How to Use an iPad for Business
An iPad isn't just fun to use. With the right apps and accessories, Apple's tablet can become a work machine. When linked with a Bluetooth keyboard, an iPad can become almost as productive as a laptop computer. And the broad selection of iPad apps can help you view and edit documents, take notes, plan your workday and manage your business's bottom line – all on a device that's much thinner and more portable than a laptop. Whichever version of the iPad you own, here are six ways you can put it to work.
Most business users opt for a tablet because they're portable, affordable and easy to use. But alone, a touch-screen slate lacks much of the functionality that make laptops so useful. That's why there are tablet accessories that let you have the best of both worlds.
- Keyboard: There are plenty of Bluetooth keyboards available for both the iPad and iPad mini. You can even link it to Apple's full-size wireless keyboards for Macs.
- Case: Add a folio case to keep your iPad and Keyboard together. Many cases include built-in kickstands to prop your iPad up while you type.
- Stylus: Pick up a stylus to take notes and draw charts and diagrams. There are plenty of options, including a few pens with built-in pressure sensitivity.
Create and edit documents
You can't access Microsoft Office on your iPad – not yet, anyway – but there are plenty of apps that will let you create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations on the go.
- iWork: iWork includes the Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheet editor and Keynote presentation maker. The apps are fully integrated with Apple's iCloud online storage platform, so you can access and edit your documents from any Web-connected device. The new iWork comes pre-installed on all new iPhones; if you have an older iPhone, you'll have to shell out $10 for each app.
- Google Drive: Google's online office suite is also available as an iOS app. Google Driveincludes three apps: Docs for editing documents; Sheets for making spreadsheets; and Slides for creating presentations. Sign in using your Google account credentials and every document you create or edit will automatically be uploaded to the cloud.
For taking notes, your iPad can replace your old notepad. Unlike paper notes, digital notes are searchable and backed up to the cloud.
- Evernote: Evernote is a popular note-taking app that lets you dictate or manually enter notes, snap photos, create to-do-lists and more. The app features text identification, which can recognize and index printed and handwritten words for easy searching later.
- OneNote: The mobile version of Microsoft's OneNote has one big advantage over competing apps: full integration with Microsoft Office. OneNote automatically syncs with Microsoft's OneDrive cloud-storage platform, so your notes are accessible from anywhere, on any Internet-connected device.
Manage your finances
Accounting apps for iOS can't do it all; for serious number-crunching, you'll need the benefits of a larger monitor, a full keyboard and deeper features found in desktop software. But for basic expense tracking, iPad apps are a good solution for on-the-go accounting.
- Kashoo: Kashoo is a solid accounting app for iPad that lets you view and track transactions, create invoices and record payments. And the app features collaboration capabilities so you can share your financial data with your business partner or full-time accountant.
- Quickbooks: QuickBooks offers a suite of handy accounting tools to help you track and manage your finances. The iPad app lets you track sales, send out invoices and review recent payments when you're away from the office. It requires a QuickBooks subscription, but a free 30-day trial is available.
Planning and pulling off a productive meeting isn't easy, but your iPad can ease the process. You can invite employees or colleagues to attend, create and share an agenda, and even run a meeting virtually through your smartphone using video-conferencing software.
- Doodle: Stop playing phone tag or exchanging dozens of emails to confirm individual availability for your next business meeting. Doodlelets each individual vote on the time or date that works best for him or her via email, then lets the organizer nail down a time based on that information.
- GoToMeeting: If you can't meet face-to-face, video conferencing is the next best thing. With GoToMeeting, you can use the camera on your iPhone to drop into a meeting from anywhere, allowing your employees, colleagues or clients to see and communicate with you over the Web in real-time.
Access your files and programs
If you can't be at the office, you can still access everything you need to stay productive. Cloud storage apps can let you access and back up your files, while remote desktop software can let you use Mac and PC apps on your iPad.
- Microsoft Remote Desktop: Microsoft Remote Desktop turns your smartphone or tablet into an extension of your desktop workstation. It's like a direct portal to your work computer, allowing you to virtually access your Windows desktop and use programs such as the full versions of Microsoft Word or Excel, right on your iPad.
- Dropbox: With a cloud storage app such as Dropbox, you'll never go anywhere without your files and documents. That's because Dropbox syncs them to a Web server so they're accessible from any Internet-connected device, including your iPad. Once your files are uploaded, any changes or edits will be synchronized across all your computers and mobile devices.