My iPad for Business 1 Month Update

When I bought my iPad, I posted a review of Day 1 using an iPad for business. Reader Christine Thompson left a comment this week asking how it has been going and what other challenges I have run into.

Note Taking
I learned on the first day that I needed a program to take meeting notes and I settled on Pages ($9.99), which is Apple’s word processing program. This is a stripped down iPad version. If you are a whiz at Word and use lots of its nifty functionality, which most people don’t, you will be hampered by this programs. It has all the basics, but that’s it.

As I have continued to attend meetings and take notes in Pages, it has become a bit frustrating. If you are someone who takes copious notes at meetings and constantly refers to them, you would be supremely frustrated. If you want your iPad to be your note taking device, as I do, you want to keep your notes on the iPad in an organized fashion. That is not possible. After you create a new document, an image of it is created in the visual list that you can swipe across. The visual list, with large images of each document, is the only way to access the documents. These are shown in the order that they were created. There is no way to change the order or put documents into folders. To rename a document, click on the default name below the image and change it. Make sure you turn the iPad so it is in portrait mode, as that is the only way to bring up the visual list of documents. And don’t try to combine documents from different programs. Each programs’ documents (Pages, Keynote, Numbers) lives within that program.

The way I approach organization in this cumbersome scheme is to create one document for each client or project and add a date to it with each new set of notes. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always sync these documents to your computer using iTunes, or just email yourself and put the documents in folders as you normally would. This creates version control issues, and you can never be sure which version of your notes contains what you are looking for. The benefit of keeping your notes on your iPad is that you have all your notes together from previous meetings. Again, your frustration level with this is based on the volume of notes you take and how much you refer to them.

Others have used Evernote on their iPads, and this automatically syncs their notes across devices. You can also tag those notes for easy organization. What have your note experiences been on your iPad?

Travel
Last week I took a business trip armed with just my iPad. I agonized over not bringing my laptop, for fear that I would not be able to do certain things (like video editing on the plane), but since it was just a one day trip, I figured I would be fine. I had sent the presentation to the conference organizers, so I didn’t think I would need to present from my iPad, but I was ready anyway. I have Keynote ($9.99). I have the $30 iPad to VGA connector. I even uploaded the presentation to Slideshare as a back up.

The hotel lobby had wifi, so it was no problem connecting to email, Twitter, and even Skype to check-in on our perpetual group chat with folks back in the office. I had written several offline blog posts on the flight down, using Pages, and once I was connected, I wanted to publish one of them. This was a problem. It turns out that the WordPress iPad app does not recognize paste. You can only enter text into the post field. Seriously, no paste. I jumped over to my web browser to log in to WordPress and try it from the dashboard. But no luck. The main panel is not scrollable in the iPad version of Safari. I wound up having to get another blogging app (BlogPress $2.99) to post before I gave my presentation.

Even though I did not present from the iPad, it brought some oohs and ahhs from the attendees. They even joked about a drawing to win my iPad, but I rejected that.

On the flight home, I had wifi, so I tried to take advantage of the Netflix movie streaming app, but it was not to be. The service was not consistent enough for streaming. It was great for email and Twitter, so I went with that.

After using an iPad for business for nearly a month, I still like it’s portability and the ease with which you can carry it around, travel with it, and show others things on the screen. I am not really bothered by the lack of multitasking, because when I am using my iPad, I really don’t want programs running in the background to pop up alert of new messages. And no matter what Steve Jobs says, according to the TSA, when traveling with an iPad, it is just like a laptop and you have to put it in its own bin.

Comments

  1. says

    Good to know. I will be traveling this weekend and will take my iPad with me on its maiden voyage for business. Thanks for sharing your experience. We’ll see how mine goes.

  2. says

    I’m convinced that the iPad isn’t a business tool…at least not the way it is configured now as you point out. There’s no way I would trade it out for my laptop. I love my iPad but it’s not a “lean forward” get-work-done kind of device. It’s a “lean back” personal computing device…and for that it excels well beyond the laptop.

  3. Randy Nieland says

    With the blizzard of notes I have had to keep straight lately, my thoughts turned to an iPad about an hour ago. I swore off the device immediately upon intro by Jobs as nearly useless from a business perspective. The thought of keeping notes on a more portable device than my high-end (and large) notebook pleased me, but your comments about just that subject have convinced me that the iPad is once again banished from my pool of tech devices. It’s an over-sized iPod Touch and will remain so as long as apps can’t be developed outside of Apple’s App Store model.

