Apps that mean business

Travelling for work? Download these apps to keep you on track


Are you the incessant air-mile collector like George Clooney in the 2009 Hollywood film Up In The Air? The kind of business traveller who’s more at home at airports across the world rather than back at home? If yes, these apps might help you reduce your stress and get some more work done on the go.

HipChat

Want to chat and video chat on the go with your team? Head to HipChat, a group chat platform for teams. Other than allowing voice and video chats in groups, it also lets you screen-share, share files through a simple drag-and-drop interface and share code and ideas with your teams. You can have a one-to-one with a co-worker from the team at any point. If there’s a meeting on HipChat that you weren’t able to attend, you can see the chat history and continue conversations right where you left them. All communication through HipChat is encrypted so it’s safe for meetings. The best part? It runs on almost every platform.

Hipchat.com; free on iTunes, Google Play, Linux, Windows, Mac and the Web. In-app (or additional) purchase of the video-calling service costs $2 (or around Rs.120) a month

Mynd

Mynd is a smart calendar which manages your time efficiently. Updated in July, the app syncs your existing calendars and then uses its adaptive machine learning to help you like a virtual assistant, getting smarter with every choice you make. The aim is to save you time, manage your goals, prepare you for meetings and get you from point A to B. You can dial-in to conference calls with one click; the calendar also coordinates a group’s meeting by proposing multiple meeting times. Every morning it will warn you of how long it will take you to reach work. It also syncs with your LinkedIn account and automatically discovers and displays information about the people you’re going to meet.

Mynd.me; free on iPhone

WorldMate

Want someone to make an itinerary for you? Head to WorldMate. All you have to do is forward your flight and hotel confirmation emails to trips@worldmate.com and the app converts it into an itinerary. Once your itinerary is made, the app will send flight alerts and if it perceives you’re going to miss it, WorldMate sends details of alternative flights to the same destination. You can share the itinerary, add more to the schedule and get a map view of your travels. Updated in July, the app also recommends hotels based on your past trips and personal preferences. The best feature is its LinkedIn integration, which alerts you if any of your colleagues are nearby for an impromptu meeting or dinner. Worldmate.com; free on Google Play, iTunes and Windows Phone

DocuSign

Meant for managers who don’t want to keep decisions pending while they’re travelling, DocuSign lets you sign documents electronically and send them in just minutes to your team. Built on digital transaction management technology, which is a category of secure cloud-based software to digitally manage business transactions, DocuSign electronic signatures are valid and legally binding across the world.

First your team uploads documents (it supports Microsoft Word, PDF and other formats) online to sites like Dropbox and Google Drive. They can also drag-and-drop tags to indicate where they need signatures on that document. You import the document in the app, add your signature into the document through a scanned copy of your signature or signing with your fingertip, place text, date fields and check boxes to complete forms. Then you forward the document to others for their signatures through email. The app, which was updated earlier this month, offers bank-grade security to ensure the authenticity and confidentiality of your signing and works offline too.

Docusign.com; $10 onwards a month on Google Play, iTunes and Windows Phone

Expensify

One of the best apps to file expense reports on the go, Expensify is aimed at frequent business travellers. “Filing expenses after a business trip is a pain,” says David Barrett, chief executive officer, Expensify. “We give our clients freedom from a pocketful of crumpled receipts.” The freedom is achieved through a sleek app in which you can quickly add cash expenses, capture mileage, time and other reimbursable or billable expenses.

The in-built smartscanner scans a receipt, logs it and then automatically matches it with the expense. Receipts, trip itineraries and any attachments can be emailed to your Expensify account as well. It lets you take photographs of receipts, upload and store them. If you’re a manager, you can bulk-approve your team’s receipts in one click. The app was updated in July and has been downloaded more than 500,000 times on Android and about 576,000 times on iTunes till date.

Expensify.com; free on iTunes, Google Play, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and the Web. Paid plans for teams start from $5 per user

Uber

Uber is a simple way of booking cabs on the go using your GPS location. All you have to do is launch the app, click a button to activate your location and choose the ride you would like. The nearest cab will come and pick you up in a few minutes. You can track it real time to know where it is.

The app offers five kinds of rides in more than 170 cities in 44 countries, the cheapest being hatchbacks and the costliest the limo (if you feel like splurging on company expense). The pricing is dynamic, depending on the day and time. “You don’t have to worry about carrying the right currency or change,” says Bangalore-based Bhavik Rathod, general manager, Uber India. “The ride is billed seamlessly to your credit card on file and the receipt is emailed to you so you can expense it to the company easily.” The company has recently launched Uber for Business, which allows business travellers to switch easily between their personal and business payment options and maintain a travel dashboard for companies to view and monitor.

Uber.com; free on Google Play, iTunes, Windows Phone and the Web

TripLingo

Meant for international travellers, TripLingo is a translation app that makes it convenient to communicate in foreign countries. First, it gives you a quick language lesson through audio
lessons, flashcards and quizzes. Second, it offers you local phrases which are part of the city’s and the language’s slang. “From learning basic phrases, instantly translating your voice, connecting you to a live voice translator and getting essential cultural tips, TripLingo does it all,” says Jesse Maddox, CEO of TripLingo, which is based in Atlanta, US. Though the service is rather steeply priced, you are ensured safety with their live voice translators.

Updated in June, the app also offers other useful tools like an intelligent tip calculator, a currency converter and the ability to make international calls through a Wi-Fi connection, without having to pay costly roaming fees. “Our app makes it easy for travellers to build a rapport with foreign counterparts and show respect for local customs by understanding local etiquette,” says Maddox. Later in the year, they plan to more than double the languages offered (from the 13 currently to 28), launch an app meant for non-English speakers and also release a Windows Phone version in 2015.

Triplingo.com; $20 a month onwards on Google Play and iTunes

FlightTrack

Meant for corporate honchos who have a series of flights in a work week, FlightTrack does exactly what its name suggests. It automatically groups all your flights in the week, colour-codes them and informs you when the flight arrives, at which airport and which gate, and whether it might be getting delayed. “FlightTrack puts travellers at ease by delivering real-time updates for flight departure and arrival times, delays, and gate numbers to mobile devices,” says Tarran Vaillancourt, senior public relations manager, Mobiata, the app maker based in San Francisco, US. The new version of FlightTrack, which released in May, automatically adds destination images to your trips and shows you more data about your flights.

Mobiata.com; $4.99 on iTunes and Google Play

MapHook

MapHook is ideal for business travellers who need to quickly find out what’s available around them. Its map view allows you to instantly find restaurants, points of interest, hotels or even tips from locals, all within the app. The latest update for MapHook in July went through a major redesign to make it easy-to-use. Now the app includes content from Yelp, Wikipedia, even Groupon, as well as real-time trends from Yahoo! News, Twitter and Foursquare, all for that particular GPS spot you’re standing on. “If you travel to the same locations on a regular basis,” says Matt Link, vice-president, MapHook, “instead of trying to remember which restaurants were good for clients, you can simply bookmark the place in your MapHook app and save them as a story for that city.”

Maphook.com; free on Google Play and iTunes

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