Specialty iPad apps for business users

There are many, many uses of an iPad in business. InfoWorld.com has selected the productivity suite that every business iPad should have, but individual employees have plenty of work needs that require specialty apps.

To help companies direct their employees to the apps that can help fulfill those niche needs, InfoWorld.com offers the following categorized list of business apps.

[ InfoWorld reveals the best office apps for your business iPad users. | Learn how to manage iPads, iPhones, Androids, BlackBerrys, and other smartphones in InfoWorld's 20-page Mobile Management Deep Dive PDF special report. ]

The categories are:

* Email and calendar

* To-do and task management

* Databases

* Mind-mapping and whiteboarding

* Diagramming and charting

* Conferencing

* Kiosk usage

* File management and printing

* Cloud storage and FTP

* Remote access

* SharePoint access

* ERP and CRM access

* Analytics

* Business travel

* Business miscellany

In this article, you'll find links to the apps' download pages at the U.S. iTunes Store; note that prices are subject to change and were current when this article was originally published.

Email and calendar

If your company uses Lotus Notes, you'll need IBM's free Lotus Notes Traveler app, which can connect to version 8.5.1 or later of the Lotus Notes server and act as the client for email, calendaring, and contacts management.

If your company runs Novell's GroupWise and WebAccess is enabled, use the $6 GW Mail [23] app from Ghost Pattern software to connect to GroupWise Server versions 6 through 8 for email access. Ghost Pattern has the free GW Lite app to test compatibility. (You can use Apple's Mail app instead if your IT group installs the recently released Data Synchronizer Mobility Pack add-on to its GroupWise 8 server.) Ghost Pattern has the $4 GW Calendar app to let you manage your GroupWise calendar; it too requires enabling WebAccess on the GroupWise server.

If you want to create form letters, consider Christian Fries' $4 Mailer. It lets you create email templates you can then fill in. You can also attach various kinds of files directly to your messages.

EuroSmartz's $7 CalPrint for iPad lets you print your calendars, as well as organize them and their tasks. It pulls in appointments from the iPad's Calendar app, so you don't have to maintain a separate calendar.

To-do and task management

Unlike many computer calendar programs, the iPad's Calendar app doesn't include a to-do capability. Fortunately there are dozens of to-do list managers available for the iPad. Three to consider are Appigo's $5 Todo for iPad, AlifSoft's $2 Task Pro, and the $4 Toodledo.

Beyond simple task management is project management, which requires a much more sophisticated approach to tasks and schedules. One app to consider on the iPad for such work is the $20 OmniFocus from the Omni Group. It syncs with the desktop (Mac-only) version of the software and ensures the Calendar app has your due dates added. It even can show nearby task locations on a map, such as for running errands or scouting film locations. Another well-regarded task manager is Cultured Code's $20 Things for iPad, which boasts a clean but capable user interface, a "smart" today list, and scheduling features.

[ Which iPad 2 rumors are plausible? InfoWorld's Galen Gruman gives them a reality a check. ]

Databases

For a more personal management tool, take a look at FileMaker's $5 Bento for iPad, which is a lightweight database perfect for tracking records, contacts, to-dos, and other personal tasks and data.

For more work-oriented mobile databases, an app worth considering is DDH Software's $10 HanDBase for iPad.

Two other noteworthy apps give you remote access to full-fledged database management systems from the iPad. The $40 FileMaker Go for iPad [37] lets you query and edit FileMaker Pro databases, while the $2 SQLTouch lets you run queries and manage records in MySQL databases.

Mind-mapping and whiteboarding

If you do mind-mapping -- a method of organizing thoughts and items by their relationships -- CMS's $10 iThoughts HD could be the tool for you. It works with several mind-map formats and lets you export your mind maps to PNG and PDF. It also syncs to Box.net and Dropbox cloud storage services.

Markus Müller's $6 MindNode is another mind-mapping tool to consider. Among its capabilities is support for VGA output to a monitor, provided you have a VGA adapter for your iPad.

If you're looking for a tool to do either mind-mapping or traditional whiteboarding, Pixelglow Software's $10 Instaviz is a strong option.

