iPad apps for business use (update)

by on 12/12/2011

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One of the most popular posts of 2011 was the original iPad apps for business use article.

As it’s the end of the year, I thought it would be interesting to see how many of my daily iPad apps remain the same 8 months later. What apps haven’t stood the test of time? And what have they been replaced with?

Much to my surprise, although 80% of my home page apps remained the same, there were quite a few changes.

So, here’s my updated list:

  • Calendar, Contacts and Mail. You don’t use Outlook on your iPad. Instead you use the Calendar app to manage your diary and the Contacts and Mail apps as the names imply. They all synchronise seamlessly with Exchange (or Google apps) and are beautiful and optimised for the iPad’s touch interface.  They come as part of the operating system and so are free.
  • Safari. The Apple browser that comes as part of the operating system and so is free. As has been thoroughly reported, commented on and agonised over, the iPad does not handle Flash. In practice this has little or no effect on the business user – the only time I ever miss Flash is when I want to watch a video on the BBC News website.
  • Dropbox. Dropbox is an online backup, file sync and sharing system. It runs on PCs and Macs where anything that you put in your “My Dropbox” folder is instantly copied to the cloud. Up to 2GB online storage is free, which will probably be enough for use with the iPad and the app is free as well. You can use the app to access any document that you have copied to Dropbox on your PC or you can use Dropbox with other apps (see below) to handle backup and sync of your data.  Pretty amazing for free.
  • Jungle Disk. New! Dropbox is great for personal data, but less so for business use. Jungle Disk performs much the same function, but allows you to store your data in the EU (important to comply with data protection legislation), encrypt your data, synchronise selected data to every PC and Mac, control user access etc. Pricing is based on the number of users: $4 per user per month gets you 10 GB storage, which should be more than enough. There are also data transfer and request costs, but these are trivial, and the iPad app is free.  Highly recommended.
  • 1Password. On the 1Password website it asks “have you ever forgotten a password?”.  This wonderful little app stores all your passwords in an encrypted form. Clicking on one opens the appropriate site in the browser, fills in the security details and get’s you in, all with one click.  This enables you to use a different and far stronger password for all your sites, vastly improving your online security. And it stores documents, credit card details etc. Oh and another thing, it works on the iPhone, on PCs, on Macs etc and all your data is automatically synchronised using Dropbox (number 3). A steal at £5.99.
  • Evernote. Evernote is the ultimate note taking application. It handles straight text as well as voice recordings, pictures, PDFs etc. It syncs automatically with the cloud and has versions for your PC and Mac as well. Great value at, well, zero cost.
  • Penultimate, Bamboo Paper (New!) and Notes Plus (New!). I’m still on the hunt for the perfect hand drawing app. I have these three, but the jury is out on which I prefer.  All are great for brainstorming, sharing and discussing ideas. Bamboo Paper if from Wacom, who also make the excellent Bamboo Stylus for use with your iPad. It is the most basic, but is free. Penultimate and Notes Plus are more fully featured and also allow text notes.  They cost £0.69 and £2.99 respectively.
  • Cube.  This app let’s you capture your time and expenses and create graphs and reports. We use it to capture timesheet information and create reports which go to customers and back up invoices. Forbes magazine said “Cube… is a must-have iPad app for professionals” and who am I to disagree? There is a free version, but the version that lets you work offline, create reports etc. is £5.99.
  • Keynote, Numbers and Pages. These are the Apple equivalents of PowerPoint, Excel and Word respectively. They do everything that you might want to do and more and are reasonably good at converting to and from their Microsoft equivalent programs. The star is probably Keynote, which lets you do PowerPoint style presentations on your iPad sitting in a coffee shop of wherever you happen to be.  Incredible functionality at £5.99 each.
  • iBooks and Kindle. For reading books on the move, these are the 2 clear market leaders. The iPad isn’t as great an eBook reader as Amazon’s Kindle, but these apps allow you to read your novel or reference book on the same device and are essential downloads. And they’re free.
  • LogMeIn Ignition. An essential purchase, this allows you to control your PC or Mac from your iPad. It works beautifully and the new version even allows you to view and copy files to and from your remote PC. It’s the most expensive app on the list by far, but even at £17.99 it’s well worth getting.
  • Reeder and Twitter. These are my social networking apps of choice. Reeder syncs with Google Reader and lets you keep up to date with blogs and news, while Twitter is the official client for tweeting and retweeting. There are apps for Facebook, LinkedIn etc. etc. but these are the ones on my home screen. Reeder is £2.99 while Twitter is free.
  • PDF Expert. This wonderful app keeps a library of your PDF documents, integrates with Dropbox, and has sophisticated tools for annotating PDFs as well. It costs £5.99.
  • Captio. New! Long a staple on my iPhone, this tiny marvel exists for one purpose only, to quickly send yourself an email. Type your message, hit send and that’s it. I use it to send myself a quick reminder to do something when I’m talking to someone or out and about. Good value at £1.49 especially as it is a universal app which runs on your iPhone as well as your iPad.
  • iThoughtsHD. New! This is my top tip. If you have ever used mindmapping as a tool, or are keen to try it out, then this superb app let’s you capture your thoughts in beautiful diagrams on your iPad. It costs £6.99 and I can’t recommend it enough.

One other thing:

  • ZipBrowser. New! This simple app allows you to view the contents of zip files and preview individual documents that have been emailed to you. A life saver, and it’s free, so no reason at all not to have it waiting on your iPad. Thanks to Mr Martin Parker for asking how to open a zip file and prompting me to find the answer.

So these are the apps that have fallen off:

  • App store. Still in regular use to check for app updates and buy new apps, but relegated to the second screen.
  • BBC news. I don’t seem to have enough time to read the news during the day, so again, relegated to page 2.
  • Chalk. I loved the idea of this app, but never used it, and Penultimate, Bamboo Paper and Notes Plus do the same and far far more.
  • Photos. I use this to show photos of my children to complete strangers, but not enough to justify its place.  Page 2.
  • Telegraph. The Telegraph moved with the times (joke!) and started to charge. I didn’t use it enough to want to pay £0.69 per day (or £9.99 a month), so it’s gone. Deleted.
I hope this helps, and as before, please do feel free to comment if I’ve missed anything or you disagree with my choices.

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