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10 Must Have iPad Apps For Business

The more I use my iPad and iPhone the less I use my computer. That’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just an observation. Many of the Apps out there in 2012 can do just about everything that I need to do and that I used to rely on my computer to do. I love having the flexibility of just carrying my iPad and getting lots of work done. So here in no particular order are 10 Must Have iPad Apps for Business that I rely on most.

 Invoice2go

Invoice2go is my top pick for creating custom invoices right on your iPad. You can even set it up with a PayPal pay button so that when you email the invoice they can click the button to pay. Otherwise you just send a PDF. The App handles all the calculations and lets you know who has paid and who hasn’t.

iTunes

FileMaker Go

I have used FileMaker Pro as my database manager for years. I have a database that I use all the time running on my Mac server at home. With FileMaker Go I can access that database, add, edit, delete records and of course look up information.

iTunes

CardMunch

OK, you got me! This is not an iPad app. However, it’s so important to me that I had to list it here. When people hand me business cards I don’t want to have to enter them in manually to my contacts. While there are apps out there that will OCR the card and convert it to text, none are perfect. CardMuch uploads the picture of the card that you take and a human verifies all the data and sends it down back to App. Now you know the data is 100% correct.

iTunes

Scanner Pro

I used to rely heavily on a document scanner on my desk and while I still use it when I’m in my office, I use Scanner Pro whenever I’m on the go. Just take a picture of the document and Scanner Pro will straighten it out so that it appears like a flat scanned document as well as save it to a PDF and send it to the cloud or via email.

iTunes

PDF Expert

Hands down PDF Expert is my favorite overall PDF manager complete with PDF forms support, markup, highlighting, bookmarks and more. It also has cloud support for syncing with services like Dropbox. I use it store all of my manuals.

iTunes

Documents To Go Premium

If you’re looking for an App to create/edit your Office files such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, Documents to Go Premium is one to have. It also integrates directly with your Outlook email and picks up attachments directly. I don’t do a lot with Office docs but when I do have to work with them I know that Documents to Go Premium is up to the task.

iTunes

Contract Maker Elite

Above I talked about Invoice2go for creating custom invoices. Contract Maker Elite allows me to create all my other custom forms complete with photo fields and signature fields. If you want to create a custom contract, proposal, agreement or other document that your client will sign, this one has the most options and customization fields.

iTunes

Keynote

I use Apple’s Keynote on the desktop when I need to do a slide presentation. There’s no better way to take those presentations mobile than with Keynote for iPad. Keynote supports many of the same transitions as the desktop version and you can now use iCloud to view and edit the presentations wirelessly. You can connect your iPad to the projector directly or use AirPlay and an Apple TV to present.

iTunes

Square Register

I don’t take a ton of credit card payments. Therefore I don’t want to have to pay a monthly fee. Square has been my savior for a couple of years now and their new Square Register App turns your iPad into an elegant point of sale solution. You can setup your products as buttons and with the Square Adapter  you can swipe credit cards and charge your clients directly. The money is automatically transferred to your bank account the next business day. I LOVE SQUARE!

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Advanced Percentage Calculator

I struggle with percentages. I always have. If you want to figure out what a 25% discount off of $815.00 is, look no further. Advanced Percentage Calculator was designed for people like me. It has buttons for “%of”, “out of”, “Add %”, and “Deduct %” This takes the guess work out of percentages for me. You can customize the skins, and use it as a standard Arithmetic calculator too.

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Bonus – Keyboard

Since were talking about business, you are probably going to be doing more than just a little text entry. I was never a fan of any of the keyboard solutions out there for iPad until I saw the Logitech UltraThin Keyboard Smart Cover. It’s now on my iPad 99% of the time because it’s so integrated. Some of you are morally opposed to using a keyboard with an iPad. I hear ya, but don’t knock this one until you’ve tried it.
Get the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover here.

 

Also my Stylus of choice is…

While it’s nice that your clients can sign your contracts and PDFs with their finger, they will be much more comfortable with something that feels like a pen. So I prefer this stylus for my overall use and this less expensive one for having people sign.

WorldCard HD - the Intelligent Business Card Manager

WorldCard HD Business Card Manager for iPad

Contacts are my life! I have 1,450 contacts in my iDevices/computer and if I ever lost them I’d be dead in the water. However, I get new contacts mostly from business cards. I’ve reviewed apps here in the past that allow you to take a photo of a business card/scan it and OCR so that the data can be automatically added to your Address Book. However, none of those Apps from past reviews were native to the iPad and in most cases those Apps had limited contact management capabilities. This is where WorldCard HD excels. First of all it can either import your existing contacts in from the iOS Address Book or you can add them via scanning business cards. One feature that I like right of the bat is the ability to batch process multiple cards. You can snap photos of several cards and then let WorldCard HD convert them all at the same time making the process a lot less tedious.

Another thing that WorldCard HD has going for it is integration with Google Maps for quick and easy directions to your contact. While iOS has a Map App, the integration is outside the Address Book. When you tap on an Address for a client it takes you to the Maps App or you’d have to launch the Map app and then search for your contact. Being able to launch into the map directly from the Business Card is nice and while still in WorldCard HD as another tab is nice.

