How The iPad Transformed Millions Of Jobs In 2011 [Year In Review]


Photo by Siemens PLM Software -
Photo by Siemens PLM Software -

From the cockpit to the squad car and everywhere in between, 2011 was the year the iPad became a part of business. Throughout the year, we’ve introduced a number of jobs that have adopted the iPad and we return to see how Apple’s tablet has reshaped industries big and small. In fact, the jet you take for your holiday travel may be co-piloted by the iPad 2.


For the first time, American Airlines will use the iPad in the cockpit throughout flights of its Boeing 777. Earlier this week, the FAA gave final approval to the full use of iPads, replacing around 38 pounds of operating manuals, navigation charts, reference handbooks, logbooks and more. A pilot’s flight bag of some 12,000 pages will be reduced to the 1.5 pound Apple tablet.

Just what does this mean for pilots? It’s the start of a whole new generation of flight. “The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight,” said United Airlines Captain Fred Abbott, also the airlines’ senior vice president of flight operations. The company gave 11,000 iPads to its United and Continental pilots. Delta was the first to adopt the iPad as a way to reduce weight and save 326,000 gallons of costly jet fuel.

Photo by phil41dean -


Not only pilots have become iPad fans. The critical business of health care is another area which is drowning in paperwork and view the tablet as a rescue line. At the St. Louis Urgent Care, an iPad is used from the moment a patient steps through the door until she leaves. Although a growing number of medical practices use laptops to take patient history, the iPad is becoming a popular doctor’s assistant for its wide range of features.

Nurses use the drchrono EHR app to input patient information, while attending physicians appreciate the app’s checkboxes and menus as an alternative to notoriously bad handwriting and often poor typing. Patients themselves like the Muscle and Bone Anatomy 3D app which uses the iPad’s high-resolution screen to display broken bones or illustrate how a complicated procedure.

In an area where charting mistakes could mean the difference between life and death, the iPad means the “chance for information loss is almost zero,” one doctor explained.

Even the iPad’s camera comes into play for medical professionals. Earlier this year, Philips introduced a $0.99 app that uses the tablet’s camera to measure heart and breathing both noticing your facial color and chest motion. The app, which the company stresses is for entertainment purposes only, even features a way to post your results on Facebook and Twitter.

The iPad Showing the Control Room Screen


Far from sterile medical atmosphere or the airline flightdeck, the iPad is being used to modernize even the most manual jobs. At an Ohio quarry, the iPad has become an integral part of the rock crushing business.

“The days of a plant operator sitting in front of a monitor in a control center are no more,” Duff Quarry owner Ross Duff tells us. “We have been able to increase production, monitor material quality, and save time with the iPad. Most importantly the iPad allows our plant operator to travel conveyors, as well as start and stop the plant in person. This allows for the most important benefit of using the iPad, which is increased safety at the mine,” Duff adds.

Photo by jeromelebel -


If you’ve witnessed law enforcement up close or simply by watching cop dramas on television, you know how information has become as integral a part of walking the beat as a service revolver or handcuffs. From the FBI to local police departments, the iPad has become a partner in the fight on crime and an advocate for community policing.

We talked of how the FBI and local agents may soon use the iPhone and iPad to collect fingerprints and quickly identify potentially dangerous suspects. Near Los Angeles, Calif., the City of Redlands Police Department are quick to sing the praises of their latest recruit. “It’s as integral as their police radio, or any of the other critical equipment on their duty belt,” said Jim Bueermann, the city’s Chief of Police.

Along with a communications tool, the iPad also displays local maps and displays, even replacing the once ubiquitous notepad with the on-screen keyboard. For the public, often put off by the police’s commanding presence, seeing officers with an iPad can be a way to bridge that divide by talking about the Apple tablet.

Photo by chrisjohnbeckett -


Away from the mean streets of policing, the iPad has found a use for architects accustom to consulting layouts, drawings and designs. Here, a number of specialized iPad apps have found a wide audience. At its simplest, architecture is about drawing — detailed and exacting drawing. The AutoCAD WS app lets you sync CAD drawings out in the field with those stored on your office desktop. Another app, GraphPad, is touch-based and lets architects quickly sketch out tentative designs and scale them. Other apps give architects scopes, develop budgets, add bubble diagrams and include project cost analyses.

