The iPad proved everyone wrong by reinventing the tablet computer as something people actually bought, solving the thorny problem of “what do you actually use it for?” by painting it white, filling it with flash games, and changing the subject anytime anyone repeated the question. Until now! It turns out tablet computers can be used for more than painfully slow status updates. Your friends at Smartlife have found apps which can make the iPad as useful as you claimed it would be when you desperately needed to buy it. You’re welcome.
Evernote upgrades the human brain by offloading the memory into computers, which is good because they’re much better at remembering things than us, and it upgrades the iPad even more. It evolves the tablet, Pokemon-style, into its final from as the Ultimate Clipboard: giving you access to all the notes you’ve ever made on any device, sorted by time, tag, or location.
Before heading to a meeting you can clip a map and local restaurant reviews from your desktop client, take a snap of the planned agenda from the whiteboard in your office with your iPhone, make voice notes on the iPad after a phone call, and quickly review them all on the commute. And any notes you make during or after the meeting will be available on your home machine when you’re compiling your report. It utterly eliminates the need to scribble notes on pieces of paper, especially since those vital scraps are desperately in love with freshly laundered socks, causing them to elope. Never to be found again.
If you don’t have a to-do list, you’re going to make a mistake. Guaranteed. A vital meeting, a birthday, or simply pouring the tea before realizing you haven’t got any milk. Even if you remember everything, you Terminator robot you, you’ll still be more focused with an intelligent task list doing the planning for you.
There are thousands of to-do apps out there, but Things stands out because of its fine balance of features. Any task application with an “inbox” setting is excellent, allowing you to shunt today’s tasks to one motivating place and applying Inbox Zero to every part of your life. The email approach means you approach the entire day like email — which hopefully means you’ll check it just as obsessively.
Instapaper is the commuter’s dream — you can use the Internet even when there isn’t any signal. And you do it by improving your productivity. Instapaper downloads websites for later reading, reformatting them in convenient (and extremely Kindle-flavored) text form, meaning you need never waste a moment in the subway. It also speeds you up at work, because instead of stopping to read that article before you forget it, you can just tap the “Instapaper” button and get on with your day. And because it strips out the text, removing frames and ads, it’s much more enjoyable to read than most websites!
BONUS: For Kindle owners, the Later On Kindle browser extension does the same thing and is absolutely essential. And free.
OmniGraffle is nothing less than a time-machine, jumping you forward past hours of extraordinarily annoying planning and flowchart-construction. The mouse was built for many things, but it’s better at blending than building visual event sequences. This is where you want a touchpad — so you can drag and drop everything you’re thinking, while chilling with a coffee instead of stressing over PowerPoint’s (or god help you, Word’s) drag-and-drop nightmares.
If you make flowcharts, or want to record mind-maps while tossing ideas around, you need OmniGraffle.
5. Air Sharing HD
Apple forgot to put a file system in the iPad, but that’s okay — Air Sharing HD does it for them. The idea of having to carry a memory key as well as a huge chunk of computing hardware is patently ridiculous (Apple literally patented the device, instead of acting embarrassed about it), which is why this app turns it into a wireless external drive. That happiness you just felt was realizing that you need never dig around on your knees at the altar of a computer begging for a spare USB port every again.
Image credit: mills21 / iStockphoto