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25 Top Apps for Your Smartphone

Sample the best business and travel tools for Apple iPhone, Palm Pre and RIM BlackBerry devices.

BlackBerry, Pre and iPhone devices already do a great job of handling your contacts, calendar and email. But with extra software, you can turn them into all-purpose business-travel companions. Instead of just a phone, you’ll be carrying a weather station, a mobile radio, an Excel editor, a restaurant guide, a news reader and much more. Here’s how to get started with the software stores built into each device, plus Executive Travel’s picks for 25 of the greatest apps.

Palm Pre

Even though this snappy smartphone comes from Palm, it uses an all-new operating system, webOS. You can tap into old favorites through the Classic app, but this means that thousands of older Palm apps won’t work natively on the new Pre. You can still find great options in the carrier’s new beta store. Open the App Catalog to browse choices on your phone. At press time, the store housed a few dozen apps, including handy tools for travel and business. Just tap to download your picks—but wait to see that each download has completed before selecting the next one.

Apple iPhone

Apple muscled into the smartphone space through its App Store, a software site that offered more than 85,000 programs at press time. With access to such a huge catalog, you’ll come across many more $.99 disposable apps than keepers, so we’ve highlighted our favorites. You can surf the App Store directly on your iPhone or through iTunes. From the phone, you can download and install software of any size if you connect via Wi-Fi. AT&T only allows apps of 10MB or less.

RIM BlackBerry

RIM’s App World store brings together hundreds of programs for BlackBerry phones, with a few caveats. Software developers get to decide whether to sell their work in this catalog, offer applications directly through their own Web sites or both. As a result, we found that some of our favorites hadn’t yet migrated to App World; you may need to browse the company sites directly. Another potential glitch: Many organizations block users of company BlackBerrys from installing additional software. Ask your IT department about its policy. The new App World may not be on your device, but you can visit blackberry.com/appworld/download to download the store utility. (Look for it in the Downloads folder when the action is complete.) App World automatically filters out software that won’t work on your particular BlackBerry handset. If you buy outside the store, be sure to verify compatibility first.

Flights & Airports

1. FlightView

flightview.com Cost: Free Pre

Know when to take advantage of an airport delay by lingering in the shower or catching a train instead of a cab. Flightview tracks upcoming and in-route planes. If you don’t have a Pre, try browsing the company’s phone-formatted Web site at mobile.flightview.com.

2. eSkyGuide

Cost: Free for two months (BlackBerry) $4.99/year (iPhone) Blackberry, iPhone (for more on iPhone App)

Look up flight schedules, airport codes and other critical travel minutia. This app, which is affiliated with Executive Travel, also lists phone numbers for airlines, hotels and car rental agencies. A list of international emergency numbers is available, too.

3. Airport Maps

airportmapsmobile.com Cost: $2.99 iPhone

Airports post restaurant and gate maps, but they’re never right in front of you when you need them. This app stores maps for all of the major U.S. and Canadian airports on your iPhone. Search for stores, ATMs, airline lounges and much more.

4. WorldMate Live

worldmate.com Cost: Free BlackBerry, iPhone

A jack of all trades for travelers, WorldMate converts currency based on current exchange rates, stores your flight itinerary, forecasts weather, references time zones and performs other useful tasks.


5. Evernote

evernote.com Cost: Free ($5/month for additional storage and security) BlackBerry, iPhone, Pre

Know all those scraps of paper you use to jot down ideas? Now you can save them forever and be eco-friendly at the same time. Just shoot a cameraphone photo of a handwritten note, record an audio clip or type in text. Evernote stores all your snippets online for quick search and anytime retrieval.

6. eOffice

quickoffice.com Cost: $29.95 BlackBerry

View and modify Word, Excel and Google docs straight from your BlackBerry, plus preview PowerPoint and other standard business files. You might use the eOffice extras, such as online storage and a faxing feature, only occasionally. But in a pinch, they’re crucial.

7. SplashID

splashdata.com Cost: $10–30, depending on platform BlackBerry, iPhone, Pre

For the best security, common wisdom dictates, we should use different passwords for every account. But who can remember them all? SplashID encrypts your passwords and other pieces of sensitive data, such as bank account and driver’s license numbers. One master key unlocks your cheat sheet.

8. Google Voice

google.com/voice Cost: Free (VoIP calls extra) BlackBerry

Google is gradually adding new users to its excellent phone number service. A single incoming number rings you anywhere you want, such as your cell phone, home or hotel. This mobile software provides easy access to voice and text messages, message transcripts and more.

9. LogMeIn Ignition

logmein.com Cost: $30 iPhone

Control your office PC or Mac from anywhere in the world. This app lets you log in securely, then displays your computer screen as if you were sitting in your office chair. Clever onscreen touches and keyboard prompts perform all commands.

10. Classic

motionapps.com Cost: $29.99 Pre

Palm’s Pre App Catalog is still young, but Classic runs thousands of apps designed for earlier Palm OS devices, like the Treo. Classic pretends that you’re still running the old hardware, making most—though not all—of those old favorites work on the new Pre.

