apps now getting down to business
Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business
July 27 - August 2, 2010 issue #1083
High Tech Office column; reposted on Low End Mac
In issue 1076
this column proclaimed “Alan gets an iPad; neat but not ready for
Apple’s touchscreen tablet is not going to function as your only
compute. Too many things – getting documents on or off, connecting to
printers, scanners, projectors or more – are at best limited compared
with even a low-end laptop or netbook.
But don’t despair. You can still justify an iPad as a business expense.
Here are several software add-ons – apps – that let you use an iPad for
more than surfing the web or watching downloaded video.
Typically, you’ll get documents in or out of these programs using
iTunes on your computer. With the iPad connected, open iTunes, click on
the iPad icon on the left then on the apps tab in the main window.
Scroll down to a list of “file sharing” apps, clicking on each to
upload, download and delete documents for that app.
Apple offers a trio of productivity apps, iPad versions of the programs
in its (Mac-only) iWork suite: Pages
word processor, Numbers
spreadsheet and Keynote
presentation program ($10 each). All let
you create, view and edit their respective types of documents and
import files in the corresponding Microsoft Office format.
You can export or email saved work as pdfs or in iWork formats. Pages
also supports Microsoft doc file exports, but Keynote can’t export
presentations in Microsoft’s popular ppt format.
For work with Microsoft Office documents, a better choice might be
Dataviz’s Documents to Go
($15 for the premium edition.) The
company has versions for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and more.
While the program started out as a way to view documents on a PDA or
smartphone, it’s grown in abilities and can now be used to edit
documents. The iPad version makes good use of that device’s large
Instead of iTunes’ file sharing feature, users need to download and
install a free Mac or Windows utility to transfer documents.
Optionally, it lets you set folders on your computer to automatically
sync with the iPad. Alternatively, DocsToGo supports multiple online
file sharing repositories, including DropBox
, Google Docs and Apple’s Mobile Me. Like
Apple’s apps, you can also email documents directly from the program,
and you can set it to automatically open email attachments received in
the iPad’s Mail app.
Also nice: if you already have a copy on an iPhone (or iPod Touch), the
more capable iPad version is free. (And it includes a word-count
feature – a must-have for things like this column.)
While an update to Apple’s free iBooks
now works with pdfs, I find GoodReader
($0.99 – also available for iPhone) a
better tool for viewing those and a variety of other file types – pdfs,
text files, Microsoft Office documents, photos and sound files.
Like DocsToGo, it can import files stored online at DropBox, Google
Docs, et al, and can read email attachments. It can also read pdfs
online or stored on local servers (via a Wi-Fi connection).
When viewing a long document, it can be set to move directly to, say,
page 128. (As a musician, I find that handy to jump around fat e-books
of sheet music). Maybe Apple’s iBooks can do that too, but I haven’t
Mocha VNC Lite
is free and lets me connect to a
Mac (with Apple’s screen sharing enabled) or Windows or Linux PC (with
any of a large number of programs making use of the free VNC protocol
installed); doing so gives me my computer screen on the iPad and lets
me pop up a keyboard to control the remote computer.
Finger movements on the iPad screen translate to the mouse on the other
computer awkwardly, but with practise, it’s possible to run programs
remotely that lack iPad equivalents.