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iPad or iFad? – Is the iPad actually useful for business?

Putting aside all the hype, is the iPad a useful business device?  I’m seeing more and more business folks using their iPads in airport lounges – it’s the must have corporate accessory and I suspect on many Christmas wish-lists.

StGeorge iPad AppA few MYOB folks have been trialling the iPad (I was not lucky enough to make the list…sigh! ), so I thought I’d share what they report in regards to its use for business.

The iPad is a great viewing and reading platform. Its high definition screen, long battery life and touch base interface make it an ideal to see documents, email, check out websites and read books.

It’s convenient to flip out the iPad, start typing, share a document or do a quick lookup. About the same size as a piece of paper it’s easy to check an appointment, lookup an address or telephone number. Sharing a view with someone across the desk is nearly as easy as passing across a piece of paper.

When it comes to writing, simple text based articles are easy, especially with an add on wireless keyboard. But adding pictures, charts or any other media is difficult. The notebook PC will win every time.

For business owners on the go the iPad is truly liberating. With a 10 hour battery life and a slim profile this is the device for a traveller or field based business owner.

For some in the team it took a while to set up the iPad. Out of the box some of the most useful apps are already included. But finding the right additional applications was a hide and seek mission. There was no central list that captured the vital set of applications needed to make the iPad a business tool. There are lots of sites that list applications available but very few that make a firm recommendation about which ones are useful.

So here is the team’s list, including one or two brain stimulators!

1.     Documents to go – an all-purpose all-in-one document reader and creator.

2.     Key Note, Pages and Numbers are the three standard PowerPoint, Word and Excel equivalents for the iPad. Great for viewing and creating simple documents but not so good for complex spread sheets or presentations.

3.     Notes – A standard app, this is the most useful, fast note taker that nearly makes the iPad a replacement for pen and paper in a meeting.

4.     Dropbox: a place in the cloud where documents can be stored and retrieved.

5.     Tweetdeck: one of the best for using and tracking multiple twitter accounts.

6.     Notorise – Ideal for scribbling feedback or taking notes on an existing document.

7.     Evernote – Save your ideas, things you see and things you like.

8.     LastPass tabs for iPad. A browser that remembers all your passwords for your secure sites.

9.     Bookmarking browser pages. While this is not an App the iPad allows you to store an icon of a web page. In Safari tap the + sign and add to home page.

10.  Skype for iPad turns your iPad into a mobile phone.  Well at least a phone for connecting to other users of Skype. Best to use when a Wi-Fi connection is available.

11.  Nozbe – If you’re looking for an easy-to-use task management app for your iPad this is it.

12.  XE Currency – Ideal for quick on the fly currency conversions.

13.  PDF Reader – for reading and managing PDF files.

And the brain stimulators (because we all need a little bit of time out!)?

1.     iBooks and Kindle – Both good quality book readers with access to a wide number of books – some free and most to buy.

2.     Suduko – The standard in quick puzzles.

3.     Colour Splash – Great tool for recolouring your photos. Childs play at being creative.

4.     Field Runners – A game to while away the long haul flight.

5.     Angry Birds – the most popular game on the iPad.

At the end of the day, the iPad will work for some and won’t for others – it’ll depend on your business needs (and if you do purchase an iPad for your business, make sure it is for the right reasons!).

So what about you? Do you use an iPad in your business? What do you recommend to make it work best in a business situation?

What do you think?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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