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In Pictures: Best iPhone, iPad business apps for 2014

Looking for iPhone and iPad business apps that can boost your productivity? These 12 lesser-known iOS downloads will help extend your mobile display to a desktop, schedule social-media updates, scan documents and much more.

  • Now that Flappy Bird has flown the coop, it's time to get back to work. Your iPhone or iPad is just the device for the job. But which business and productivity apps should you download? There are well over a million iOS apps, so the choices can be overwhelming. Here are apps for to-do list management, virtual assistance, calendaring, note taking, website clipping, contact management, social media updates and more. We didn't include the likes of Apple's iWork apps, for instance, because you're probably familiar with them. Many of the apps listed are free, though some also offer premium features for a fee. For more similar apps, check out "Top 25 iPhone & iPad Apps for Business."

  • Adobe VideoBite Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars Given the popularity of online video, there's a good chance you'll eventually end up shooting a video for work on your iDevice. But then what? VideoBite it. While there's no shortage of iOS video-editing apps, VideoBite earns high marks for providing a good, but not overwhelming, set of tools. You can combine multiple clips and photos into one video; add titles, transitions, filters and text; and easily share clips on Facebook or YouTube. (Unfortunately, you can't share them on Instagram.) You can also share up to 50 videos and photos privately each month for free via the Adobe Revel app and website, but it's $6 a month if you want to share more.

  • Air Display 2 $10. Current App Store rating: 3 stars With Air Display 2 and a free desktop utility (downloaded from getairdisplay.com), you can use your iPhone, iPod touch, or more likely, an iPad as a second display for a Windows or Mac computer. (The two devices must be on the same Wi-Fi network.) If you're into multiple monitors, especially when used as one extended desktop, this app is worth 10 bucks. You can also mirror your screen on up to four iPads simultaneously. (This feature only works with Macs). But there's one big potential downside: In our tests on public Wi-Fi networks, we couldn't always get the app to work.

  • EasilyDo Smart Assistant Free. Current App Store rating: 5 stars Siri and Google Now are the most popular mobile virtual assistants. But EasilyDo offers even more features. For instance, the app scans your contacts for duplicates and merges them into one. You can access driving directions to upcoming appointments. You get alerts when you receive an email containing certain words or phrases. ("The check is in the mail," for example.) You can also track packages, automatically receive local weather updates and more. The iOS version even alerts you to the free iTunes app and music single of the week. EasilyDo offers lots of productivity features for free, so it's hard to quibble.

  • IFTTT Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars IFTTT stands for "If This Then That," meaning that if one task is performed, then another task you designate should also happen. Based on the Web service, IFTTT comes with lots of "recipes" created by the IFTTT user community and organized into topical "channels," such as "Craigslist," that can automate tasks you might perform manually. Some cool examples of things you can do automatically: Save iOS reminders to Evernote checklists, wish your Facebook friends happy birthday, backup iOS photos to Dropbox and backup iOS contacts to Google spreadsheets. Some recipes won't boost your productivity, per se, but you'll arguably save time by, for example, having Boston Celtics scores automatically fed to your mobile device.

  • Scanner Pro $6. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars A portable scanner is helpful when you travel, but it's another device to lug. If you need to digitize documents, including contracts, receipts and business cards, a better option is to use your iPhone or iPad camera as a scanner. Scanner Pro is among the best apps for the task. Scans are saved as PDFs and can be emailed or uploaded to Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote or another cloud service and then synced to other iOS devices via iCloud. The app scans well with automatic edge detection, but lacks optical character recognition (OCR). For that, consider CamScanner. (The basic app is free, OCR is available in the $50 per year premium version.)

  • SignNow Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars You're traveling, and your signature on an important doc is needed asap. If possible, you can use the cool PDF document signature-signing feature in Apple's Preview app for OS X. If you're traveling with your iPad you need SignNow. The iPhone/iPad app lets you sign PDF, Word and RTF documents with a finger. The documents can come via email or an iOS device camera, Dropbox or other sources. When you're done, email the signed document or save it to your SignNow account. Heads up: The free version limits you to signing five docs per month, which is probably enough. Otherwise, you'll need to pay for SignNow Pro ($15 or $25 per month).

  • Smartr Contacts Free. Current App Store rating: 4 stars Apple's Contacts iOS app is about as basic as it gets. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives, and Smartr Contacts is one of the best. You can link your Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and iCloud email accounts, along with your Twitter and Facebook networks. Once you've done that, Smartr Contacts gives you a "holistic" view of each contact, with email history, including when you sent that contact a message and a list of people you have in common. It's all delivered in an appealing interface, and the initial scan of your data (after linking your email and social networks) is very fast. We'd love an iPad-optimized update with LinkedIn integration, though.

  • Springpad Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars The popular Evernote note-taking app has a huge following and ecosystem of connected apps and services; there's even an Evernote-branded scanner. But if you're looking for something different, download Springpad, an alternative Web-clipping and note-taking app. First off, Springpad's interface is more intuitive and visually appealing. You can subscribe to notebooks that others produce, such as a low-calorie recipe notebook from a health publication. You automatically receive updates to notebooks you follow when they become available. Springpad is an excellent tool for combining your notes with stuff you find online. Plus, you can share notebooks with collaborators for free. Take note, Evernote.

  • 30/30 Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars Spending too much time reading news every day? Consider a time-management budget with 30/30. The app lets you generate a list of activities, such as "Answering email," "Reading the news" or "Facebook etc. After allocating time for each activity, you tap a countdown timer. When time is up, the app tells you to move on to your next task. You can easily arrange the order by touching and holding a task and sliding it up or down in the queue. The interface is colorful and lively, and you can assign icons to tasks, such as an envelope icon for "Answering email." Additional icons are available via in-app purchase packs.

  • Sunrise Calendar Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars No discussion of mediocre native iOS apps would be complete without throwing shade on Apple's iOS 7 Calendar app. We could write an entire slideshow on that app's failure, but instead let's focus on the alternative Sunrise Calendar. It's compatible with only Google Calendar and iCloud, unfortunately. But it integrates nicely with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Google Maps. If you have an appointment with someone you're connected to on LinkedIn, for example, Sunrise shows his LinkedIn profile pic. And if your appointment is offsite, you can check driving directions via Google Maps. Tempo Smart Calendar and 24me are two more free and compelling Calendar alternatives.

  • Toggl Timer Free. Current App Store rating: 3 stars Time-tracking apps and Web-based tools abound. But Toggl Timer is one of the easiest to use and most flexible. The app's straightforward interface makes it simple to start and stop timers, even when you're offline. You have to remember to stop and start those timers, of course. If you forget, you can manually adjust entries. The app shows several days of completed tasks, and you can add tags to entries for sorting. The app syncs with Toggl's cloud-based service as well as with the Toggl desktop apps for Mac and Windows. If you upgrade to Toggl's $5 monthly plan, you can add hourly rates to your tasks to quickly see how much moolah you've made.

  • Wunderlist Free. Current App Store rating: 4.5 stars There are many worthwhile to-do list iOS apps, but Wunderlist is one of the best. It's simple to use, has an attractive interface, and gives you lots of organizational features. You can add subtasks, a helpful feature not every to-do list manager offers; add notes; attach a file, such as a photo or video; create reminders; and more. The app's advanced features, including the ability to assign tasks to collaborators, cost $5 per month or $50 annually. Other worthwhile to-do list apps include Any.DO (free) and Pocket Lists ($5).

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