I frequently get requests from friends and colleagues for a list of my favorite iPad apps — for productivity, for academic work, and for personal use. Just this week, I have heard from three friends with brand new iPads. And since campus is now rolling iPads out to all full-time faculty, I am finally taking the time properly share a list of my recommended apps.
First, a bit of background
I have just wrapped up my first full academic year on the iPad.
Back during the early part of the Fall 2010 semester (late September or early October, I can’t remember) I was fortunate to be selected as an alpha tester and was issued an original iPad (32GB wifi+ optional 3G) as part of a small test pilot that campus IT was running on campus. By early December, IT expanded this pilot to a group of beta testers consisting of college deans, department chairs and upper-level campus administrators. Finally, in early May, IT launched an official rollout program, and is still in the process of issuing iPads to all full-time faculty and a larger group of campus administrators. Most folks in this formal rollout are being issued iPad 2s.
IT swapped out my original iPad for an iPad 2 (only 16GB and wifi this time around) the first week of May. What do I like best about the iPad 2?… the camera! This makes my job as a trainer so much easier, being able to capture screenshots with the built-in camera.
I was also just issued a VGA Adapter for the iPad, but won’t get to test it out until later this week.
Must-have apps that I use daily
These are the apps that I absolutely cannot live without.
I keep these icons and apps mounted to the dock at the bottom of each screen:
- Settings: Built-in.
- App Store: Built-in.
- Safari: Built-in. Apple web browser, integrates with my third-party Twitter, Instapaper and Diigo apps.
- Calendar: Built-in. Integrates with my work Exchange server calendar (but it’s quirky), and all of my Google Calendars.
- Mail: Built-in. Integrates with my work Exchange account, and my personal Gmail account. I tend to prefer the Google Search app for my Gmail account.
- Google Search: Free. Quick access to the Google search engine, plus all of my Goole apps (including GTalk), with the exception of Google Voice.
These are the apps that I sync to the first screen (home screen) of my iPad, so that they are always right at my fingertips when I turn on the iPad.
- Camera: Built-in (iPad2).
- FaceTime: Built-in (iPad2).
- Skype: Free. VOIP calling, video chat, and text chat.
- Google Voice: Free. VOIP calling, voicemail retrieval, text messaging.
- Contacts: Built-in. I use for my work Exchange contacts.
- Notes: Built-in. Quick access to notes that I can email or send to Evernote.
- DocsToGo (Premium): $16.99 (campus gifted this app). Create and edit MS word, Excel, and PPT files. Create, edit and sync with Google Docs, Dropbox, and SharePoint 2007 (via SharePlus).
- Dropbox: Free. File-sharing across computers and devices. I use this to store non-confidential files that I don’t need to full-text-index, such as images and graphics that I frequently use in presentations and blog posts, web development code libraries that I need to access multiple places, non-research-related PDFs, etc.
- Evernote: Free. Note-sharing across computers and devices. I use this to store sensitive notes (i.e., passwords) since it supports encryption at the file level. I clip or upload notes here that need to be full-text-indexed and easily searchable when I’m on the go (i.e, recipes, patterns, reservations, etc.). I save snippets of code here (i.e., scripts that I push out across web sites I develop). I also save most of my meeting and conference notes here since the app supports nested notebooks, full-text search, and upload via email.
- SharePlus Pro: $14.99 (campus gifted this app). Provides create, edit, delete access to document libraries and lists in our SharePoint MOSS 2007 intranet. Wikis, meeting spaces and web parts don’t work so well — I’m desperately waiting for IT to upgrade us to SharePoint 2010, which is browser-neutral.
- Remember The Milk: Free. My web-based To Do and task list that works across all computers and mobile devices. Also integrates 2-way with Outlook tasks, including syncing only selected task lists (i.e., work tasks). I pay $25/year for a personal Pro subscription.
- Diigo: Free. I switched to this social bookmarking and clipping service after Yahoo discontinued suppor for Delicious. I have the full-featured free educator license. The app allows me to access my bookmarks and notes on the iPad, add new ones via the Safari bookmarklet, and keep both in sync.
- MindMeister: $7.99 (I paid for this). Works with the MindMeister mind-mapping software. I use this to plot out systems designs and workflows, and to brainstorm my presentations and instruction materials. Syncs to my web account, full create and edit access, with any pro account upgrade (I have the $18/year educator license).
- A Twitter app: Only free. I experiment with several Twitters apps on my iPad, but always pick one to stay on the home screen for a while. This week, it’s the official Twitter app because I’m liking the Mac version so much.
- A Facebook app: Only free. Like Twitter, I experiment with several apps on my iPad. But, I tend to stick with the official Facebook app on my home screen.
Must-have apps that I use a little less frequently
While I have a lot of apps installed that I am still exploring, these are the ones that I still use at least once a week. Yes, I constantly categorize and re-organize how my apps are synced across each screen — I am a librarian, after all. And I am constantly installing, testing, and deleting apps.
I am not even going to try to cover my favorite social networking apps here — that will have to be a separate post.
But, these are some additional key apps that I use every two or three days:
- YouVersion Bible app: Free. My main Bible-reading software. Downloadable versions and daily reading plans. Bookmarking, note taking, accountability partners, etc. Sync with my free online account.
- Kindle and Nook apps: Free. I like them both, and do a lot more ebook reading now thanks to the iPad. I definitely prefer Kindle’s note-taking features, and am curious to see what Amazon works out for libraries.
- Instapaper: $4.99 (I paid for this). Allows me to save links received via Twitter, RSS feeds, email ,etc. to read at a later time or date. Very useful when I’m super busy, and when I’m perusing Tweets and feeds on my mobile phone.
- Mendeley: Free. My main reference and research manager. Syncs with my web library, as well as my Zotero library (which allows me to access Zotero on my iPad/iPhone too). I am preparing a full blog post on this.
I will try to get myself in the habit of doing more frequent short blog posts highlighting apps for a specific purpose or task (i.e., my note-taking workflow, blogging apps, quick reference apps, etc.).
How about you?
What are your “must have” iPad apps?