Top iPad Productivity Apps

Greetings all! If you’ve used Apple’s iPad or know someone who has one, you’ve probably seen a number of ways the iPad can be used to replace the traditional functions of a notebook computer or a desktop. From viewing webpages to creating dynamic PowerPoint presentations, the iPad has come a long way since launch day earlier this year. Today, I’m going to spend some time talking about what I think are some of the top productivity apps for the iPad.

Remote Access

1. LogMeIn (on iTunes)

Summary: Ever wanted a Windows 7 tablet? How about a Mac tablet? Essentially, that’s what you’re getting with LogMeIn on the iPad.
Pro: Allows remote management of Windows and Mac systems. If you need to remotely access a file or program on your computer or view something involving Flash, this program fits the bill. As a side-effect, it also turns the iPad into an effective Windows or Mac tablet since you have full access to the operating system on the computer. A huge benefit with this program is speed. Using it feels almost like being at the computer and it was noticeably faster than the free VNC and RDP programs I tried.
Con: At almost $30, it’s more expensive than most people would like. While it is easy to  use and comprehensive, it’s certainly not the only remote management solution. For those looking for cheaper ways to go, you can get a VNC or RDP program for the iPad for free.
Rating: 4.5 / 5. One-half point is deducted due to the price. While a great program, I think $10 or $15 would be more reasonable, especially considering that LogMeIn Pro carries an additional annual fee (LogMeIn Free can be used with the iPad and provides a free server).
Price: $29.99

2. Dropbox (on iTunes)

Summary: Online file repository with 2 GB free and options to purchase either 50 GB or 100 GB of storage for a yearly fee of $99 or $199, respectively.
Pro: Access your files on the go with a smooth, easy to use interface. With built-in viewers for most file types and with the ability to export the file to other programs such as Documents To Go, iBooks, GoodReader, Keynote, Numbers, etc., Dropbox can be a true boon to productivity. Also, with the syncing ability of Dropbox, changes made to a file on one computer will automatically be reflected in all other devices linked to the account. The net result is no more worries about multiple versions of a document. Dropbox has elegantly and easily solved this problem. Finally, each time you share Dropbox with someone and they install the software, you each get an extra 250 MB (500 MB with a paid account) of storage. How cool is that?

Dropbox replaces:

    • Emailing file attachments to yourself and other people
    • Using USB drives to move files between computers
    • Renaming files to keep a history of previous versions
    • Complicated backup software and hardware
    • Additional hacks and ideas for Dropbox

Con: If you want more than 2 GB, you’re going to pay for it. Dropbox is one of the more expensive online file storage sites I’ve seen.
Rating: 5 / 5. In my view, the convenience, the smooth web interface and the ability to use Dropbox on nearly every platform outweighs the costs involved with a paid account. Also, a paid account is optional. If you’re fine with 2 GB, you won’t find a better free solution than Dropbox.
Price: Free

3. ZumoCast (on iTunes)

Summary: How would you like to stream your music or video collection to the iPad? With the ZumoCast application you’ll be able to stream all your movies and audio files from all your computers onto the iPad.

Features

  • Video and Music Streaming
  • Real-time Adaptive Transcoding
  • Access files and documents from computers
  • Download files from the computer to the iPad

Pro: Add any folders you wish on your PC and access those files on your laptop. The app can then be used to stream music, movies or view files such a PDF. Zumocast arranges your music into albums, artists and songs and allows for folder browsing for video files. This is a great way to watch movies that are not in iPhone/iPad-friendly format and does away with the storage limits of these devices…
Con: …when it works that is. In my experience, this software still seems to suffer from buggy performance. The connection drops at times and the program reports that Internet connectivity is not present when it really is. This app is an incredible idea and will easily be a Top 10 iPad app once the developers fix these bugs.
Rating: 3 / 5. Reason – Two points are deducted due to the application’s buggy performance.
Price: Free (though the website hints at paid premium accounts coming)

Usability

1. Desktop (on iTunes)

Summary: The iPad definitely has one thing going for it – screen size. Using the iPad is like a dream, all the great apps and east-of-use of the iPhone on a netbook-sized screen. However, what the iPad is lacking is the ability to really use that screen size and run multiple apps at the same time. Enter Desktop. (Screenshot)
Pro:
Great way to multitask on the iPad. Open up the Maps application to see the area and run queries on the surrounding environment. Or, open a web browser to the News and another to your stock listing to track personalized activity. Or, open the Weather and Maps application to cross reference your trip, etc. You get the idea.
Con: Apps are limited to: Browser, Calculator, Currency Converter, Device Stats, Dictionary, Email Composer, Maps, Notepad, Translator, Unit Converter, Voice Recorder, Weather and World Clock.
Rating: 4.5 / 5. One-half point is deducted due to limiting the apps that can be used in the panes.
Price: $0.99

2. Flipboard (on iTunes)

Summary: Flipboard is a fast, beautiful way to flip through the news, photos and updates your friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter. See your social media in a magazine layout that is easy to scan and fun to read. Share articles and photos, comment on posts, and like or favorite anything. Customize your Flipboard with sections created from your favorite people, lists and blogs on Twitter.
Pro: Adds a whole new dimension to reading. Add nearly any source you want and Flipboard turns the newsfeed into a magazine-like format. Simply amazing! Reading the news, Twitter and Facebook feed has never been more entertaining. And it’s free!
Con: None that I can find. It’s maybe a little too addictive. I love this app.
Rating: 5 / 5
Price: Free

