Here is my list of recommended apps for business users on the iPad.
The iPad is a great business tool but is certainly very limited without adding some additional tools. This is a list of the ones I recommend for day-to-day use.
GoodReader – $4.99
This is the best all-rounder. It is a document viewer with good sync and connectivity options including the usual DropBox, etc. but also with SharePoint and custom servers. It has all the basic PDF annotation tools too. The only annoyance is the need to buy a different app for the iPhone – there is no call for this when the app costs this much.
iAnnotate – $9.99
This is better overall than GoodReader at handling PDF’s and doing more complex annotations. It can also convert Word and PowerPoint documents to PDF itself and has some limited document sync capabilities. I use this if I need to annotate Word or PowerPoint files, the PDF is particularly complex or I need more complex annotations.
iThoughtsHD – $9.99
An excellent mind-mapping tool that enables easy visualisation and organisation of thoughts. It has some really good editing features and superb import/export from/to other, desktop mindmapping tools. I use this a lot and the only annoying thing is the need to buy a separate app for use on the iPhone (I’ve personally not bothered). It does, though, get plenty of updates, a few of which attract an extra charge but overall still worth it. If you are a mindmap fan, this is the tool for you.
This is what you need when you just have to have access to full Microsoft Office from your iPad. Accesses files from Dropbox, Google and Box.net. Does the job really well.
Pocket Informant – Pro version $14.99 (use on iPhone and iPad), Std version $9.99 (iPhone or iPad not both), “Go” version $4.99 (both platforms but very limited)
Somewhat expensive and arguably overly complex Calendar and task manager. Links to the iOS built-in calendars or direct to a number of external calendars such as Google. Certainly looks good and has loads of excellent features but I find myself rarely using it as I generally access my calendar on the iPhone using Easy Calendar, which I find quicker to use. But if you need more in the way of task and project management, this is a good tool to use. It now costs far too much to recommend for most people unless you can get it on special offer.
OneNote – Free
OK, this one is actually quite horrible I admit! However, it is the official app for accessing Microsoft OneNote notebooks via Skydrive (live.com, Office365 or whatever it is called this week). OneNote on Windows desktop is arguably the best note taking tool every made, very simple to use, easy to use but is the closest you will come to working as though on paper with all the flexibility it provides. Unfortunately, OneNote on iOS stinks! It has far too many limitations to list here. Still, I do use it in meetings day-to-day for taking quick notes that sync back to the desktop. Note that, while there are alternatives, I’ve not found any that are actually worth paying for – at least not yet.
Well those are the basics. The rest of these have more specific uses or are for occasional use.
This is another cloud-based notepad with desktop and web interfaces. Certainly not as easy or flexible to use on the desktop as OneNote but great for automatically getting the text from an image, and quickly doing visual notes (e.g. take a picture of your car number plate or that great wine you had at a friends house)
TouchDraw – £5.99
This is a quite amazing vector drawing tool that also does diagrams. Unfortunately, the iPad isn’t really that easy a platform for doing drawing of this kind but if you want to, TouchDraw is a great tool for doing it. It is certainly capable of doing simple diagrams such as organisation charts, floor plans and simple flowcharts. It’s surpassing feature is the ability to import/export Visio diagrams.
Filamente – Free Lite version, $19.99 standard version or Enterprise version
If you are a SharePoint user, this is the tool for you. Access to SharePoint shared documents and lists. Gives offline access, view mail (.msg) files, WYSIWYG editing, approval workflow. Yes, it is expensive though it sometimes appears at a reduced price. The alternatives are equally as expensive.
Textastic – $8.99
An excellent tool for text editing. Great for developers on the go. Connect and sync with development servers and Dropbox. Extended keyboard and highlighting for 80+ programming languages. Has a built-in WebDAV server for sharing files locally.
MagicalPad – $1.99
Nice alternative to iThoughts. If you don’t need the import/export capabilities of iThoughts, you might like this app instead. It is more focused on note-taking and is a bit like a simplified OneNote.
Noteshelf – $5.99
One of the nicer free-form note taking and sketching tools. Slightly more expensive than some of the alternatives but has a good all-round interface and nice smoothing. Also has a nice selection of background “paper” though additional backgrounds cost more.
Notify – £1.49
This is note-taking on steroids! Has perhaps the most features of any of the free-hand note taking tools. Including text, calculations, lines and filled areas. It works on the iPhone too. It used to be too slow and didn’t have decent smoothing but these issues have now been fixed. Not as pretty to use as Noteshelf and has a few rough edges but more than made up for by the lower price and feature set. The feature list is too long to list here but bullets & handwriting recognition (uses additional app Writepad – £2.49) are available
MyKeePass – $0.69
KeePass is a desktop security tool for storing passwords and other ID information that has been around a long time and is very well respected. MyKeePass gives you access to the Keepass database from iOS devices. Includes the ability to use Dropbox to keep everything in sync and backed up. Great tool, not needed often but when you do, a life-saver.
LastPass is a cloud-based password management tool that keeps your ID’s secure by only ever decrypting locally (plus a bunch of other clever stuff like tokens and one-time-passwords if you want them). They have a couple of iOS tools, one of which is only available for paid premium users (only $12 per year!). Worth paying just to support them I think. I use the browser integration constantly and the iPad/iPhone versions occasionally.
Docusign Ink – Free (but needs paid for credits to check other peoples signatures)
More secure than signing documents with a PDF annotation tool, overkill for many uses.