Multitask Your Mobile DevicesSometimes having a camera, camcorder or audio recorder can be a real productivity booster. But buying them can easily add up to a few hundred bucks--and far more if you've got multiple employees who need them--and then you've got to worry about them being lost.
A more efficient strategy is to leverage your smartphone. Most have a camera for still photos and video, and some--such as the new HTC Incredible from Verizon Wireless-- have resolutions of up to 8 megapixels (mp). That means the convenience of using your phone as a camera doesn't have to come at the expense of image quality.
Even a phone with a 3.2 mp camera--a resolution common today even in entry-level smartphones--is good enough to boost productivity. For example, use your smartphone's camera to photograph PowerPoint slides and other presentation materials, and jot down only what's not in the slides. This frees you to focus on what the presenter is saying, so you can ask questions as they come to mind, instead of hours or days later when you're reviewing--and when the presenter might not be available.
For recording phone calls (check the laws first) and face-to-face conversations, use your smartphone's audio-recording app (such as Windows Mobile's Voice Recorder) instead of buying and carrying a standalone digital or microcassette recorder. Afterward, sync your smartphone with your Mac or PC to transfer those recordings for transcription, archiving or e-mailing as an attachment. If your cellular service is fast enough, you also can e-mail the audio files right from your smartphone.
One tip: In your phone's settings, you should have several options for voice quality. Experiment to find the one (44,100 Hz, 16 Bit, Mono (86 KB/s) is a good choice) that provides the quality you need without creating audio files so big that they're a hassle to e-mail.
Find Your Way FastThere are plenty of navigation applications for smartphones, and they're a handy way to avoid wasting time trying to find an address. There are two main types: free and fee.
The fee category includes apps provided by your wireless carrier, such as Sprint Navigation and Verizon Wireless' VZ Navigator. Expect to pay about $10 per month per phone for unlimited usage, unless you've got one of those rare wireless plans--such as Sprint's Simply Everything--that includes navigation as part of the base price.
One of the best-known and most useful examples of the free category is Google Maps, which is available for most smartphone operating systems. One caveat: Although the app itself is free, you'll still have to pay your carrier for the data that the app uses, such as downloading traffic information. That's another reason why it's worth considering a smartphone plan that includes unlimited data.
Regardless of whether you go the free or fee route, this two-fer strategy minimizes the chances you'll waste time getting lost, and it saves the cost and hassle of carrying--or equipping your employees with--a separate navigation device. Bonus: You can copy addresses from your contact list into the navigation app instead of reading them from your smartphone screen and typing them into the GPS unit.
One bit of advice: If you need to use navigation while driving, find a car kit or some other gadget that will position your phone on your dashboard. That way, you don't have one hand holding the phone while driving, and the on-screen map is right where it's most convenient. Plus, the dashboard location gives the phone a clearer view of GPS satellites.
Get Your Passwords OrganizedYou probably have about 147 of them by now and have to hunt for 146 of them every time you need access to an account or service. Spend a few minutes to get them all in one secure, accessible place.
Our choice: Use your smartphone to keep track of all of your login and password information with apps such as eWallet and SplashID. Bonus: Because your smartphone likely is something you carry at all times, these apps also can store your logins, passwords and codes for your PC, secure doors, etc. Some solutions include the ability to scan the front and back of credit cards so you don't need to carry those.
So what happens to your passwords if your smartphone is lost or stolen? When comparing solutions, look for security features such as the ability to lock out an unauthorized user after a certain number of failed attempts to access your repository. For an additional layer of security, check with your smartphone's manufacturer or your wireless carrier to see if they offer a service where you can remote lock and erase the memory of a phone that's been lost or stolen. (One example is the Palm Pre.) There are also apps you can buy, such as Corsoft Warden and Sprite Terminator.