10 Essential Android Apps For Work, Home

Do you use your own Android phone at work? These 10 apps go the distance between home and office.

Kevin Casey, Contributor

November 29, 2012

11 Slides

If you use bring your own smartphone to work, there's about a 50-50 chance it's an Android-based device. Apple's iPhone is, of course, the other side of that coin. Sure, people also use BlackBerry and Windows Phone devices. But recent market share stats show Android and iOS power the overwhelming majority of smartphones in the United States, and the two are pretty much in a dead heat following the release of iPhone 5.

Android phones typically come with some business-friendly apps -- email, calendar, cloud storage and so forth -- though the pre-installed menu skews heavily toward other Google products like Gmail and Google Calendar. Unless you subsist entirely on Google fare for your digital life at home and work, you'll need additional apps to optimize your device. In some cases, it's a no-brainer -- if you spend every working moment in Salesforce.com, you'll probably want that data on any device you use. In other cases, it can be helpful to think in terms of tasks that you want or need to get done -- professional or personal -- on your phone.

Below are 10 ways to help bridge the gap between home and office. Security's important for any device but especially for one you carry and use everywhere, for example. You'll want to be able to access and share files from anywhere, something we're almost beginning to take for granted. And it's not only about being able to get work done with a personal device; you don't have to miss The Office (or whatever you watch on TV) because you're stuck at the office. You can set your DVR from your Android.

The emphasis here is on smartphones, though the most of the basic functions would apply to Android tablets, too. In some use cases, such as videoconferencing or accessing virtual desktops, the tablet form factor might actually be preferable.

Bear in the mind the elephant in the room: Corporate BYOD policy. Much of what you do (or don't do) with your Android at work will be governed by corporate rules on using personal hardware for business. Some companies have a light policy -- or none at all -- which means you're largely on your own. Some companies have a very thorough or even restrictive policy that may govern the apps that you can use or data you can access on your phone. Obviously, the sensible strategy is to follow the rules -- running afoul of them could mean your Android will be device non grata, or more serious consequences.

If your employer's bring-your-own policy falls into the "thorough" category, one upside is that you may be able to save some time, money, or both by using company-provided apps for things like security and collaboration instead of provisioning your own. If the company requires that you submit to remote wiping of data in certain situations, for example, they'll almost certainly provide the tools for doing so. (If they don't, the policy might need some fine-tuning.) You'd presumably be able to rely on company or vendor support for those apps, too.

If your employer's BYOD policy essentially amounts to "Sure, have at it" -- not what the lawyers recommend, but it's possible, especially in small and midsize business (SMB) environments -- you're probably not going to get much in the way of company-paid apps or support. But you'll have more freedom to download and install apps as you see fit. You'll just need to do your own cost-benefit legwork when it comes to paid apps, particularly if there's a free alternative.

Read on for 10 keys for the BYOD Android device. Got your own must-have apps for the Android you use at home and at work? Tell us about them in the comments below.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Casey


Kevin Casey is a writer based in North Carolina who writes about technology for small and mid-size businesses.

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