Kick-ass business and productivity iPad/iPhone apps (with a few fun ones thrown in!)

Kick-ass business and productivity iPad/iPhone apps (with a few fun ones thrown in!)

Summary: Something unexpected has happened. My iPad and iPhone have replaced my notebook PC as my desktop PC away from my desktop PC. Has this happened because the iPhone and iPad are the perfect business tools? No, it's happened thanks to the fantastic ecosystem of apps and services that have sprung up around these devices.

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Something unexpected has happened. My iPad and iPhone have replaced my notebook PC as my desktop PC away from my desktop PC. Has this happened because the iPhone and iPad are the perfect business tools? No, it's happened thanks to the fantastic ecosystem of apps and services that have sprung up around these devices.

Note: None of these apps or services require a jailbroken iPhone or iPad.

My ZDNet blogging buddy Jason Perlow has put together an excellent piece for business iPad users called "iPad and Work: The Essential Guide for Business Users," which I encourage you all to read. What I'm going to do here is pull together a list of my personal favorite apps and services that I use with my iPad and iPhone, the stuff that make my working day go a little smoother.

Note: I've written about some of these apps and services previously.

For me, one of the biggest challenges was to break away from having everything I need to do, have to do, and places I need to be all stuck inside a Microsoft Outlook .PST file. I started using Outlook, well, a long time ago, before it was even called Outlook (it was called Schedule+ if I remember correctly before making the jump to Outlook 97), and so this one habit was hard to break.

Since I don't really have a problem with Google knowing my business (I really think they have better things to do than worry about what I'm doing), I shifted all my scheduling stuff over to Google Calendar. I can still integrate this with Outlook, so I've lost nothing on the desktop. I have the advantage of being able to choose to receive email and SMS notifications of appointments and so on, which means I have to keep less stuff in my head.

Note: I do have a MobileMe subscription but chose to steer clear of using Apple's services for this because I wanted to be as platform neutral as possible.

For tasks and lists and so on I went for a service called Toodledo. I like this service because I can access my too-do lists from my iPhone, iPad, from the web, RSS, IM and so on. I like this kind of freedom to choose the way I want to work.

Pocket InformantI don't use the built-in Calendar app on the iPad and iPhone, instead I went for an app called Pocket Informant. This app hooks up to my Google Calendars and to my Toodledo list, so I have everything in one place. Again, Pocket Informant isn't iPhone/iPad specific, and they have apps for the BlackBerry, Android and Windows mobile platforms, so again, I'm not tied to Apple or the iOS.

One challenge I needed to overcome quickly was iOS's inability to handle Microsoft Office documents. For me they're a fact of life ad something I can't get away from. I have Documents to Go installed on both the iPad and the iPhone, and this allows me to work with all sorts of Microsoft Office files without any hassles. For the odd tricky file format such as password-protected PDFs and ZIP files I use Air Sharing Pro. There's a lot to this app, and I feel like I've only scratched the surface of what it can do.

I also use Evernote, on my desktops, notebooks and iPhone and iPad. I like this service because I can basically store and sync anything and everything (text, recordings, images, photos), and easily search through the data I've collected. This app has replaced the built-in Notes app for me because it is infinitely more useful.

EvernoteMy Twitter client of choice right now is Osfoora and this has become my client of choice on both the iPhone and iPad. Early Edition handles my huge RSS list and keeps me in the loop.

For password storage I went for Splash ID. This works far better that I’d hoped it would and allows me to sync data easily between the desktop and iPhone/iPad. It involved a fair bit of work to get my passwords out of PasswordSafe, a desktop app that I'd been using for years now, but it was worth it in the end.

For tweaking the odd photo or video I use PS Mobile and ReelDirector. Both are excellent at what they do.

I have shelled out for a MobileMe subscription, partly for iDisk, but also because it allows me to make a stab at finding my iPhone and iPad if I lose one of them, and carry out a remote wipe should worst come to the worst. iDisk also integrates with quite a number of the apps I use, so I can easily shift documents and data about between the iPhone and iPad, and to the desktop.

One of my favorite apps is LogMeIn Ignition, which allows me to connect to my PCs when I’m away from the HQ. All I need is a WiFi or decent data network connection.  

