Tech Thursday – iPad

I was hesitant at first to get an iPad when they first came out. It wasn’t clear that it was necessary in my context having an iPhone and a Macbook Pro. So I waited.

Over several months I read articles on the iPad and talked with others about it and paid attention to how they were being used. Finally, toward the end of last year, I purchased one. I bought the 64 gb wifi model. As an iPhone user I didn’t see the need for the 3G model and another potential monthly bill. Several months later, I still see it as the right call.

Immediately, the iPad fit right into my life and made its purchase worthwhile. Most of what I was using the laptop for away from my office (email, blogs, quick web lookups, note taking) I could now do on the iPad quicker and more comfortably. In fact, when I travel, I often do not take my laptop with me to save on space, weight, and the iPad doesn’t have to be removed from the bag in order to go through airport security. Of course, what makes the iPad so usable is the abundance of great apps available. Many of these are available for the Android powered tablets as well.

Shortly, after purchasing the iPad, I began practicing with it in preaching/speaking situations to see if I could be comfortable with it. It didn’t take long and I was using this new device to lead meetings, speak on Sundays, almost anything that before I would have a notebook and/or printed pages for, I could now do on the iPad. While I am not able to be completely paperless in my work, I am much closer thanks to the iPad. Wherever I go, I now have notes, talks, presentations, books, resources, documents, music, even games available at my fingertips. All of it on a screen that is very usable. But all of this is what is touted in the commercials, etc. So here is a list of the apps I use regularly that makes this device so valuable in my context:

  • Evernote. I covered this little software/service in one of my other “Tech Thursday” posts here. This is the program that I use to conduct most meetings and where I keep my notes for sermons and teachings. The syncability with my laptop and iPhone is what makes this program so powerful along with its organizational capabilities.
  • Dropbox. This was covered in this previous post. As long as I have a Wifi signal I can access any of my important files right from the iPad whether my laptop is available or not. This is especially handy when I am traveling. Of course, if I know I might be someplace with out Wifi, I can open the document in Dropbox and save it locally on my iPad before I go there.
  • Penultimate. This has replaced a paper notebook for me. I use this to jot quick notes or when I am meeting with someone and we are brainstorming. Once the notes are finished I can email them as a page or the whole notebook in PDF form for storage in Evernote. I have multiple notebooks set up ranging from general notes to staff to specific people I meet with regularly. You can use your finger or a stylus to write and the accuracy is good in the program. This is really good for use when the notes include more than just words and I need to draw a diagram or create connections in the notes.
  • Pages, Keynote, Numbers. These are the Apple equivalents to Word, Powerpoint, Excel. I prefer them over documents to go (which I also have, but don’t use much) because they have much more functionality on the iPad. My wife uses Keynote on her iPad for her music set lists when she plays keyboard. All she has to do is tap the screen and it switches to the next song making transitions easier and quicker while playing. Pages in particular is very functional and has more capability than I expected on this platform for creating documents and flyers, etc.
  • Calendar. The built in calendar program that comes with the iPad is great. I prefer to the desktop version of Apple’s iCal. It syncs seamlessly with Google Calendar (though you have to turn on each shared calendar at a “hidden” website). The day view (see image below) is very slick.
  • WritePad. This is different from Penultimate in that it turns handwriting into typed text. It is very good and only takes a little getting used to for accuracy. It does “learn” your handwriting some so the more you use it, the better it gets. I use this for taking notes in seminars and other places where I will later want to be able to use or reference those notes for sermons, teachings, etc.
  • iBooks. This is the Apple ebook reader. It is good as a reader, but I really like its organizational feature for PDFs. I can set up “bookshelves” by categories and arrange PDF documents and ebooks accordingly. Any document that I will reference often will get turned into a PDF and exported into iBooks in iTunes and synced to the iPad. This makes it easily accessible at any time and looks great on screen. This works for everything from budgets to reports to policies.
  • Kindle. No review of iPad apps would be complete without a reference to the Amazon Kindle app. Seamless is the right word here as well. Kindle allows you to have a book on your laptop, iPad, and iPhone (I’m sure this is true on the Android platforms also). The bookmarks sync across the devices so you can pick up reading on one where you left off on the other. It is easy to navigate and easy to read. I have read about 12 books on the iPad now and love it. Whenever I find myself with spare time or waiting for someone, I can pull up a book and make good use of the time. Of course, once a book is downloaded, you don’t need a Wifi connection to read.

With these apps, the iPad has become a valuable tool in my daily productivity. There are other apps I use, but these are the top ten. I will save a listing and thoughts on others for another post along with some new ones I am trying out.

Day view in iPad Calendar

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