Mobility

Five business apps to kick off your new iPad

Load up your new iPad with business apps that offer efficiency, convenience, and flexibility in today's fast-paced work environments.
 
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Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet
 

Cracking the tape on any new electronic gadget is always a thrill. Thanks to Apple elegance and ingenuity, opening a new iPad adds an extra little charge. The devices are potent, support many apps, and feature an endless range of potential experiences.

After joining the tablet to the Internet, users almost immediately begin downloading apps. Therein lies the fun. What applications should be downloaded first? Here are five contenders for business and productivity tools every professional should start out with.

Note: This article is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Your firm's vertical industry application

Business professionals live and die by the industry-specific applications their organizations deploy. Autodesk, Intuit, Salesforce, and other enterprise software manufacturers have all published iOS versions for their respective platforms. To ensure that your iPad offers optimal value and efficiency, make your organization's business application the first program you install.

My technology consultancy uses Connectwise as its professional services automation solution (Figure A). Its iOS app enables staff to perform critical functions, such as review calendars, respond to service requests, and close tickets. Those functions streamline our operations, just as similar proprietary enterprise apps do for other firms, making such applications among the most important for tablets.

Figure A

 

Figure A
 

Calender tracking is a critical component when working remotely.

2: iWork apps

The ability to create, edit, and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations is critical to today's business users. Fortunately, Apple now makes its office productivity tool suite — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — available free to new iPad customers (Figure B). In my experience, the applications are not present on Apple devices, however, and must be downloaded from the App store.

Figure B

  

Figure B
 

Numbers checklist helps make sure you don't overlook important information when performing field audits using an iPad.

Using the iWorks suite, you can email files or tap Apple's iCloud service to seamlessly share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Streamlined interfaces dedicate display space to content (as opposed to toolbars and navigational aids), so it's easy to create iWorks files on your iPad.

3: Penultimate

Penultimate (Figure C) lets you create freehand drawings on your iPad. You can draw organization charts, network diagrams, floor plans, and other shapes and objects, which comes in handy in numerous business situations.

Figure C

  
Figure C
 

 Following a simple walk-through of a client site requiring an office expansion, this  floor plan shows the proper location for new desks, data cabling, and a network closet complete with punch-down block.

Thanks to Penultimate's drawing capabilities, you don't have to create paper notes in the field.  No more scanning, copying to a network, and distributing your notes via another method. Instead, you can share the drawings you make on your iPad directly from within Penultimate by email (or using Evernote).

4: Evernote

I'm a fan of simplicity. In Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, authors Irene Etzkorn and Alan Siegel demonstrate the profound benefits that result when processes, forms, and communications are simplified. Professional workdays are full of meetings and conference calls, so you need a way to collect simple text notes in a quick and reliable format. Yet some applications add so many features, the utilitarian acts of recording and sharing basic information become unwieldy and unnecessarily complex. Not so with Evernote (Figure D).

Figure D

 
Figure D
 
The free Evernote note-taking application makes it easy to create and share notes as simple text included within email messages.

While some advanced options are available, including the ability to automatically import Penultimate drawings, the application's strength is the simplicity it offers creating and distributing notes quickly and efficiently.

5: Twitter

Twitter (Figure E) is a life-changing application, and it should be among the first things you install on your new iPad. How else can a business professional to effortlessly track industry news and announcements, product introductions, service enhancements, and similar information? And let's face it: Life isn't composed of just work obligations. You'll probably want to follow sports, arts programs, celebrities, financial markets, and so on.

Figure E


Figure E
 

Twitter's iPad app, in keeping with its brevity theme, favors information and ease of use over unneeded, unwanted features and interface complexity.

Twitter is similar to a fancy customized RSS feed in which you can also participate, while tracking other users' interests, favorites, and trends -- but its setup, configuration, and maintenance is far easier. Of course, the service has been used to post narcissistic messages. But it has also proven its value by allowing users to market companies, track opinions, alert citizens to civic issues and weather conditions, and much more.

Also read…

Other iPad apps?

Do you agree with this selection of essential apps? What's missing from the list? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.

 

 


About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

13 comments
gabherb
gabherb

Thank you for this article Erik. I used to use Evernote but I found on the Evernote Trunk another app, called Beesy. It’s an all-in-one app for productivity based on a smart note-taking process.
For managers it’s the perfect tool to stay organised and to stay up to date.In fact, what I found impressive and useful in it is the note-taking feature. It’s perfect for meetings: you just take your notes add items (tasks, ideas, questions, remarks, pictures, etc.) you can customise and assign to participants: projects, deadlines and priorities, and at the same time your calendar, projects and to-dos get updated.
You gain in productivity and you don’t waste time. It’s all automated. What I mostly love in Beesy is that when you’re done with your meeting, you can generate an instant meeting-minutes in less than a minute! Here’s more specific info:
http://www.beesapps.com/beesy-ipad-to-do/

Barryherne
Barryherne

I have a tablet Android  and I was happy enough to find that there are apps that allow to use a tablet for work. For example, comindware Project (http://www.comindware.com/project/) which is a PM tool issued an app for Android that allows to work from anywhere. The app is a real tool that makes it posible for me to work whenever I feel like doing and using my tablet.

zenpilgrim
zenpilgrim

As a long time user of both Evernote and MS OneNote, I think both are great but I have to give the edge to OneNote on both my iPad, iPhone and of course on my Windows hardware.


As for apps such as Apple's Pages and Numbers, I have them and I think they are fine if you come from the Apple ecosystem but most businesses use MS Office which is available now for iPad with apps for Android and the iPhone. I bought a personal subscription for Office 365 just for that reason.

CodeThumper
CodeThumper

I like www.simpleinout.com A Simple In and Out Application that I use personally and professionaly.

jstachow
jstachow

I've had an iPad for over a year... I stick it in my bag and take it everywhere I take my Carbon x1 (win8)...

I've given it every opportunity to be a "business tool" but to be honest, every time I pull it out it still feels like play-time.

I don't think that adding  iWorks will make it more valuable or useable in my business environment.  

Shawn Quinn
Shawn Quinn

If my ipad would stop crashing, i would consider buying in. But its a piece of overhyped junk.

AreV
AreV

Install Windows 8.1 and swap the processor out for the Atom Bay trail quad core. Then put in 2 GB of RAM and a 64GB mSATA SSD and add all the ports.

Or just buy one Dell 8" Venue Pro and it comes with MS Office home and Biz free  for around $300.00.

Or if you must have a keyboard and full size USB 3.0 Ports get the ASUS T100 for about the same price. It is a very light 10.1" tablet that docks to a good keyboard with a second battery and ports.  Both are lighter than the iPads too.

Just sayin' you can have the full computer in a tablet form factor not the limited cell phone OS' making them big phones that can't make calls.

Apple should be working feverishly on a new tablet that has OSX on it so like us Windows users now we can have the same programs as out computers have and load them the same way, and still have the Apps we have in our phones.

iOS and Android are like the limited Windows RT, their cell phone OS kinda, that we can't load programs on and only has apps. That is only on the Surface 2 not the Surface Pro 2, which has full Windows 8.1.

It is a great OS when used with a touch screen. THe next generation of tablets is here and it isn't on Android or iOS.

midlantic
midlantic

@AreV Hallelujah, a serious and truthful reason why the Windows tablet (pro2) is the workhorse the enterprise needs in tablet form.

maj37
maj37

TWITTER??????????????????

ewj@tech
ewj@tech

@maj37 Just adding twitter made me take this list as a joke.

Danielle Hatfield
Danielle Hatfield

Agree with pages, numbers and keynote. I would say Wordpress app is a big one too.

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