10 iPad business apps worth loading

How business-friendly is the iPad? Pretty darn friendly, says one IT consultant — as long as you load the right apps.

You've read all about how Apple's iPad will revolutionize computing. But how can it really help you work? Here are 10 iPad business applications you can load to start working smarter, become more efficient, and simplify your workday.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Pages

Part of Apple's iWork Suite, this $10 app is a must for new iPad owners. With the Pages word processor installed, you can create professional-grade documents, brochures, and reports. Pages also lets you open and edit Microsoft Word documents and save Pages documents as Word or PDF files. In addition, Pages enables you to share files between the iPad and Windows/Mac machines using iTunes.

2: Numbers

Apple's $10 spreadsheet application lets you create attractive spreadsheets that can process more than 250 functions. You can also open and edit Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and export spreadsheets as Numbers '09 or PDF files. Like Pages, Numbers allows you to share spreadsheet files between the iPad and Windows/Mac systems via iTunes.

3: Dropbox

A necessity for technology consultants, Dropbox (the free iPhone version works on the iPad), enables sharing files via the cloud. My office uses Dropbox to share critical information among various engineers. Regardless of whether the engineer is carrying a Windows laptop, using a Mac, sporting an iPhone, or toting an iPad, Dropbox lets us share files between multiple users using multiple platforms.

4: The Wall Street Journal

An undisputed authority for market and business news, The Wall Street Journal's iPad app is specially designed to maximize the iPad's multimedia features. Videos and slideshows are free to view, as are market data, customized stock lists, and regularly updated news articles.

5: TweetDeck for iPad

If your organization uses Twitter in any marketing, communications, or public relations capacity, your iPad users can leverage the free TweetDeck for iPad app to manage multiple accounts simultaneously. TweetDeck's multiple-column format makes it easy to monitor friends' tweets, direct messages, and mentions.

6: Desktop Connect

Antecea Inc.'s $11.99 Desktop Connect application provides you with Windows Remote Desktop Connection or VNC access to remote computers, including Macs. Supported operating systems include Windows XP Professional; Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008; Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate; Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate; and Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard.

7: WebEx for iPad

Cisco's free WebEx for iPad lets you attend WebEx meetings, complete with simultaneous data and audio feeds. But there's one catch: To schedule a WebEx meeting, you need a WebEx subscription and you must start the meeting from your PC or Mac. Fortunately, other applications (such as Desktop Connect) let you connect to full-fledged desktops from the iPad.

8: KAYAK Flights

This free iPad app simplifies traveling for mobile employees. Using KAYAK Flights, traveling staff can search for the most appropriate flights and pricing information that best match their schedule and budget. KAYAK Flights also returns hotel options, complete with pricing and traveler ratings.

9: Dictionary & Thesaurus

Dictionary.com's Dictionary and Thesaurus are proven tools for professional business users. Now the power of these two common business resources can be parked on the iPad. Some one million words and definitions based upon the Random House Unabridged Dictionary are included, while the Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus boasts more than 90,000 synonyms. Another benefit is that no Internet connection is required to access the powerful word databases; the free application includes the information within its approximately 44MB file.

10: LogMeIn Ignition

IT professionals are no strangers to LogMeIn's outstanding remote access utilities, which require no firewall tweaks or convoluted setup. LogMeIn Ignition, available for $29.99, provides you with a single application designed for connecting to Logmein Pro- and LogMeIn Free-connected systems. Automatic settings help optimize performance and display, making it easy for you to connect to remote systems using your Internet-connected iPad.

By Erik Eckel

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...