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10 voice controlled smartphone apps that help run your business

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Efficiency in running a business

How to effectively run a business has been a major topic of debate for decades. As businesses have evolved, so has that debate. Some believe that in-person, face to face interaction is the best way to retain and gain a solid and stable customer base, while others believe that customers prefer to use the internet to resolve issues or update accounts rather than speaking with a person directly. Even so, many business owners can agree that utilizing new technology can enhance productivity, lessen stress, and save time. Smartphones (like the iPhone and Android) are compatible with apps that can act as shortcuts in the daily life of any business owner. For those not ready to upgrade their iPhone to access Siri, below are five iPhone and five Android voice-activated apps that can revolutionize the way you manage your business and employees.

Five voice controlled iPhone apps:

Vlingo – Vlingo is marketed as a virtual assistant, and is very similar to Siri. By speaking in commands—such as “email Tony,” “call Shirley,” or even “find post office”—you can continue with your work, your commute, or your business lunch meeting without any problems. It also connects to your social media accounts, so you can update your company or personal Facebook or Twitter accounts easily and quickly. The Vlingo app has full functionality and is a free download.

Voice Secretary Lite – With the ability to update your schedule and set reminders just by speaking aloud, the Voice Secretary Lite app can turn your iPhone into your own secretary. You also have the option to send emails with voice messages attached—whether you’re sending them to family, clients, or employees. It even provides a back-up of audio files to your computer. The Voice Secretary Lite app is free, but if you’re looking for additional features, the Voice Secretary app costs $3.99 regularly and sometimes is on sale for $1.99.

AudioNote Lite – If your life is made up of many business meetings, AudioNote Lite may be able to help keep you organized. It records audio, and as you write notes, it links them to that section of the audio recording. This allows you to revisit meetings and discuss the meetings prior—meaning there is no need for a secretary to take minutes during meetings. It can even be used while you’re interviewing potential employees. AudioNote Lite limits you to ten minutes for each note you take, with a maximum of two hours of audio, and it’s free. However, if you need unlimited audio and note-taking, you can upgrade to the full version for $4.99.

iTranslate – Depending on your business, you may need to interact with those who speak different languages. iTranslate is a free app that allows you speak and have a custom translation repeat what you’ve said, in up to eleven languages. An additional thirty-two languages are available, but not with voice. It even enables you to send the translations through emails.

Voice Memo Recorder – For $0.99, you can download Voice Memo Recorder and have recorded, saved, and prioritized memos right on your iPhone. The Voice Memo Recorder app allows you to record a memo up to an hour in length, title memos so they’re easier to find later, and categorize memos by color or number, whichever works best for you and your business needs.

Five voice controlled Android apps:

Voice Actions – This app can be used for both your personal life and your business. The Voice Actions app allows you to use your phone’s key functions through voice commands. You can voicedial your business contacts, get the latest news about your industry, and set alarms or schedule reminders. The Voice Actions app is a free download, but it can be upgraded to Voice Actions Plus for $2.99.

Dictosyl – This is the app to consider if you need to record and email dictations to your secretary, assistant, or employees, so that the recordings can then be transcribed. Because the Dictosyl app is free, it’s a cheaper alternative than traditional dictation and transcription software that is commonly used by doctors, nurses, medical transcriptionists, and other professionals.

Rembr Lite – The Rembr Lite app is all about adding calendar events—such as appointments, meetings, and deadlines. All you have to do is speak which type of calendar event it is, the place, and the time, and it’s added right to your calendar. The voice-activated calendar makes it easy to add events while driving or any other activity that may limit your ability to manually add an event. While there are many voice-activated calendar apps, Rembr Lite is free, and of course can be upgraded for $1.99.

Voice Email Client – The Voice Email Client app is $1.99 to download and has many useful features, including audibly reading your received emails, transcribing your voice in an email you want to send, sorting through your emails with simple voice commands, and allows you to monitor several email accounts at once.

Clipboard Voice – You can save any text in your clipboard and the Clipboard Voice app will repeat it back to you. This is helpful if you’re configuring notes, emails, or company memos and prefer not to refer back and forth, from your clipboard to your computer screen. This app costs $0.99 per download, and it could even benefit your secretary or assistant.

Being a business owner today is different than it was ten years ago—five years ago, even. With the many technological advances, it can be difficult to keep up and maintain the relevance of your current technology and business model. However, utilizing the above apps—and many more just like them—you have affordable business and technological solutions conveniently on your smartphone, which can save you time, money, and your sanity.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Ben Goheen

    October 17, 2011 at 8:24 am

    FYI: Vlingo also has an Android app – I've been using it for a few years now

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Smartphones

LG G Flex will have a curved display: why it even matters

The LG G Flex is exciting as it is curved, but there are much deeper implications of this announcement that your company should take note of before your competitors do.

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LG G Flex to feature curved display

You may have heard that Samsung will launch a smartphone with a curved display (although they’ve so far fallen short on their plans to produce their smartphone prototype that is completely flexible), but did you know that LG is hot on their heels, with rumors of the LG G Flex launching this November?

As depicted above, what is believed to be called the LG G Flex is similar to a standard smartphone in shape, with just a slight curve, using plastic OLED screen technology

CNET reports that sources close to the project say the G Flex will have a six-inch display and November is the projected unveiling, but that could always be pushed back (although to be in time for the holiday shopping season, we suspect it will be a November launch).