As for fun stuff, well there's Angry Birds, Plants vs. Zombies, and Cat Physics. These games are fun games for casual play.

Topics: Collaboration, Apps, Hardware, iPhone, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Smartphones, Software

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33 comments
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  • Re: Kick-ass business and productivity apps

    I use EventForward alot. It sends events from the iphone calendar via sms and email. Supports also iCalendar format so syncs with Google Calendar, Outlook etc...
    http://bit.ly/bh5wqP
    iphonetops
  • The iPad is defective when compared to Acer's Aspire One D260

    Seriously,

    All of the 'hype' over the iPhone has abated now that Android has garnered the market share of smartphone sales.

    The iPad is an oversized iPhone.
    Get a device that lets you do what you want.
    Apple isn't interested in letting you do what you want--that is a given.

    So, I am sporting a new Acer Aspire One D260 running Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04.1 LTS with a VM of Windows.

    It is too funny how every day ZDNet keeps spewing out articles on iPad to the exclusion of other worthy devices.

    ZNET, Adrian, let's get some good diversity into your writing--you know fair and balanced--a little bit of everything.

    MMMkay? OK!
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • must be hard...

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      to be the last true faithful. the world is going apple and only dr. schmitz is left behind.

      ps. adrian, i remember the screaming and shouting of you zdnet pundits (especially you and jason) when the ipad was revealed: it is a toy, it doesn't have a usb-port, no camera, no flash, it is gonna be a flop.

      look at you now.

      and i am looking forward to the next revolutionary product apple will release in two/three years and the next Punch-and-Judy show here at zdnet. (by that time even prof. schmitz here has probably tried an ipad himself - and yes, you can use a pen with an ipad if you like.)
      banned from zdnet
      • RE: Kick-ass business and productivity iPad/iPhone apps (with a few fun ones thrown in!)

        @banned from zdnet the iPad is a fail. Not even 1% of the worldwide market has bought one of these useless devices. And u can't use any pen with it u need a special one because its a capacities screen.
        Jimster480
      • RE: Kick-ass business and productivity iPad/iPhone apps (with a few fun ones thrown in!)

        @banned from zdnet

        Schmitz is FAR from the only one refusing to enter the RDF. In fact despite the sales numbers, most of the world has rejected Apple.
        rtk
      • good one

        @rtk
        "in spite of the sales numbers, most of the world has rejected apple"

        in spite of the sales numbers? what kind of twisted logic is that? what color is the sky in your dreamland? wake up, man.
        banned from zdnet
      • I'm not going Apple either

        @banned from zdnet

        No way am I falling for that RDF "magical" crap. The iPad sucks, and is only a larger iPhone/iPod, and costs 2x as more. No new functionality at all. Very "Magical" and "revolutionary" indeed.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • It's blue, unlike in the dream world created by RDF

        @banned from zdnet

        Despite Apple's "record setting" sales numbers, their market share on the desktop continues it's sub double digit status. Android is eating their lunch in the smartphone market as well.
        rtk
    • "Get a device that lets you do what you want."

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate <br><br>I have that. It's called an iPad. It does all iWant. DA.
      People
    • Wow. Just wow.

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate <br><br>I'm speechless, D. I really am. I hate the iPad just as much as you, but I would never come in here with such and obvious cruddy sales pitch like that. There are PLENTY of netbook articles on here, and Your ACER POS (I hate ACER) is no different than the rest of the netbooks on the market now. Why waste the time writing about it anymore? There is nothing to write about anymore.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • C'mon have you actually tried the Netbooks?

        @NStalnecker
        Maybe you tried with W7, but that's not the same as with Ubuntu Netbook Edition.

        If you could say something substantive about why you feel Acer Aspire One is a POS, then I might understand.

        I am using it all day, and I am laughing at all these articles.

        I am testing the iPod for using in our EHR environment with rdp terminal service and it is ok, but netbooks win on so many counts when compared with iPad.

        Do I need to list them to you.
        The Acer Aspire One is quite spritely for its intended use and then some.

        Hats off to Acer and Intel for the hyperthreading Atom N450.

        Let's be honest Nicholas.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • Yes, I have

        [i]If you could say something substantive about why you feel Acer Aspire One is a POS, then I might understand.[/i]

        I've always seen ACER as the Wal-Mart brand of computers. Cheap, easy to build and easy to break.

