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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