Just two months after the debut of the iPad, Apple says there are thousands of software "apps" made for the device, with more coming every day.
How many of these new apps are for small business? Your Business presents a dozen of the most useful apps for iPad available now.
And one just for fun.
Keynote for iPad is presentation software done right, combining the power and elegance of Apple's Keynote software with the iPad's multi-touch controls. Tap and drag to create new slides. Pinch photos to resize them. Drag and move your slides to rearrange. Add animations, transitions and effects.
When the time comes to present your slideshow you can display it on the iPad screen or connect to an external VGA projector (using the iPad's optional VGA adapter, sold separately). If you want to show off, touch and hold the iPad screen while presenting to display a laser pointer that will follow your finger wherever it moves. It's a nice touch (no pun intended).
The iPad versions of Apple's other iWork apps, Pages (word processing) and Numbers (spreadsheet), are also available for $9.99 each.
Dropbox is an amazing free tool that provides quick and easy file sharing between your iPad and your computer. Anything you add to the Dropbox folder on your Mac, PC or iPhone appears like magic in the Dropbox folder on all your other devices.
Even if you don't have your iPad handy, you can find the latest versions of your files in the "cloud" storage at dropbox.com. Changes are synchronized automatically whenever you go online.
This app requires a free Dropbox account, which gives you 2 GB of free storage space at dropbox.com. Paid upgrades are available for online file storage up to 100 GB.
Money for iPad is a simple accounting tool for keeping track of financial transactions and budgeting. Budgeting and reports are handled automatically, and you don't need any experience or accounting training.
Create accounts for your cash, bank accounts, credit cards, and investments and begin adding new records. At the end of the month (or year), Money can automatically generate reports that show where your money went.
If you wish, you can synchronize Money for iPad with the desktop version of Money (Mac only). This will transfer your financial data and transaction categories to the computer.
SoundPaper is note-taking software with a difference: it makes an audio recording while you type. Whether you're in a meeting, a lecture, or conducting an interview, SoundPaper is an easy way to take notes.
When you play back the recording, just tap a word in your notes. SoundPaper will jump right to that point in the audio.
SoundPaper is also useful for students. Even if your mind wanders or you doze off in class, SoundPaper will have an audio recording you can review.
And the price is right for such a useful app.
Cisco WebEx is a web-based conferencing system that combines real-time desktop sharing with phone conferencing so everyone sees the same thing while
you talk. If you already connect with partners or supplier via WebEx, this free version for iPad is a no-brainer.
Bento is a simple and flexible database program that's useful whether you spend your time selling products, building relationships, or organizing inventory. You can use Bento to manage and track your contacts and assignments, to record hours worked and payments due, to create a catalogue of products for sale, and more.
Bento for iPad is based on the Mac program Bento from FileMaker Inc. The iPad version includes built-in templates to help you get started quickly to organize almost any type of information. Use Bento for iPad as a standalone app or synchronize with the Mac version (Bento 3). Once again, the price is right.
Many apps in the App Store offer to add one or two extra features that are "missing" from the iPad, such as easy file sharing or the ability to print.
Air Sharing HD is the Swiss Army knife of extra features. It wirelessly connects your iPad to your computer and shows the iPad as an external drive. Once the connection is established, you can browse the iPad, locate files, then view, share or print them from your computer.
Like Bento, Evernote is a software tool designed to collect and file information so you can find it later. Unlike Bento, Evernote does not store data in careful little boxes.
Evernote takes the "notes" you provide (including text, pictures and audio files) and stores them in a free-form database. Notes can be stored in folders, tagged, searched, edited, commented on, and annotated.
Evernote for iPad is free, but it links into an optional web-based system that costs $45 a year. If you like the way Evernote thinks, you might want to sign up.
Penultimate is a brainstorming and note-taking app for people who don't like to type. The iPad has a touch screen; why should all notes be created using a typewriter-style keyboard?
Penultimate turns the iPad touch screen into a surface where drawing and handwriting can be captured as notes. You can write with your finger or use a stylus. Either way, you'll be glad Penultimate has "wrist protection technology" that somehow knows not to capture images when your wrist hits the touch screen.
Using an iPad with Penultimate is like having an endless pad of restaurant napkins where great ideas can be captured as sketches or handwritten notes.
Jump Desktop is a windows remote desktop (RDP) client that lets you control your computer from your iPad. Once you connect, you can see a PC's files, programs and resources exactly as you would if you were sitting at your desk.
Jump Desktop supports most versions of Windows with the exception of Home and Starter editions.
Things for iPad is another simple, powerful app adapted from its Mac counterpart. Things is a to-do list on steroids, a task manager that makes it easy to keep track of all your tasks and projects.
Some task management apps are simple to learn but offer very few features. More powerful apps can be difficult to master and have a steep learning curve. Things provides a great balance of power and simplicity.
Yes, there are cheaper apps that do many of the same tasks. If you need a to-do list, you have a choice: buy Things for iPad or buy a few cheaper but vastly inferior apps at $2 and $3 each until you find one you like.
Speaking of the Wild West of app prices, say hello to OmniGraffle, a professional app that is part vector drawing tool, part charting tool. It's perfect for creating charts, mind maps, website wireframes, org charts, and anything else that requires shapes and lines.
Is the price too high? Probably not. The competition is not a free drawing app or a $2 mind manager app: OminGraffle offers features similar to Microsoft Visio, which sells for hundreds of dollars.
OmniGraffle might even have the upper hand, thanks to the iPad's touch-screen interface. Touching and dragging to connect and stretch shapes is easier than resizing with a mouse. Smart guides help you organize your document quickly and easily, and the "automatic layout" feature is a powerful shortcut.
OmniGraffle also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Plants vs. Zombies is not specifically small business software, but everyone needs to take a break some time. Stash this addictive game on your iPad and you'll have something fun to do when your flight gets delayed or when you're waiting for your next appointment.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Sandy McMurray writes about technology in plain language at http://techstuff.ca
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