iPad apps for business use

by on 08/04/2011

iPad home screen

One of the companies that FITM works with is about trial iPads and asked what apps they should consider for the trial and beyond.

What amazed me when I compiled this list was how cheap iPad software is. All of the apps listed provide incredible functionality, are stable, bug free, synchronise with the cloud or your PC and are beautiful to look at. However, a lot are completely free and the total cost of everything listed is only £58, which is amazing when you look at what you get.

So, without further ado, the main apps on my iPad home screen are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Penultimate. A new purchase for me, this app lets you hand write notes as well as draw pictures. Great for brainstorming, sharing and discussing ideas. It costs £1.19.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. PDF Expert. Another new purchase, but this app looks wonderful. It keeps a library of your PDF documents, integrates with Dropbox, and has sophisticated tools for annotating PDFs as well. It costs £5.99.

These are the apps that we use at FITM, but we’d be delighted to hear if you think we’ve left anything critical out. Please do comment and let us know what you think!

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