Editor's Note: This article was originally published in August of 2010. It has been updated with current information.
Apple's iPad has become a huge hit with consumers as a content consumption platform, but for business users, it's been something of a hit or miss.
Apple hasn't provided a lot of guidance to the corporate or business end-user as how to correctly configure it for essential day-to-day use, and how to get the most out of the device in terms of sharing data with PCs and external Web services.
As an iPad owner from the day the first units were delivered to customers, and now an iPad 3 user, I've spent a lot of time determining how to get the most out of its functionality.
I've assembled this guide, which will serve as a constantly updated work in progress, for those of you who may be new to the iPad and iOS platform and are looking for interoperability solutions.
Also See: 10 free iPad apps for business (Gallery)
Also See: 10 iPad 2 apps for business (Gallery)
Many of the tips, techniques and applications which I have listed for the iPad in this article also apply to iPhone. At the time of this writing the iPad system software was version 5.1, so this is written for that iOS version in mind.
Email, Contacts and Calendaring IntegrationThe iPad includes support for a number of different types of email accounts and calendars.
The iPad can support iCloud, Microsoft Exchange, MobileMe, GMail, Yahoo, AOL and POP3/IMAP4 email accounts.
Most corporate users will want to use Exchange ActiveSync connectivity to synchronize Mail, Calendar and Contacts on the iPad. At the time of this writing, the iPad supports multiple Exchange accounts with version 5.1 of iOS.
The iPad Microsoft Exchange (ActiveSync) configuration screen in iOS 5.1
When using Exchange (ActiveSync) accounts on the iPad, your corporate systems administrator will provide you with the pertinent login information which includes your email address, the hostname of the Exchange server, the Domain name, as well as your username and password.
Once configured, your iPad will be automatically set up to synchronize your email as well as contacts from your corporate directory services and your personal address book and also permit synchronization between your corporate calendar in Outlook and the iPad's Calendar application.
Companies which use Lotus Notes email and calendaring can download and install Lotus Notes Traveler 126.96.36.199, which is supported with version 8.0.1 and above of IBM Lotus Domino server.
Alternatively, if your organization has enabled it on its servers, both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes support web-based messaging and calendaring via Outlook Web Access and IBM Lotus iNotes, and run in the iPad's Mobile Safari browser.
The iPad also supports standard IMAP4 and POP3 email accounts through its "Other" account setup wizard option and also supports LDAP-based directory services if your organization uses them for the Contacts sync.
Professionals who use Web-based services for Mail and Calendaring such as GMail/Google Calendar and Yahoo! Mail/Yahoo Calendar will need to do some additional customization for proper iPad integration.
In the case of GMail, you'll want to forgo the built-in iPad GMail wizard for mail setup and use GMail Exchange Emulation (Google Sync) instead, which provides for synchronization of Calendaring and Contacts in addition to just plain email.
GMail users also have the option of using the native client which can be downloaded from the App Store. The native client is useful for when you only want to retain a limited amount of email messages on the built-in iPad mail client and may want to search through your complete GMail archive using the service's native color coded labels.
The native GMail client for iPad.
However, the native GMail client does not have an integrated Google Calendar, so you will have to use the iPad's integrated calendar instead.
Still, some professionals which utilized Google's calendaring service might find the iPad's built-in Calendar program lacking. I personally like to use CalenGoo ($6.99) a 3rd-party application you can purchase on the App Store. This application syncs directly with Google Calendar over the Internet and has support for multiple calendars.
Another popular iOS application for managing Google Calendar entries is Readdle Calendars ($6.99).
CalenGoo, a 3rd-party Google Calendar application for iOS.
Yahoo! users will need to go through the regular guided email setup and also configure a CALDAV account for Yahoo! Calendar. Please refer to the iPhone setup instructions for iOS here to configure this on your iPad.
To sync your Yahoo! Contacts, you'll also need to add a CardDAV account as well.
Yahoo Mail and Calendar users also have the option of using the Yahoo Mobile Web site which runs in the iPad's Safari browser.
As with GMail accounts, Microsoft Live Hotmail users can now add email, calendaring and contacts support via Exchange emulation (Exchange Activesync). To set up Activesync on your iPad, read this article here.
Alternatively, Windows Live users might wish to consider mBoxMail, a 3rd-party application for iPad and iPhone which has full support for Windows Live Hotmail folders as well as contacts.
Adding Frequently Used Websites and Bookmark SynchronizationOne of the nicest features of the iPad is the ability to bookmark frequently used websites directly to the Home Screen. FaceBook, LinkedIn and the mobile versions of Windows Live, Yahoo and the various Google sites are all useful to have as instant access shortcuts.
Frequently used websites such as FaceBook, LinkedIn and the mobile versions of the Google, Windows Live and Yahoo! Websites are useful to add as Home Screen icons.
To add a home screen shortcut, simply click on the "Send To" icon in Safari when viewing any website, and choose "Add to Home Screen"
The "Send To" icon can be used to add shortcuts to the iPad home screen.
If you have many websites bookmarked in your PC or Mac browser, you can migrate them over to your iPad by using XMarks, a free service which syncs your favorite bookmarks from Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari to the Cloud.
With iOS 5.1, Bookmarks from frequently visited websites can be grouped into folders for easy organization.
While XMarks bookmarks cannot be synced into the iPad's Safari directly, you can view them using the Mobile XMarks Website and bookmark it to your Home Screen as shown above. Additionally, XMarks has created a native iOS application which essentially performs the same functions as the mobile XMarks website, but does a synchronization.
