In addition to these practical apps there are an abundance of third party developed apps that can help you leverage the iPad as a valuable business productivity tool. I have provided a sample of some of the more practical apps below. Keep in mind that the supply of apps is growing exponentially and not all apps are created equal. So do the appropriate due diligence before you purchase. It’s not about protecting your $5 investment in the app, it’s about protecting yourself from losing valuable information with an app that constantly crashes. Ideally, talk with others who have been using the app, or at least do a Google search for independent reviews on the app.
Apple Apps – Apple offers a set of apps that can be used to replace your MS Office apps.
Keynote ($9.99) is a presentation app that can import PowerPoint files.
Pages ($9.99) is the word processing app that can import Word document files.
Numbers ($9.99) is the spreadsheet app that can import Excel workbook files.
Quickoffice Pro ($19.99) – This app lets you create, edit and share MS Office documents and PDF files between your iPad and PC. The built in file manager lets you exchange files via the cloud or through iTunes.
Evernote (Free / $5 per month premium version) – This is a versatile note-taking app that works across multiple platforms; iPad, Android and PCs. If you have a camera it will upload your snapshot image to the server and process an OCR (optical character recognition) conversion that makes the image text searchable. Once you compose and save a note it will be available on any device that you have installed Evernote on.
Box.Net (Free / $15 per month) – This is one of many alternative cloud based storage services that provides password protected and encrypted (premium version) file sharing. This is an efficient way to transfer PDF documents and other files to and from your iPad.
GoodReader ($4.99) – This is a top selling app that lets you view PDF files on your iPad and annotate them with pop-up notes, highlights, underlines and many other drawing tools. The annotations are all compatible with Adobe Acrobat so that when you get back to your office you will be able to view your GoodReader annotations in Acrobat.
These are just some of the more popular apps that can help you transform your iPad into a productive business tool. Stay tuned, many more are coming.
Let’s get back to the big picture. I believe that the best way to optimize the value of the iPad and other tablet devices is to focus their deployment on the replacement of paper. Many firms have been working hard to make the transition to paperless workflows, but let’s face it, it is not as natural to markup an electronic document with a keyboard, cursor keys and a mouse. However, the touch screen and form factor of a tablet makes this process much more natural. So for 2012, analyze your core business processes to identify where people are taking documents and documentation offline, i.e., note taking and document review and design these processes to incorporate the tablet with a good viewer and annotation app and throw away the yellow note pads once and for all. I fully expect that by the time 2013 rolls around there will be an abundance of accounting and tax related apps that will help you integrate the tablet even further into your processes.
John Higgins, CPA.CITP is a Strategic Advisor and co-founder of CPA Crossings, LLC based in Rochester, Michigan. He specializes in helping CPAs to leverage technology to increase the efficiency of their business processes. You can reach John at email@example.com