iPad Apps for Business - dummies

By Bob LeVitus, Bryan Chaffin

Your iPad can become a powerful business tool. With the right iPad apps in place, you can create business presentations, work with and share business documents and spreadsheets, and even make yourself a better public speaker.

Air Sketch


There are several sketching and whiteboard apps for the iPad, but Air Sketch offers a great feature that sets it apart: You can share your sketching and whiteboard sessions over a network. Anyone with a computer and a browser who’s on your network can follow along while you sketch, write, or go from slide to slide.

You can use the app as a blank whiteboard, but you can also pull up images from your photo library. If you’ve preloaded your slides, for instance, you could use Air Sketch as a nifty presentation tool — and interact with those slides in real time.


iAnnotate PDF


PDFs have become a mainstay of many business communications, and the iPad makes a great PDF reader. You can annotate with this app in six basic ways:

  • Add a comment that lives in its own box with the Note feature.

  • Use the Pencil tool to doodle, scribble, or write.

  • Make Straight Lines with the ruler icon.

  • Highlight text.

  • Underscore and Strikeout text.


One of the best things about iAnnotate is the fantastic built-in help system that includes interactive help and provides overlays with explanations.



OmniGraffle has long been a Mac staple for people who need to make flowcharts, diagrams, and other layout ideas and designs. This app can keep the lines in place that connect two elements, even when you move one.




If you’re new to the world of Apple-designed software, Pages is the company’s word-processing software for Mac (and now iPad). The key to this app’s competence is the effort Apple put into reworking the user interface. They didn’t try to shoehorn a desktop app into the iPad; they built the app from the ground up to be a word processor with a touch interface.

The other key ingredient is that Apple made context king. The tools that are available on the screen depend entirely on what you’re doing or have selected — and that keeps the app from becoming cluttered.


Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad


Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite for iPad not only includes integrated Dropbox support for moving files back and forth on your iPad, it also supports Google Docs, Box.net, and MobileMe (both your MobileMe account and anyone else’s iDisk Public Folder). And that’s in addition to using iTunes to transfer files and Quickoffice Wi-Fi File Transfer, which you can do through a browser.

A document in Quickword.
A document in Quickword.

Quickoffice allows you to create and edit files in Microsoft Office formats. Not only can you create, open, and edit Word documents with Quickword or crunch numbers in Excel spreadsheets with Quicksheets, you can also open and view — but not edit — PowerPoint files.

Editing an MS Excel spreadsheet in Quicksheets.
Editing an MS Excel spreadsheet in Quicksheets.

You can open Microsoft Office documents that are macro-enabled as read-only files, but you can’t edit them. If you plan to edit your Office files on your iPad, be sure to use the common file formats (DOC, DOCX, TXT, XLS, XLSX, XLT, and XLTX).

FileMaker Go for iPad


FileMaker Go for iPad isn’t a replacement database app for the desktop version of FileMaker Pro, but it’s a great companion app for editing existing databases on the go. The app can connect directly to databases hosted on FileMaker Server or FileMaker Pro, and changes made to those databases happen live. FileMaker Go also allows you to copy a database to your iPad for offline viewing and manipulation.



Keynote allows you to make presentations directly on your iPad. It offers text formatting and image manipulation, professional-looking templates, transitions, and great controls that make working with this app easy, fast, and fun. Even if you’re brand new to making presentations and you’re leery of this touchscreen thing, you’ll still make a better-looking presentation with Keynote on the iPad than anyone ever has with PowerPoint on a PC.



Numbers is a home-and-small-business spreadsheet app with an emphasis on turning data into great-looking graphs and charts. Numbers on iPad takes that a little further by adding some viewing features that make the app good for using completed spreadsheets to get more data. Apple has redesigned the interface with the touchscreen in mind, and it’s remarkably easy to do things like tie a graph to a spreadsheet and manipulate the fields until you have what you need.



OmniGraphSketcher is a dedicated app for making charts and graphs (without spreadsheets) on the iPad. The controls and tools for this app are extraordinarily intuitive. You can export your work through e-mail or drop it to your photo library for inclusion in another productivity tool. If you need to make professional-looking charts and graphs, you should start (and stop) with this app.



There are several teleprompter apps for the iPad. A couple of them are really good, but Prompster includes an audio recorder right in the app so that you can record your presentation while you give it. The basic idea is to use your iPad’s wonderful display as a portable teleprompter. Import your text from e-mail or through iTunes, or type it up (or edit it) right there on your iPad. Set the scrolling speed and the size of your text, and you’re off! Onscreen controls let you see the elapsed time, stop as needed, or adjust the speed and text size on the fly.