For those users which use the native Bookmark, History and Tabs sync capabilities of the Google Chrome browser on the Windows, Mac or Linux desktop and want to sync them to your iPad, you can check out Chrome Sync Pro ($.99)
Data Exchange and Document ViewingOne of the most difficult adjustments business users may find when getting accustomed to iOS devices such as the iPad is the closed nature of the device and how to get their documents and data transferred to it.
Unlike a laptop computer, you just can't connect a USB stick or a storage card into it and copy files en masse to a directory on the device that any number of applications can directly access.
On the iPad, each application maintains its own distinct database and is for the most part isolated from one another via a security layer known as "sandboxing". Additionally, the iPad has no native facility for networking with corporate or cloud-based file servers.
Instead, there are a number of programs which can allow you to add this capability in.
The most important of which is $1 application and should be considered a mandatory download, GoodReader.
Goodreader for iPad supports the viewing of many document formats including PDF and Microsoft Office files, permits direct Wi-Fi transfer of data directly to the iPad, and can connect to a variety of cloud-based storage services.
GoodReader will be the best $1 you've ever invested in your iPad. With this seemingly magical application, you can view PDF and a myriad of other data formats including Microsoft Office, HTML, image files as well as audio and video formats.
Additionally, you can connect to several popular cloud-based storage services including DropBox (which has its own viewer app but is inferior to GoodReader) WebDAV servers and directly access files stored on Google Docs and within GMail itself.
As if this wasn't impressive enough, you can also directly transfer files to GoodReader wirelessly using a simple Web-based GUI from your PC or Mac, or via WebDAV-based drag and drop network share.
QuickOffice Pro HD allows you to retrieve as well as edit your essential data from cloud-based storage and your wireless network.
Similar to GoodReader is QuickOffice Pro HD ($19.99) which in addition to viewing a variety of formats including PDF, is capable of actually editing Microsoft Office 2010 files and could be considered an office suite for iPad similar to Apple's own Pages, Keynote and Numbers apps.
Apple's office suite for iPad.
Like GoodReader, QuickOffice Pro HD can also act as a WebDAV server and files can be transferred directly to it wirelessly.
A competitor to QuickOffice Connect is Dataviz's Documents to Go Premium ($16.99), which advertises similar functionality but also integrates email attachments from the iPad's Mail app. Documents to Go also includes a wireless sync desktop application that permits PCs and Macs to synchronize with files on the iPad.
If you're willing to run your productivity apps in the Cloud, you might want to consider OnLive Desktop, which gives you a a free fully functional Windows desktop with Microsoft Office along with 2GB of free cloud storage. The premium version of the service, which gives you accelerated web browsing on a 1Gigabit Internet connection with Adobe Flash support, goes for $4.99 a month.
Another popular and free application, Memeo Connect, is specifically optimized for reading data stored in Google Docs. While less functional than QuickOffice Connect, Documents to Go and GoodReader, it has an extremely aesthetically pleasing GUI which simulates a desktop folder paradigm and automatically organizes your documents by file type. While not able to edit documents by itself, it is able to import data into QuickOffice, GoodReader as well as Apple's Pages, Keynote and Numbers apps.
In addition to the above general-purpose reader/viewer apps above, another must-download for the iPad is Stanza, which is technically an E-Book reader but is capable of viewing EPUB files which can be generated by using the Open Source Calibre program for Windows, Mac and Linux. Stanza itself is also capable of reading many other document and legacy eBook formats besides EPUB, which makes it a very powerful personal document management tool.
Conversely, Calibre can read and convert many formats to EPUB which can be uploaded to Stanza.
Additionally, Calibre can act as an OPDS content server to host an entire EPUB library on your PC or Mac or even a Dropbox account, which can be remotely connected to by Stanza. This means you can have tens of thousands of documents stored and indexed on your PC (or your web server/cloud storage service) which you don't need to upload directly to your iPad, which could potentially cause backup problems.
In addition to OPDS feeds as well as iTunes USB sync, Stanza can also import EPUB files directly from email attachments.
For note taking and thought organization, by far the most popular application is Evernote, which is a cross-platform cloud-based service that works on Windows, Macintosh, Android and iOS. Additionally, the service allows you to "clip" web pages URLs to saved records on your iPad from all the popular desktop browsers.
Collaboration and Remote AccessChances are you probably use any number of remote conferencing and presentation sharing services. The good news is that the majority of them are supported on the iPad.
Cisco's WebEx, shown above, actually can support two-way video conferencing, but you'll need to have plenty of bandwidth going across your Wi-Fi connection to pull it off.
Citrix's GoToMeeting has support for presentation audio, so you don't have to call into the conference line.
IBM now has a native SmartCloud Meetings Client (formerly LotusLive Meetings) for iPad as well.
IBM SmartCloud Meetings client for iOS
Another interesting application that was brought to my attention is MightyMeeting, which is both a presentation application as well as a remote collaboration application. It combines a service which allows you to have multimedia presentations and group chats running on your iPad which can be broadcasted to anyone using a web browser.
Finally, there is the need for remote access to desktop computing applications. There is a wide array of software for iPad available, particularly for VNC and RDP connectivity. My personal favorite is WYSE's PocketCloud Pro ($11.99), which supports RDP, VNC and also VMWare View VDI applications.
For Citrix XenApp connections, you can download the free Citrix Receiver for iPad.
WYSE's PocketCloud Pro Client for iPad
Do you have any more essential iPad tips and software for business users? Talk Back and Let Me Know.