Column: Tricks & Tips
We live in a mobile and always-on world, and where the smartphone by itself was once lauded (or blamed) for our incredible connectivity, that honor now belongs to the app. An abbreviation for the word application that was used almost only by developers and computer techs just a couple of years ago, the term is now firmly entrenched in the vocabulary of almost everyone, from age 5 to 85.
Even those who don’t use smartphones know what apps are, largely because of the catchy Apple slogan, “There’s an app for that.” Considering that Apple’s App Store has been in existence for less than three years, this is quite a feat. And now that there are more than 350,000 apps and games (as of January 2011) available through Apple’s App Store, there very likely is “an app for that,” whatever that happens to be. In fairness, there are other mobile device app stores, most notable being the Android Market, which at the time of this writing had more than 200,000 apps. The nearest competitors from there include Blackberry with about 25,000 apps, the new Windows Phone Marketplace with nearly 13,000 as of early April 2011, and Palm, with less than 10,000 apps as of the end of 2010.
While many of these apps are games or utilities with minimal purpose, the last two years have seen an avalanche of truly useful personal and business-focused tools. Many of these consumer apps are familiar, offering banking tasks, document productivity tools, calendars and options for news, sports, hobbies, travel, e-books, social networking and even auto diagnostics, to name a few.
Even though useful, several of these apps are still geared toward entertainment. However, there are some real business apps out there, including some specifically designed for accounting professionals, and even some designed by accounting pros. With hundreds of thousands of apps from which to choose, we can’t possibly cover them all. But here are some you might find to be productivity boosters for you or your small business clients.
Apps For Tax & Accounting Professionals
BNA Quick Tax Reference – Free
Offers instant access to standard mileage rates; individual, corporate and estate tax rates; standard deductions/exemptions; Sec. 179 limits; and other information.
Mobile CS from Thomson Reuters – Free
Gives users of the Practice CS system quick, anywhere access to data, such as client and staff information, firm details, WIP, AR, project management and scheduling functions. (Requires Practice CS.)
CCH Mobile – Currently Free
Allows for simple smartphone access to CCH’s IntelliConnect tax research platform, including customizable Tax Tracker News, primary materials such as the IR Code and Regulations, various tax tools and calculators, and even the Smart Charts feature. Users can also save and email any document from the app. (Subscription to IntelliConnect may be required after mid-2011.)
Mobile Accountant (mAccountant) – $6.99
Designed for accountants, offering a single app to track client information, expenses, billable time, CPE credits, staff schedules, travel details and deadlines. The vendor also offers specific apps for time and expense tracking, staff management and consulting.
Documents to Go Office Suite – $9.99
Offers fully featured viewing, editing and creation of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, as well as the ability to view Adobe PDF, Apple iWork and other files. The system integrates with Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox and other online file storage and sharing tools. Users can also view and edit email attachments from within the app.
iAnnotate PDF – $9.99
Designed specifically for use on the iPad, this app allows users to open and work within PDFs, including filling out forms, adding signatures, entering notes, sketching, copying, bookmarking, underlining, stamping and highlighting functions. All annotations are directly integrated into the PDF, making them viewable by all recipients. It can be used with a stylus or simply a finger drag on the iPad touch screen.
Apps for Your Clients
Intuit GoPayment Credit Card Terminal – Volume-based pricing
Allows small businesses or individuals to easily accept credit cards from wherever they are. Comes with a free card reader; no contracts, monthly fees or merchant account necessary. Upon download, they send you a free credit card swipe reader that plugs into the mobile device. The app itself and the card reader are free; pricing is 2.7% of each transaction. This is great for small businesses, especially mobile service professionals, such as plumbers, electricians and contractors.
Mobile Paycheck for SurePayroll – Free
Designed for the employees of businesses who use SurePayroll (or accounting firms managing multiple employers). It lets paid staff instantly access their detailed pay stubs and payroll data the instant they are paid. They can also see accrued and used paid time off, view historical data and check wage and retirement deduction contribution rates.
If I missed an app that you think can help boost productivity for tax and accounting professionals or their clients, let us know (email editor@CPAPracticeAdvisor.com or post a comment on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cpapracticeadvisor). Also, keep in mind that every app above (and most ever made) are available for the iPhone and iPad (since they run on the same platform), and most are now available for Android phones. Users of other devices need to check availability … or use that as an excuse to get a new phone.
Top 5 Not-Free iPhone Apps for 2010
- Angry Birds
- Doodle Jump
- Bejeweled 2
- Fruit Ninja
(All of the top 10 are games.)
Source: Apple AppStore April 2011