During a recent Tech Field Day event in San Jose I came into an iPad, and I must admit the device is much more useful than I first thought. Here are some of the applications that are helping me settle into iPad use.
Because I came from a PC and am an avid OneNote user, I wasn't sure what application might fill that need, since Microsoft has not ported OneNote to the Mac or the iPad. Enter MobileNoter.
With some help from either your own Wi-Fi network or the MobileNoter's cloud based backend, the application allows you to sync notebooks from OneNote on your PC to the MobileNoter application on the iPad. The notebook format is preserved and the synchronization is two-way, allowing notes entered on the iPad to wind up in OneNote.
The cloud-based service costs about $1.25 a month and the Wi-Fi version has one-time cost of $15.
Text replacement is really useful. It comes in handy when blogging because product titles are sometimes repetitive and some words are easily misspelled. On the PC, I use Phrase Express for text substitution. On the Mac and the iPad, I found TextExpander.
The application allows you to create abbreviations that, when typed, are expanded into the phrase you need. Some iPad applications, like Twitter and Notepad, are able to integrate with TextExpander, allowing words to be suggested or abbreviations used right within the application.
Snipits, the abbreviations used by TextExpander, can be shared between the Mac and the iPad using another great app for iPad (and other platforms) — DropBox.
The TextExpander application runs $34.95 for the Mac and $4.99 for the iPad.
The iPad is great for web surfing and streaming video or reading books, but it has a very limited amount of disk space. This limitation is not terribly noticeable as long as you are able to rotate documents, books, or apps in and out of the device. Using Dropbox is a great way to make PDF and other files available on the iPad without needing to side load them via iTunes.
The application (and online account that go with it) are a great way to move documents back and forth between your iPad and other computers or for sharing them with your friends.
DropBox is a free service up to 2GB of storage. Above that you can get 50GB for $9.99/month or $99/year or 100GB for $19.99/month or $199.99/year.
RSS still provides a great way to get your favorite blog content to come to you. Reeder, an iPad app selling for $4.99, connects to your Google Reader account and retrieves your feeds for use on your iPad.
The number of blogs I follow has been increasing regularly and the extreme readability and great screen size on the iPad allow me to do a better job reading items I subscribe to rather than logging on a couple times per month to mark old items read.
Because you cannot be connected to the Internet everywhere, although there are few places where this is actually the case anymore, being able to read online content when you are offline is sometimes useful.
Using InstaPaper you can save web content for later reading offline. This works with websites via a bookmarklet and some other applications directly. I like having the option of reading content I've shared with InstaPaper offline on my iPad, especially when I don't have Internet access while traveling.
These applications have become time savers and I find them to be very useful on the iPad. I also enjoy the occasional game of Angry Birds but there isn't much business use (or productivity gain) there.
Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.