For Getting the Job Done
For all intents and purposes, the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch are all pocket computers, capable of much more than calls and SMS messages, taking pictures, and playing music or video files. The popularity of the three gadgets is driven by the thousands of applications available through the iTunes store. The functionality of these range from series and productivity-oriented, to the aforementioned time-wasters. Here are twenty apps from the former category that should prove useful, either facilitating your main line of work, or as utilities that help you concentrate on the more important stuff.
Yes, money makes the world go round. So it pays to know just how much you spend, for business or personal purposes. XpenseTracker should make adding and categorizing your expenses a snap. Keeping track of your finances—and building that expense report for the accounting department—should become much easier. XpenseTracker's mileage features even help you determine how much you spend per kilometer. All that for a reasonable price of $4.99.
Until we all agree to use one global currency, foreign exchange will remain a fact of life—and a potentially lucrative game for those with money to play. But the simply named Currency isn't only for big-time traders. Learning how one currency is valued in another is of course important for travelers as well. Unfortunately, Currency needs online access to update its conversions, but at least it's a free download.
Download Bloomberg Mobile
Now here's an app that's really for big-time traders—or "amateur" investors wondering how their equities are doing. The Bloomberg app more or less presents the same content available on bloomberg.com, only reformatted for the relatively smaller screens of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Access graphs that track the performance of your stock or security picks, and read information regarding their long-term performance. The app also provides quick access to relevant news listings and is free thanks to its ad-supported nature.
Battery Master Free
Download Battery Master Free
You have to email that important picture, type out that report, and make that conference call. Will your battery last long enough, or do you need a recharge? Battery Master Free goes beyond just telling how much power your battery has left. It also guesses how much calling, internet surfing, video viewing, and music listening can be done with the remaining power. You can even configure a charge notification alarm, ensuring you won't be trapped with a weak battery with no wall socket to come to your rescue.
Believe it or not, some blogs are actually worth reading. Especially when you're talking about productive professionals who share what they do—and how they do it—with an online audience. Wordpress is a popular blogging platform, supported by a version for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. The app provides full control over any Wordpress or wordpress.com blog. Manage your blog posts, picture uploads, tags, categorizations, comments, etc.
There's a point where perfection can paralyze your productivity. In these situations it's best to rely on tools for the basics. Speller does as advertised, providing portable spelling assistance for writers without access to their favorite word processor's spelling and grammar checkers. The app helps you properly build words in English and Spanish, so you can concentrate on creating your message. Best of all, Speller is free!
The only problem with Gmail (in this writer' opinion) is that the Google Mail experience won't work on your barebones email client. Any fruitful mobile Gmail experience requires that an app be designed from the ground up to use the main features of the popular webmail service. GmailApp is a free utility that more or less provides the same Gmail experience on your iOS device—right down to the message grouping (conversation structure) and the built-in chat! And lest we forget, this app's free!
Skype is the video chat and IM app of choice on your laptop or desktop PC, so it's no surprise that versions are also available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. With a stable internet connection through Wi-Fi or your provider's 3G service, you'll be able to chat with your Skype contacts or conduct face-to-face conference calls with the iPhone and iPod touch's front-facing camera. Both services are free, and so is downloading this app to your iOS device.
White Noise Lite
White Noise Lite
We're affected by outside stimuli more than we'd like to think. So why not exercise some control over that, especially when certain sounds can help sooth or relax us? White Noise Lite is a free utility that relies on a variety of natural (the sound of rain) and artificial (synthesized tones) sound effects to put its users at ease, all in the name of reducing the number of insomniacs in the world. Extra features include controlling when these sounds turn on and off, while the app is proven to work for anyone, ranging from adults to babies.
If you maintain instant messaging (IM) accounts on GTalk, Yahoo, MSN/Live Messenger, AIM/iChat, ICQ, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and/or Jabber, IM+ is for you. The utility helps you go online, and allows the management of multiple accounts (even those on the same service). You can also customize alert sounds so that you'll instantly know who sent a message and through what service. By far the most useful feature of this app is how it can notify you of new incoming messages "on supported networks", even when not in use.
