So you have an iPad. Perhaps you received one recently as a holiday gift, for a birthday, from your company or simply just purchased one for yourself to use. The question you may now have, if you plan on using the device for enterprise purposes, is “What are the best iPad apps for business users?”
Good question. Here is a list of 5 of the best iPad apps any business user should have on their device and why:
1. Skype : perhaps the definitive VoIP application on the internet. While the iPad may not have a native application, the iPhone version works well on the tablet, providing a cheap and efficient communication tool.
Skype offers VoIP over 3G and Wi-Fi as well as text messaging services on the iPad, but the lack of a camera means that video calling is not available.
It is disappointing that, nine months after the iPad’s release, a dedicated Skype application has not been designed. Having to use the iPhone app means that most of the iPad’s screen space remains unused.
Display issues aside, the Skype application is stable and, network connectivity permitting, offers cost-effective multi-participant teleconferences with colleagues all over the world.
Other features work well, such as Skype Out, the ability to call landlines and mobile phones, and make the app a must-have for those who travel and want to avoid roaming charges.
2. Xpense Tracker : Business travellers can keep on top of their expenditure with the aptly named Xpense Tracker, another well designed app.
It’s possible to separate business and personal expenses, something that some MPs and chief executives may have wished they’d done last year.
Creating an expense list is easy, and a Dropbox add-on can be purchased for an extra 59p which exports files to the cloud repository so they are easily accessible.
Photos of receipts can be uploaded from another device, but this is not the most useful tool. The addition of a camera on the next iPad will make this feature more relevant as users will be able to capture receipts instantly.
Currencies can also be downloaded, but unfortunately the VAT has yet to be updated to 20 per cent, so those who require this feature should hold off until the imminent update is released.
3. Dragon Dictation : This well-known voice recognition software aims to overcome the iPad’s lack of keyboard by converting spoken word into written text.
The simple interface hides the complex algorithms that run behind it. The application requires a single touch to start recording, and can be set to automatically sense when the user has ended dictation.
In a quiet environment, voice recognition for sentences of 10 to 15 relatively common words are handled with ease. Figures and punctuation can be a bit hit and miss. Commands for new paragraphs, quotations and symbols are also supported, providing additional formatting.
Dragon recommends a headset with a built in microphone such as the one bundled with the iPad. Our tests confirmed that using the bundled headset did improve recognition.
Dragon Dictation is an impressive effort at voice recognition and, while it isn’t perfect for entering large amounts of text on an iPad, it beats craning your neck over the device and tapping it in on the screen.
4. Bloomberg : Bloomberg’s iPad application is a prime example of how the extra screen space afforded by the iPad can be put to good use.
The free application presents business news and stock information in an easy to navigate and attention grabbing way. The designers at Bloomberg understand the target audience, providing clear information on stock prices and related news.
There is even the ability to download and listen to Bloomberg podcasts through the application.
Those used to Bloomberg’s professional service may find its iPad application provides less than up-to-the-second data but, given the zero cost and portability, it is hard to argue with.
Such is the depth of information available in Bloomberg’s application, it is likely to be a primary source for business news and stock quotes on the iPad.
5. Dropbox : A clear limitation of the iPad is its fixed storage capacity, and the lack of removable storage makes it inconvenient to share information between devices.
Dropbox tackles this by creating a shared space that allows users to upload files and view them through its software.
The ‘basic’ version offers 2GB of storage for no charge, allowing files to be synchronised between computers, smartphones and tablets.
Users needing more will have to invest in the Pro 50 and Pro 100 services, which increase capacity to 50GB and 100GB respectively for a monthly fee.
The number of operating systems supported by Dropbox is what makes the service so useful. Having access to files on PCs that run Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, and on smartphones and tablets running iOS or Android, makes Dropbox a versatile app.
The viewer application isn’t perfect, but it supports most popular file formats meaning you don’t have to worry about installing a suitable PDF or Word document reader on the device.
Not only does Dropbox increase the storage capacity of the iPad, it brings backup and file synchronisation at no cost.
What other apps do you use on your iPad for business or productivity purposes?