By Jerry James Stone
For many professionals, tending to business while on vacation is a requirement. But don’t let that reality derail your trip. These days, you can do everything from scanning and signing documents to sending hands-free texts while driving—all from your iPhone. We’ve rounded up the best office apps that let you take your show on the road, so you can spend more time sunbathing, and less time searching for the nearest fax machine. Did we mention that they’re all free?
Hands-Free Texting, Emailing, and Calling
Texting while driving is a no-no, unless you’re operating your voice-activated, virtual assistant Vlingo. It can send text messages and email, and even place phone calls all on your command. It can also map out directions for you or find the nearest restaurant. If you were thinking about upgrading your iPhone to a 4S for its Siri virtual assistant, now there’s no need. Price: Free
Worldwide Wi-Fi Finder
Depending on where you’re traveling, you may not have cell service. In those frustrating instances, you’re going to need WiFi access to get anything done. The Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire uses the GPS function on your iPhone to show you 650,000 WiFi locations in over 144 countries worldwide. Best of all, the hotspot directory is available offline which means you always have the latest data right at your fingertips. Price: Free
Free Voice and Video Calling
Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone. Skype allows you to call, text, and video chat with any other Skype user for free. And the Skype client isn't just for the iPhone. It is also available for other computer and smartphone platforms. But even if the person you need to reach out to isn't on Skype, don't sweat it. You can buy Skype credits and place calls to any land-line, or even send text messages. Price: Free Skype-to-Skype calling; credits cost about 2.3 cents per minute, or subscribe for just under $5 a month.
Organize Notes, Documents, and More
If there was ever one app to keep track of your life, Evernote would be it. You can use it to create and collect documents, web pages, photos, and audio notes, all of which are stored on your iPhone and online at Evernote.com. As a travel go-to, you can also scan your tickets and maps, and keep your itineraries organized as well, viewing them any time, no matter if you're on or offline. All of your items are searchable and geo-tagged. Plus, if you upgrade to the Premium service, you even add and share PDFs, Word documents, Excel and other files. Price: Free; Premium service $4.99/month
Sign Contracts on the Go
Nothing is more annoying than a document requiring your signature when there is no printer or fax machine in sight. Luckily, with Sign-N-Send, you won’t need either. The app allows you to sign any PDF or Microsoft Office document straight from your inbox. Price: Free, or $2.99 for the ad-free version
Scan and Fax From Your Phone
With the Genius Scan app, your iPhone becomes a scanner, saving documents as either PDFs or JPEGs. It also allows you to build multi-page PDF documents with multiple scans. On top of that, it integrates nicely with Evernote (mentioned above) and other online document applications, such as Dropbox and Google Docs. Price: Free, or $2.99 for the ad-free version