The iPad 3G is now shipping and those of you who had the self-control to wait are now enjoying your shiny new toy. Congratulations!
I’ve had my wifi-only iPad for weeks now, so in the interest of helping out all of you fresh, doe-eyed newcomers, I thought I’d share with you how I use my iPad at work. That’s right, the iPad does have a place in the office, despite all of the talk about how it’s made for sitting back on your couch on a lazy Sunday and reading the New York Times.
I’m going to break this down by the apps that I use on a daily basis to get my work done. That way you can head straight to the App Store and start downloading. Come Monday, you’ll be the envy of the office as you strut around with your silver and black beauty, unencumbered by that crappy old laptop that takes 5 minutes to wake up.
Mail and Calendar – Get thee to the IT Department!
Email and calendar are the lifeblood of most any organization. Without access to these two essential services, I would probably not even bring my iPad to work.
Chances are, your company is still using Microsoft Outlook (sad, but true). If so, check with your IT Department to see if they have ActiveSync running and get yourself an account. This step is critical. Beg, borrow, steal, bribe; do whatever you have to do so that you can get mail and calendar running!
Evernote (FREE) – Let your happy fingers tap out notes
While we’re getting rid of office accoutrements, let’s ditch the pad and paper, shall we? I know this sounds scary, but there are a lot of great note-taking apps out there. My favorite is Evernote. You can compose notes, tag them, organize them into folders, even record audio if your fingers are getting tired. If you’re the meeting scribe (it happens to the best of us) you can easily email your notes to participants right from the app.
Evernote automatically syncs to the cloud (I’m a big fan of the cloud) and it runs on the desktop too, so when you sit back down at your desk to use that boring laptop or desktop PC, you’ll have all your notes right there in front of you, like magic.
See also: Simplenote
Adobe Ideas (FREE) – Get your sketch on
Yes, despite the feud, Adobe does make an app for the iPad and it’s quite handy. Adobe Ideas is a sketching app that acts as a virtual whiteboard. Using your finger (or a stylus) you can sketch up ideas right on the screen. Its simple interface belies its powerful features which include layers, opacity, colors, line weight and the abiity to import images so that you can sketch over them. Because you can zoom in and out on the canvas, it’s possible to add a lot of detail to your sketches. Like Evernote, these sketches can be emailed.
Taska ($4.99) – Making sure it gets done
Are you still using PostIt Notes to keep track of what you need to get done? Do you have them stuck all over your laptop? Do you realize how sad that looks? Well, you certainly don’t want PostIts cluttering up your beautiful iPad, so let’s put an end to this madness. Taska is a to-do application with a lot of functionality, probably more than you will ever need. All you need to know is that you click the + icon to add a task and you tick the checkbox when you are done with that task. Sure, you could organize your tasks into projects, tag them, set context, sync to the cloud, etc. but you probably won’t and thats okay.
See also: Things
Keynote ($9.99) – Keeping up appearances
Do you use PowerPoint? Sure, we all do! Keynote is the Apple equivalent of PowerPoint. Few people use it, because they either don’t have a Mac or, if they do have a Mac, they already have MS Office installed. That’s a shame because Keynote can create beautiful presentations.
Fortunately, Apple has created Keynote for the iPad. It’s only $9.99 and I would argue that it is the best application in the App Store today. With Keynote, you can author beautiful presentations (who says the iPad is for consumption only?). You can also import your old PowerPoint presentations and make them less crappy! The presentations don’t have to stay stuck on your device, either. They can be exported or emailed as Keynote or PDF files or you can upload them to iWork.com and share the link with your colleagues (our hero, the cloud, rescues us again).
Last week I built a very elaborate presentation, complete with animated transitions, and I can say, first-hand, that this is the best way to create a deck. Much better than any desktop experience I’ve had.Get it. Now.
GoTo Meeting (FREE) – It’s like being there, only smaller
What if I told you that you could attend meetings remotely on the iPad? You’d be shocked, right? Well it’s true! Both Cisco (WebEx) and Citrix (GoTo Meeting) offer iPad apps. In my office we use GoTo Meeting so I can’t speak for WebEx, but GoTo Meeting works very well. It’s incredibly handy and even has voice capability (your iPad has a speaker and a mic, so it works like a speakerphone). In the picture below, you can see that I am using the iPad to monitor a GoTo Meeting while I do real work on my desktop.
For now, you can’t host a meeting from the iPad and you can’t be made a presenter. However, if you are hosting or presenting from your laptop or desktop, you can join the meeting via the iPad and see what your audience sees. This is great for troubleshooting and avoiding that all to common question, “can you see my screen now?”
See also: WebEx
Apple iPad Case ($39.99) – Don’t leave home without it!
I know that a lot of people don’t like Apple’s case for aesthetic reasons. Ignore that. You want the case. First, it will protect your beautiful new toy from scratches. Second, and more importantly, it will allow you to type quickly and efficiently. I can’t stress this benefit enough. I suspect most people who complain about typing on an iPad don’t have this case. It makes a huge difference.
Ready? 1… 2… 3… Ditch that laptop!
My iPad has now replaced my laptop and desktop for about 90% of what I do on a daily basis. While your mileage may vary, there’s a good chance you can ditch that laptop for a large portion of your day while remaining connected and productive.
Don’t just sit there. Get ready for Monday! It’s time to put your iPad to work!