10 Mobile Apps Worth a Look
The following list highlights 10 apps that that may be of interest to you, your clients, or your clients' clients. They were featured during a session of AWEBLive!, the 12-hour CPE marathon, and presented by Gregory L. LaFollette CPA, CITP, CGMA, vice president of product strategy for CPA2Biz, and Marty McCutcheon, CPA, owner of Marty McCutchen, CPA P.C.
The important message here isn't "go download this app," but rather, "you need to understand this genre and why it's important to you and your clients." The list is far from exhaustive, but provides a general overview of what's surfacing among today's busy professionals—and more apps are always popping up. What is important is to know something exists to solve a particular need.
And finally, you should keep in mind that some of these apps are controversial. Indeed, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times on how two of the items on this list may lead to violations of multiple laws and regulations.
Using the GPS function on your phone, Wi-Fi Finder locates the nearest hot spot and tells you how to get there. It's a faster (free) alternative to searching for those cumbersome directions on little slips of paper at the nearby café.
In simple terms, it's a note-taking application that synchronizes across your computer, phone, tablet, and the Web.
McCutcheon started using this app at client meetings to take notes and send them to others in his firm to keep them apprised of what was going on in his practice. Now his wife also uses it to let him know what to pick up at the grocery store—typically chocolate ice cream.
Think of this as an RSS feed on steroids. It's essentially a free way to get all the news you want in one spot to organize as you see fit.
McCutcheon sorts through the information and then sends specific articles to specific clients that care about those topics—a better system than sending the same message to everyone. He says it takes him less than 10 minutes a day and clients appreciate the personal attention.
Dropbox serves as an online document storage repository, but it might be a better place for casual documents, like a magazine article you're working on, rather than for client docs. This isn't necessarily the right application for accountants to store all their clients' personally identifiable information, LaFollette said, adding he believed the same to be true for Evernote. There has been some press around security issues with Dropbox, and the company is making significant moves to address those. The question is whether a firm wants to put its most private client information in a potentially less secure environment than the firm's four walls.
LaFollette made the following analogy: "I have a lock on my house. It's designed to keep people out. But it's a different lock than on the bank or on Fort Knox. It depends how important the data is."
With so many websites requiring different passwords, with different rules, who can keep track? As long as you can remember your Keeper password, this app will do the rest for you. It ranges in price from $9.99 a year for individual use to $59.99 per year for office team use. Keeper has a bunch of competitors, including Dashlane; LastPass; oneSafe; SplashID Safe; Norton Identity Safe; Password Genie; Roboform; and Ilium eWallet.
While McCutcheon relies on apps to remember his passwords, LaFollette offered a strategy for creating easily memorized passwords that are significant to the user but not to anyone else (see sidebar).
A Foolproof Password Technique
- Select and memorize an 8-character nonsense string including upper and lower case letters, numerals, and symbols. Example: qh^64Tp%
- Select 2 "spots" within that string, such as the third and seventh character, here noted with an X. Example: qhX^64XTp%
- Select 2 "spots" within the name of the website or service you're registering, such as the first and third characters. Example 1: wellsfargo.com = wellsfargo ("w" and "l"); Example 2: cchgroup.com = cchgroup ("c" and "h")
- Insert the website characters into your password, into the third and seventh spots: Example 1: qhw^64lTp% and Example 2: qhc^64hTp%
The result is a single password that's the same for you but different for every website and nearly impossible for a hacker to figure out.
TripIt is a travel planner and organizer that automatically takes all your trip details, such as hotels and flights, and creates a single itinerary that syncs across your devices, your calendar, and online at tripit.com. LaFollette sets up rules in Outlook to forward all e-mails from airlines, hotels, and rental cars to TripIt and gives his wife and administrative assistant access to all the information.
Anyone who has ever opened a takeout food container to reveal an unrecognizable item may be interested in this online food delivery service, which allows users to type in specific instructions. Firms trying to keep their employees productive during crunch time may find it interesting that 60 percent of business clients Seamless surveyed said they were less productive, had difficulty concentrating, and were moody when skipping meals, yet nearly half of employees (40 percent) sometimes skip lunch due to heavy workloads.
This service provides short-term room rental service between "hosted" apartments, rooms, and B & B's, on one hand, and patrons wishing to rent them, much to the chagrin of local hotels.
Ever out on a late meeting in a busy city unable to hail a cab? This nearly-on-demand black car or taxi service is typically cheaper than traditional black car services, allows users to see each car's exact location description and customer rating, and centralizes credit card payment so there's no more fumbling at drop-off time.
A large, free aggregator of public individual information. The company will provide a report that shows you what companies know about you when they purchase targeted email addresses, which then result in your seeing certain advertisements. Users can correct, redact, or remove the information.
The entire webinar and slides are available on the AWEBLive! site.
About the author:
Alexandra DeFelice is senior manager of communication and program development for Moore Stephens North America, and a regional member of Moore Stephens International Limited, a network of more than 360 accounting and consulting firms with nearly 650 offices in more than 100 countries. Alexandra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.