So, you’ve bought an iPad and you’re wondering how you can use it for business. I’ve had mine for about 12 months – it started off as a toy, but now it has now become an indispensable tool. Let me tell you how I’m using it. With the exception of Notes Plus for handwritten notes and iThoughts HD for mind maps, I don’t use the iPad as a tool for content creation (documents, spreadsheets, presentations), I use it for content consumption.
Email and Calendar
Chances are you’ve already got a SmartPhone. If not, then the iPad is a lighter and faster way to access emails and calendar than your laptop. But if you do have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. you probably won’t get too much extra value from the iPad here.
However, it is easier to type a lengthy email on an iPad (especially with a wireless keyboard) and it’s definitely easier to view attachments like documents and spreadsheets. But this isn’t the killer app for iPad.
NotesPlus for Handwritten Notes
For me, the killer app on my iPad is Notes Plus (http://notesplusapp.com/ costs $5.49). Combined with a good quality stylus, it has allowed me to dispense with a paper note pad. There are lots of note taking apps for the iPad like Evernote. But they are based on typing. I personally find typing in a meeting to be a barrier to communication. I find myself thinking about spelling rather than listening. I’ve been writing for over 30 years, I know how to do it, I don’t have to think about it – I can focus on the conversation that’s happening whilst taking notes. N+ allows me to write in an electronic format, draw, scribble, email my notes, organise my notes in folders and workbooks, sync with Dropbox (see Dropbox note later).
N+ doesn’t try to recognize my handwriting…I don’t want it to. If it did I’d turn that feature off or uninstall the app. I’d be back to watching my spelling. N+ allows me to write in my handwriting with all my glorious spelling mistakes. You need to read the instructions to use the software effectively. But it’s the best $5 I’ve spent on technology…ever.
The iPad is a great way to read documents, but getting files onto it through iTunes is very cumbersome. I have an iPad 1 and the advice is not to upgrade to iOS5 so no iCloud for now. Dropbox is my iCloud. Dropbox is cloud file storage, free for 2GB, 50GB = $10/mth.
I’ve installed Dropbox on my laptop (it shows up as a standard folder called My Dropbox, under My Documents), on my iPad and on my Android phone (rarely used). you can create folders and sub folders as normal. I just copy files from my Laptop to the Dropbox folder and then I can view them on my iPad when I’m connected.
Great for reading those white papers, reports, etc that you never get around to. I also copy a select set of presentations to Dropbox. Very handy if you’re having a coffee meeting with someone and know that a picture will help articulate a point…instead of getting the laptop out with it’s bulk and delays, grab your iPad and show that slide (see Keynote for presentations below)
Power Tip: I spend a lot of time on planes with no connectivity. If you plan ahead, you can open Dropbox on your iPad and ‘favorite’ a bunch of files by opening the file and clicking the Star button. This copies the file from the Dropbox server to your iPads local storage so it’s accessible online or offline.
Keynote for Presentations
Th iPhone and iPad have changed how we think about buying software. We think it should cost nothing…or maybe $1.99. It’s funny, I’ve seen people reject a purchase of a $3.99 productivity app over a conversation whilst they consumed a $3.50 cup of coffee. But Keynote (Apple’s PowerPoint…they’d love me for saying that) is worth the $10.49.
I don’t ever anticipate creating a slide show in keynote on the iPad. Bit it’s great for walking through a presentation I’ve created in PowerPoint on my PC (or Keynote on the Mac I expect). Combine it with a VGA output connector and you can present on the device without a Windows machine or MS PowerPoint in sight.
Power Tip: If, like me, you create a lot of PowerPoint presentations, you probably use SmartArt. Keynote doesn’t deal with SmartArt well. So my approach is:
- Create your presentation for PC complete with SmartArt
- Save a version of the PPT file specifically for use on an iPad
- In the iPad version select each SmartArt, Cut, Paste Special as an image such as PNG. Obviously you will loose any ‘builds’ on the SmartArt, but I personally don’t use builds that much these days. So no big loss.
iThoughts HD for Mind Mapping (get your ideas down digitally)
The iPad can be a great tool for getting ideas out of your head and down somewhere more permanent. If you’re like me and love a good mind map, then iThoughts HD is gold. Not only is it a rich and easily usable mind mapping product ($10.49), it allows you to export through email to your favorite PC mind mapping product link Mind Manager or the simply brilliant FREE Xmind for PC. IThoughts will also export your mind map out as a PDF, spreadsheet or Word Document
iAnnotate to mark up your PDF Documents
If you need a tool to highlight, markup, annotate PDF documents, then iAnnotate is well worth the $10.49 (remember, that’s about 4 cups of coffee). I hurt my back last year and had 200 pages of PDF contracts to review. Sitting at a desk wasn’t an option. I lay on my back with PDF contracts courtesy of Dropbox and used iAnnotate PDF to review the documents, marking-up questions and concerns.
Wunderlist as a simple Task List that works on iPad, SmartPhone and PC
After playing with a stack of To Do, Task Lit type apps I’ve finally settled on Wunderlist for 4 reasons
- It’s easy to use
- It’s available for iPad, Android and PC and all lists are synch’d to a central server. So no matter which device I’m using I can create a task and it will show up on all the devices.
- The user interface is clean and simple
- It’s FREE (so I can still afford that cup of coffee)
Kindle for reading books on the iPad
Have you downloaded and read a book on the iPad yet? If not, what are you waiting for. Not only is it convenient and comfortable, but the ability to markup your book (not so useful for a novel, but great for business books) is hugely beneficial. I’m currently reading Bank 2.0 by Brett King – lots of great material for future presentations and I can easily highlight passages and ideas. Whenever I find myself with some spare time like on a plane, I can grab the iPad and keep reading.
Buzz Player for video watching
If you have kids Ths is essential…Buzz Player allows you to play virtually any video file format on the iPd. So rip your DVDs to your PC or Mac and then upload them to the Buzz Player app through iTunes (this is done through the App tab in iTunes when your iPad is connected). Useful if you want to watch a movie yourself when traveling ($5.49 – interestingly its $2.99 for iPhone…bigger screen bigger price)
Epicurious for recipe inspiration
I like cooking. It’s one way that I unwind. But I’m best working from a recipe. Epicurious is great – you can look for inspiration, or enter specific ingredients you have and see what matches. Te user reviews are very helpfu in deciding if something is worth cooking or if it needs longer in the oven than stated etc. Makes me wonder if I’ll ever buy another cook book. FREE
What’s the actor been in? What’s that actresses name? If your like me you often have the iPad close at hand whilst chilling on the lounge watching tv. IMDB can make your brain very lazy. Why remember stuff…it knows everything about movies and tv you could want to know. It’s gotten to the point where my wife and I try to NOT use it to remember information about movies and actors as a challenge.
Haven’t decided which one of these is the best for Facebook. But both quite good. I think the native Facebook app leave s lot to be desired. Maybe it’ll improve.