Best iPad apps for getting things done
So you want an iPad, you're not into games and all that jazz, but you need convincing that it's going to help you get things done. You've got to justify it somehow, and if you really can use it for "work" then you might just be able to expense it.
We've scoured the 3,500 and climbing dedicated iPad apps to bring you what we think are the best iPad apps available at the moment (early April) to help you improve your productivity and basically help you get things done.
We've tried, tested and reviewed all the iPad apps below ourselves rather than just guessing whether they are good or not. Now grab your clipboard and look like you are busy.
LogMeIn Ignition is an app that works in tandem with either Windows or Mac software (a free version or a pro version with added goodies) that lets you access your files when you're out and about - and even gives you direct access to your machine's desktops. Setting up is easy - simply install the app on your iPad or iPhone (or both) and download the desktop software that you want direct from LogMeIn's website. It's then just a case of pairing up your devices using the log in procedure; you can also set a username and password for added security.
Once paired, your iDevice now has access to all of your PC's goodies (so all your programs and data) that you want it to, so long as that machine is turned on. If it's not turned on, Ignition even has functionality to boot it up, or awaken it from a nap. Version 2.1.299 of the app also makes it easier to transfer your pictures and videos over to your iDevice, and even lets you create a new folder within your iPad or iPhone's native photo app - meaning you don't have to sync media using iTunes any longer. Sure £20+ for an app is a lot, but when you consider it's an app that basically turns your iThing into a functional PC then it's not really all that expensive. Read More
Mint.com Personal Finance
Mint.com is all about your money - it’s a service which aggregates all your online bank accounts into one manageable place. Instead of having to log in to four different company systems, you enter all your details on set up and leave Mint to do the work for you each time you want to take a peep. It’ll deal with your savings, credit cards, mortgages and anything else you’ve got and put all of them and their transactions into one online statement. And, like all the best things on the Internet, it’s free.
The service uses bank level security and will also warn you if it suspects fraudulent activity on any of your accounts, but it doesn’t stop there. If you want to be super organised, you can create a budget. That’s because the website can categorise and display exactly what kinds of things you spend your cash on. So, it’ll let you know just how much you waste on expensive take out coffee. Off the back of that, you can make a new cash flow plan for yourself and the service will even make suggestions of where you can cut down your expenses as well. Read More
Currently available for £1.99, Splashtop Remote is by far the cheapest way to remotely control your PC desktop. By that, we mean that it will act as a window and pointing device, with your home computer running the software and its processor handling the hard work. It's compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7 and, once a server client has been downloaded and installed on the PC in question, it can access pretty much any software you have.
The biggest advantage of the app that we can see, apart from allowing you to play certain games remotely, is the fact that it'll play any kind of media running on a computer. So, as long as your PC has the right codecs and software installed, you will be able to view Java and Flash-based video on the web, MKV files through Windows Media Player (for example), and anything else that the iPad is famed for having trouble with. Yes, there are more fully-featured alternatives out there, such as iTeleport and Logmein, however, they all cost between £8.99-£17.99, and some even charge further for continued link up, while Splashtop is less than two quid. Read More
Evernote is a simple enough idea. It’s a cloud-based filing system for notes. It’s a giant, searchable, back pocket with dividers. The phone, pad or desktop app - however you want to use it - allows you to take notes as pictures, written notes, audio notes or you can just upload a file. You give each one a title as you do so and you’re welcome to tag them too. Once you’re done, you hit upload and off they go into the cloud as if you’ve just attached a magical helium ballon. That’s probably how they’d show it in an advert, anyway.
While it’s a good service from a laptop, it really comes into its own on your mobile phone. You can take a photo of something you see that inspires you when you’re out on the hoof, or perhaps a Christmas gift idea or maybe just a ticket confirmation number or something that you’ll need later. It’s not hard to think of times where it comes in hand, you just have to remember that you have this service in your pocket in the first place. Best of all, of course, it’ll cost you nothing to try it out. Make sure you do. Read More
Documents to Go Premium
Documents to Go (DTG) is a, quite frankly, brilliant office suite that will turn your iPad into a rich office-based machine, without clogging up your precious hard-drive space with files. Because, although you can store documents locally on your iPad's memory, DTG works best when you bring in the cloud - and that's why it's worth forking out for the premium version.DTG is compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and you'll also be able to view images, iWork files and PDFs as well.
With Word, Excel and PowerPoint you can edit files and there are all the formatting options that you could possibly wish for, you simply have to scroll through them on the toolbar at the bottom. Holding your finger down on a button gives you a text explanation of what it will do, so you don't need to aimlessly guess.
Packed to the rafters with handy features, Documents to Go is a fantastic app and we highly recommend it. Less than £12 is a bargain for what you get with the premium version, although there is a version without cloud support for just £6.99. Read More
While the iPad does have a keyboard, it's not that great a keyboard. In steps what some still claim is the future of computing: using your voice.
Currently only available in the US the Dragon Dictation app promises to let you use the iPad's built in microphone to dictate notes to the device which it then translates on the fly (via the cloud) and spits out your words either perfectly or as if you've had one pint too many.
Talk "proper" English, rather than estuary drawl, and you'll have no problem with the app working out what you are saying and then writing it out for you. You can use commonly used commands like Caps, Space or Question Mark for formatting and there is also support for you to plug in a headset microphone.
In landscape mode you'll get a list of your notes and then the main window for your words. Individual words can be edited using the on-screen keyboard. The app gives suggestions when possible: "jumped" can become "jumps" for example.
