Critics are quick to point out that the Apple iPad isn’t exactly a replacement for your laptop. More than a mobile business platform, it’s a sleek tablet device for consuming content on the Internet. This doesn’t mean, however, that the iPad can’t increase your productivity while on the go.
As the Apple commercial goes, “There’s an app for that.” Below you’ll find a list of essential iPad apps for small business users of the device.
At 99 cents, GoodReader is an affordable app for viewing PDF files and important business documents in other formats – like Word, Excel, PNG, PPT, TXT, and JPEG. It also supports high-resolution images, and can even do audio and video – perfect for opening and viewing all kinds of files, regardless of size. Need to download a presentation or a report from Google Docs for offline reading? GoodReader can also do that, and can even unzip those files and folders for you.
Memeo Connect Reader
If you have been using Google Docs to handle your files, then this app may be just what you need to keep yourself up to date while on the go. The Memeo Connect Reader automatically syncs with Google Docs and – while it doesn’t allow you to edit your files – works well as an online and offline reader. It’s functional and pretty easy to use, and if you’re collaborating with colleagues on some important document via Google Docs, you can be sure of having the most current version on your iPad.
This is one of the coolest free iPad apps for small business. WebEx allows you to tap into online meetings using your iPad and set up online conferences with anyone, anywhere. Features include free Internet voice conferencing (VoIP), easy content collaboration, and screen-sharing (complete with live annotations). With this app, you’ll never have to miss a meeting again.
Need to open, save, create, or send those Microsoft Office files? The iWork for the iPad is a must. As Apple’s office productivity suite, iWork lets you work on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations anywhere you want. The suite features three apps, which cost $10 each. Pages features advanced word processing tools in easy page layouts; Numbers is for creating great-looking spreadsheets and for organizing your data; and Keynote is for managing and delivering awesome-looking slide presentations. Can you imagine the possibilities of presenting to your clients using the iPad? It’s the perfect presentation device; you need only to tap away, drag a finger, and touch the slides.
Things for iPad – developed by Cultured Code – is a beautiful, intuitive task manager that lets you simplify the way you tackle and complete all those office tasks and To-Dos. It reminds you of deadlines, keeps you up to date on current projects, and intelligently schedules your tasks for today or for the whole work week. Already an acclaimed app, the latest version of Things features an added ability to create and manage “Areas of Responsibility” to help get your busy life as a small business owner under control. At $19.99, it’s a bit pricey – but Things makes it worth it by letting you get, well, letting you get things done day in and day out.
In need of an online notebook? Or a mobile corkboard? Want to record a voice memo? On the iPad, Evernote serves these functions excellently. The app – described as an “extension of your brain” – lets you clip audio, video, text, images, and business ideas to an online cloud-based repository – so you can remember everything. Finding and organizing everything is also a breeze, because Evernote allows you to tag documents or files and synchronize these with your iPhone or desktop computer. All notes also include geographic location information for mapping and search purposes. A year’s worth of premium service costs $45.
This app is the fastest way to track time and invoice your clients. Designed as a means for you to escape the tyranny of the usual small business accounting chores (or software), Freshbooks allows you to also keep track of your expenses, send and manage invoices online, convert currencies, automate collections, and even collect payments online. This iPad app is a must-have for small business owners, especially those who want to stop buying all those envelopes. If you’re looking for another app that does the same thing, a worthy alternative is Time Master, although this one is more focused on time management than on billings.
Developed by Appigo, ToDo for iPad is a sophisticated to-do list to keep you productive while on the road and out of the office. Set at an introductory price of $4.99, this app looks like your traditional planner – complete with customizable paper and binder styles. It also lets you sync with your calendar and E-mail, schedule reminders and alerts, organize and manage your contacts, and manage multiple tasks at once.
DropBox and Box.Net
Looking for a place to store your files online? Try DropBox or Box.Net: both of these apps allow you to access your documents from anywhere, including your mobile phone, iPad, and office computer. The free version of DropBox includes up to 2GB worth of disk space, with an ability to sync, backup, and share your files to other computing devices. Box.Net, meanwhile, has a free Lite version that includes 1GB worth of storage online. The app’s various paid versions add collaboration features and expand sharing and storage options.
Need a cash register? Just use your Apple iPad. Square, which is free, is a very clever app that lets you quickly and securely accept card and cash payments for your small business – and then generate E-mail or text receipts via an intuitive web-based interface. That way, you can close deals on the spot. You can get a Square card reader that you can then plug into your device, or you can just key in card numbers. If you’re wondering why it’s free, it’s because Square charges a minimal percentage for each transaction.