- The best iPhone apps for business owners include calendar tools, to-do lists and time management apps.
- You can also use iOS apps to search for data on demand and save articles to read later.
- The benefits of using these apps throughout the workday include easy notetaking and recording, accounting on the go, and remote project management.
- This article is for entrepreneurs and professionals interested in using mobile apps to streamline their daily processes.
As a business owner, you’re constantly looking for ways to streamline operations and get time back in your day. Fortunately, there are iPhone apps that can help you do just that, from task management to mobile accounting. The iPhone and iPad have evolved into all-purpose Swiss Army knives of technology that can get you through a busy workday and beyond. But Apple’s enormous library of apps – approximately 2.2 million and counting – could leave you befuddled as to which ones are right for you.
Below is our roundup of essential iOS apps to help you have a more productive and efficient workday. These apps aren’t necessarily the very best in their category – just one of the best. In fact, for some of these categories, we’ve historically made several recommendations. When that’s the case, you’ll see links to our additional reviews.
Calendar: Fantastical (free)
Fantastical offers an intuitive, easy-to-use alternative to the stock iPhone calendar app because it strikes a balance between features and ease of use and can assist you with better time management. You can view your calendar by day, week, month, quarter or year and drill down to see individual events. Plus, you can add events using natural speech, such as “Meet Ted for lunch at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.” You’re also notified as events approach. The app provides a handy task list alongside your calendar as well.
Task manager: Things 3 ($9.99)
The Things app optimizes a basic workflow that helps you collect your thoughts, get organized, manage your time and customize your processes. The app’s Share extension lets you create to-dos from other apps or use Siri on any device and import from Reminders. You can create a project and add steps to it, or organize by grouping similar tasks together and using tags for granular filtering.
You can also view calendar events with single or repeating to-dos to efficiently manage your time. The app is designed to work with Apple Watch, Calendar, Siri, Reminders and Notifications. A new Magic Plus Button lets you drag and drop to insert tasks anywhere in a list.
Scanning app: CamScanner (free, with premium version)
Sometimes you need to get a piece of paper into electronic format at a time when you can’t access a multifunction printer or scanning software. No matter where you are, CamScanner comes to the rescue by turning your iPhone camera into a scanner. Its convenient optical character recognition (OCR) tool quickly converts paper documents into JPEGs or PDFs.
Save your CamScanner files to the cloud or share them via email or text. The app offers scan-quality optimization and smart cropping so your receipts, contracts, office whiteboards and other documents look professional. CamScanner is free, but ad-supported with watermarks. A premium subscription removes ads and the watermark and includes 1,000 OCR edits per month while releasing the limit on how many folders you can create.
To-do list: Todoist (free, with premium version)
Todoist helps you charge through tasks by adding extra functionality to the traditional to-do list. In addition to setting up simple checklists, you can set due dates and rank tasks by priority to identify your next action item. Two paid versions of the platform, notably the Business plan, allow you to better collaborate with the rest of your staff.
These paid plans grant you more collaborators per project, and the Business plan includes a shared inbox. Both premium versions also come with reminders unavailable to free users. Todoist is capable of dozens of integrations with other apps, including Slack, Gmail and Google Calendar. [Related article: Practical Tips for Using Slack at Work]
Project management software: Trello (free, with premium version)
Trello is the ultimate digital bulletin board, allowing you to manage your projects and easily visualize your goals and tasks. It offers vast flexibility and add-on options for organizing, viewing and collaborating on your projects. With Trello, you can set up to-do lists, organize notes, jot down ideas, gather images, and collaborate with team members, whether they are in the office or on their way to a business meeting.
Trello’s customizable boards, lists and cards propel you into action as you drag the cards across the board to mark a project’s progress. Further build out your projects by adding checklists, labels and due dates. Use the Power-Ups feature to get a calendar view, or add locations to cards to get a map view.
Tip: View all of our recommendations for the best online project management software.
Productivity app: OmniFocus 3 (free, with premium version)
OmniFocus 3 is an all-in-one productivity app that allows you to record tasks and group them within projects. You can customize tasks and projects by adding collaborators and priority levels. OmniFocus comes with an easy-to-navigate interface you can use to review your list of tasks. Desktop and mobile notifications keep you on track, and you can share them with your Apple Watch. The app can point you to the best task for you to tackle next based on your in-app data.
