I have had my iPhone for a little over 60 days now. On July 11th I was one of the people who stood in line for hours for the privilege of forking over nearly $500 (when all was said and done with taxes, activation fees, pre-pays and accessories) to purchase an iPhone on “opening day”. In my case it was 6 hours from the time I arrived at Stoneridge Mall until I was back in my car again.
This was my first iPhone and I have to admit that I endured the line largely in the hopes that the iPhone would live up to the claims of being able to use ActiveSync to connect to my company’s Exchange Server. The lack of that ability kept me away from the original iPhone because I didn’t want to give up the convenience of that type of connectivity. After all, I had a Windows Mobile 6 Smart phone that gave that level of service, and I didn’t want to lose it.
But, Apple was as good as it’s word, and within minutes of owning the iPhone it was busily synchronizing my Contacts, Calendar and email from the Exchange Server. And I was a happy camper.
My plan was to run both phones for a few months as I knew that I had a learning curve to deal with, but I was wrong. I turned off the Windows Mobile phone after a few days and it has been off ever since. (I still have 6 weeks to go on my T-Mobile contract). The learning curve was very flat…hardly a curve at all.
I have written about some of the things that I like about the iPhone and some of the things that I don’t over at MakeUseOf.com (You can read that article by clicking here) and that got me to thinking about whether or not I own an expensive novelty item or if it really is a good business tool for a real estate agent.
Out of the box the phone is capable of connecting to Exchange as I mentioned above. It also “knows” where it is via the built in GPS locater and it can pass that information on to Google Maps. It has the Safari web browser and a pretty robust email application along with fair Contact management and Calendaring. So, you might say that it was an OK business tool. But, factor in the App store, which is where 3rd party developers can sell their wares, and then you start to see the power of this device. I have selected five apps that I think really make this a great real estate tool. By the way, although there are apps that you can purchase ranging from $.99 on up to about $19.99, all of the ones I describe below are free!
Remember your trusty HP 12C? How would you like to have one built into your phone? For free! The 12C Lite app gives you almost all of the functionality of the 12C except for programmability and continuous memory. But for most of us, that is a lack that we’ll never notice. If you must have that functionality, you can purchase the full version and leave the HP 12C at home.
There are a ton of uses for one of those little digital voice recorders…notes to self, keeping track of important details, recording detailed instructions and so on. The FREE Ecco Note Lite allows you to record voice notes of any length and play them back later. Now you can leave another device at home!
I must use Google 10 to 15 times a day. Having the Google toolbar built into my computer’s browser is a real time saver. With the Google app on the iPhone, all I have to do is tap a button and I am right at a Google search page. Tap another button and I have access to my Google tools such as Goog411, Blogger, Reader, YouTube and more.
Whitepages gives me the ability to search for people and businesses just like I would with a phone book. But, unlike a phone book, I also get a Reverse Directory Lookup. Did I mention that this is free?
Finally, the integration between desktop and phone is very nicely done with an app called Evernote. Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Everything you put into Evernote is always synchronized across all of your devices.
There are more business apps available, but these five will allow you to move much closer into the realm of true mobility as a real estate agent and at pricing that is truly real estate agent friendly. I am convinced that the iPhone is a serious business tool that will only get better as new apps are released What do you think?