iBusiness…Apps to keep you Mobile.

Since I was an early adopter of the iPad, specifically to use it for my freelance business, I have had many people ask me what I use it for and what Apps I have found that have been very helpful.

This post will address some of those questions. To note, I no longer carry around my large laptop every where with me anymore. the iPad has replaced that for me. (Yes, I still use my beast of a dekstop for when I need to do massive work.) I have put links to the apps where I could.

A few things to note first.

I use Google Mail, Calendar and their Docs & Spreadsheets. The reason is the flexibility and ease of use with the iPad. (If you have your own domain, you can use their “Google Apps” for your domain and have all their apps available for your employees or users). They also work great together. So if I get an email that has an event notification, I can add it to my Google Calender. If I get attachments, I can add them to Google Docs. It’s also easy to share Docs with others or have people “subscribe” to your calendar (great for if you just want people to see when your “free/busy” you can add a widget to your website…check out my “schedule” link on bjpds.com for an example).

Google Mail — Offers IMAP for email. Its kind of like Microsoft Exchange, if your familiar with that. Everything is housed online, then when you set up the IMAP account on your devices (MS Outlook, iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, on the web, whatever) it shows the same inbox on all. You deleted or move in one place, it deletes or moves in all. Very easy to Sync.

BE WARNED: Google uses IMAP a little oddly, and it takes some getting use to. Even though technically google doesn’t use “Folders”, they use “Labels”. So if you label certain emails as, say, “Fav Tweets”, it will show up online in a “label” folder as “Fav Tweets”, but on your devices it will act more like a folder. So just remember that Label=Folder.

Google Calender — lets you have multiple calendars, yet they all show up on the same calendar. Which is great for scheduling. Everyone in my house has their own calendar, then we have one for bills, My freelance Biz, Amy’s Biz, and then our dinner menus. This way we can see everything and make sure we don’t double book. This syncs GREAT with the iPad or iPhones, AND they now keep the calendars “color” (Each of our kids calendar is color coded to their favorite color). Again, you can turn any calendar to show up on a web page by using its embed code feature. You can also show just how much information will be displayed.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets — Is a good online Document processing program and it works great with some of the apps below I will talk about. But its not perfect. In regards to Documents, you may loose some special formatting. With Spreadsheets, you may loose some complicated formulas or formatting. But, Google is always updating and redeveloping to address its shortcomings.

Dropbox — Dropbox is a great online backup (FREE) tool. Basically, you install the program on all the computers you use, then it places a “My Dropbox” folder in your documents. Anything you add or delete here, gets added or deleted on all your machines that are logged into the account.

They have an App for the iPad and iPhone AND many apps offer Dropbox synchronization to keep your apps synced across devices. You start out with 2GB of space (you can pay for more). You can also refer people, if they sign up, you get 250MB added to your account. So, if you sign up, LET ME KNOW, and I can send you a referral email. Then it adds to my space, then you can refer people and add to YOUR space.

They do have an iPad app, that lets you READ-only the files, and open them up in corresponding apps.

You can also share folders (within your Dropbox folder) with other Dropbox user. But please note: if you share, the space that folder takes up will not only take away from your total space, but the person you shared it with. So if they have a new account (2GB) and you toss a bunch of stuff in that folder, their new account size will start to get filled up). So remember that you “share” in the space usage with shared folders.

Printing on the iPad — Apple had announced that printing would be available for the iPhone and iPad…but then they changed it to work with only printers that had special ePrinting enabled (newer HP printers).

But you can get around that and go back to their original plan with this app. Fingerprint is a great way to quickly print to a printer or make a PDF or add to your dropbox account. You must be on the same Wifi for it to work.

If your away from your desk, and you have an app (or if your on a remote computer) that lets you save to a specific location into your Dropbox, you can enable printing in dropbox.  So if your away from your office, you can drop a file in that special folder in Dropbox and your printer will have it waiting for you when you get back to your office.

Cases and Docks — I have the Apple iPad case. Its lightweight, props it up into two different configurations and works well. I have the Apple iPad Keyboard dock. I DO NOT recommend getting it, if your using a case. There is not enough space between the dock connector and the plastic piece that holds up your iPad for a case. There is JUST enough room for the iPad itself…so the “connection” never connects if you have a case on it. I recommend getting the Apple Wireless Keyboard. Then you can use whatever case (and if you have an iPhone, you can connect the keyboard to that too, for even more portable on the go working).

Or, you can get the ZAGG case. It is a case AND keyboard in one. Make sure though that you get the one for the CORRECT iPad model you have (Gen 1 or Gen 2) as they are different sizes.

