When I got my iPad, I gave myself a mandate: don’t lug a 5-pound MacBook around instead, try to make do with the iPad. For the most part, I’ve been successful.


When I got my iPad, I gave myself a mandate: Don’t lug a 5-pound MacBook around; instead, try to make do with the iPad. For the most part, I’ve been successful. My MacBook hasn’t left the house since April 3, and for what I do (writing, reading, video watching), I don’t really need the horsepower all that much. I wouldn’t want to do a day’s work on it, but it’s great for getting work done on the train, on my lunch break, etc.

These are the apps I’ve found to be indispensable for getting things done.

The iWork Suite: OK, in fairness, everyone who wrote about it wasn’t all that trilled with it. However, I’ve found that it’s currently the best option, which is pretty sad. Office2Pro has potential, but the lack of USB transfer is a turnoff for me. Granted, the lack of MobileMe integration with iWork really makes me wonder what on earth Apple was thinking; I can’t get my iPad on the Wi-Fi network at work, so it’d be nice to be able to transfer files from my work PC. It really feels like the suite is one or two patches from being excellent.

Evernote: I’m a huge Evernote user. For me, it has replaced bookmarking; any page I’d normally bookmark just gets Evernoted. Evernote for the iPad finally pushed me over the edge to becoming a premium user, primarily because premium users can sync their notebooks offline. I don’t use it a lot for taking notes, but it’s indispensable for reading my research material offline.

Goodreader: I deal with a ton of PDFs, Word docs, Presentations and videos, all of which I tend to need to refer to and not edit. Given the complete lack of a real file system — another failure on Apple’s part — Goodreader lets me organize more cleanly than the iWork suite. I’ve got lecture notes and handouts for my class all in one place, and I store my PDFs of my character sheets for D&D in it was well. Goodreader can also get files from Dropbox, MobileMe and USB sync, and more. It lets me sideload just about any file onto my iPad without it being tethered to my sync computer.

Things: No discussion of getting things done is complete without  a to-do manager. My favorite is still Things, primarily because of how well it plays with the desktop version. I’d like to see the iPad version have a little more feature parity with the OS X version — namely in being able to edit Areas on the iPad, and I look forward to the day when the syncing is done over the cloud.

Bento: I originally picked up Bento because Delicious Library didn’t let me edit my library on the iPhone — and Amazon’s forbidding of its data to be used by mobile apps, which is how Delicious gets its data, forced the app to be pulled. I wanted to be able  to edit my library on the go. Since then, I’ve found it’s a great place to dump all sorts of data you need to sort through on the road or need to edit. For example, an inventory manager could update inventory levels right on the iPad.

These are the apps I’m finding handy for being productive. What ones do you prefer using?

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  1. I have a feeling this field is yet to be populated with more options. These apps are all made for heavy users, while I believe most people need a simple task check-marker.

    1. Try “Sorted”. You swipe to mark as completed, and to view your completed items, click the completed tab. Hell—read the pre-populated tasks that appear when you first install it (I didn’t, and would’ve been better off had I done that), and you should be good. It’s 99¢, I believe.

  2. 7? I counted 5!

    1. As Jim said, iWork is compromised of 3 separate apps.

  3. John, iWork is actually three apps (Pages, Numbers, Keynote), so there are 7 apps – though it’s easily confusing.

  4. As an student, the most productive app I have found is Quick Graph.

    The possibility of create 2D and 3D graphic equations allow my to have a better workflow

  5. Goodreader is the killer app for me.
    But I would mention the Mail app as well, as reading’n’answering mails was never so nice while sitting on the couch or elsewhere at home.

  6. Instapaper trumps all the of the above for me. Plus syncs across iPhone, iPad, and web browser.

    1. I’ve really been meaning to check out Instapaper

  7. Evernote for bookmarks absolutely sucks. I’m still amazed at peoples fascination with this ugly, bloated application.

    1. I’m not really “bookmarking.” I’m sucking the whole article in and tagging it for future reference.

  8. @Aleksandar – iPad 1.0 adopters are typically tech-savvy users and tech geeks, it makes sense that the first wave of apps target at this group of audience.

    Excited to get my hands on the apps in 10 days, can’t wait!

  9. Yeah Instapaper should have been in there. I think it’s more valuable than Things which is a spendy app.

    I think Taska is a nice up and coming task app that’s 5 bucks but does basic stuff pretty well.

    Last but not least Dragon Dictate is something business or anyone looking for productivity should look at. It works amazingly well for people who don’t slur their speech.

  10. I’d suggest adding TaskPaper for outlining and note-taking. The automatic web-sync with TaskPaper on your Mac makes it a delight to use.

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