After getting my lovely shiny awesome iPad last month, I have been trying to justify using it in my day to day work life. This has lead me to come across some nice apps that are useful/interesting in various ways. Here I have compiled a list of my favourite apps that could improve your work life!
Firstly Dropbox (Free); A simple file sharing service that syncs files across multiple devices and platforms. Available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone and of course iPad.
Once you link your devices to your Dropbox account, you are able to browse your storage. You are able to view some of the files directly in the app, and this is where the power of Dropbox really kicks in. It allows you to carry with you all of your files for a specific work project, and show them easily to co-workers and clients.
Dropbox also supports shared folders, which allows for collaboration on all files within the folder. This can be great for small offices/groups to share common files between them. It also contains minimal version control, which could help restore files to their previous states, helpful when your co-worker overwrites that file you created.
The service works on a Freemium business model, which means a basic account has 2GB of space, and only 30 days of version control. However, there are many partner apps that extend the functionality of Dropbox 100x. For example, “Documents to Go” app has Dropbox integration, so you can work on any office document directly from a link in the Dropbox app. More and more partner apps are being added regularly which makes this app a killer service, on both the iPad and the iPhone.
The major con of app is that it requires Internet Connection to run, as all of the files are stored online. You can save copies of (some) files onto your iPad, for offline viewing.
iMockups (£5.99) is the iPad equivalent to all those mock-up tools like Balsamiq, Cacoo, Mockingbird, and the list goes on.
The elements available are decent; containing standard web and iPhone/iPad elements, and has some of the more specific/advanced elements that you might also require. The controls can be a little fiddly at times, and there is a little bit of a learning curve, however regular updates are fixing and improving the controls every few weeks.
The app is great for showing mock-ups to clients and is great for on-the-fly adjustments to site mock-ups! Any mock-up created can be exported as images or as an iMockups file that can be emailed out or stored on the iPad.
This is a useful app and pays for its self if you have client interaction, or need to create mock-ups on the go.
Adobe Ideas (Free) is a very simple tool for doodling. This app isn’t really a proper drawing tool, so don’t expect a lot from it. It is just a quick, clean and simple app.
You can draw on a blank canvas or import an image from the device. I use this app to do basic annotations of website designs (which I import as images), and it’s intuitive for anyone to use.
An additional feature is that it can create four-colour profiles based on an imported image, unfortunately these cannot be edited or exported, so are pretty much useless.
If you’re looking for a better drawing tool, I hear good things about Sketchbook Pro.
Evernote (Free) is another great service like Dropbox. The basic functionality is based on taking notes. These notes can contain text, audio and images. These notes sync across their web app and the mobile apps available on iPad, iPhone and other smartphones.
Similar to Dropbox, the service follows the Freemium business model and partner apps & plugins.
Personally, I think this app isn’t that great on the iPad unless you get the premium service, as the note taking is very basic, and lacks being able to take web clippings and take new pictures. Some of the premium features include collaboration, increased security, more supported file types, offline use and larger storage & bandwidth. Additionally, the text within most files is searchable, even images!
Next, we have Instapaper (£2.99). Again, this is a multi-platform service, and allows the user to store simplified text-versions of web content. This can be great to capture web content that you want to read later, in a reduced format. Additionally, can be good as a tool to remove all the clutter (ads and distracting design) from a website.
To make use of Instapaper on the iPad, it requires you to setup a special bookmark on the safari app. When clicked it saves the web content to the Instapaper service for later viewing. Because of the syncing to their server, you could “Instapaper” lots of articles on your desktop web browser and then view them later on your iPad. This especially works well when you have no internet connection on your iPad, as once an Instapaper article is saved onto the iPad it can be viewed offline.
Additionally, a handful of external apps have Instapaper integration, such as the Google Reader.
News and Social Media Apps
These next few apps don’t exactly improve productivity but are great for keeping up-to-date with news and socialmedia.
Both apps include embedded video content and in my opinion are the best ways to consume all the latest news, better than the original sites themselves.
And for all the other new content across the web: Pulse News Reader (£2.39). Pulse is one of hundreds of RSS readers in the app store, however it has a very nice visual display of your feeds.
I enjoy browsing my feeds in this way, as I subscribe to lots of image-heavy blogs, and also because I subscribe to far too many feeds than is humanly readable in a day.
A good feature of the app is that you can view each RSS item in the app, or view it in its original web page, this is a great touch that is essential for some of my feeds.
The app does have some flaws, like being unable to mark items as read, and doesn’t provide much control or customization; however it continues to be the only RSS reader that I use on my iPad.
Of course, for every work-orientated app in the store there are tens of thousands of games.