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10 Apps for Industry Professionals

By Brandon M. Gallagher Watson

Your smart devices are getting smarter all the time. Here are 10 apps that are worth your consideration for performing a wide variety of tasks.

 

iScape FREE

Free with limited plant/feature options

In-app purchases for more options available

iOS, Android

Want a quick and easy way to show a client a visualization of a landscape you are proposing? Take a photo of their yard or property, then drop landscape features onto it. While it won’t look like you spent an hour Photoshopping the details, it does gives a surprisingly decent representation of what a final design might look like. Free version has a few options in each category including shrubs, hedges, arbors, pathways, and even water features. Offers in-app purchases so you can add different sets for more options.

 

Markup Photo

Free

iOS

One of my favorite apps to tell people about was called “Skitch” and it allowed you to take a photo, draw on it with your finger, and then e-mail that image off to someone. The geniuses behind the product decided to merge it inside another app, and all the ease-of-use went away, making it practically unusable. I was bummed, until I discovered Markup Photo — which I now like even better! So why is an app that allows you to draw on photos useful? Say, for instance, you were talking with a client about performing some pruning work on a tree whose branches were going over their garage. Now that you have Markup Photo, you could quickly snap a picture of the limb in question and, while drawing right on the photo, you can show the client exactly what branches you were recommending removing. Once you and the client are satisfied with the recommendation you can save the photo and even send it to the crew that will be actually performing the work. No more vague work orders with directions like “prune branch over the garage” only for the crews to realize there are a dozen branches over the garage. With Markup Photo you can show your crews, or even your subcontractors, exactly what you and client were talking about so the work can get done right the first time.

 

Google Street View

Free

iOS, Android

While this feature is baked-in to the main Google Maps app, the standalone Street View app has some cool features that can be useful to landscape professionals. Type in an address and push on the photo to go into “street view.” If you press the little icon that resembles a compass and you will enter “360 view.” From here you can move your device around to check out the surrounding area. This can allow you to get a sense of the client’s property before you arrive at the job site. Do note that it is using Google’s database of photos, not a live video feed so there is certainly a chance the photo for your location is outdated by a year or two, but often it can give you some insight.

 

Waze

Free

iOS, Android

This routing app recommendation came from my Uber driver — so you know it must be good! Waze uses many of the same features as other popular mapping apps such as highlighting the best route and traffic warnings. The big difference of Waze is that it uses crowd-sourced data — meaning it is other app users on the road updating information such as slow downs, accidents, lane closures, gas prices, or even spots where the map doesn’t align with real life. Secretly, the handiest information Waze users provide is the locations of police speed traps and red-light cameras then warns you as you approach them. Not saying you would ever need this info, just saying…

 

Storm — Radar, Storm Tracking, Hurricanes, Accurate Lightning, & Precipitation Alerts

iPhone, iPad, Android

Free ($1.99 ad-free version)

The overly long name of this app not withstanding, this is simply one of the best weather apps available. Most cellphones these days will give you the temp and 5-day forecast, but sometimes working in the field you need much more dynamic information. With this app, you can quickly get up-to-the-minute radar images that can help you decide if you should start that next job or not. This app can help you be safe by showing any lightning strikes within a 100-mile radius. You can also turn on the wind layers, and the animations will show you the speed and direction of the breeze with impressive accuracy. This can help you plan your spray treatments so you don’t arrive at the job site to then decide it is too windy to apply that day.

 

Thumbtack Pros

App Free, Proposal pricing varies

iOS, Android

You’re looking for work; people are looking to hire you and “gig economy” apps are a great way to find each other. I know several different business owners in very different types of fields who are using Thumbtack to find new customers and new opportunities — from odd-job landscapers to yoga instructors <dash> and have found it to be a success. Here’s how it works: You fill out a profile for the type of jobs you want to be informed about. For example, let’s say it is tree planting. Consumers can go onto Thumbtack and submit a request looking for a tree planter. You get a notification there is a job available and can send them a quote. Here’s how Thumbtack makes money: they charge you to quote the customer in the form of Thumbtack Credits. Each credit costs (at the time of this printing) $1.67 each and the number of credits varies based on the job’s relative demand. Sounds confusing but it’s fairly straightforward. A request for a tree planting might be 2-3 credits, so it would cost you under $5 to make an offer. Now, if you don’t get it, you are out $5, but if you do, spending $5 to make $400 is a pretty good return. It might not be for every business but if you are interested in finding more work Thumbtack is worth checking out.

 

Unroll.Me

Free

iOS, Android

If your e-mail inbox is anything like mine, it’s chock full of stuff you don’t really care about. This easy-to-use app automatically unsubscribes you from any e-mail list serves or reoccurring spam mail you don’t want. Simply login into your e-mail though the app where it will scan for e-mails you are subscribed to. Swipe left to no longer receive the e-mails from that sender, swipe right to keep getting them. It’s that easy. If you like, you can swipe up and “roll up” that e-mail sender’s content into a single once-a-week e-mail that equals a significantly less cluttered inbox. The first time I used the app I unsubscribed to 76 spam e-mail lists in less than 4 minutes.

 

Multi Measures 2

Free (with ads)

iOS, Android

There are many apps that can turn your device into a useful measuring tool. My favorite so far has been Multi Measures 2. This all-in-one app has a decibel meter, a plumb bob, a compass, a bubble level, and several other features in a slick interface. This app has many uses in the field and is one of the easiest that I have used. It even has a flashlight feature than allows you to adjust the brightness of the lamp. Use the bubble level to check the slope of a patio for water runoff, or switch to the plumb bob feature and align it to the angle of a leaning tree to determine the exact degree of lean that hazard tree is exhibiting.

 

Soils Direct

Free

iOS, Android

Are you one of those landscaping savants who can look at a planting bed and know exactly how many cubic yards of mulch are needed? Me neither. Even buying bags of mulch for my home landscaping projects I find myself wildly underestimating the total amount I need. The free app from Soils Direct has a handy mulch calculator that removes the guesswork. Simply enter the dimensions of a planting bed and the depth you want the mulch to be and this app quickly spits out the cubic yards of mulch required. Also works for circular plots so you can add mulch rings around trees.

 

 

Smart Converter — Fastest Unit Converter

Free (paid version is ad-free)

iOS

Why is nothing ever simple? You need to mix 4 ounces of fungicide per gallon and the only graduated cylinder in the truck is in milliliters. Don’t worry, your cell phone is here to save the day. Smart Converter is nice-and-easy app that converts any unit into a mindboggling number of options. While it gives you all the most common units any normal person would ever need, you can also go down the rabbit hole of finding obscure units of measure to impress and annoy your coworkers. Did you know that 1 U.S. gallon is equivalent to 85.3 jiggers or 378.5 Robiespoons? You do now.

 

Brandon M. Gallagher Watson is creative director at Rainbow Treecare Scientific Advancements.

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