Data on demand: Wolfram Alpha ($2.99)
Wolfram Alpha is not only a comprehensive, live encyclopedia, but it also gives you a compelling computational knowledge engine that can help you with any type of math or science problem. This app offers quick answers to complex math equations, making it one of the best calculators available, far superior to run-of-the-mill phone calculators. It has a variety of uses for hundreds of subjects, such as currency conversions or nutrition facts.
Document management software: Dropbox (free, with premium version)
Dropbox has become an almost ubiquitous app for cloud storage, collaboration and document management among professionals. You never have to worry about sharing large files and folders because the software can hold all types of files, documents, photos and data, allowing you to sync across devices and access files from anywhere. Linked files are available even to those who don’t have a Dropbox account. Other helpful features include a document scanner, shared folders and offline access.
FYI: Although Dropbox is a tried-and-true introductory document management system, some others are more advanced. Visit our roundup of highly rated document management software to find the right solution for your business – or, if you only have time to consider one more option.
PDF reader: PDFelement (free, with premium version)
PDFelement is a powerful PDF reader and editor that has all the critical tools you need to handle PDF documents from your phone. The app has an abundance of tools, including font recognition and editing, so you can change the style, size and color of text. Its annotation function lets you leave notes in text boxes or via freehand drawing. The camera feature allows you to snap a photo of a document and immediately turn it into a customizable PDF. You can also convert PDFs to TXT, HTML and dozens of other file formats. It integrates with the aforementioned Dropbox, Google Docs and other services for easy sharing and editing.
Time management: Hours (free, with premium version)
Everyone who has to track their hours among a multitude of projects knows how frustrating it can be. The worst part is forgetting when you started or ended a particular project when you need that information to bill it properly. Hours can track time by task or project and start, stop and switch timers at will. The app offers a timeline so you see the big picture of how your time is allocated, and allows you to correct mistakes. A team feature allows groups to track, analyze and report time collectively.
Read it later: Pocket (free, with premium version)
When you find an article or video you want to read or watch but don’t have time to view it immediately, you can save it for later with Pocket. The app syncs content across phones, tablets and computers, and you can access it offline for convenient reading when Wi-Fi isn’t available. It provides unlimited storage, letting you tag items for searching later. Suggested tags help you organize and find exactly what you’re looking for. You can even listen to articles saved in Pocket by tapping the Headphones icon.
Accounting software: FreshBooks Cloud Accounting ($4.50 per month)
Self-employed folks, small business owners and independent contractors know how hard it is to take control of billing and invoicing chores. FreshBooks Cloud Accounting can remove some of the sting from this often-tedious task. The app lets you create professional invoices, accept online payments, track your time and billable hours, keep automatic payment records, and record expenses all from your mobile device. FreshBooks is cloud-based, so it can securely sync your data to all platforms and devices. The app is free for 30 days, after which you will need a paid subscription, which starts at $4.50 per month.
Recording app: Just Press Record ($4.99)
Just Press Record is a vital app for business owners who want to record meetings or create voice memos throughout the day. The app has a few marquee features, such as the option to transcribe audio into editable, searchable text and sync with Apple Watch and iCloud. It supports 30 languages, so it’s well-equipped for international meetings with foreign partners.
Notetaking app: Paper (free, with premium version)
Sometimes the best ideas pop into our minds when working on something else, but recording and tracking those random thoughts can be daunting. Paper is the answer for iPhone users who prefer to jot down their notes by hand. You can create diagrams, charts and sketches with a wide variety of styluses. Newer versions, now owned by WeTransfer, offer updates to the full-screen canvas view.
Paper lets you add and manipulate multiple images to the same page and add photographs to projects. A Blend tool allows you to blend and blur the ink in your sketches to soften edges and smoothly combine colors, even if you don’t use a connected stylus. That’s a step beyond any apps built into your phone – which you could say about all the innovative apps on this list.
More mobile apps for work
Not an iPhone user? You’re in luck. See our recommendations for Android apps you can similarly use for efficient workday planning. Many offer the same benefits as the iOs options listed above. Some, like Trello, offer official Android versions so non-iPhone users won’t miss out.
Max Freedman and Brett Nuckles contributed to the writing and research in this article.