Specialty iPad apps for business users

There are as many uses for an iPad at work as there are for a computer. InfoWorld presents the apps that serious iPadders should know about

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To-do and task management
Unlike many computer calendar programs, the iPad's Calendar app doesn't include a to-do capability. Fortunately there are dozens of to-do list managers available for the iPad. Three to consider are Appigo's $5 Todo for iPad, AlifSoft's $2 Task Pro, and the $4 Toodledo.

Beyond simple task management is project management, which requires a much more sophisticated approach to tasks and schedules. One app to consider on the iPad for such work is the $40 OmniFocus from the Omni Group. It syncs with the desktop (Mac-only) version of the software and ensures the Calendar app has your due dates added. It even can show nearby task locations on a map, such as for running errands or scouting film locations. Another well-regarded task manager is Cultured Code's $20 Things for iPad, which boasts a clean but capable user interface, a "smart" today list, and scheduling features.

[ Which iPad 2 rumors are plausible? InfoWorld's Galen Gruman gives them a reality a check. ]

For a more personal management tool, take a look at FileMaker's $5 Bento for iPad, which is a lightweight database perfect for tracking records, contacts, to-dos, and other personal tasks and data.

For more work-oriented mobile databases, an app worth considering is DDH Software's $10 HanDBase for iPad.

Two other noteworthy apps give you remote access to full-fledged database management systems from the iPad. The $40 FileMaker Go for iPad lets you query and edit FileMaker Pro databases, while the $2 SQLTouch lets you run queries and manage records in MySQL databases.

Mind-mapping and whiteboarding
If you do mind-mapping -- a method of organizing thoughts and items by their relationships -- CMS's $10 iThoughts HD could be the tool for you. It works with several mind-map formats and lets you export your mind maps to PNG and PDF. It also syncs to Box.net and Dropbox cloud storage services.

Markus Müller's $6 MindNode is another mind-mapping tool to consider. Among its capabilities is support for VGA output to a monitor, provided you have a VGA adapter for your iPad.

If you're looking for a tool to do either mind-mapping or traditional whiteboarding, Pixelglow Software's $10 Instaviz is a strong option.

For more traditional whiteboard sketching, give Avici Software's $5 Whiteboard HD a look. It gives you controls over labeling, provides a grid background to help in placement, and supports image inclusion from the Photos app. It also works with an iPad VGA adapter for presentation on a full-size monitor.

Diagramming and charting
For sophisticated diagramming of process charts, website wireframes, or other complex relationships, the Omni Group's $50 OmniGraffle is highly regarded. It supports freehand drawing but also has a bevy of intelligent object formatting and page layout controls. Its files are compatible with the desktop version, and you can export PDF view-only versions as well.

The $15 OmniGraphSketcher is good for traditional diagramming, such as for creating precision graphs in architecture, finance, engineering, and space planning.

The iPad doesn't have a camera, so you can't show yourself in a videoconference, but you can join one conducted on the Internet by using an app from any of the major Web conferencing services. There are free apps for attending meetings via Cisco's WebEx, Citrix's GoToMeeting, and CallWave's Fuze Meeting. Of course, you need accounts on those services to host the meetings from a computer -- you can't host them from an iPad.

Kiosk and display usage
If you're using iPads as kiosks or public stations, such as at museums and schools, the $10 AVD Browse disables the iPad's Home button and restricts the available websites to prevent users from navigating away from the information you're presenting.

The iPad can send a video signal to an external monitor or projector via the $29 Apple iPad Dock Connector to VGA Adapter -- but only or apps that have enabled video-out. Of Apple's standard iPad apps, the YouTube and Video apps display on an external monitor (though copy-protected videos bought or rented via iTunes do not display), and videos in the Safari browser display -- but not the rest of the Web page containing the video. To see Web pages on an external monitor, you can use Alterme's $1 Web Presenter, which is a video-out-enabled basic Web browser. Other apps that support video-out are Netflix, Keynote, and (for presentations only) Quickoffice. For Keynote and Quickoffice, you tap a button to enable video-out; it's not automatic as in the other apps.

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