While our tests over Skype (we kid you not) to one of the team did bring back some interesting results, on the whole if you speak slowly and clearly it does deliver the goods. However when it gets it wrong - it's both cringe-worthy and funny at the same time.
As it's free, it's worth a go.
If you use any of the Google services and we are betting that you probably do, you can now get Google's Mobile App for the iPad.
The app is identical to the iPhone version, however has been formatted to fill the whole screen rather than just a iPhone-sized one.
Google's offerings are listed in a rather bland list not taking advantage of the new screen (we would have liked to see big icons in a grid format) and pressing on one fires you off to the relevant website which of course is now iPad friendly. You can also add support for your Google Apps domain.
The key feature here is the ability to quickly search via Google's voice technology to save you having to type on the keyboard.
Shouting Pocket-lint at your iPad for example will load up a search for us and then we are just one click away. The app saves that search and then you can find it quickly later. It's simple stuff, but if you are in a rush then this is a great way of getting things done quickly.
GoodReader for iPad
The idea behind GoodReader for the iPad is probably the main reason behind why you would wanted an iPad in the first place: to read stuff when you are out and about.
The idea here is that you can load up your device with meaty documents or PDF files and then read them when you are away from your computer, like on the train or the plane.
There are a number of ways to get documents on your iPad, either via iTunes 9.1 (via the new file sharing system feature), a wireless network and a browser, downloading stuff straight from the web, or connecting to a server, either your FTP server if you are being geeky or something a lot more friendly like Dropbox, Google docs, MobileMe or even a mail server of your choice.
Once you've found the file you're looking for you can then load it up to read with the iPad showing complete pages for PDF documents or a continuous stream for Word docs.
Most major formats are supported including PDF, TXT, MS office, iWork and even HMTL.
It also does video and audio, as well as stripping out the text from a PDF, making this one nifty little app.
Air Sharing HD
You're attempting to do some work and you don't have that file you need on your laptop. But you're on your iPad. What's the solution? You can either attempt to make it up, or you can simply access your computer, SFTP site or cloud computing service via its server list. Disappointingly there isn't out-of-the-box Google Docs or Dropbox support like GoodReader for iPad.
That's basically what Air Sharing does - allows you to access files on your computer or server and then interact with, print, via a printer connected to your Wi-Fi network, or email them to other people or even yourself.
Once you receive said email from yourself you can then go about loading it into the relevant app to make the most of it - i.e., Pages for word processing documents, presentations in Keynote.
Photos thankfully can be saved straight to your photo folder without the need to email yourself and the developers have said that they are working to add more third party app support in the future to save you having to email yourself all the time.
You're also able to access files on the iPad via a browser from your computer to save having to dock it with iTunes all the time. A great app that promises to be made even better in the future.
With so many ways of getting our fix of news, reviews and features from around the web you might find something you want to read, but just don't have the time to do so.
In steps Instapaper, a "read later" offering that lets you bookmark web pages to then read offline later at your convenience.
The iPad app syncs with a central account so you can save stuff on your desktop or iPhone and those "read later" requests are then automatically synced with your iPad app and vice versa.
Once synced you can then read the articles offline without an internet connection.
The app comes with instructions on how to add the read later widget (its really just a clever bookmark) to Safari and there's support for tons of Twitter apps to although we've struggled to get it to work in Twitterrific or Tweetdeck on the iPad.
Once you've got a stack of stories to read later you can change the font size, star them as a favourite, as well as run something they call Pagination, which basically splits down the article into iPad sizes pages (yeah we don't see the point either).
Landscape mode offers folders to view and here you can see the articles you've starred, articles you've archived, because they really are that good, and random (and we mean random) Editor's Picks.
If you like to read, but can never find the time, then this is probably the app to give you that chance.
Apple offers three "work" related apps for the iPad: Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
While we personally struggle to see why you would want to use a dedicated word processing app when you can just type into an email, Keynote, the presentation app, on the other hand makes perfect sense for the business pitchers amongst you. Keynote for iPad lets you create and edit (as long as they've been created with iWork 09) presentations on the iPad and the export them back again.
Open it up and its so easy to create a presentation, so you'll be boring your mates with them till the cows come home.
The app offers 12 templates and then a further eight page templates to get you started. You're able to import pictures from your photo album, change their size, crop them, add animations to the pages and individual elements on the page and then either show your presentation on the iPad, email it, share via iWork.com, or export so you can download it when you next connect to iTunes.
The app also supports video out (via an optional accessory) meaning you can either present on a big screen or be more intimate and get them to huddle around your new shiny toy. You had me at Keynote.
One of the key ways of getting things done is to be organised. One way to do that on your iPad is to install Bento. At £2.99 / $4.99 it's a lot cheaper than Things for iPad ($19.99), and offers plenty more combining address book, projects, inventory databases, notes, expenses and even recipes - there are 25 in total.
Available for the iPhone as well (separately), the iPad app takes advantage of the bigger screen and will also link into to Bento 3 on the Mac if you want to sync your libraries.
It's all a bit daunting at first, but a quick tutorial page and some playing will get you on the right track. With 25 libraries there is chance one at least will work for you and we particularly like the recipe library. Organised.
And who said Adobe wasn't available on the Apple iPad? Adobe Ideas is basically a blank sheet of paper (digital of course) that you can sketch ideas on to and then email out. This isn't an art package, or a note taking package, but one that allows you to get what you are thinking down on "paper" so you can think about it some more later when you get back to your desk.
You can import photos into the app to work with, change pen thickness and colour as well as manage the size of images you've imported. It's quick, it's simple, but if you've ditched the pen and paper (which let's face it is the point) this is a great app to get.