Magazine article Online

Productivity-Enhancing: iPad Apps FOR INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS

Magazine article Online

Productivity-Enhancing: iPad Apps FOR INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS

Article excerpt

With its handsome screen and easy portability, the iPad quickly proved itself as a powerful device for people wanting to consume many different types of media. But while the games are fun and the movies look great, these uses are not going to justify the iPad's cost in most information organizations. Thanks, however, to a thriving app development community and growing demand for iPad productivity solutions, a number of great apps are available that have established the iPad as a useful tool in information professional workplaces.

The iTunes Store ( has accumulated 110,000 iPad apps since the iPad's original release in April 2010. Because of the app marketplace's size and rate of growth, no review of apps will ever be conclusive. My criterion for selecting the apps in this article was based simply upon the productivity apps I find myself using the most at my library. This excludes good apps that I haven't found a use for (yet) and, undoubtedly, additional good apps that I have not tried.

Whether the app addresses note taking, reading, or managing tasks, what unites these selections is that they solve common productivity problems in the workplace. I should also mention that the intent of my iPad use has always been as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, my computer. Because of this, many of these apps serve as a bridge between those two worlds.


Penultimate is a handwriting app that you can use for note taking, drafting, doodling, or anything for which you once needed a pen and paper. But unlike your yellow legal pad, everything you create with Penultimate can be emailed either as a PDF or as a Penulitmate file that can be edited by another user. Penultimate notebooks can also be backed up by sending them to iTunes.

Despite Steve Jobs' view that if you see a stylus used on the iPad, Apple blew it, Penultimate works really well with one. In fact, the app has built-in wrist protection that keeps many of the stray marks that would otherwise appear when your hand touches the screen from appearing. I have had good luck with the Targus stylus, which sells for $12.95 at Amazon. The Penulitmate app, created by Cocoa Box Design, LLC (, costs $1.99.


Dropbox is a file storage and synchronization app that addresses our schizophrenic digital life, which results from having files scattered across multiple platforms. It accomplishes this by creating a central folder for you on Dropbox's servers in the cloud. You can access your folder from multiple computers, devices, and apps.

To get started, you must create a Dropbox account, install the iPad app, and then install the Dropbox software on your computer. The latter will set up a Dropbox folder on your desktop that automatically syncs to your Dropbox folder in the cloud. Once everything is set up, files placed in your computer's Dropbox folder will be available through the Dropbox app on your iPad. Many apps, including GoodReader (discussed later), can be set up to sync with your Dropbox folder as well. All you have to do is set up a server connection using your Dropbox account information. Once that is done, you will be able to browse your Dropbox folder using GoodReader, open a document, mark it up, and have the changes appear in the Dropbox folder on your computer.

A complete list of the many other apps that can sync with your Dropbox folder is on the Dropbox website (www. drop The Dropbox app is free, but it includes only 2GB of storage - 50GB of storage is available for $9.99 a month, and 100GB costs $19.99 a month. Despite these limitations, Dropbox is an incredibly useful app that will solve a lot (if not all) of the problems you encounter syncing files between your iPad and computer.


GoodReader, developed by Good. iWare Ltd. (, is a powerhouse app for reading and annotating PDF files. It offers a range of annotations, including text boxes, arrows, highlighting, and underlining. …

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