11. i-Clickr PowerPoint Remote

senstic.com Cost: $9.99 iPhone

Go beyond those annoying PowerPoint slide clickers with this featured remote. Swipe forward and back to specific slides while leaving your eyes on the audience, then glance down to preview upcoming slides and see your talking points on-screen.

Away From Home

12. HNHSoft 2Go Talking Phrase Books

hnhsoft.com Cost: $19.99–29.99 BlackBerry, iPhone

Read and listen to phrase translations from English to many foreign languages. Choose from Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese and Korean, among others. Since these translators run fully from your iPhone or BlackBerry, you won’t have to rely on data connections abroad.

13. TeleNav GPS Navigation

telenav.com Cost: $9.99/monthBlackBerry, iPhone (3G and 3G S required)

Wake up in a new place? Google Maps (maps.google.com) gives basic maps and directions for your position. But TeleNav (called AT&T Navigator on iPhone) takes things a step further, adding spoken turn-by-turn directions and even rerouting you on the fly if you miss a street.

14. AccuWeather

accuweather.com Cost: Free iPhone, Pre

Automatically get the local forecast using your phone’s location features, or punch in your upcoming destination. AccuWeather includes details on how the day’s weather will develop, with Doppler rain maps on display so you can play forecaster for your colleagues.

15. Bank of America Mobile Banking

Cost: Free BlackBerry, iPhone

Access accounts, make transfers, find ATMs and pay bills from anywhere. If you’re not a Bank of America customer, your bank probably offers a similar tool. USAA, for instance, offers excellent features for frequent travelers, such as the ability to deposit a check by taking a picture of it (usaa.com).

News & Books

16. Shortcovers

shortcovers.com Cost: Approx. $1/chapter BlackBerry, iPhone, Pre

Chose from tens of thousands of books from major publishers, plus short stories and articles. Full-length books are typically offered with a free first chapter, and you can buy subsequent chapters à la carte—perfect for reading on the go when you don’t want to lug around a Kindle.

17. The New York Times

nytimes.com/services/mobile Cost: Free iPhone, Pre

In this self-contained reader app, browse the latest news by category: world, politics, science, technology and so on. Stories come from the Gray Lady, formatted for your device. (BlackBerry users should go straight to mobile.nytimes.com.)

18. Google Reader

m.google.com/reader Cost: Free BlackBerry

Your favorite news sites and blogs most likely offer an easy-access RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication). Google Reader downloads and compiles these feeds, letting you browse the latest articles in a manner similar to email, instead of jumping from site to site.

19. The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed.

enfour.com Cost: $29.99 iPhone

Our favorite iPhone dictionary crams in the entire American Heritage printed volume, with close to 300,000 terms. Since the data lives on your phone, you don’t have to go online to look up entries. More than 60,000 words include pronunciations, and many have pictures.

Dining & Leisure

20. Pandora

pandora.com Cost: Free with ads; $36/year without ads BlackBerry, iPhone, Pre

Unleash this music streaming software when you’re ready to relax. Enter a favorite artist or song, and Pandora plays those and other tracks that share similar traits, suiting your mood. Ideal for hotels, taxis and anywhere you can get online.

21. GoodFood

goodrec.com Cost: Free BlackBerry, iPhone, Pre

Make your smartphone into an always ready concierge. GoodFood automatically locates your position and shows nearby restaurants rated by other users of the app. Find one with a high score, enjoy your meal and post your own rating to share with fellow travelers.

22. AllSport GPS

trimbleoutdoors.com Cost: $9.99-27.99 BlackBerry, iPhone

Tap into your BlackBerry or iPhone’s built-in GPS to log runs wherever you travel. AllSport GPS traces your route, calculating speed, distance and calories burned. If you pass a shop or restaurant that looks intriguing, you can reference the map and return later.

23. YOGAmazing Podcast App

yogamazing.com Cost: $2.99 iPhone

Start or finish your day with these video-based yoga lessons that teach beginners the basics and guide more experienced yogis through a series of poses. While yogamazing podcasts are available in iTunes for free, this app compiles the best content and adds exclusive sessions.

24. ScoreMobile

thescore.com/scoremobile Cost: Free BlackBerry, iPhone

While some excellent apps track a single sport—baseball fans should try mlb.com/mobile—ScoreMobile is always in season. Check current scores and game recaps for football, basketball, hockey, golf and many other sports. There’s no need to leave your team behind while you’re on the road.

25. WunderRadio

wunderradio.com Cost: $6.99 BlackBerry, iPhone

Check in on your home team, favorite music sources and local DJs from afar. WunderRadio streams thousands of BlackBerry, iPhone stations, including online-only and terrestrial-based radio.

ZACK STERN has just launched Tappetizer.com, an iPhone app review site that tailors recommendations to your personal taste.

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