Now that Apple has sold 3 million iPads, the platform is worth looking at for B2B marketers. As I have written before about the iPad, in my initial use of the device, it is not a laptop replacement. It is much more of a consuming device, rather than a creating device. This post will focus on the best free apps to use on the iPad. A future post will look at paid apps. These apps take advantage of its compactness and portability and its touch screen. It is a great device for travel, providing you don’t have heavy duty document creation requirements on the trip. I am basing this on my personal experience with the iPad, even though I have talked to others who do more with their iPad than I do with mine.
Nothing below is so compelling that it will make you rush out and buy an iPad tomorrow, but there are some neat apps available, and when you start to consider the 2nd generation iPad (that’s the one that’s coming with a camera, maybe available this fall), you’ll have a head start on some free apps to look download.
Dropbox (iTunes link) is the best way to sync documents between multiple devices, not just a way to get files, photos and presentations on your iPad without using iTuens. It requires an online repository for your documents, which is free for up to 2GB of space. If you are using an iPad for sales presentations and to share other product materials, this is best way to make sure those out in the field always have the latest versions. Someone back at the office can manage the Dropbox account, which is loaded on each iPad, and each time the Dropbox app is opened, it syncs the latest documents. Other popular programs that sync documents on multiple devices are Evernote (iTunes link) and Box.net (iTunes link).
Feeddler RSS Reader (iTunes link) is the best approach to keeping up with your RSS reader. An important part of marketing today involves reading the latest blog posts and articles to stay current and share these finds with your network. Fill your Google Reader with blogs and fly through with the touch of your finger. This app won’t make you read faster, but it will help you navigate faster and easier. If you don’t currently use Google Reader, create an account just to add this list of 330 B2B Marketing and Sales Blogs and keep up with the latest ideas and trends. One complaint is that the free version does not allow you to post to Twitter. You need to upgrade to the Pro version for $4.99. That is definitely worth it if this keeps you on top of your reader.
If you are looking for a more magazine-like experience in your daily reading, try Flipboard (iTunes link). This new app is all the rage among iPad owners. It connects to your social graph and presents articles that those in your network have shared. There are lots of options for curated content as well. It has a very intuitive and touch friendly interface and content is sharable on Twitter and Facebook, depending on the source.
Dragon Dictation (iTunes link) is a well-known iPhone app that transcribes speech and lets you post updates to Twitter or send emails. If you speak slowly and clearly, it works pretty well. There is also a keyboard for correcting any mistakes before sending your messages.
Both WebEx (iTunes link) and GoToMeeting (iTunes link) have apps for the iPad, bringing the the most common, online collaboration platforms to this portable device. All the functions you are used to from both of them programs are included. It’s good that both platforms are available since most marketers do not pick which of these programs to use. As many webinars use these programs, you can easily join in from outside your office, or even from a conference room without your laptop. As companies continue to explore online options in place of travel, these types of programs will continue to grow in use.
Remote Desktop Lite (iTunes link) is a way to log in to your Windows desktop and access all your files directly from your iPad. I have not used this program, as I don’t have a Windows desktop, but now that Microsoft has released Windows 7, the remote desktop functionality is pretty mature, and the app is tapping into that. This is a good app if you are traveling without your laptop and you forgot to save files in a syncing folder. Bring them up just like you are sitting at your desk. You computer does need to on for these types of programs to work. There is also a full version available for $5.99, but even the developers encourage everyone to try the free version first.
If you have an iPad, what free apps have you found most helpful? If you are still looking at an iPad, what are functions that your would expect apps to provide?