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The best Android apps for home businesses

by Kristen Nicole

If you often work from the second-bedroom-turned-office, as I do, you’ll appreciate how much your handy Android can do for you.  An ever-present personal assistant, your smartphone can track your mileage, re-route your calls and accept credit card payments, all without a second thought on your part.

Tracking and organization

Expensify’s free Android app acts as a receipt scanner and expense tracker -- ideal for home businesses.  Manually enter information, or upload it from a photo.  The option to import expenses and receipts directly from your credit card or bank account makes tracking expenses even easier. Expensify also has an accompanying website, so you can manage your account from anywhere.

PageOnce Personal Finance centralizes money and travel matters in a single Android app. Manage and pay bills, monitor your credit card and bank accounts, track your investment portfolio and your frequent flier miles with this handy app. With the $7.99 Pro app, you get cell phone logs, push alerts -- and even your Netflix queue.

Also acting as a personal assistant of sorts, the Reqall app is all about centering your digital life; manage tasks, ideas, voice notes and your schedule, with voice recognition capabilities making data input a little easier. This free Android app syncs with your Outlook and Google calendars, has sharing options for collaborative tasks, and can send alerts based on time and location.

Anyone with a home business knows the importance of remote access to files.  DocumentsToGo lets you view, edit and create all sorts of documents, from Microsoft Office to Adobe PDFs. Graphics are included, files can be password protected, and you can share them as needed to keep your team or clients abreast of project developments. The full Android app is $14.99.

CamCard is one of the fastest, easiest ways to input contact data into your phone. Take a photo of a business card, and this Android app does the rest for you. The app picks up names, businesses, numbers and other information, and all of the data from the card is organized and searchable. You can also sync the information with your phone and Gmail. The full version, priced at $14.99, supports five languages.

Networking and payments

Don’t be left without wireless access. PDANet turns your Android into a router, tethering to your laptop in order to connect to the Internet.  Free, the app is fast and easy to use, and has gotten me out of my share of binds.  PDANet also pushes texts and GoogleTalk pings to your PC, so you don’t miss phone messages, either.

Skype has finally made its way to Android, bringing free calls to your phone’s Wi-Fi or 3G networks.  The free app also brings its chat instant messenger to Android as well.  Tap into your account credits for cheap international calls and forget about those, um, cell phone minute things.

Google Voice is a great app for managing your home office communications, forwarding calls to the phone of your choice. Tied to your Google account, the app also lets you set up text transcripts of messages to be sent via either email or SMS.  You can also respond to calls via email or text and let Google run your call center free through this Android app.

PayPal has improved its Android app a great deal, letting you transfer money to and from your bank, or link a credit card to your PayPal account.  The updated app also lets you “bump” payments to other phones, even to iPhones. Check your accounts, access your history, and search for contacts you need.  The PayPal Android app is free.

Square is a free Android app that comes with a swiper attachment to accept credit card payments. Whether your clients want to pay while meeting at your home office, or you’re taking your craft to a local fair, Square will track sales and receipts, and organize by category, discount or payment type.