Now on to the Apps:

General Business:

LogMeIn — If you have a work Desktop and an iPad (or multiple computers) I recommend LogMeIn. This is a web-based remote access program. You log in to ANY computer online, and you can access ANY computer that you have (easily) setup to remote access. They have an iPhone and an iPad app that works GREAT. So if you forget to sync a document to Dropbox, you can still access it. To use it online is free (but they do have paid accounts that give you more features), the App is $30…not cheap, but worth it! (This is also handy if you have relatives that you are always their “IT” person, I placed it on my dad’s and sister’s PCs, so that I could remote fix them when they have issues…)

Calendar, Email and Contacts — I use the Apple standard apps for these. They work great and sync with my Google stuff. ‘Nuff said.

2Do — I use this app for my To Do Lists. It uses the GTD (or Getting Things Done) methodology. You can have multiple “lists” or see them all in the “Today” tab. If another person in your biz uses 2Do as well, you can send them tasks. It also lets you do “Projects”. Projects allow you to have multiple tasks, grouped under a “project”. It also syncs with “Toodledo” which is web based. I don’t use the online version, I just use Toodledo to sync across my iPad and iPhone.

Docs to Go Premium — This is the App I used to edit all my documents, when I am on the go. There is a cheaper version, but it doesn’t have all the features. This syncs to Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, and a few others. It lets you edits your Documents, Spreadsheets (and I think powerpoint files) on the go and then can save them back to those locations.

It does have its limits. You may not always get all the formatting you want, or all the complicated formulas, but it does the trick. You can always edit any final docs at your home PC.

(Side note: I do have the iWork Suite of apps: Pages, Numbers, Keynote. I like them, they are beautiful. But if you have a PC at home, then its a little trickier to sync, and you can loose some formatting, if you use a Mac, then you can use these–but, you can only sync between iTunes, not Dropbox or other online services–so its limiting).

Square — If you process credit card or even cash payments, then this is it! It’s free to use. No annual charge, no monthly processing limits. Just per transaction fees (which are cheaper than some of the other merchant credit card processors out there) and you can process CASH transactions.

You get a FREE credit card swiper dongle for you iPhone OR iPad (they have apps for both) the iPad app lets you put an inventory in the App for faster processing. Then the client signs the screen (you can attach a photo of them too) and then email them the receipt. Done. Its GREAT!

Deliveries — If you order a lot of packages in the mail, this is a great app. If accepts tracking numbers from a multitude of sources. Then it can list them all for you and show you the days away, and where it is on the map. Very easy to use.

iAnnotatePDF — If you deal with PDFs (and do lots of commenting, redlining, or marking them up) then this is the app to use. It lets you highlight, comment, strike-through or markup PDFs.

MaxiVista — This app allows you to use your iPad as a secondary monitor on your home PC. So if your iPad is just sitting there next to your computer…plug it into an outlet (to charge–because this will drain power) and use it as a second monitor to maximize your efficiency. You will need the driver from their site AND you need to have both PC and iPad on the same Wifi.

GoToMeeting & WebEx — If you conference call on any of these two services, then these apps allow you to see the web conference and use your mic and speakers to join in. Great when your away from your desk.

Evernote This app lets you create notes, sound clips, web clippings or send whole web pages to access later. There is a web version, a FireFox plug-in (to let you select text from a page–or photos–and send to Evernote) and an iPhone version.

I use this to send articles that I want to keep forever (not articles that I will merely read later…I use InstaPaper for that) or tutorials or other notes, so that I can access them later…especially since the web changes so much and what is there one day, may not be there tomorrow.

JotNoteScanner Pro — This allows me to take a photo with my iPhone and then it will straighten and optimize it for reading, then I can send it to Evernote. Great for Business cards, receipts, or newspaper clippings.

SoundNote — This allows me to take notes at a meeting AND it records the meeting. So later, if I feel like I forgot a note, I can click on a sentence of my notes and the recording JUMPS to that part of the meeting so I can hear what I missed.

Penultimate — This is a note-taking/sketching app. Great for quick notes. (I recommend getting a Pogo pen too, it makes writing on the iPad easier.)

Mint — This app is used in conjunction with their online app Mint.com. No data entry of your financial data (it grabs it from your bank…just not credit unions..at least not most) and your loans, real estate value, assets, 401K, etc. and it helps you budget. A great app to see your financial data in and track your spending.

Skype — Free phone calls between “skype” devices on Wifi or 3G (you can get prepaid minutes to call actual phones too) its an iPhone app, but works on the iPad. You can “text” (more like Instant Message) other skype users or call them, or video chat — from your iPhone or computer) for free. You can use it over 3G (but uses data services…so watch out).

If you want to use it to contact real phone numbers from your iPad, you need to pay for minutes. You can “facetime” from your iPad…well, you will see them, they can’t see you, as the iPad has no camera…rumor is its coming.

Gist — This app (along with its online version) allows you to see all your “important people” (i.e. clients or businesses) and what they post on social networks, blogs, news articles, websites, etc.It scours the web based on their contact information and shows you anything it can.

This is very helpful if you need to interact with your clients or keep yourself in their foreground to generate possible business leads or revenue or possible upcoming projects you could submit a proposal to.

