The iPad was released last week and already more than 450,000 devices have been sold. While some may decry the lack of a physical keyboard and the App Store ecosystem as reasons why the iPad can't be used for "real" business work, the truth is, the form factor is perfect for the business professional on the go who doesn't need to have a full laptop. Pairing an iPad with cloud services is already proving to be a really powerful solution, and the iPad App Store is barely a week old!
A few weeks ago I discussed some of my favorite business apps for the iPhone, these are some of the early standouts for the iPad.
1. GoodReader for iPad ($0.99) - GoodReader is hands-down, the best PDF reader for the iPhone and the iPad version is even better. What makes GoodReader special is that it can not only view local files (and you can transfer files to it from iTunes), including PDF, Word, Excel, PNG, TXT, JPEG and more, but you can download files from a URL or connect to a web server.
It handles really large files extremely well (it can even unzip files) and it connects to Google Docs so you can download your Google Docs files for offline reading or to open in another application for easy editing. At only $0.99, GoodReader is a steal and then some.
2. Things for iPad ($19.99) - Cultured Code's Things is easily one of the top task managers for Mac OS X. The iPad version is much more similar to its desktop counterpart than it is to the iPhone version (hence the larger price), but for small business users who are already part of the Things ecosystem, it's a delight to use.
Creating to-dos and managing tasks and projects is easy and intuitive and you can sync wirelessly with Things for Mac.
3. Bento for iPad ($4.99) - FileMaker's Bento is a database program aimed at home or small business users who want to have a powerful database system, but don't want to have to deal with the complex database syntax. For Mac users, Bento integrates so well with iLife and iWork it might as well be called iData.
Bento for iPad can be used stand alone or with Bento for Mac and Bento for iPhone. Like Things, it is much more similar to the Mac version than the iPhone counterpart. You can use the built-in templates or create your own and do things like manage expenses, address books, projects and more.
4. iWork for iPad (Pages, Numbers and Keynote all sold for $9.99 each) - Apple really took its time in developing the iWork apps for iPad, making sure that the productivity system would be easy and intuitive. You can create new documents or open up existing document types (if they aren't native iWork files you will have to convert them - this can take a few moments depending on file size).
Pages is the word processing app and when paired with a bluetooth keyboard or the Keyboard Dock, it's a real joy to use. Numbers won't do everything you can do with Excel, but it's a great starting point for viewing charts, graphs and spreadsheets. Keynote brings the best presentation tool to the iPad, you can create and edit slides and use it to show presentations. It's great.
5. Box.net (Free) - Box.net has updated its iPhone app to also work on the iPad and the results are pretty impressive. You can view all of your files, view activities, leave comments and more. In the future the ability to open files with other programs and integrate with other services will be added. Box.net isn't at full speed yet, but it's a great start.
6. Evernote (Free) - The online notebook has updated its iPhone app to work with the iPad and the results are terrific! Evernote is a service that lets you clip audio, video, text, images, whatever you can think of and save it to a central web repository. You can assign documents or files with tags for easy collections and organization.
The Evernote iPad app not only syncs with your Evernote apps and the Evernote cloud, you can use it to create voice notes, attach pictures and make edits to text documents. If you are an Evernote user, get it! If you aren't an Evernote convert, the iPad app might just convince you to upgrade to the premium plan for $45 a year.
iPad users, what apps have you found useful for small business? Let us know!