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.
I 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.
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.
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.