Buying apps for your iOS device isn't necessarily "pro", but snapping them up at the lowest possible price is. AppShopper simply keeps track of all other applications available through the iTunes store, particularly their pricing. It will let you know when any apps on your "Wish List" enter a limited-period sale or discount, playing the role of the patient, frugal buyer. This leaves you free to concetrate on more important things. AppShopper also syncs with any AppShopper.com user account.
Even if you're not a spy secretly stealing documents for a corporate or sovereign employer, Pocket Scanner should prove useful. The app turns any iOS device with a camera (currently the iPhone and the new iPod touch) into a portable document scanner. Snap pages of a report or book for storage on your gadget, so that you won't end up carrying stacks of paper to your next meeting... or covert rendezvous. You can save your scans as PDF files, for easy sharing with others online.
Task management is such a basic yet important of any mobile productivity experience, it's a surprise that no good default to-do app is installed on iOS devices. Todo seeks to fix this shortcoming, through its multiple reminders, repeating tasks, and support of the popular Get Things Done (GTD) productivity system. Users can even protect their secret to-do items with a password, sync their checklists with iCal and Outlook, and categorize their different tasks for maximum completion efficiency.
Similar to Pocket Scanner, ACTPrinter is all about storing stacks of documents on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. But instead of using a camera to "scan" paper, the app grabs documents straight from a laptop or PC, pretending it's a printer to receive content. ACTPrinter is thus perfect for those who need to present authorization documents, such as boarding passes acquired online, without wasting paper unnecessarily. Barcodes can be scanned direct from your iOS device's screen.
Download Barcode Reader
If you've ever wondered what that barcode means, Barcode Reader is for you. The app uses any iOS device's camera to capture barcodes (much like how Pocket Scanner capture documents) for its own algorithm to analyze and decode. This at least lets you determine that you're getting what's advertised. Buy Barcode Reader also makes it easy to compare prices, making sure you won't spend more than you need to. Adding to the savings is the fact that this app is a free download.
AutoCAD WS is an iPad tool that can read DWG ("drawing") files created with the desktop version of AutoCAD. Designers can view their work or show it off to prospective clients using the Apple tablet, cutting down on the need to bring that powerful and bulky laptop around. AutoCAD WS also supports some limited editing, making it possible for iPad users to design their next mechanical contraption—or an entire cityscape—on the go. Other features facilitate the sharing of work with co-workers, friends, and the general public on autocadws.com
It's possible to type out reports on the iPad's preinstalled Notes app, but for font selection, professional-level layouting, text formatting, and so many more, you'll need Pages. Designed by Apple for its tablet PC, Pages is a full-blown word processor. It takes full advantage of the iPad's larger screen, providing a sizeable touchscreen keyboard for touch typists, and tools you'd normally find on the desktop version. Most importantly, Pages lets you work with Microsoft Word files, upload your work to MobileMe iDisk account for easy retrieval, and even print out documents with the right setup.
In case it's not obvious, Numbers is a spreadsheet app for the iPad. Like Pages, Numbers takes full advantage of the tablet's display for the complete spreadsheet experience. Tabulate data for reports, crunch numbers to find the best solution for a business-related problem, and create nifty charts for use as visual aids. Most of what you find on the desktop version of Numbers is available through the iPad version—including support for Microsoft Excel files and other spreadsheet formats like CSV, the ability to upload work for later retrieval, and the option to print.
Rounding out the iPad office suite is Keynote, Apple's answer to Microsoft Powerpoint for the iPad. As such, it can work with PPT files. With the right iPad video-out accessory (the dock to VGA connector), laptops are no longer a requirement for showing your presentations through a projector. Keynote also supports different animations and transitions needed to give your pitch that kick. And yes, like Pages and Numbers, Keynote can upload files to iDisk.
In one fell swoop, forScore made the iPad very appealing for musicians. Characterized as the "ultimate sheet music machine", the app lets users quickly call up digitized versions of their music sheets, and apply category "tags" to them for easy searches. forScore can even be configured to automatically "turn" virtual pages, meaning orchestra players and soloists won't have to interrupt their virtusio performances to see the rest of the composition. The app comes with popular classical pieces preinstalled, and also allows musicians to add their own annotations to their virtual sheets.