        [i]Hats off to Acer and Intel for the hyperthreading Atom N450.[/i]

        Hyperthreading on the Atom is nothing new. This capability goes back to the first gen cores.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • You've not even tried one, have you?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz

      "[i]All of the 'hype' over the iPhone has abated now that Android has garnered the market share of smartphone sales.

      The iPad is an oversized iPhone. [/i]"

      Umm, the iPad is NOT just an oversized iPhone. It's obvious that you've never looked at one, so how do you feel qualified to make such statements?

      "[i]Get a device that lets you do what you want.
      Apple isn't interested in letting you do what you want--that is a given.[/i]"

      And I've discovered that my new iPad gives me just that - it lets me do what I want without all of the other headaches.

      "[i]So, I am sporting a new Acer Aspire One D260 running Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04.1 LTS with a VM of Windows.[/i]"

      That's a great little tool as well, but it wouldn't bring anything more to my day to day needs than my iPad and it adds the layer of having to manage the OS(es).

      "[i]It is too funny how every day ZDNet keeps spewing out articles on iPad to the exclusion of other worthy devices.[/i]"

      And what other "worthy devices" would you include into the same family as the iPad. Your netbook? It's not even the same type of device. A Droid phone (which I own)? Again, not the same type or class of device.

      "[i]ZNET, Adrian, let's get some good diversity into your writing--you know fair and balanced--a little bit of everything.[/i]"

      On that point, I agree in general, but not in this case. There really isn't anything that falls under direct competition with the iPad. Believe me, 2 months ago, I would have agreed with you. However, since I finally bought my iPad and started actually using it, I've found that it is a very worthy addition to my daily digital life.

      Find a friend that has one or drop into your local Apple store (check your attitude at the door) and actually test drive one. I think you'll find your attitude about the iPad changing.
      Timpraetor
      • No

        @Timpraetor

        [I]The iPad is an oversized iPhone. "

        Umm, the iPad is NOT just an oversized iPhone. It's obvious that you've never looked at one, so how do you feel qualified to make such statements?[/I]

        The iPad is nothing more than an oversized iPod Touch. The iPad costs twice as more and brings nothing new to the table in terms of functionality, and is hardly a "magical" and "revolutionary" device. I have played with one and I can safely make this comparison.


        There is simply no reason to even have one if you already have an iPod or iPhone. And if you do, then I can't help but laugh at your wasting money.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Chuckle

        @Cylon Centurion 0005

        But the games are so much better on a big screen! :D

        Besides, I can spend money on all those cool reformatted iTouch apps!! ;)
        rhonin
  • RE: Kick-ass business and productivity iPad/iPhone apps (with a few fun ones thrown in!)

    If the iPad and iPhone replaced your laptop then you didnt do anything on your laptop. While u might be able to open documents for viewing, what about editing? Its extremely unpleasant to try to get real work done on a touch keyboard. Even as i wrote this right now from my evo its taking me a lot longer to do than If I was on my laptop or desktop.
    Jimster480
    • Don't knock what you've not even tried.

      @Jimster480 - another one who's never touched the iPad or even looked beyond the hater's posts for what the device can do. I edit Word docs, Powerpoint Presentations and even draw a bit on my iPad. That's why you can buy Pages, Keynote, and Numbers.

      As to the touch keyboard, it took me all of three days to get familiar with it. I'm now pretty proficient.
      Timpraetor
    • So... if you.....

      @Jimster480

      One question..... If it replaced your laptop how do you update or sync? ;)
      rhonin
    • Keyboard

      I have never owned or used an iPad, but I go to meetings where I am the only one without this gadget. (That's unfair; it's a tool.) The older iPad users had bluetooth keyboards, while the young bucks seemed to do fine with the touchpad. I've been impressed with the productivity of those who use it, but I'll stick with my laptop for now.
      PFFXV
  • I have experienced the same thing.

    While I have a desktop to use when I need to, most of my time I spend working on the iPad. I find most of my functions require nothing less than an iPad to get the job done with the correct combination of apps. I never thought it would happen, however it has and my laptop has found it's way into the hands of my Son.
    People