The iPad is really starting to get down to business. There are loads of genuinely handy day-to-day work apps available for it, now. Here are 15 really decent work and productivity apps that I have found useful. (I've listed them alphabetically.)
1. Airsharing HD
It's all very well having a Dropbox, Evernote or Gmail account. But wouldn't it be great to be able to simply access your home or work computer remotely on your iPad? Then you could open, edit or copy over any of the documents or files you have on your stationary computer. That's more or less what Airsharing HD does. It allows you to wirelessly ‘mount' your iPad as an external drive to your main machine.
If you like to keep an eye on the markets, this is the best iPad app out there. It provides instant access to every major stock market around the globe, including the Irish Stock Exchange. You can look any stock up to see its current and historical performance, as well as check any news headlines relating to it. The app also offers podcasts, currency information and a general news feed.
Along with Dropbox and Evernote, this is among the best cloud storage apps available for the iPad. Because it's accepted as a mainstream service, many other apps and services now synchronise with Box.net files and accounts.
Price: free for 1GB of storage, premium subscriptions available
4. Desktop Connect
One of the biggest productivity applications for the iPad is remote desktop sharing.That means being able to switch on your iPad and view the contents of your home or office computer. There are dozens of such apps for this task in the App Store. It's quite easy to set up and can prove very useful.
5. Documents To Go Premium
As good as Apple's iWork suite is, Microsoft Word and Excel are still the dominant currency in office productivity software. This fact makes Documents To Go a very useful app. It allows you to create, view and edit documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. It also allows you to synchronise these iPad files with your desktop's Microsoft Office suite and a range of popular online storage services, such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Box.net. This vies with Quick office Connect Mobile Suite for the accolade as the best Microsoft Office synchronisation app available for the iPad.
The most popular online note-taking application works just as well on the iPad edition as it does on your computer or your smartphone. It also means you can access all of your notes, memos and documents (from years back, too).
7. Financial Times
Europe's largest business publication has launched a special iPad edition of its newspaper. Access to the news content is based upon the same principle as its website. Those who register (supply a name and e-mail address) get access to most of the news sections. To read in-depth features, columnists and special reports, there are varying subscription rates, but the app itself is free.
Getting on a plane? That means you won't be able to catch up on your online reading. What this app does is to record and save web pages you visit in a nice, readable format. You can open them up again offline later. It is very useful for getting access to your online newspaper subscription.
Keynote completes the trio of iWork applications (alongside Pages and Numbers). It is the Mac version of PowerPoint. Its strength is in the templates it provides for multimedia presentations. These beautifully incorporate images and videos, as well as the usual bullet point slides.
10. LogMeIn Ignition
This is another, more straightforward, take on controlling a remote PC using your iPad. It basically allows you to take complete control of a PC somewhere else. You can create and edit documents, and even print from it. Instead of using a mouse, you can either point to where you want the mouse to click or leave it in the centre of the screen and move items onto it. This is probably the most user-friendly remote desktop apps you can get.
Numbers is Apple's answer to Excel. As is the norm, it is a lot more user-friendly and pleasant to look at than Microsoft's popular spreadsheet application. It synchronises nicely with a host of web-sharing and print options.
Apple's answer to Microsoft Office is its iWork suite of applications. This is made up of Pages (Word),Keynote (Powerpoint, OneNote) and Numbers (Excel, Access).Apple is selling a modified version of each for €8. As a word processing program, Pages is a cinch to use and makes great use of images and online sharing.
13. PrintCentral For iPad
One of the iPad's acknowledged weaknesses has been its lack of external connectivity to peripherals such as printers (even though this has been improved a bit with 4.2's Airprint). If your printer is wi-fi connected, this is a brilliant way to get around the iPad's printing restriction. You can connect your iPad to any wi-fi printer, anywhere in the world. You can print virtually any type of document, including high resolution photos. A brilliant, indispensable app for those with a need to print off documents.
14. Side By Side
Another iPad weakness is the lack of real multi-tasking ability. For example, if you want to write documents or take notes while researching something online, you must exit the browser or app to open the word processing app. Side By Side is a very useful way around this issue. Aimed at multi-tasking when online, it divides the screen in two so you can browse on one side and open a productivity app (such as Google Docs or Evernote) on the other. Really handy.
Price: 80 cents
Cisco's online meeting tool is widely used among multinationals and corporates. It shows participants (via webcams) and allows them to talk, type and share documents live on air. The free iPad app allows you to be invited into a meeting that is scheduled or organised by someone else (who has forked out for a pricey Webex subscription). It will not put you into the picture of the meeting, however, as the iPad has no camera.