Observation on iPad and the Cloud

After re-reading my iPad Productivity post I realized that every single one of the apps I use for productivity is either a cloud app or has cloud-based sync. That truly is a key feature for me since I want move freely between my computer and iPad.

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iPad and Productivity

My New Year’s Resolutions are to start writing, wake up early, and go paperless.  So, I’m working on all three of them with my first write up, how to use iPad to work more efficiently.

It seems like these types of articles always contain some sort of Top 10 apps you need for iPad… I’m not going to do that, but here are some of the tools I use on iPad to make my work flow more efficient.

The key is to not look at iPad as a laptop replacement/alternative, but rather as a supplement.  For the most part, I use my MacBook Pro for inputting information and the iPad to consume information.

GoToMeeting
Because I often work with clients remotely, I spend a good portion of each day on the phone, and primarily use GoToMeeting for collaborating.
If I’m not presenting, I like to use the GTM iPad app to attend meetings.  This is great because I tend to pace while talking on the phone.  Being mobile while still keeping the GTM presentation in front of me is awesome!  (Also, if you ever need to attend a GTM while driving, it does work over 3G.  Just leave it in the passenger’s seat when not at stop lights.)

MobileMe
Sure, for $99/year MobileMe has a lot of features that you might never use.  A new email address (I already have 5 Google Apps accounts), photo library (Flickr), website, blah blah blah… not the point.  If you have a Mac and an iPad (even more so if you also have iPhone) you need MobileMe for over-the-air syncing.  It doesn’t matter where I read your email or take your phone call or what device I need to get a map of your address from, my Contacts are always in sync… always.  Same goes for my Safari bookmarks.
There are other tools that do this, but none seem as seamless as MobileMe… as long as you use the standard Apple apps for Contacts, Calendar, Email, and Safari.

Dropbox
Let’s face it… document management in iTunes is less than stellar.  You can’t beat Dropbox for syncing documents between your Mac and iPad.  I also use it to keep some document templates that I reference often, such as boilerplate training guides.  Oh, and syncing 1Password… more on that below.
I look forward to Dropbox (or some similar service) sync being a standard feature of iPad apps for storing data.

Evernote
Evernote is great for any sort of notes/reference items you need to keep track of, I’m drafting this post in Evernote.  I sync my handwritten iPad notes to Evernote.  I keep Salesforce code/button/workflow/formula snippets in Evernote.  It’s basically a great place to store documents that aren’t quite documents yet.

Noteshelf and Penultimate
I tend to pick one app in a given category and stick with it.  However, I have yet to settle down with just one handwritten notes app on iPad.  Noteshelf is great for taking notes when I don’t need to write fast.  It has a “zoom” window so I can fit more on a page and I think it ends up looking better in the end.  But, if I’m taking notes furiously, nothing I’ve experienced beats the “inking” of Penultimate.
Eventually, one of these will become my clear favorite.  Before that happens, the winner needs to have:
Evernote sync
A “zoom” mode that scrolls with me as I’m writing
Inking on par with Penultimate
Quick launching… waiting for the app to launch and open a notebook to write a note is the only part that makes me long for pen and paper

OmniFocus
I use OmniFocus to manage my GTD workflow.  I used it on my Mac before, but now that it syncs with iPad I can’t live without it.  The iPad implementation is far superior to the desktop app, and if it weren’t for my need to input items on my Mac I might not use the desktop version any more.
This is actually similar to my feelings about iCal on Mac vs. iPad.  It is necessary to sometimes input information on the desktop, but I much prefer to consume/review that information on the iPad.  My iPad is my day planner and task manager.

1Password
I use 1Password religiously on my Mac.  I don’t even know 75% of my passwords.  With about 40 active Salesforce logins at any given time, there is no way I could remember all of those… I have a hard time with just the usernames.  So, being able to quickly navigate to and login to any browser based account is a huge time-saver… not to mention quickly filling in forms and credit card information.
Syncing with Dropbox and having that information available on my iPad/iPhone has been great.  I don’t like that I have to use the 1Password browser on iPad, but until Apple gives mobile Safari extensions, I guess I’ll have to live with it… much better than trying to memorize and type long passwords on iPad.

Twitter and Chatter
I prefer using social media apps on my iPad during the say to avoid disrupting my workflow on my Mac. I’m definitely impressed by the Twitter app… I want a web browser that works the way Twitter does when opening links from Tweets. Chatter for iPad is nice too, though there is definitely room for improvement.

That does it for now, I continue to bring iPad into my daily work life to be more productive and I’m sure this will all look like child’s play in 6 months.  The time it saves me more than makes up for the temptation to play games on it for 15 minutes a day (and sometimes maybe a wee bit more…), and the ability to grab my iPad and walk out the door knowing I have all my essential information with me in case of emergency is amazing.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my workflow, so if you have any ideas, please leave them below… would love to hear how iPad fits into your work day!

Take care,
Nick