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Top free, essential business apps for Apple's iPhone

What are some of the best, free business-related apps for the iPhone on offer?

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Topic: Mobility
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1 of 11 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Timekeeping, task management

Timekeeping is an important element at every rung of the enterprise ladder, and there are a number of apps to keep you organized and aware of the day ahead. For keeping your thoughts in order, consider the note-syncing app Evernote -- which was updated this week for improved Mac functionality -- to create and store notes formed from text, web pages, photographs or audio. The reminders app, native to the iPhone, is handy to stop you missing meetings, and both Wunderlist and Todoist are free, simple, elegant apps for creating to-do lists and inputting daily tasks. 

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Account management

Whether you're running an SMB or need to keep track of your expenses to cash in later, you no longer need to rely on pen-and-paper records. Apps such as Check and Expensify give you overviews of your accounts, cash flows, expenses and investments. Check is a clear and concise app which is useful for budget planning, whereas Expensify also includes the option to monitor your credit score. 

If you want a more comprehensive solution which includes budgets, reporting tools, synchronisation across accounts and PIN protection, consider using Mint.  

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Receipts

As part of record keeping, sometimes you need to store away receipt copies -- and it can be difficult to keep track with wads of paper stuffed into your wallet. Instead, consider using OneReceiptExpenseMagic or Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker to record your mileage, expenses, and generate monthly expense reports. 

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4 of 11 Charlie Osborne/ZDNet

Document storage

Being able to view, save and store documents on the go is becoming more important in the business realm, especially with the explosion of mobile technology. Popular applications including Dropbox -- available in both free and premium versions -- are often used, as well as Google Drive, which allows users to edit, view, save and collaborate on documents.

For something more secure, consider Stash, a $4.99 file locker. 

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Document annotation, viewing, editing

However, document storage facilities may not help when you need to annotate and share specific document types. PDFs, for example, are often used for contracts and reports, and if you need to check and sign these files quickly, a dedicated viewer is a necessity. A range of free apps are available on the market: SignEasy allows you to sign and fill in documents on the go; PDF Reader is a user-friendly app for annotating and altering .PDF files, and PDF Splicer is a handy app for slicing and dicing hefty .PDF files into multiple parts. 

Third-party apps aside, don't forget to explore iWork -- Apple's native solution for viewing and editing documents, spreadsheets and presentations. 

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On the road

As the world becomes more interconnected and business deals take place not only locally but across different countries, a plethora of apps useful for the business traveler have appeared on the market. Although there are thousands, Kayak and TripIt are comprehensive travel itinerary organisers, TripAdvisor is useful for finding local recommendations, and Citymapper offers maps for major cities worldwide. In addition, as controversial as the app may be, Uber's personal taxi service can get you out of a tight spot if you need a ride. 

Hipmunk is an interesting alternative travel planner as the app includes alternative accommodation such as Airbnb and Homeaway, as well as flight and standard hotel searches.  

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Collaboration, team management

Project managers who need leave the office often need to be able to keep tabs on their employees when out and about. As a result, apps which link a team together can prove invaluable. Zoho gives project managers the chance to view tasks on the go, check comments from linked users -- such as employees involved in specific projects -- and submit time sheets. Mindjet Tasks is an alternative free application which includes real-time task assignment, updates and team postings. 

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Networking

Everyone in business understands the importance of forging connections and networking, and in today's business environment, doing so online has become an important factor of maintaining relationships. A number of apps are available to help you maintain your business relationships, including Happening -- which is worth a mention due to its search function for local professional events despite a $1.99 price tag. The more obvious options are LinkedIn and Skype, as well as private chat app Campfire and the ever-useful Addappt, which sends a note to all your contacts automatically when your details change. 

Camcard is also useful for scanning, reading and storing business card information.

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Social media, brand awareness

Not only are applications useful in maintaining personal business contacts and relationships, but they can also be used to connect with your customers and improve brand awareness. Across social media, apps such as Hootsuite can make managing business accounts across networks like Twitter easy and manageable through one platform.

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Data protection

As cyberattacks gain momentum and become more prevalent -- impacting the business community more and more each year -- keeping your data secure from the bottom to the top and across both mobile devices and corporate networks is a necessity.

Consider enabling Find my iPhone for cases of theft, two-factor authenticated password tracker Keeper Password & Data Vault, and Album lock to individually protect albums on your iPhone. 

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Better, more intuitive keyboards

Apple devices may come with a number of useful applications, features, power and good battery life, but the keyboard has long been a bone of contention for some users. As a result, app developers have created their own alternatives -- including the popular SwiftKey -- or consider CoolKey for some extra colour.

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