from Apple. However, his resignation and my original idea for a post, focusing on our addiction to information on the move, actually complement each other rather nicely.

Jobs has succeeded in transforming the way we consume information in both our personal and work lives. With their intuitive interfaces, sleek lines and quality craftsmanship, it’s easy to see why so many of us now carry an iPhone, iPad, or both with us wherever we go. Raise your hand if you have an iPhone or iPad? If you haven’t got your hand up, chances are the person next to you does.

The iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone, nor was it the first with a touch interface, but it revolutionized the way that we browse the internet on our cells and consume data. Even if you don’t have an iPhone, your Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone handset have all been influenced by this device.

And this brings me to our obsession with smartphones.

We’ve all been there, checking our emails on our smartphones at midnight, 1 a.m., 2 a.m., 6 a.m. We now shut the office doors and immediately start working again on the train, the bus and in taxis. We are permanently connected. According to a national survey by Telenav, a third of Americans would rather give up sex than their smartphone. They’d also be willing to wave goodbye to chocolate, caffeine and exercise before they parted with their beloved device.

UK adults and children are just as bad. UK communications industry regulator Ofcom has discovered that 60 per cent of teenagers describe themselves as “highly addicted to their smartphone.” Almost half (47 percent) of teenagers and 22 percent of adults also admit to using their device on the toilet.

Our cell phones have now transformed from a device for contacting and playing Snake to becoming a central part of our personal and working lives. The mobile workforce can now check emails on the move, hold video conferences, proof documents and log in to check their bank balance when sitting on the train or working from a cafe. Our obsession has been fueled by just the right apps to help us accomplish these tasks.

With more than 400,000 iPhone apps and more than 300,000 Android apps now available, what are the apps that today’s web workers should look at using to aid productivity and increase efficiency? Below are just some of the apps that I find indispensable:

  • CamCard: This great app takes a picture of a business card and automatically adds the information to your contact list. No more rummaging through pockets trying to locate the contact details of the people you met at various meetings and events.
  • Evernote: A popular tool with remote workers, Evernote enables you to quickly capture anything. Whether it’s a photo, a screenshot or a web site, whatever you capture is stored, processed and made searchable.
  • Huddle: With Huddle’s iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry apps you can access my company’s cloud-based collaboration platform and manage your projects, files and people from any location, at any time of day.
  • Twitter: Yes, it can be dangerously addictive, but having Twitter on your mobile ensures that you are constantly connected to the latest updates from your community and you can track what is being said about your company.
  • 1Password:  How many times have you sat on your iPhone/iPad trying to remember one of the numerous passwords you have for a wealth of websites and apps? 1Password securely stores the information required and logs you into websites immediately.
  • Skype: If you’re on Verizon Wireless’ network, Skype mobile gives you free Skype-to-Skype calls and IM.
  • QuickOffice: Access, create, edit, and share Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
  • Expensify: This fantastic app allows you to capture your expenses and receipts from any location. You can track everything and build your expenses reports on the move.
  • Bloomberg Mobile:  Keep up to date on the latest international business news, stock quotes and company descriptions, etc.
  • Instapaper:  Ever found a great article that you just don’t have time to read? Instapaper ensures that you can come back to it later.

What other mobile productivity apps do you use and love? Let me know in the comments below.

Hear VMware’s CTO Stephen Herrod talk about the three key pillars of enterprise mobility — apps, data and people — at Mobilize, September 26 and 27.

Andy McLoughlin, Co-founder and EVP Strategy at Huddle, can be reached on Twitter @Bandrew

Image courtesy of Flickr user Symic.