Though there's certainly much controversy about the iPad, there are many business professionals -- perhaps like you -- that have trooped out and bought one. Like the iPhone and iPod Touch, the real power is in the apps. This might be especially true for the iPad, where apps might be able to help make up for some of the lacking features: no multi-tasking, non-existent USB and SD, no phone or texting, and missing Flash support for the web browser.
Remember, all iPhone and iPod Touch apps should install and work on the iPad. However, given the bigger screen and feature differences, many developers are releasing another version specifically designed for the iPad. Most of the 21 apps you're going to read about here are already adapted.
Sharing & Collaboration
As you may know too well already, the iPad lacks a USB port, SD slot, or any removable storage support. Besides the $29 adapter kit, the Wi-Fi or 3G connection is pretty much all you have to transfer documents, photos, and other files in and out of the iPad. This $9.99 app leverages the Wi-Fi connectivity to make accessing and transferring files easy. It lets you mount the iPad as a drive on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer so you can drag and drop files. Additionally, its web-based interface lets you access the iPad from any web browser.
Though the iPad isn't a phone, you can make and receive calls via the Internet phone provider Skype when connected to a Wi-Fi network. Remember, calls to or from other Skype users are free and unlimited landline/mobile calling is only a couple bucks a month. At the time of this writing, Skype is still working on 3G support and an app specifically designed for the iPad.
Since the iPad isn't a phone, you can't send or receive SMS or MMS text messages, right? Wrong! You can email and participate in social networking with the iPad, so you shouldn't have to pull out your phone just to text a colleague, friend, or family member. This free, AD supported, app lets you send and receive unlimited texts right on the iPad, without a phone number. Plus the app offers group texting features where you can join or start texting communities -- its the new chatroom. To get rid of the ADs, purchase it for just $2.99.
textPlus iPad app
If you ever participate in Webex meetings over the Internet, download this free app to attend or conduct meetings with your 3G or Wi-Fi iPad. You can see any shared documents, applications, or desktop. Plus you can collaborate with the other participants with voice and/or text chat. You dont even need a WebEx account to attend, only to start meetings.
5. Fuze Meeting
This free app is from another web conferencing service, Fuze Meeting. You can start or join web conferences. You can share and chat with participants, all protected with enterprise-grade security. Fetch attendants by calling them into the meeting. At the time of this writing, they're currently working on a iPad version.
Here's yet another free app for a web meeting service, GoToMeeting. Like Webex, this app was built specifically for the iPad. However, keep in mind this app is only for attending; you can not host a GoToMeeting session with it.
This free app gives you access to the Dropbox online storage service, free for up to 2GB of disk space. Dropbox lets you synchronize, backup, share, and access your files from just about every device: the iPad and several mobile phones and from Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. From the iPad app, you'll be able to access your files and stream any music or videos. You'll also be able to upload and sync content. Want to share something with a colleague or friend? You can quickly email a public link.
The iPad might not be able to do everything a PC can do, but with this app it comes close to it. For $11.99, you'll be able to view and control your desktop or laptop just like you were sitting in front of it. Use it to access files or software, or even just to get Flash support, which the iPad unfortunately lacks. It's compatible with both the RDP and VNC protocols, supporting Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Currently, they're working on updates for better 3G support.
Desktop Connect iPad app
If you use the web-based Google Docs apps to create or share documents, this one is for you. Google offers a mobile version of the site, but this app gives you a better GUI and more features. It supports local documents, offline viewing, revisions, e-mailing, and Wi-Fi sharing and uploading. If you're an avid user, the $3.99 price is well worth it.
Productivity, Reference, & Travel
10. iWork for iPad
Unfortunately, the iPad doesn't let you work with office documents right out of the box. If you're an Apple fan or Mac user, you've probably heard of iWork. If you haven't, it's Apple's office suite, much like Microsoft Office. Well, three of the apps have been designed for iPad: Pages (word processor), Numbers (for spreedsheets), and Keynote (for presentations). Each can export to the appropriate Microsoft format or as a PDF. You can purchase them for $9.99 each.
iWork: Pages for iPad app
11. Office_ HD
If you aren't an iWork fan or would like to save some cash, consider this third-party app for $7.99. It lets you view, create, and edit Word (doc) documents and Excel (xls) spreadsheets. It works with Google Docs, MobileMe iDisk, and includes other neat sharing features for Windows and Mac.
12. Dragon Dictation
Can't get the hang of the touchscreen keyboard? Well, this vendor claims that their free voice recognition software can help you type 5 times faster. You might want to give it a try. Send a quick email, make notes, update Twitter, or tell it your life story. Just remember that this app requires an active Wi-Fi or 3G Internet connection while it's transcribing.
You can always bring up Google in the browser, but you might find the app more convenient. You can search with your voice, review search history, get quick access to other Google services, and more. It even remembers where you're at, so you don't have to keep typing it when searching for local businesses or directions.
Google Mobile iPad app
If you're in Sales, Marketing, or Management, here's one for you. It takes your company's reports and data, from several supported sources and apps, and provides you with a mobile dashboard of your company's latest information. Browse the charts during the morning coffee or do some quick analysis before a meeting. The free service supports HTML tables, CSV, Excel, and Salesforce CRM for the data sources. Premium services offer more features and support additional sources.
Roambi Visualizer iPad app
This $9.99 app is targeted for consultants, attorneys, or contractors who work with multiple clients and jobs. It helps you track the time and expenses you spend on each assignment. You can view and share daily reports in HTML or CVS. Plus with an add-on module you can generate invoices and export data to Quickbooks. Then so you don't loose your valuable info, you can back it up to your PC via Wi-Fi.
If you're a road or sky warrior, this app can help you record, track, and report all your expenses and mileage. It supports the major currencies, includes reporting and exporting via email or Wi-Fi, and features password protection. Plus it helps you track the status of reimbursements.
17. Flight Track
This is a must-have app for frequent flyers. It does more than just check for flight delays. It tracks all the flight info, including gate numbers and baggage claim details, and lets you easily share it with colleagues or family. View the flight path overlaid with a live weather radar map so you can predict delays. Its $4.99 for the basic app and $9.99 for the Pro version which includes enhanced updates and TripIt support.
Flight Track iPad app
This app offers the same features you'll find on a desktop FTP client. This is great if you're a webmaster and want to make a few site changes when away from the office. Other business users might also find it convenient to upload or download, stream, or edit files right from the iPad.
If you're a Twitter addict, you ought to check out this free iPad app. It supports multiple accounts, geotagging, and has a customizable multiple column display. You can tweet, upload photos, reply, retweet, and direct message. You can also view user profiles, follow/unfollow, block/unblock. If you do some digging, you might even find some hidden features and gestures.
TweetDeck for iPad
Whether you want to reconnect with past colleagues, advance your career, or find a job, you can network with professionals on LinkedIn. Though developed by LinkedIn, currently this app isn't customized for the iPad. Nevertheless, you might find it more useful than using the web interface. You can search for and add people, check your messages, update your status, and do pretty much everything else.
As a staffer on the run, you sometimes need a fast information source -- about anything. This iPad app will enable you to quickly scour Wikipedia for some easily digestible factoids. Quick, what year did that happen? What about that technology, product, person? Do some brief research ahead of time and appear ready for the big meeting.
Eric Geier has authored many networking and computing books for brands like For Dummies and Cisco Press. He's also the Founder and CEO of NoWiresSecurity, which helps businesses easily protect their Wi-Fi network.