With plenty of small business owners tipped to be considering a tablet, here are six apps we recommend for turning your tablet into a work friendly tool.
While tablets are not as good as a laptop for doing a lot of typing, it doesn't seem to matter for some businesses owners who love how easy it is to carry under their arm and slip into a bag.
Late last year Telstra released these numbers which it interpreted as showing that 28% of business owners surveyed said they would be buying a tablet for work. Of course, Telstra markets those same tablets, bu the results are still interesting.
Below are six apps that help turn an iPad into a useful tool for work.
A word processor that’s been pared right down, iA Writer
isn’t the app you’ll be bashing out the company report with. There’s no formatting control at all. Instead, iA Writer forces you to concentrate on the writing, with Focus Mode even limiting the view to the current sentence. A host of clever keyboard shortcuts makes it ideal for writing considered pieces of text. Price: $0.99
OmniFocus for iPad
won’t be for everyone: it’s an app for people with complex workloads, for whom a simple to-do list just isn’t enough. You may also need to start thinking the way OmniFocus thinks. For example, it uses the term “contexts” to describe different scenarios such as being in the office, at home, or being with your boss. Tasks are assigned to that context, and you can then see what needs to be done next when you’re in that situation. There are many more strings to its bow: the forecast feature, showing what you need to do today, this week and in the future, is just one. If its structured way of working suits you, you’ll find OmniFocus well worth the high price. Price $41.99
A fabulously powerful app, iAnnotate PDF
allows you to highlight, mark up, comment and scribble all over PDFs, saving the need to print out and scribble down notes in pen. It’s particularly suited for working on the train or in the back of a car, with bumps no longer threatening to ruin a document with shakily inked annotations, especially when used with a decent stylus. The developers are constantly adding features, and the most recent upgrade has simplified the toolbars and made performance even smoother. Options to seamlessly synchronise documents with Dropbox, or email annotated files to colleagues, add the final touches to a splendid app. Price $10.49
A simple app that provides a very impressive bit of functionality - AirDisplay
turns your iPad into a second monitor for your Mac or PC. You’ll need to install a small piece of software on your desktop or laptop (the app itself directs you on where to go to do this) after which you’ll be able to pair the two over Wi-Fi. You can rotate the iPad from portrait to landscape as you choose. All in all, a great way to incorporate a tablet into your working life. Price $10.49
comes from FileMaker - people who know quite a bit about databases, as we’re sure you’ll agree. Bento provides a simple way of organising personal or work related data into a personalised database using a number of templates. Contacts, projects, events plans - it doesn’t matter what you’re organising, Bento makes it easy to keep and track a detailed database. Price $10.49
If iA Writer (see above) is all about the words, Pages
is about making documents sparkle. It possesses incredible power for an app that consumes only 150MB. Drop a photo into a block of text, for example, and the words will wrap elegantly around the image, and dynamically reflow as you resize the photo, or even rotate it at a jaunty angle using a pinch-and-rotate gesture. Pages comes with a healthy selection of prepared templates, but it’s also simple to create attractive, bespoke documents from scratch, with tools to drop in and edit tables, graphs and WordArt-style shapes.
Speaking of Word, it can import both DOC and DOCX documents, and delivers warnings if it doesn’t have the necessary fonts or features (such as Track Changes) used in complex files. It can also export in Word format, as well as PDF or its own Pages format. It recognises familiar keyboard shortcuts (when used with an external keyboard) for fuss-free cutting and pasting, for example.
Apple’s familiar pigheadedness is the only thing that lets it down: documents can be opened from third-party services such as Dropbox, for example, but can’t be saved back. Apple prefers you to use its own iCloud, iDrive or any other service that is incompatible with the rest of the tech world. Emailing documents directly from Pages is thus the most convenient sharing option for those not fully entrapped in Apple’s ecosystem. Price $10.49