Even if you are just a designer, there is Home Design 3D, allowing you to decorate rooms, add furniture and export the results to scale.

Photo by joe bustillos -


Lastly, journalism has vastly changed with the iPad. The lightweight tablet can replace the usual notebook with apps such as Notability or Penultimate. I often use iMessage to send quick questions, even photos from a news scene. Instapaper is great for collecting interesting articles I don’t have time to immediately read. The AudioMemos app is perfect for recording a quick voice interview. while Dragon dictation offers usually accurate transcription.

The iPad, first conceived as a media device has expanded to become much more. While in its infancy the iPad was the perfect game machine, the Apple tablet has become equally comfortable in the boardroom, as well as the cubicle or corner cafe. Any questions whether the iPad could meet the demands of business have been answered — many times over.

So, what should 2012 bring for the iPad in business? We are likely to see an even faster adoption of Apple’s tablet as the economy hopefully begins to perk up. The iPad 3 could have more features suited to business, while talk of a lower-priced iPad could do for the tablet what the price drop of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS did for smartphones. We can’t wait to see.

  • vistarox

    Thanks Cult of Mac. I really enjoyed reading your iPad ad. 

  • vistarox

    Thanks Cult of Mac. I really enjoyed reading your iPad ad. 

  • Rowanova

    For 2012 I believe we will begin to see far more apps that are more advanced and complex as they target very specific industry types. Some of this exists now, but I sense the time is now that it will grow exponentially. I hope more of that reaches my industry.

  • Al

    I think to say that iPads “transformed” these jobs is very exaggerated!

    It seems the iPads are popular because they’re lighter and cheaper than laptops, and without all the fiddly bits of a desktop OS.

    They are doing much the same work as laptops or printed paper did before.

    Even in the picture of the Quarry mine screen, you can see its a remote desktop connection to a Windows server! So it may not even work fully with the touch interface. The quote says, “the iPad allows our plant operator to travel conveyors, as well as start and stop the plant in person”. So they couldn’t do this with this exact same Windows software via a Windows laptop, but they now can do it using an iPad running a Windows Remote Desktop app to a Windows server?


    And I know the most oft-quoted example is the pilots and their maps, but really was there anything at all stopping them from doing that on a laptop before, apart from FAA rules? And the quote, “iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight”. Are they saying pilots DIDN’T have this before? They didn’t get “essential” information during flights? Really? Surely they did. Just not on a touchscreen.

    And as for healthcare industry, I happen to work in the health software industry, and I can tell you that the majority of people getting iPads are using them in place of laptops, because they are cheaper, and most are being used to access poor web interfaces through Safari, which are designed for IE6.

    I’m sorry but there is only one industry which has been “transformed” by the iPad so far: the tablet computing industry.

    Maybe in few years, we’ll see real changes, but so far it seems to be mostly over-enthusiasm with the odd PR stunt! ;)

  • Jake Brosy

    I run a non-profit doing field-based case work. We previously relied on laptops to collect client information. Between acquisition, constant repair, virus issues, software problems and other IT costs, laptops – even cheap windows-based laptops are far, far more expensive than their sticker price. The iPad has been a great boon to us.

    The iPad has significantly reduced our IT costs. We replaced our aging laptops, replaced the few bits of software not already on the iPad and spent less on technology this past year (including the up-front purchase prices) than in any of the previous 3 years.

    So, yes, the iPad is transforming many jobs. Where only one volunteer would have a laptop before we now send five iPad-equipped volunteers to a site. Our clients get faster response (–>happier clients), our volunteers are less overwhelmed (–>better retention) and we have more donor money available to help clients (–>happier me & happier development officer). To me, that’s transforming.

  • Gerry Doire

    It was nice to see Steve Jobs live long enough to see Apple under his control finally become #1 over Microsoft, 25 years late give or take.

  • Brittp2

    Gee, no 3g is one reason and portability is another… oh and how about using it on the go, very easy with a laptop, NO? and another reason the iPad is changing industry over laptops is…. is…. battery life. All day on a iPad vs. 3/4 hours on most laptops. Plus the carrying around of all the laptop kit. Is that enough reasons????? Wait behind door number three is…. figure it out yourself.