    What we really need is a true touch-interface tablet that allows us to deploy an app to the field, without costing $4000 per device and without hamstringing us into a proprietary platform. HP’s purchase of Palm instantly killed the Slate… so now it looks like Dell is the next in line with a possible mainstream candidate with a real OS, at least for testing phases. It shouldn’t be this hard. If only Apple would have put OS X on the iPad… life would be so much better right now.

    Thanks for your insight. I will admit to wanting the iPad as a toy, but I just can’t part with the money when I have a perfectly good iPod Touch that fits in my back pocket. When they bring multi-tasking, webcam and better productivity apps, I may reconsider the toy.

    I want to stream Sirius to my bluetooth headset while weeding through notes from a USB flash drive in my pocket while at Panera’s, then use GPS to find my way back to the office, perhaps even shooting a quick video blog post while sitting at one of the 8 minute stoplights and using Skype to let my boss know I’ll be late for his meeting. Is that too much to ask? Sheesh…

  4. says

    Randy: Thanks for your thoughts. Glad I was able to add some perspective to your decision. I hope someday you have a device that can multi-task to your dreams.

  5. says

    Jeffrey-

    I had the interesting task (self-appointed because I wanted to get my hands on them) of equipping our new iPads for business travel, with an emphasis on product demos at trade shows and conferences. I used many of the same apps you note above, with the addition of DropBox as our central hub for distributing/sharing files between my home and away teams.

    You can read about it here: http://bit.ly/9y2BoM

    A side note: I am really enjoying this blog. I hadn’t found a b2b SM blog with the right balance of freshly-updated content, good writing, and actionable content until I found yours. Thanks!

  6. says

    Ian

    Thanks for the comments and sharing your blog post. Dropbox is a great solution for sharing the same file on multiple ipads, and for maintaining version control. But that’s a great point about any changes that happen on the ipad don’t go back to Dropbox, but need to be emailed back to HQ and put back into Dropbox for all.

    Glad that you enjoy this site. We really focus on actionable content that can help B2B marketers in their adoption of social media.

  7. Randy Nieland says

    Well, Hmph… just an update. Yes, I ended up with an iPad. What put me over the top? If you refer back to my previous post, the blizzard of notes I must endure was at the top of my list. Evernote pushed me off the cliff, largely as an experiment in whether it could be a useful platform for such things.

    After a few weeks now, I use the iPad, but I haven’t come to depend on it. Tapping out notes during meetings is difficult to keep up with. I could record the conversations into Evernote, but the mic doesn’t pick up audio in a room all that well compared to even a mid-range notebook’s ability to do so. Bluetooth keyboard is an option, but if I’m going to haul more hardware to a meeting, I’m taking my notebook.

    iBooks was a refreshing semi-win. Glare is a huge issue, but it’s equally daunting on my Sony Reader and turning pages quickly is pure win compared to the dedicated ebook reading device. It reflows font size changes far better than Sony, as well.

    Battery life is awesome. Best feature of the device, as sad as that is to say. It truly will go all day on a single charge. Jump for remote desktop flat-out rules when I do need to use a real application. But I feel I just purchased a $700 remote control tool… oh, plus tax and the cost of Jump… and that rhymes with “chump”.

    Toy? Absolutely. Attention getter? For now. Useful as a mobile business device? Nah. Remote Desktop, a half-functional SharePoint front-end client, a GoToMeeting/WebEx app and TweetDeck are the closest “business” apps on the platform and there’s no real productivity to be had among them. Evernote is the winner there, and it’s not in any way a corporate application since the data lives on third party servers and is merely a repository, not a functional system.

    Five out of Ten so far. Has some potential, but the model is still flawed due to the Apple Store lock-in. I am using it more to find the frustration points in being “mobile” as I try to evaluate the needs of our field personnel. It’s backward… it should be convincing me of what works well as opposed to what doesn’t.

  8. Kristin says

    Jeffrey,

    thanks for all your input!
    I am a student, tired of hauling my big clunky laptop with a extremely poor battery life to class…just having to search the school for an available plug in around an hour of using it.
    my main function for this would be to replace my laptop for school purposes, mostly to take notes, though i will end up printing them within the same week of typing them, my question is, would the iPad be a good investment for a student with these needs?

    Thanks!

  9. says

    Kristin
    Yes, an ipad is lightweight, has great battery life and is easy to take notes on. You can sync the notes back to your laptop using iTunes and can print them out from there.

  10. dret says

    On the note-raking part, I highly recommend the Ghostwriter Notes app. Simply because you can synchronize it to Dropbox right away. You can actually do share your notes immediately.

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