Samsung will likely unveil their curved display phone this month, and there are rumors that the Galaxy Note 3 could feature a curved display as well.

Curved does not equal flexible

So why develop a curved display? Analysts point to the device actually fitting around your face naturally for making calls, and others note that it fits in a rear pocket more comfortably with a curve.

Curved does not equal flexibility, though, as the devices are still stationary, but the reason the LG G Flex being curved matters to you is that mass production of this type of technology is the precursor to what’s coming next – flexible devices.

Looking into a crystal ball

LG already introduced a curved 55-inch OLED tv panel, and was first to the finish line with the ability to mass produce fully flexible plastic screens, announced last year with their electronic paper display (EPD) product, sold overseas.

The LG EPD is not just flexible, allowing the screen to bend up to 40 degrees from its center, it is a 6 inch, 1024 x 768 e-ink plastic screen. The technology used mimics the way traditional ink appears on paper, which many prefer over the backlit flat panel displays of tablets and computers. The EPD is only 0.7mm thick, weighs 14 grams (that’s 1/33 of a pound) and is said to be scratch resistant when dropped.

Flexibility is next, and it is relevant for your brand not just for the novelty of having a flexible device, but because the way people interact with your website or app could be changing sooner than you might suspect.

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Smartphones

iPhone 6 concepts beginning to emerge

With all the hub-bub about iOS 7 and iPhone 5, several iPhone 6 concepts have emerged. The most prominent feature is the wrap around screen.

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Looking into the future

Whether you are an Android lover or an Apple fanatic, people love to fantasize about what the newest phone release will bring, from hologram keyboards, an added projector, and so forth. As for the iPhone 6, the most common feature designers and fans think it will have is the wrap around screen. AGBeat has featured this concept several times, and while it has yet to become reality, there seems to be high hope for the iPhone 6 release.

Dribble users have designed and shared several concept models, all of which have the wrap around screen, also known as the infinity screen. This design allows a more engaged user experience, by removing the side casing. The sides have a flat, touch-responsive volume control and a much thinner design overall. And some additional revisions (based upon Cladio Guglieri’s original) have included wifi, Bluetooth, do not disturb, airplane mode, and rotation lock icons, right on the side.

These additions give you instant access to your most used controls, without the need to tap through to gain access to the settings screen. Also, with the extra features, the opposite side of the phone shows your message status, emails, and music controls. DeviantArt also has multiple postings of the infinity screen design. This is absolutely amazing to me because there is so much information in such a limited amount of space. The thickness of the phone in the concept states 0.30 inches; it is really hard to believe an email icon can fit and be legible, but it does.

Other futuristic possibilities

There are also several versions that include aluminum plus carbon fiber casing, in many different variations. Although most still remove the edges from the iPhone 5 design. Behance users have also created several examples of this design concept. With touch sensors wrapping the display edge, concept designers believe no borders means nothing between your hands and the display. And they hope accidental gestures can be prevented with the sensors, although this is just a concept. You certainly would not want to pick the phone up to answer a call from your boss and accidentally start your iTunes playlist.

The only problem I see with this beautiful design is protecting the edges, despite designers touting the durability of the new technologies. As someone who frequently drops their phone, and attempts to keep it safe by using a protective case, I wonder how you can utilize the edges, but still keep the phone safe. Also, I would be interested to see, how often holding the phone triggers the side sensors. Otherwise, I think the wrap around design is both beautifully functional and a long overdue, welcome feature.

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Smartphones

Contacts+ app adds productivity to any Android

Android users: Contacts+ is a great new way to manage your contacts, making a potentially frustrating process simple and streamlined, adding productivity to your phone.

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Contacts+ is more than a contact manager

Contacts+ is more than just a contact manager though, it is also a dialer app and combines photos with information from all your connected services: WhatsApp, Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Contacts+ is a welcome alternative to the Andriod favorite Smartr. Since Smartr was recently acquired by Yahoo!, Contacts+ could not have come at a better time.

You can send free and regular messages without switching apps, sync pictures to your contacts, including cover photos, from Facebook and get birthday reminders.

How the app works

With optimization for both Android phone and tablets, you have the ability to sort your contacts in a variety of ways without worrying if you will be able to see all the data. You can sort by groups, favorites, smart contact (prioritization by frequency or A-Z), and search message history of your contact from one place. If you happen to have the same contact in your phone more than once, Contacts+ will sync them together to save you any confusion.

One tap opens a contact card, and then you can tap again to make calls or email them. Once the contact card is open, you can also catch up on their social media life. Leo from Contacts+ writes, “they have a sync process with Facebook and Google+, essentially users connect their accounts (authentication is performed securely through the respective service) and once an account is connected, Contacts+ links and syncs contacts based on unique identifiable information, enabling them to automatically connect your contacts and their identities.”.

New features have been added

The newest features include high res picture sync, a new black theme, T9 search in the call log, Dialer+ shortcut that can be opened over your call log/contacts screen, the ability to call back directly from the incoming message pop up and ignore accents improvements.

The only drawback is that some of the “sorting” features are a bit harder to find. You will need to tap through a couple of different options to find the ability to sort by last name, for example. But, once you get used to it, it really is a nice way to manage your contacts. Contacts+ is free in the Google Play store.

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