Some classify the iPad as a media tablet, by which they mean it’s a device for viewing content and not creating it… an opinion that millions of traveling professionals equipped with iPads surely disagree with.
Here’s how you can to turn your iPad into a viable business machine with a combination of accessories and software.
Most businesspeople who travel with an Apple tablet would benefit from adding a physical keyboard. This might seem counter-intuitive, though: if someone is going to carry a device around with a keyboard, wouldn’t a laptop be a better alternative? No, because with traditional laptops, the keyboard is always grafted to the screen, where it’s in the way when it’s not needed. An iPad can present the best of both worlds, with a full keyboard for heavy text entry and a thin, light-weight device when doing research, demoing products to clients, taking handwritten notes, and other common tasks.
Frequent travelers often prefer to carry all their files with them, as no one wants to lose a customer because something they needed wasn’t available because there’s no Internet access. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to add additional storage capacity to the iPad, such as the SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive and the i-FlashDrive II, a microSD card reader for Apple’s tablets.
Although the iPad enjoys a very long battery life, some might see the need for even more. This group should turn to high-capacity options like the Innovative Technology Justin 10,000 mAh Power Bank, or the RAVPower Deluxe 14000mAh External Battery, either one of which can give a tablet a much longer battery life than a laptop. Those who want to combine a battery with a memory card reader should look into the Kingston MobileLite Wireless G2.
Right out of the box, Apple includes software that makes the iPad a good business tool, such as email and calendar apps that can connect to Microsoft Exchange.
Companies that have large numbers of mobile employees often have web-based systems for salespeople and others to use. The mobile version of the Safari web browser is generally robust enough to handle these, unless they were written specifically for one web browser, like Internet Explorer.
Businesses are typically more security-conscious that the general public, but there are plenty of secure email and web browsing options for the iPad. And there are other alternatives for large companies that have secure email needs, such as Citrix Worx Mail and Good Technology’s Good for Enterprise. Quality, secure instant-messaging apps are also easily available.
The release of Microsoft Office for iPad marked a milestone for traveling businesspeople. Although Apple’s iWork suite is solid competition for MS Office, nothing beats having access to full versions for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and OneNote, especially as these have been modified to take better advantage of touchscreens.
There are iOS clients for all the top cloud-storage systems, like OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and many more, giving users access to their documents and spreadsheets anywhere there’s an Internet connection.
Microsoft’s OneNote is among the best note-taking apps for Apple tablets — a good stylus is highly recommended for this.
People like real estate agents who take pictures of products with their iPad camera and then need to make basic edits will find much of what they need to do built into iOS, and third-party options like the free Photoshop Touch can take care of anything else.