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Top 10 free business apps for Android users

Your mobile workforce is nothing without the right business tools. We've ranked the top 10 best Android apps for business -- and each one is free.

Your workforce is moving, and your business moves with it. In order to stay connected, your team relies on tablet PCs like the iPad and the BlackBerry PlayBook, as well as the ubiquitous smartphone. We all know a smartphone is only as good as the apps you're using, and Androids are no exception. While iPhone 4 has gotten a lot of press, Android is closing in on 50% of the global smartphone market -- Apple has a marginal grasp at a mere 20% of the market. Android also has a larger share of the smartphone market in 35 of 56 countries, according to Canalys.

Let's not fool ourselves: We know the first thing your team members will load on their Androids will be something like Angry Birds -- the world's most popular smartphone game -- but what comes after that?

We've compiled a list of the 10 best Android apps for business to help the members of your mobile workforce do their jobs while on the road or in distance conference rooms without skipping a beat. The best part? They’re free.

1. Mobile Defense: We've all heard stories about people recovering their lost and stolen mobility devices by using similar apps, but unlike some other free business apps on the market, Mobile Defense allows you to wipe your smartphone remotely. You can't put a price on peace of mind, but considering the price of Mobile Defense, we're starting to think that the best things in life really are free.

2. Wyse PocketCloud for Android: We've talked about the awesome aspects of this great remote desktop app for the iPad, and it continues to be a solid hitter across mobile devices. It's loaded with functionality and, of course, it comes with that beautiful price tag.

3. Google Docs: This Google Doc editor/view allows you to take your Google Docs anywhere. Perfect for the public cloud enthusiast and it supports multiple accounts, which allows you to work with your business account and your personal stuff.

4. Skyfire Web Browser: The word Flash is a curse to some smartphone devotees (iPhone, we're looking at you), but Skyfire allows you to hit those Flash-heavy sites without wanting to throw the phone out the window.

5. Exchange for Android: Android has built-in Exchange support, but if you want it app-ified, you've got it. Sync up your calendar and check your work email on the weekends. Fair warning -- if you're the type to get hundreds of emails in a day, you risk draining your battery if you let it auto-push.

6. Cisco WebEx: Sometimes you just have too many meetings. Make commuting time count by hooking into a presentation or two while on the train home. (But please, if texting while driving is a misdemeanor, watching PowerPoint slides while doing 75 mph should be a federal offense.)

7. Wifi Analyzer: If you're in a public space and there are 42 different Wi-Fi networks, then you know that at least 40 of them are bogus or dead ends. This handy app will help you find a golden Wi-Fi connection without having to play guessing games.

8. Citrix Receiver for Android: Receiver is a blessing for anyone who ever needed to reboot a server while at an IT conference, and it's another absolutely free business app (assuming, of course, that you have all the standard Citrix fare back at the home office).

9. Dropbox for Android: Similar to GDocs, Dropbox for Android gives you the ability to access your files on the go from the cloud. Of course, there has been some concern in the past about Dropbox security, so don't put anything up there that you wouldn't want your first-grade teacher to see.

10. Cab4me: Annoying name aside, anyone who has ever been traveling for business and found themselves in the middle of nowhere with zero success of flagging down a cab will tell you that this handy little app is worth every bit of screen real estate on your phone. Even if you use it two times a year, it's well worth the free download, earning it the last spot on our list of 10 best Android apps.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor.

More Android business apps

Got some cash to spare? We love these Android business apps, too, but each will cost you a few bones.

Tasker ($6.50): Described as an "Android nerd's dream," Tasker gives you the ability to define events by time/date, GPS locations and even certain gestures made with the phone. For instance, you can train your phone to silence your ringer when you walk into a movie theater or crank up Pandora when you wave the phone in a circle. We predict Tasker will appeal to your systems team and to those CIOs who were programmers in another life.

Exchange by TouchDown ($19.99): Unlike the free version of Exchange we mentioned in our list of 10 best Android apps, Exchange by TouchDown is really the same Exchange that you use at work, only synced up to the Android. If you want the same look and feel and don't want to hassle with ads or reduced functionality, here's the best bet. You'll need to download the free version before going for the full package, so you can get a taste before taking the leap.

SwiftKey X($4.04): You know how your spouse can finish your sentences? SwiftKey scans your SMS and emails and makes helpful suggestions while you're typing by predicting which word you might be about to use. Use this handy app for a while, and you'll find yourself irritated by normal keyboards for not reading your mind. -- W.S.

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