In just a few weeks of iPad ownership, I’ve all but retired my MacBook. I thought I needed a laptop for work, but really, I don’t. I have not looked back since.
I own an Apple consulting company here in Florida, Max Your Macs. As members of the Apple Consultants Network, we support a wide range of clients all over the state ranging from individual home users with basic needs right up through corporate, medical, legal and creative environments with much more demanding settings.
Before iPad was released, I had been plotting and planning how to use this amazing machine onsite. I was longing for the day when I could slim down from carrying a large Swiss Gear pack with my MacBook Pro or MacBook Air to a small, light sling pack – but I was skeptical the iPad could fill the requirements.
And it does. Here’s how I use the iPad in the field:
A little creativity and finding the right combination of apps was key, but now I can manage the vast majority of normal onsite tasks with my iPad while drawing crowds everywhere I am using it.
To really start maximizing functionality I have found some outstanding tools to really bring iPad to life.
- The versatile GoodReader app is a one-stop shop for reading a wide variety of file types, such as PDF, Pages, Numbers, .jpg, audio as well as many others. Our company keeps a library of various data that needs to be accessed from everywhere, by everyone, all the time. GoodReader’s ability to connect to a number of different servers while presenting most any file format makes it a winner. The ability to add your Dropbox account, for example, and access those files lets you stay in touch with what you need.
- Penultimate is my current choice for a writing app and has replaced the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen for me. There are a number of emerging writing apps in the App Store and I am currently trying out several, which I will review soon. Sure, the Pulse stores audio but honestly the writing is what I actually use most. Combined with a Pogo stylus, you can get rid of the bulky dot paper notebook, charger/sync dock, etc. The ability to have multiple notebooks, which you can email either single pages or whole notebooks, makes for a nice way to stay organized.
- Dropbox and Evernote provide quick and easy ways to store and sync files across all your devices. While Dropbox is a simpler folder-oriented system, Evernote offers more management options. If you simply want access to files, Dropbox is perfect. Create folder(s) as you would in Finder and drop in your files. Evernote offers more sophistication in allowing organization of your notes into notebooks with tagging and search options that are very welcome. You can even create a voice memo or add a photo to your note very easily and again, this will automatically sync with your other computers or iPhone. If you are a user of either, or both, then you understand the versatility. If you are not already using either Dropbox or Evernote, and you need to store, sort and organize your data from multiple computers, iPad and even iPhone then you should give them a look. Both offer free basic accounts.
- LogMeIn Ignition. Using Ignition, our consultants can quickly and securely connect to remote machines to provide services to our clients. The ability to easily configure remote machines and securely access them is a must for an IT pro.
- Desktop answers that multitasking desire we all have from our iPads. Desktop allows you to work on two apps simultaneously by splitting the screen either vertically or horizontally. While it only runs a limited number of apps in each half, they are the more common ones such as Safari and Mail, calculator, maps, currency converter, voice recorder, weather, etc. I wondered how the idea of this app would actually work and it’s actually really good and very useful in its simplicity.
- Pages, Numbers and Keynote. While not as full featured as their Desktop counterparts they are entirely useful and a pleasure to use. For example, I am an instructor at University of North Florida teaching a variety of Mac classes. I recently put Keynote to the test for my last class. The entire Keynote was produced and presented with my iPad. Aside from loading photos and a few screenshots from my iMac, the entire presentation was done in between client meetings, sitting in coffee shops or other places where I could spend a few minutes or so polishing my presentation. The display was gorgeous on the widescreen projector and connected without a single hiccup. And the laser pointer… ahhh, how much do I love the laser pointer!
So, what’s missing? Well actually I am holding out hope for only a couple of things that I miss as far as a ‘regular’ application goes. One major omission that I am really hoping to see is Airport Utility. Since all iPads have Wi-Fi, I would imagine this to be a perfect app. Already, in setting up wireless networks, my iPad is the perfect size to test network strength and such but the ability to configure Airport networks would be ideal.
I also carry two small external hard drives partitioned with the different versions of OS X installed along with any repair and diagnostic tools that I need, so booting a client’s machine is no issue if I need to have my full functionality onsite.
Each day, I see the potential uses for professionals in any number of fields integrating iPads into their routine workflow. Medical, legal, creative and business pros alike.
Considering that right out the gate, after only a few weeks of release this incredible device can handle nearly all of the tasks and demands of the IT professional. More and more great apps are on the way to be sure and more and more professionals who choose to explore iPad will find a whole new and efficient way of being more productive and having fun!