For more traditional whiteboard sketching, give Avici Software's $5 Whiteboard HD a look. It gives you controls over labeling, provides a grid background to help in placement, and supports image inclusion from the Photos app. It also works with an iPad VGA adapter for presentation on a full-size monitor.

Diagramming and charting

For sophisticated diagramming of process charts, website wireframes, or other complex relationships, the Omni Group's $50 OmniGraffle is highly regarded. It supports freehand drawing but also has a bevy of intelligent object formatting and page layout controls. Its files are compatible with the desktop version, and you can export PDF view-only versions as well.

The $15 OmniGraphSketcher is good for traditional diagramming, such as for creating precision graphs in architecture, finance, engineering, and space planning.

Conferencing

The iPad doesn't have a camera, so you can't show yourself in a videoconference, but you can join one conducted on the Internet by using an app from any of the major Web conferencing services. There are free apps for attending meetings via Cisco's WebEx, Citrix's GoToMeeting, and CallWave's Fuze Meeting. Of course, you need accounts on those services to host the meetings from a computer -- you can't host them from an iPad.

Kiosk usage

If you're using iPads as kiosks or public stations, such as at museums and schools, the $10 AVD Browse disables the iPad's Home button and restricts the available websites to prevent users from navigating away from the information you're presenting.

File management and printing

There are lots of Wi-Fi file-sharing apps for the iPad, and many productivity apps include such "air sharing" capabilities. Avatron Software's $10 Air Sharing HD is a good option if the built-in file sharing in your other apps isn't enough. The same goes for the $2 ReaddleDocs, which lets you collect Office, iWork, and PDF files from the Web, email attachments, and other sources for viewing, with extra capabilities such as extracting text from PDF files.

DigiDNA's $5 FileApp Pro is a file organizer for your iPad. It lets you copy files to and from your iPad, then organize, rename, move, and multiple-select them. FileApp Pro also allows you to open the files in compatible iPad applications.

Chances are you don't yet have an AirPrint-compatible printer, so the new iOS 4.2's print feature isn't usable. But you can print to many Wi-Fi-connected printers using an app such as EuroSmartz's $10 PrintCentral for iPad, which has you copy the desired text into the app, then prints that material. It also allows you to print to a network printer across your Wi-Fi network. (To print via your PC or Mac, such as when accessing non-Wi-Fi printers or printing via your computer over 3G, you need to install EuroSmartz's free WePrint printer server on your computer.) Other iPad apps that can print directly to Wi-Fi-connected printers include EuroSmartz's $9 Print n Share, Wellala's $5 Print Magic HD, and Readdle's $7 Printer Pro.

Cloud storage and FTP

Box.net and Dropbox offer free access to limited file storage in the cloud; for more storage, there is a charge. Using their iPad apps, several applications can retrieve and store files on their online servers for access by your other devices and computers.

Apple has its own MobileMe iDisk cloud storage service as part of its $99-per-user-per-year MobileMe service, which includes an email account and online calendar. The MobileMe iDisk app lets you exchange files directly with this service.

The Google Docs online software toolkit lets you work on text and spreadsheet documents on the Internet from your browser. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to use on an iPad. Although several apps let you open documents stored in and send documents to Google Docs, the $4 GoDocs app from LightRoom takes it a step further, allowing you to edit those documents directly from your iPad. (You can also edit them in Google Docs-compatible apps such as Quickoffice and Documents to Go.)

If you work with your own or clients' websites and need to send files to and from, Headlight Software's $10 FTP On the Go Pro will do the trick. It also lets you edit Web pages and related files, so you can update your site when on the go from your iPad.

Remote access

The free Citrix Receiver for iPad lets you run Office, SharePoint, and other data center apps on your iPad, through a virtual window to your Citrix-enabled servers. You of course need Citrix set up on the back end.

If you want to run applications on your Mac or Windows PC, or on remote servers, from your iPad, consider Wyse's $15 PocketCloud.

iCacti's $4 Server Monitor lets you monitor usage stats graphically for your Windows, Linux, and Mac servers, as well as network routers and printers. With Harlekins' $12 Server Admin Remote, IT staff can monitor Mac OS X Servers from their iPads.

