The turf, grounds and landscape industries are becoming more and more technical. Most of us carry a very powerful mini-computer in our pockets or on our tool belt. As the use of smartphones and tablets continues to grow, so does the application markets that support them.
Today, you can find just about any app your heart desires. Apps for games, productivity, weather, social media, data collection, the list goes on and on. Here is a list of apps that can make your work days more productive, whether you’re in the truck, in the office or out in the field.
This app gives you access to the world’s largest network of weather and lightning sensors to generate forecasts and fast alerts. The recently addition of “Spark” lightning detection is a great feature giving the estimated closest distance where lightning is detected. The app offers realtime accurate forecasts out to 10 days. The radar display is also very detailed and one of the best.
Invoices2go allows users to create invoices, estimates, purchase orders and track which invoices have been paid. You can also link the invoices to payment services like PayPal. The app stores your products for sale, if you sell hard goods. Customer information is also stored and easily accessible.
Accept payments with PayPal and the PayPal Here card reader. Get paid right on you device from anywhere with an internet connection. Swipe using debit and credit cards for a low transaction fee. Track cash payments, checks and PayPal payments, and generate invoices right from the app.
Measure Map gives you the ability to measure distances, perimeters, and area with sharp accuracy. GPS location services are utilized to provide the measurements. Use the app in areas large or small. After measurements are taken share them out with customers or your co workers.
This app is Google’s office suite. The app offers data storage for videos, images, documents and other files. Edit and create documents and spreadsheets with Docs and Sheets. Use Sheets to track various data for clients, product applications or anything that fits in a spreadsheet format.
Docs and Sheets are very easy to share and are effective ways to collaborate with otheres. One of the more powerful features of Google’s drive system is the ability to make interactive forms. Forms can be used to collect surveys, quotes, invoices or site assessments. Get started with up to 15GB of free storage.
This has a flat view compass and 3-D augmented reality viewer that shows solar paths for winter and summer solstice, rise and set times. Use this app to show customers sun and shade patterns over the course of the growing season. The app can be used to show why a tree needs to be removed or trimmed, based on the shade pattern. Or, show why turf is struggling under or around a tree. The app will also let you export a screenshot to share with your customers.
Quickoffice is an app that allows you to create and edit Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets and presentations. The app also syncs to cloud based services like Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, Sugar Sync and box.net. PDF files can also be viewed in this app. There are not many apps that allow you to create a folder structure for file. This app does, and it is as easy as drag and drop.
PDF Expert is an All in One Pdf solution for a mobile device. It lets you read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, make notes and draw with your finger or stylus. The changes and annotations can be exported and viewed in most PDF viewers. PDF Expert creates usable forms. Form creation supports text fields, check boxes, radio buttons and other form fields. With this app you can have company marketing materials, catalogs and contracts right on your mobile device. Have customers sign a contract or work an agreement on site quick and easy.
This app can be used to create and edit movies for your business. iMovie makes it very easy to be your own movie producer. Shoot and edit the video right on an iPhone or iPad. You could video staff at work to make training and safety videos, or show customers short videos of your service offerings. You can also post videos to your company website or social media accounts.
Costs for these apps varies from free to about $10. Some of the free versions have paid in app purchases to further use the app. Most of these apps are available for both Android and iOS devices. The bottom line is apps and mobile devices give users the ability to run their entire operation away from a traditional office.
A few more apps that landscapers will find useful in the field
PRO Landscape Companion. Using an iPad or Android tablet, the user can produce their landscape designs right out in the field.
Working in conjunction with PRO Landscape design software, Companion gives the user access to more than 11,000 high resolution images of plant material for all climate zones, groundcover, hardscapes and much more. This gives the designer all the materials they need to generate high-quality, professional-level designs for their customers.
The designer can also transfer their designs between the tablet and desktop/laptop version of PRO Landscape, giving you flexibility on when and where you want to design and present. PRO Landscape Companion is available for free from either the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store.
NexTraq Connect. NexTraq’s mobile solution, NexTraq Connect, helps employees and managers stay connected between the field and the office. The mobile app allows team members to clock hours, assign and receive jobs, find the easiest driving route and more. The Time & Attendance module is a free feature of NexTraq Connect that allows workers in the field to remotely clock in/out and record all breaks during the workday.
NexTraq Fleet Mobile is the solution’s native app that works on any device with Internet browser capabilities. It allows managers to access important fleet data while in the field and gives them direct access to the mapping and monitoring capabilities of the NexTraq Fleet Tracking Solution. Users can locate and view the status of vehicles, find locations and addresses, pinpoint the closest vehicles and view fuel purchases.
Alternative Fueling Station Locator. The app allows iPhone users to select an alternative fuel and find the 20 closest stations within a 30-mile radius. Users can view the locations on a map or as a list with station addresses, phone numbers and hours of operation.
PERC and propane marketers assisted with the development by providing information to Clean Cities to help ensure accuracy. Landscapers running propane might find it useful.
“If you drive an electric vehicle, for instance, you can now use your iPhone to effortlessly identify, contact, and navigate to the charging station that’s most convenient for you,” says Project Manager Trish Cozart of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The author is CEO of Turf Republic and the winner of the 2013 Kaminski Award for Leadership in Social Media.