Over the past year, I’ve become a dedicated and habitual iPad user to the point that I’ve abandoned my netbook for most tasks. Although not perfect, the iPad combines portability and a consistently good user experience into a neat package that has largely eliminated the need for me to carry a heavier netbook.
While the standard iPad functionality for email and web browsing generally does a fine job, there are a few apps that are indispensable for my own business purposes. Read on to see if these apps might enhance your own iPad experience.
- Dropbox — I use this app several times a day to transfer files between home, work, my phone, and my iPad. I also use it to share files with family members and colleagues. Although Google Drive may eventually supplant this app and (mostly free) service, right now I’m sticking with Dropbox for my file sharing needs.
- GoodReader — I primarily use this to read and mark up PDF files, although it has other uses as well. It’s really nice for me to be able to scribble notes on a PDF while in a client meeting (or while on a train/plane) and save the annotated version of the PDF for later use. I can email the marked-up version directly from my iPad, which also comes in handy. This app may give you a reason to try out one of the many stylus options for the iPad, although it is not strictly necessary.
- Quickoffice Pro — This app integrates with Dropbox, enabling me to read and edit Microsoft Office documents while on my iPad. It also deals fairly well with Google Docs, which I’m using more and more as an alternative to Word and Excel, particularly when collaboration is a requirement. One note here: this app doesn’t deal well with very complex spreadsheets. So if your spreadsheet is larger than about 5Mb with complex lookups and if-thens, then this app will probably choke on it.
- CloudOn - I’ve only experimented with this so far, but it’s a free cloud computing app that lets you deal with the larger, crazier spreadsheets. You need decent connectivity for it to function, but if you have a spreadsheet that kills Quickoffice, this is probably your next stop.
- Ignition (LogMeIn) — I use Ignition every day. It lets me control my PC or Mac remotely from my iPad, although I have to spend about $50/year for the privilege (there are some free options as well, so do your homework and choose the solution that most fits your needs). It does require a simple software install on the PC or Mac, but it’s a fantastic option for dealing with specialty PC applications or performing Mac-based tech support from the road. Even though the current versions of Windows and the Mac OS aren’t really designed for use on a tablet, Ignition does a good job of bridging the gap, particularly in a pinch. This app is another good candidate for stylus use, particularly if you are dealing with a PC application that has lots of small buttons and drop-downs.
- Flipboard and Zite - These are two very visual electronic news aggregation apps. They each have their strengths, but both are interesting and useful. Zite has become my go-to morning news read, and it learns from stories that you like and dislike, getting more relevant to your interests as you use it.
I’ve found the above collection of apps to be worthy of download/purchase and I depend upon them daily.
There are a couple of related apps that warrant mentioning here, although they aren’t strictly for business. The first is a free game called Cargo-Bot. While it’s an entertaining game on its own that helps teach programming concepts to non-programmers, the really interesting thing about the game is that it is the first app in the app store to be developed completely on the iPad using an app/development environment called Codea.
Codea allows you to prototype and develop an interactive experience directly on the iPad, which opens up a wealth of creative opportunities for the future. It’s based upon the programming language Lua, which is open source and available on multiple platforms. Codea won’t turn you into a programmer overnight, but it may be the first step towards a brighter future for specialty iPad apps aimed at specific vertical markets, or towards easier app prototyping for regular business users.
Have you found an interesting business app for the iPad? If so, we’d love to hear about it.This entry was posted in Lokion and tagged Mobile. Bookmark the permalink.