The $30 LogMeIn Ignition lets you remote-control your Windows PC or Mac over the Internet. Another way to remote-control a PC or Mac and run its applications from an iPad is with the $5 Mocha VNC app. Hana Mobile's $5 Connect My PC is aimed at people who need to run just Windows desktops remotely from their iPad. Hana also offers the free Connect My Mac app. In both cases, multiple connections are allowed.

If you need to remote into SSH- and Telnet-based computers, Zinger-Soft's $10 iSSH can do the trick.

SharePoint access

Many businesses use Microsoft SharePoint to enable collaboration over Office files. Dean Beeler's $15 SharePlus Office Mobile Client lets iPads be part of that collaboration. You can test it out with the free SharePlus Lite version.

For just file exchange with SharePoint, Aircreek offers the $7 Filamente app. And consider getting the free Moprise if all you need to do is view SharePoint-provisioned documents, and cut and paste their text into your other iPad applications.

ERP and CRM access

The free SAP BusinessOne lets you view reports and content, process approval requests, and manage client and partner data in your SAP ERP system.

TE's $1 SAPplApp provides access to your SAP ERP system after you connect to your corporate VPN, so you can monitor your business transaction data.

Resco's $50 Mobile CRM Enterprise gives iPad users direct access to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM server, so they can manage and monitor customer relationship and sales transactions on the go.

Mobile Edge for Microsoft Dynamics, Mobile Edge for Netsuite, Mobile Edge for Oracle Siebel CRM, and Mobile Edge for SugarCRM are all client apps that let you connect to popular CRM and ERP systems. The iPad apps are free, but service pricing varies based on number of server licenses.

RhoLogic also lets you access SugarCRM systems from your iPad. It's free, but a subscription license required for its server so

Salesforce.com doesn't yet have iPad-native versions of its free Salesforce Mobileand Salesforce Chatter iPhone apps, though it has demoed an iPad version of Chatter due by 2011.

Analytics

The free SAP BusinessObjects Explorer lets you connect to SAP's business intelligence tool to explore sales trends and the like, then share the results with colleagues.

With the free MicroStrategy Mobile for iPad, you can access performance and other metric dashboards set up in a MicroStrategy business intelligence server.

Analyze your Excel, Google Docs, or Salesforce.com data visually with Mellmo's free Roambi Visualizer. Licenses start at $99 per user per year.

If you run a website and monitor its traffic with Google Analytics, Inblosam's $7 Analytics HD lets you track that traffic and run reports from your iPad.

Business travel

Business travelers whose companies use the Concur travel service (aka Atlas Travel) to manage their trips can track their itineraries and always have the details available through the free Concur Mobile app.

Turn your iPad into a travel alarm with iHandySoft's $2 Alarm Clock HD Pro, so you don't oversleep on the road. It detects your current time zone and shows the current weather.

Get weather reports wherever you are over your iPad. Shifty Jelly's $2 Pocket Weather World HD app includes more than 60,000 locations worldwide. The Weather Channel's $4 Weather Channel Max provides weather conditions and forecasts across the globe, bookmarks unlimited locations to track, plots local landmarks such as schools and golf courses on its map, and provides access to traffic cameras in some areas.

Business miscellany

Do you ever come across a Web page you'd like to read later, when you have the time? Sure, you can bookmark those pages, but wouldn't it be nice if you could somehow save them to your iPad and read them at your convenience? And wouldn't it be even nicer if you could read them without Internet access, such as when you're on an airplane? It's all possible with Marco Arment's $5 Instapaper Pro.

Do all sorts of business calculations with Joaquin Grech's $3 Financial Calculator app -- cash flow, annuity growth, amortization, you name it.

If your work involves mathematics, Chaoji Li's $7 TeX Equation lets you create complex formulas for use in documents, using the popular TeX math-coding syntax.

Calculate shipping and track packages with the free apps from FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service. Note that these are all iPhone apps, so they appear in a small window on your iPad.

This story, "Specialty iPad apps for business users" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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