Picture this: You're dashing through the airport in a mad rush to catch a cross-country flight to meet clients. Now, what would you rather have in your bag, as you're bobbing and weaving between travellers: A business laptop (which typically weighs around 1.5kg) or an iPad Air which weighs less than 500 grams? If you don't mind working on a touchscreen (or are using a Bluetooth keyboard), the choice is simple.
The App Store has an incredible software catalogue that transforms Apple's slate into a highly capable productivity device. In fact, there are apps available to meet nearly every business need, from word processing to remote access, so you can continue doing the job at hand – but on an extremely lightweight slate.
iTunes contains many apps that duplicate the functionality of traditional desktop applications – and the breadth of functionality continues to increase. For example, there’s Apple’s iWork suite, LogMeIn Ignition for iPad (a mobile version of the popular remote access software), and Dragon Dictation (Nuance's mobile application that brings much of the speech recognition functionality of Dragon NaturallySpeaking to the iPad), along with many more which we’ll look at here.
The marketplace also has many apps that may not represent traditional workplace applications, but may prove useful nonetheless. Twitter for iPad (social networking), for example, and Dropbox for iPad (cloud-based file synchronisation) lets you build your brand and make files accessible from multiple computers.
So, without further ado, here’s our selection of must-have business and productivity apps – eight of them in total. Click on the title of any app to link through to the download on iTunes.
Featuring very accurate voice transcription and the ability to share messages via email, Facebook, and Twitter, Naunce's dictation app is both fun to use and immensely helpful – as long as you're connected to the net.
If you're looking for an infinitely simple way to keep files in order between your iPad, desktop, and phone, Dropbox is a must. This excellent app is simple to use, free, and offers offline file access.
FileMaker Go, despite some limitations, is a useful tool for businesspeople who want to access databases on the go, as it gives them the option of shedding a laptop or roaming free from a desktop PC. FileMaker Go 13 is a more than worthy download for those who need to quickly retrieve, or input, important data on the move.
iWork is a suite of three productivity apps with a minimal learning curve, and plenty of power and flexibility. Of the three apps, Pages (linked above) is very capable (though it's best used with a Bluetooth keyboard), Numbers is a terrific portable number-crunching tool, and Keynote is dazzling and effective. Simply put, iWork for iPad is a must-have app for getting work done on Apple's slate. Note that if you’ve bought a new iPad since the launch of the iPad Air, which was rolled out in the autumn of last year, then you get the iWork suite for free – a real bargain.
LogMeIn offers remote access services to iPad owners. Full file syncing would be nice to have, but even without this feature, the app is definitely worth a look. There’s also a pro version which costs £45 per year.
Power.ME HD is relatively expensive compared to many other iTunes apps, but for the cost of entry you get a task and project management application that will prove extremely useful to virtually anyone in need of keeping track of business matters.
Quickoffice is an impressive suite which was snapped up by Google. It boasts features that even iWork doesn’t have, and unsurprisingly ties into Google Drive for your cloud storage and collaboration needs. This app could still use some improvements, but it's a competent mobile office suite that's both easy to use and perhaps most importantly easy on the wallet.
If you want to build awareness of your business brand, Twitter is a great social media option – and the native Twitter app is your best bet for all your tweeting needs on the iPad.