You can then rate your clients by importance (for instance, I only want to see clients that are at a 50 or higher.) it makes it very easy to then connect and comment on their stuff from all these various sources (You can also filter the sources too).

I no longer need to spend time on Facebook, then on Twitter, Then on LinkedIn, then on their Blogs, etc….it brings all those various places to me in one spot. Also, if it shows them multiple times in my “client” list…I can “merge” them and the program then knows they are the same people or business.

Design:

These are various design apps that I use to help me be more productive.

myPantone — This is an iPhone app, but it works fine on the iPad. It lets me find Pantone Swatch colors, create swatch sets and even take a photo and attempt to match a color.

myPantone X-ref — This allows me to find out the conversion of various Pantone Books (say find the matching Pantone swatch between their Solid Coated and their Process Color books)

iDesign — This app lets me create quick Vector illustrations, that I can then send to myself and open in Illustrator to finish.

iMockups — This allows me to make mock-up websites (or iPhone Apps, if I did that) on the go. I can sit with a client and quickly mock-up the layout of their website, then when I get to my office I can use that as my template to create their sites design.

Moodboard — This allows me to create a “feel” of what their brand or design should be like. I can pull in photos, color swatches, web clippings, text, etc. and put together a “mood” board for the client to get a feel of where I am thinking of going, without designing a bunch of stuff that they may not like the design of. A way to visually brainstorm a design.

Sketchbook — This lets me sketch on the go. It has layers, brushes, colors, tools, etc. I can then export as a PSD file to open in Photoshop.

iThoughtsHD — If you brainstorm a lot, this mind-mapping software helps you do that. They have an iPhone app too. It also syncs with Dropbox so that you can use desktop mind mapping software to edit or print.

iFontMaker — This lets me create custom fonts that I can email and use on the Computer.

Photography:

Photo Recipes — Scott Kelby created this app. It shows you video of various lighting/situation setups on what he does to get “the shot”. Some great tips and ideas for photographers.

Photography Contract Maker — This allows you to have Model Release, Copyright Release, Photo shoot Contract, and 2nd Shooter–Work For Hire contracts on the go. You fill in the detail, everyone signs the screen and then you can email the contract out to the various parties. (You can customize the contracts). They have an iPhone version too.

Second Shootr — This app lets you manage your various Photo Shoots. It’s an iPhone App, but can work on the iPhone/iPod.

Not only does it handle your various Photo Shoots, but it can house the various people (and their contact information) in the photo shoot (like who the bridesmaids are, etc.), what equipment you need to bring, and what shots you need to take. (Like checklists that you can check off). It can also house the location information for the app as well.

Grey Kard — This app has various “gray card” or “calibration” cards for your photo shoot. You take a photo with the gray card on your iPad in the shot, then you can use it to help color balance your photo (then apply that to all the photos in the same location shoot).

Portfolio to Go — This is a Flickr app, that accesses your Flickr galleries and then you have a “portfolio on the go ” to show potential clients.

SmugMug — If you have a smugmug account (and if you don’t, you should) this allows you to access those galleries and showcase them to potential clients. (The app Blossom, does the same thing but it also lets you download photos from your account, but be warned, if you use watermarks, it downloads the watermark on your photo too).

Reading:

Flipboard — I use this to read all my news now. It can open any RSS feed (through your Google Reader Account) and then displays those, or any Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr streams to this app and displays them in a sort of “Magazine” format. Visually beautiful and it feels like your reading everything in a magazine.

NewsRack — If Flipboard isn’t your thing, Newsrack will sync to your GoogleReader (or a few other RSS readers) and show you all the new posts in one place.

Instapaper — If I find an article on a page that I want to read later, I simply click on the “Read Later” bookmarklet (that Instapaper helps me install) and then I can read it later. The nice thing is, I can read the original version or a “stripped down” text only version (it will show photos if they are in the news article, but it won’t show any ads or other photos in sidebars from the original web page). A great way to read articles when I have time.

iBooks — I use this to read all my books (aside from my previous eBooks I bought on eReader–they have an app too) and all my PDFs. I can even create “collections” and sort my PDFs by category (comics, crafts, design, books, etc.)

Entertainment:

AirVideo — I don’t put movies on my iPad, unless they are ones I purchased from iTunes. For all other movies or TV shows, I use AirVideo (and its PC app, AirServer). Any video that is DRM free on my computer (and I put the folder location in AirServer) I can then watch or “stream” to my iPad over Wifi OR 3G. They also have a iPhone/iPod version.

StreamToMe — Much like AirVideo, but its strickly for audio files.

Conclusion

Those are the apps I use. There are a few that I would like to get (there is one app for the iPhone that lets you take a photo of a building or spot and then it can calculate what the sun will be like, from that spot, on a certain day. Great for photo shoots that are outside and you want to know where the sun will be at, for lighting on that day. But its $50….)

If you have any questions, I would be more than happy to help you get set up to optimize your mobile working and be as efficient as possible. Just drop me a line!

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