Reference

1. Simplepedia

Summary: Easy to use Wikipedia interface that caches a local copy of every article you look at while online allowing for offline viewing when a connection is not possible.
Pro: Read Wikipedia offline. Makes for a great way to learn while on a subway, in an airplane without Wi-Fi, etc. Allows the user to mail article links, open the article in Safari and even update the article in Wikipedia.
Con: You have to cache the articles ahead of time if you want to read them offline. There’s no way for the program to know what you’re going to want to read. However, the developers should add a “Cache Related” button to automatically cache all articles linked to the one you’re reading. This would really simplify things.
Rating: 4 / 5. One point deducted for needing to manually cache related articles. If the developers add this button, the app will shoot straight to 5 out of 5.
Price: Free

2. Instapaper (on iTunes)

Summary: Save web pages for later offline reading, optimized for readability on your iPhone or iPod touch’s screen. Great for long articles and blog posts that you find during the day and would like to read, but don’t have the time when you find them. Save with Instapaper, then read later when you’re commuting, in a meeting, or waiting in line.

A features comparison between the Free and Pro versions:

Saves pages for offline reading Free• Pro•
Saves paper
Makes you read more
Compatible with iPad
Remembers your position
Dark-background mode
Pagination
Tilt scrolling
Adjustable fonts
Can disable rotation
Folders
Email, Tumblr, Twitter sharing
In-app dictionary
In-app browser with Text mode
Article capacity on device 10 250

Pro: You can go to any website I want and archive a copy of it to read later when you may not have an internet connection. Like Simplepedia, it’s great for long subways rides or plane fights when you don’t have Wi-Fi. Just queue up what you need to read and load it once you’re out of touch with the technology world.
Con: Free version lacks many of the best features of the application, including sharing and adjustible fonts. Also, the free version cannot be used on the iPad.
Rating: 5 / 5. Because of how useful this application is, I’m willing to overlook the $4.99 entry fee.
Price: Free for non-iPad / Pro $4.99

Content Creation

1. Documents To Go Office / Premium (Office on iTunes / Premium on iTunes)

Summary: Documents To Go is an all-in-one application with support for Microsoft® Word, Excel & PowerPoint, PDF, Apple iWork and other files and attachments. It includes a desktop application (Win and Mac) to provide 2-way file synchronization and a version with support for Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, iDisk and SugarSync is also available.

As opposed to “DocsToGo” Office, “DocsToGo” Premium lets you:

  • EDIT, CREATE & VIEW Word, Excel & PowerPoint files (including Office 2007/2008/2010)
  • View PDF, iWork & other files iPad/iPhone 4/iOS 4
  • Send & receive attachments using the device’s built-in Mail app iPhone/iPod touch WITHOUT iOS 4
  • Send & receive attachments Access, use & sync files stored in Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, iDisk & SugarSync
  • Includes desktop app (Win & Mac) with 2-way file sync (WIFI required)

Pro: Ability to sync files from the desktop to the iPad, access files in Google Docs, Dropbox, etc. Has a great file viewer for PDF and MS Office files. Links with other software such as Dropbox to allow files to be saved locally to the iPad for later use.
Con: The claim of editing PowerPoint presentation is misleading. With this application, one cannot add animations or adjust graphics and text placement. Only very simple text and bullet point editing is allowed. Also, VGA output is not provided for slide presentations and the program lacks a presentation mode. As such, it is really only useful for personal displays of PowerPoint and not suitable for professional use.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 – Considering the limited usefulness of this application with PowerPoint and it’s duplication of features of free apps such as Dropbox, I have to subtract one and one-half points from this app’s rating. The developers should not advertise editing PowerPoint when the functionality is clearly so limited. $16.99 is too expensive for the level of functionality.
Price: Office $9.99 / Premium $16.99

2. iWork Suite

Summary: This is the big Kahuna of iPad Office Apps. Apple’s official iWork suite. With Apple’s iWork for iPad suite of office applications, you can do real work on your new iPad. Whether you think that’s good news or bad news probably depends on your personality, but it’s great to have the choice. The tablet-based version of Apple’s suite offers only a basic subset of features and functions compared to the high-powered OS X version of iWork 09. Video Review (UPDATE: The video only shows Keynote and PDF export for Keynote. The current version supports MS PowerPoint export as well. The video also only shows Numbers and PDF export for Numbers. The current version also supports MS Excel export).
Pro: Almost full-scale application suite. Ideal for building presentations. More than enough power and ease for working with basic documents and worksheets. An impressive debut for a tablet-based application suite. One of the best arguments for getting an iPad.
Con: Advanced features missing in word processor and spreadsheet. iPad lacks ability to print directly.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
Price:
Keynote (on iTunes), Pages (on iTunes), Numbers (on iTunes) – $9.99 each

Device Protection

For outstanding protection of your new device, I recommend checking out Zagg’s invisibleSHIELD for iPad. I use these on all my gadgets and every single one of them remains scratch free. Five star product.

Thanks for reading!

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6 Responses

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  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve Nagel, Kari O'Brien, Michael Spitz, iMedicalApps.com, Brian Wells and others. Brian Wells said: Top iPad Productivity Apps: http://wp.me/pHijT-c3 […]

  4. […] remote access software, it is possible to get all the benefits of a full blown Windows, Linux or Mac system right on the […]

  5. Thanks very much for your write-up. I agree about Dropbox – it’s awesome for a free product.

    I’ll suggest another one for your list which I find to be a huge productivity aid and is a great value to boot: LifeTopix. It combines a bunch of different areas into one universal app, and all the areas work together. It’s a huge time-saver and one of the few apps I’ve added to my dock.

  6. […] Top iPad Productivity Apps September 20105 comments 4 […]

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