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Apps to boost iPad productivity

With the right apps and accessories, your tablet can be just as powerful as a laptop—consume and create content on it too
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First Published: Tue, Dec 25 2012. 09 00 PM IST
Tabula rasa: Create something—take notes, edit images or sketch on your tablet. Photo: Wacom.com
Tabula rasa: Create something—take notes, edit images or sketch on your tablet. Photo: Wacom.com
It’s the most popular tablet by a long shot, but one criticism that’s often lobbed against the iPad is that it’s only meant to “consume” content, not create. If you want to do more than just read books, magazines and news articles or watch videos and movies, then you need to pull out your laptop.
But while typing on touch screens remains iffy, and laptops are much more powerful, if you get the right apps and peripherals, then you’ll find yourself doing much more on the iPad than just consuming content and may even leave your laptop behind.
Sounds unlikely? Just pair up your iPad with the following accessories and apps, and see your productivity shoot up.
Taking care of business
Keyboard In: Apple’s handy and wireless keyboard.
Typing is the iPad’s weakest link, but there’s no shortage of solutions. Just about any Bluetooth keyboard (even the one that works with your desktop) will connect easily with your iPad and let you type comfortably and quickly. The options range from full-size keyboards from Amkette, Logitech and Microsoft, and include specialized ones with short cuts (to launch the browser, a home button, a multitasking button), to smaller versions that also double up as iPad covers, such as the Logitech Solar Keyboard Folio.
Our favourite: Apple’s wireless keyboard; it is light, has large and easy-to-use keys and a fantastic battery life. It’s a little bulky compared to the super-sleek case-style keyboards from Logitech, but it’s small and light enough to carry in your bag.
Price: Rs.3,890
Office suites
A keyboard is of little use unless you have software that works in sync with it. Apple’s basic Notes app is good for scribbling the occasional phone number but if you want to get work done, you need a proper office suite. MS Office hasn’t made it to the iPad (though it’s expected to soon) but several options that let you create .doc, .ppt and .xls files are already available, including Pages, Keynote and Numbers, by Apple itself.
There are also standalone word processors like iA Writer for those looking for a simple
uncluttered interface, and Google Drive for those who do most of their writing online and keep it there too.
Our favourite: If you want a full office suite, go with Documents To Go. It comes with a good word processor and effective spreadsheet and presentation tools. Spreadsheets and presentations are a little weak compared to Apple’s offerings, but Documents To Go has Wi-Fi sync with your desktop and offers much more value for money.
Price: Rs.550
Picture perfect
SD card kits
Transferring files to the iPad can be a pain since it doesn’t have any slots for memory cards or USB drives. If you’re a professional photographer, then apart from a good image management app, you also need to get an adapter to transfer the contents of your camera to your tablet. From there, you can edit and share using the iPad.
Our favourite: If you are a photographer who intends to use their iPad as their editing and tweaking machine, look no further than Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit. It lets you connect your camera to your iPad via a USB cable or attach an SD card to your iPad using an adapter. And the kit is compact enough to fit into a camera bag.
Price: Rs.1,790
Image editing
The iPad is already a great way to edit images—the touch-based interface makes it easy and intuitive. And there are a huge number of apps available that let you edit the images as well, ranging from the basic ones such as Instagram and Adobe Photoshop Express all the way to high-end professional tools.
Our favourite: Adobe Photoshop Touch delivers a great experience for image editing. It’s powerful and fast, giving users the kind of control they have on the desktop with the ease of use of a tablet. If you want to edit video, look no further than Apple’s own iMovie app; it lets you add effects, move frames, play around with background music and a whole lot more.
Price: Rs.550 (Adobe Photoshop Touch)/ Rs.270 (iMovie)
Sketching and scribbling notes on the iPad is already possible using your finger—and some really stunning artwork has been created like that. But unless you’re really comfortable using your fingers to draw, you need a stylus to make the most of the many drawing apps that exist. There are a number of them available in different sizes, weights and shapes.
Our favourite: We would go with the Wacom Bamboo stylus for its compact form factor. Just make sure you have a tip replacement handy as the tip is made of rubber and is prone to cuts.
Price: Rs.1,750
Getting a great stylus is just part of the equation—the iPad doesn’t come with any drawing apps
installed, which seems like a wasted opportunity. Fortunately, the number of drawing apps is simply too many to count. There are a lot of free options out there, though if you want to spend a little, there are some remarkably refined apps you can try as well.
Our favourite: For people who love to sketch, there’s nothing better than Paper, by FiftyThree. The free app only comes with one type of brush, but even that is enough to convince people to put down the $6.99 (or Rs.385) for the other brushes. If you want to take notes, try WritePad instead.
Price: Free (Paper)/ Rs.550 (WritePad)
Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Dec 25 2012. 09 00 PM IST
More Topics: ipad | accessories | apps | keyboard | office suite |