A big factor that makes the iPad one of the strongest tablets on the market is the fact it absolutely excels as a workstation, this is through a combination of hardware and software with a number of iOS apps enhancing the working experience.
These are the top 5 apps that aid me whenever I’m attempting to write an article, tackle a project or even perform somewhat menial tasks such as trying to corroborate messages and emails.
CloudMagic is a beautifully simple app yet it is massively helpful and extremely useful. It’s one of those apps that makes you think ‘this is such a good idea’ as it removes a frustrating part of most peoples lives.
So let’s say that a few weeks back a friend of yours told you about a great restaurant you should visit, well you now fancy heading out to this eatery but you can’t remember the name, where it was or even if your buddy tweeted it, put it on FaceBook or emailed the recommendation to you. This is where CloudMagic would come in, it aggregates a whole host of networking accounts, from email to dropbox, and allows you to conduct a search over all platforms allowing you to pinpoint and retrieve said information.
It’s not just useful for searching however you have full access to the features of most of the accounts you sync to CloudMagic, so you can retweet on twitter, reply to emails and view events on FaceBook all in one place, so even if you’re more organised than me and take note as information comes at you CloudMagic is a good way of pulling a varied group of accounts into one easily refreshable place.
Okay so this one might just be for the journalist or blogger such as myself but Storify is a great place to put together articles. Developed from the industry popular storify.com this app allows you to drag elements from social media into an article. The most common use of this is twitter, articles these days are always featuring tweets from famous people if they happen to wade into a particular topical issue.
Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr are also built in alongside Twitter but what I think is a really nice touch is the fact you can import a snapshot from webpages through the ‘browser’ icon on the tool bar within the app.
Regular storify users will also recognise features such as the embedded code to any stories published, which allows you to write up the article and draft in elements from the web in Storify before exporting the story to more commonly browsed hosts such as WordPress.
A top 5 productivity list wouldn’t be complete without at least one task manager, and personally I feel Weave performs better than most. Weave allows you to set up different ‘projects’ and you can add to dos for each of these projects, for example if you were conducting a research piece you could dub that as your project and compile a list of things you need to do in order to complete the research.
Organising to do lists into categories isn’t what sets this apart from other task managers however, for me it’s the ability to track income and outcome for each project so you can keep an eye on a budget.
You can also share projects and your progression through them with others through email, Facebook or your address book, which means that if your working on a project with a number of colleagues you can all stay in the loop.
Paper is one of my favourite apps at the moment, it’s absolutely stunning. The app is essentially a brainstorming platform but it is so well made and is so visually pleasing that it has the ability to engross you in you’re own ideas and really helps on the inspiration front.
Giving you a series of notebooks Paper allows you to draw, write and scribble into these any ideas you have regarding any upcoming projects.
Even those who aren’t creative would be hard pushed to describe this app as difficult to use, as drawing and sketching (which would normally be used to illustrate where a photo or graph would fit into a piece of work) is simple yet effective and using the pen tool writing is eligible.
You are presented with a number of different notebooks, the app names them in a way that encourages you to use them for specific areas such as ‘sketches,’ ‘ideas,’ and ‘journal’ however I prefer using each ledger for a different project so it’s all in one place.
The only downside to the app is it’s in app prices, a personal pet peeve of mine Paper uses in app purchases for extra tools as the ones you begin with are very limited, however as the app is free and to unlock the essentials pack is £4.99 it’s forgivable as this price isn’t too unreasonable for the quality of this app.
Pages is part of Apple’s attempt to mimic Microsoft Office, a feat I feel the pull of quite well. Pages represents Word and works delightfully well as a word processing app.
A number of word processors on the marketplace attempt to distinguish themselves from the competition by offering a stripped back writing experience, a ‘just you and the text’ type spiel, I don’t understand this personally and believe the ability to change fonts, use templates and play around with bullet points is essential to a text based app. These are all features that Pages offers in a simple to use and massively effective manner.
As well as the writing experience being top draw the sharing options are extremely easy and smooth, emailing documents is an option, however I find sharing with iTunes is the best approach, a few seconds to send away and it just appears under the apps sharing folder through the iPad icon in iTunes.
The fact sharing can go both ways is also extremely useful, you can send documents from your desktop to the Pages app, once again through iTunes, to view and edit on the go.
The fact that Pages can save and send in the Word friendly .doc format is also very useful, as is the fact it reads documents first crafted from the Microsoft program.
Also Worth a Mention
If the idea of an app designed by Apple getting along so well with a Microsoft produced program makes you feel unnatural and all wrong inside then CloudOn is for you. It’s a very impressive app that allows you to use a fully functional Microsoft Office suite on your iPad, so Word, PowerPoint and Excel are all there.
It works through a Dropbox account, which means autosaving at every button press is available, as well as easy access from a desktop to documents created in the app.
The only reason this didn’t make the main list is because the Office programs don’t feel like they’ve been extensively accommodated for the iPad, the experience seems as though you’re using the programs through a remote desktop app, that’s why Pages is the portable word processor is my favoured app when producing documents, it has clearly been designed with the iPad in mind.
Don’t let my opinion put you off though, this is a great little app and the range of features is nothing short of amazing, it’s just personally I don’t feel the functionality of the programs has been adapted to the handheld environment but it’s well worth the free download to see whether you take to it better than I did.
This is worth a mention just for the pure simplicity of use and how well it works. Access to your Dropbox account to either download files ont your iPad to open in another app or to upload images from your iPad to Dropbox.
Slightly disappointing that it is only photos that can be uploaded to Dropbox, integration of the ability to upload e-books, files and documents would boost the app incredibly.
This didn’t make the main list as it’s not really an essential, just a useful tool if you happen to use Dropbox.