Thursday, May 23, 2013

iPads for Professional People: What Apps Work

My employer has started to issue iPads to staff on a limited basis. They've made the devices available mostly as a replacement for laptop PCs for senior staff who spend time working outside their office to manage their email. 

While the battery life and portability of iPads are great as a replacement email device, they've so much more potential for improving productivity as part of our day to day business. Here's a few suggestions for Apps for professional people who want to use their iPad to improve productivity and connectedness in the workplace. 

Take Productive Notes in Evernote

I'm a recent convert to Evernote, although some users are quite evangelical about it's ability to improve productivity. I wrote and researched this note on this service. 

On a basic level, Evernote allows you to store and access all your notes online from your iPad, iPhone, or PC. While the Notes App can be a simple way to record your meeting notes, correspondence etc, Evernote improves this service by:
  • Automatically backing up your notes online
  • Making your notes searchable by text or tag
  • Allowing you to organise notes in folders (workbooks)
You can also link between notes, handy if you want to refer to previous work etc. 

In addition, Evernote allows you to improve productivity by allowing you to easily add to media content your notes. For example:

(Evernote can also convert handwritten notes to text....). 

This is also handy for keeping a digital record of paper handouts from conferences etc, or:
  • Business cards 
  • Receipts 
  • Recipes in newspapers
  • Warranties or Guarantees 
e.g. I've had some technical problems with my phone recently, so I took a picture of the SIM card which also had my Mobile Number on it, so that I always had these to hand when I called Tech Support without having to dismantle my device. 

You can also simply make and insert audio recordings to your note direct from your notes page by clicking on the Microphone button at the top of the page.

IT have yet to allow access to Evernote from your work PC, but even without the ability to access direct from our work network it's still a step up from simple note taking apps. You can share notes externally by emailing tremor posting to Facebook or Twitter. 

Read and review documents simply with iAnnotate 

In theory, iPads can herald a new paperless wonderland for organisations and individuals, negating the need to print copies of documents, papers for meetings etc. In practice reading and reviewing papers and notes on your pad is not simple or productive using the basic tools at your disposal (Pages etc). 

iAnnotate meets this need by allowing you to read and review document in much the same way that you  can with a hard copy. 

You can import documents by email (or Dropbox) and then edit in a variety of ways, including:

  • Highlighting sections
  • Writing, underlining or circling notes freehand 
  • Inserting a note (similar to Review Notes in Microsoft Word) 


You can save each annotated note on your iPad, or email to others to read. The files are saved as PDFs, and can be automatically read on your work PC with Adobe Reader. 

Stay up to date with news and CPD info with Reeder/Flipboard/Feedly

Your iPad can be a powerful CPD and information device. Reading your email and reading the net are one way of doing this, but using a well designed RSS reader can help you to stay up to date with news and events from the sector and beyond. 

Flipboard, Feedly and Reeder are different apps which perform the same basic feature; they automatically track a range of news sources for you to access online. They do this by magic. (Actually by using RSS feeds.) 

They all have a similar look and feel - they display each new news story as a thumbnail for easy browsing and provide easy options for sharing or for saving to read later. Here's what Senscot's Twitter Feed looks like on Flipboard:

Adding content to each of these apps is relatively simple. All will automatically sync with Your existing information feeds like your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google accounts, and you can add additional content directly from the app. To do this, just click on the search icon at the top right of the page.

You're presented with 2 options. Firstly, you can usually select from a range of curated options for content including News, Sport, Tech, Longreads, Trending etc, or you can search for a specific term. Here's a search for "Philanthropy" on Flipboard:

You can then choose to add everything that mentions "Philanthropy", or choose from a range of options, including individual Twitter/YouTube accounts, publication websites etc. 

Now it's easier to keep up to date, how can you use this information to ever age additional professional benefits? Share it! 

Stay informed and get well networked with Twitter

As we've demonstrated, keeping up to date with inforpmation form your field of expertise can be an important part of your CPD in itself. But learning to listen is only the first step in utilising the full professional potiential of social media. Speaking, sharing and disussing on Twitter et al can provide a range of professional benefits for users. Here's what the Twitter App look like when signed in as Big Lottery Fund Scotland:

As you can see, it's a good way to keep up with news from a range of sources (including what the CEO is doing/thinking today). 

But what to talk about? Using reading tools like Reedr/Flipboard/Feedly will give you access range of interesting, relevant professional content, and Twitter and LinkedIn gives you the chance to share this content with others. Curation can be one way to improve your business profile, while increasing influence on your area of expertise. 

The app is simple and straightforward to use. Top tips for beginners: 

  • Follow a wide range of accounts. People in your area of expertise, news feeds of interest, thought leaders, as well as accounts related to your outside interests.
  • Post regularly. Not every hour :) Daily posts for a few weeks will help build your understanding of the service and help you find your voice. 
  • Be relevant and build your online brand. How do you want the outside world to see you? Your tweets should reflect this. 

Connect with your professional networks with LinkedIn 

Twitter has all of life. Work colleagues, the great thinkers of the day, footballers, cat pictures and D-list celebrities. 

LinkedIn is a professional network. It's about work. So all the same issues apply as Twitter, but the content is moe targeted towards work-based content and CPD. It's currently the fastest growing social network. 

Other good features of LinkedIn's ipad app include:

  • Calendar. Automatically syncs with your work Outlook Calendar to give you details and background of the people you are meeting. 
  • Card Munch. An additional app to be used alongside LinkedIn which allows you to use the camera on your iPad/iPhone to scan business cards. The app will convert the card to text, add it to your device contacts and then find the individual on LinkedIn in order for you to connect.

Move to paper free expenses with Genius Scan

My work has recently moved to a paperless expenses system. Rather than keeping hold of a bundle of paper receipts until your wallet has the shape and steel of a badly made rugby ball, we can now submit expenses claims with a PDF copy of our receipts. 

Rather than saving your receipts up in you wallet for a rainy day befor e you scan them, your ipad/smartphone can simply scan your receipts as a PDF file for you to email to your work account. 

No more bulging wallets :) 

I've previously used Ricoh's 'Scan Pages' app for my iPhone, but have recently moved to 'Genius Scan' as you can integrate this with Evernote by upgrading from the free app for £1.99. One day, when we finally get access to Evernote though our work network, I'll not have to email the PDFs to myself ever again....

Also useful
  • Prezi - Presentation alternativeto Powerpoint
  • Toggl- Simple time recording tool 
  • Dropbox - Sync files from your Home PC (But not your Work PC!)
  • TuneIn Radio - Ever been away from home and miss your usual radio programmes? TuneIn Radio gives you a huge choice of thousands of stations, and a full range of listen again options. Beats the 4 radio stations you get on standard Hotel TV. 

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