The five best productivity apps of 2012

Before you flip the calendar to 2013, make sure to stock your smartphone with this time- and efficiency-boosting apps.

It's been a big year for smartphones--the iPhone 5, the Galaxy S III, the debut of Windows Phone 8--but as always, it's the apps that matter.

Thankfully, 2012 witnessed the arrival of many killer apps for business users, tools that can save time, lower costs, and turbocharrge your overall productivity. Best of all, those that aren't free cost only a few bucks.

Below I've rounded up my picks for the five best business apps of the year--a mixture of gems for Android and iOS alike. These aren't the typical mainstream picks like Evernote and LogMeIn, which, though often invaluable to business users, have been on the scene for ages. No, I've got five lesser-known apps that deserve greater recognition. And that starts right here.

1. CallFlakes (Android)

Think about what you normally do after a phone call. CallFlakes does it for you. This clever ad-supported app swoops in whenever you end a call, offering six handy follow-up options: Text, Reminder, Email, Meeting, Share, and Call. (There's also a Web-search button in case you want to immediately Google something.)

It's literally a one-tap affair to launch any of those functions--incredibly useful for anyone who makes and takes a lot of calls.

2. Glyder (iOS)

Marketing can make or break a small business. With Glyder, you can create and distribute a variety of marketing messages--a daily deal, a coupon, a thank-you note, etc.--across a variety of platforms (email, Facebook, text message, etc.), all with a few taps on your iPhone. The app is incredibly easy to use and a real boon to any on-the-go business owner seeking a quick and effective marketing tool.

3. MailShot (iOS)

It's kind of ridiculous that iOS doesn't let you create email groups. MailShot does. With it you can build mail distribution groups (sales team, marketing department, key clients, etc.) right on your iPhone, then adds those groups to your address book, where they're accessible from all other apps. It's even Siri-friendly. The free version limits you to three groups with five recipients each; for all of $3.99, MailShot Pro raises the cap to 100 groups and 100 contacts. That's four bucks very well spent.

4. Maluuba: Your Siri Alternative (Android)

It may look like a Windows Phone app, but Maluuba has Apple in its crosshairs--specifically Siri, as evidenced right in its name. This voice-powered helper app that can do everything from checking the weather to scheduling appointments to finding the closest Fedex box. And unlike Siri, it doesn't yammer on and on; it just works. For free.

5. WorkFlowy (iOS)

WorkFlowy is little more than a browser-based outliner, but it's precisely that stripped-down simplicity that makes it such a powerful organization tool. I'll be honest: the WorkFlowy app is barely better than the mobile browser-based version. But it doesn't have to be. However you interact with WorkFlowy on your smartphone, you'll quickly come to find it indispensable.

Well, those are my picks. Now hit the comments and tell me which business apps rocked your world in 2012.

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Rick Broida

PC World (US online)
Topics: Business mobility, Evernote, Google, apps, smartphones, productivity, business, logmein, mobile, mobile applications
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