Of course there’s also built-in Social Networking. You can get connected with your contacts with a single touch. The system will smartly use information such as names and emails to search on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter right away. Currently iOS has no LinkedIn or Facebook integration.

You can also look at your information visually as cards or of course as a list. There is iCloud and Dropbox support as well.

How well does the OCR work?

I tried using the OCR (optical character recognition) feature with 3 random cards lying on my desk, two of which were from other countries and the OCR results were “ok”, not stellar and far from perfect, but about what I’d expect. In the case of the US based card, it totally left off the job title/department and the name. There are so many different formats that people use for cards, so it’s going to be almost impossible for any App to recognize all the data and put them in the right fields. In the case of WorldCard it seemed to just leave things off here and there as opposed to recognizing the text and putting it in the wrong field. Another issue you may run into is that the iPad 2 camera was so bad that it may not work well at all! The other thing I’d like to see is where there is “No Name”, in other words a company, I’d like to see the App list the Company where the name would be. Right now it just lumps them all together at the end.

The Map feature is cooler than I thought it would be. I tapped on a contact and it showed me where that contact’s address was on the built-in Google Map and it even showed me other contacts in the area. Neat!

The Bottom Line

I wasn’t really looking for an Address Book replacement, but I think I’ve found one. There are a few tweaks that would make the App even better and I’m sure the developer will make them! WorldCard HD is worth a look for those of your who take your contact management seriously and you want a native iPad App.

iTunes

cardmunch

CardMunch – Business Card Reader by LinkedIn

Recently I reviewed a new business card reader by Readdle that uses OCR to translate the picture of the business card that you take to text. OCR is not perfect and therefore will usually require some manual checking, verifying and corrections. These corrections are made by you, a human. What if you could hand a stack of business cards to your Administrative Assistent and have him/her enter them for you? If you've got an Admin, then you probably can. For the rest of us it's up to us to get our Contacts entered on our own. One of my readers suggested that I take a look at CardMunch, so I did. 

 

CardMunch uses humans :)

The big difference between CardMunch and all the other Business Card Reader Apps is that when you take the picture of the business card with CardMunch, it uploads to a LinkedIn powered service that employs real human beings to transcribe the business card, proof read it and then send it back down to your iDevice with a push notification to let you know it's done. Best of all it's FREE! Wow! Once you upload the photo of the card via the App it can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes on average to get the transcribed card back. However, in every one that I've tried to date they have come back 100% correct requiring no further editing on my part. You are required to have a free LinkedIn account to use the App. Since the cards are being transcribed by humans it doesn't matter how complex the card is in terms of hard to read graphic backgrounds that would confuse the OCR based solutions. Once you get the transcribed card back down into the App you can then choose to add it to your iOS Contacts or just keep it in the app. Bonus Tip: When you turn your device to landscape orientation it gives you a cover flow style view of all your scanned cards. Cool!

 

Sounds great! What's the downside?

While this is very magical and seems perfect, there is one bit of concern and that is that you are submitting your business cards/contacts to a 3rd party. This may be a concern to those who have Privacy issues in general. 

 

You can get CardMunch for Free here from the iTunes

CardScannerPro

Card Scanner Pro

The good folks over at Readdle (makers of my favorite PDF App for iPad – PDF Expert) have released a business card scanner App for iDevices. As a public presenter I get my fair share of business cards handed to me at events. When I get back to my hotel room or home if I don't deal with them right then and there I will have no idea later why I even have that person's card. I'm a Contacts freak! I'm always maintaining and updating my Contacts on a regular basis (one of the keys to my success). However, I hate manual data entry. I've used other business card reading Apps in the past (my past favorite being Business Card Reader). While I was content with my past choice, I decided to give the Readdle App a try since they did such a good job with their PDF apps. You start the process by taking a picture of the business card with your iDevice camera. Then you decide if the picture is good enough or retake it. Next your tap the process button to begin the OCR.

 

Accuracy is the key

The card above needed a correction to one digit in the phone number and a dot added in the email address. This is likely due to the small italicized type on the card.

Let me start this off by saying that NO BUSINESS CARD READING APP IS PERFECT at reading all business cards. Some cards will scan 100% accurate (rare), most will need minor tweaks/corrections and some will be easier just to enter by hand. It all depends on the source card. Cards with clean easy to read type will work best. Cards with fancy or photographic backgrounds will be the hardest. Card Scanner Pro uses the ABBYY OCR engine, which is well known for its accuracy. This helps, but again it will depend on the source card.

 

Garbage in, Garbage out!

The card above is an example of one that just won't work well with these Apps.

 

Other features

Card Scanner Pro offers the ability to choose your Language up front. This helps when dealing with International contacts. Once you get the card scanned in and made any corrections that needed to be made, the next thing will what you can do with the card? Card Scanner Pro offers the ability to store the card in its internal card holder as well as send it to your Contacts on your iDevice. If you're syncing with your computer/MobileMe/iCloud then your New Contact (business card) will end up in your Address Book on your computer too. I also like the fact that Card Scanner Pro offers the ability to add the contact to one of your pre-defined Groups too. A must for me! While these are the features I'd expect, I actually would like to see a few more. I'd like to see a Universal version for iPad too. Granted this App will work on an iPad 2 with a camera, but I'd like to see it in the native size. It would also make doing corrections easier with the larger screen, keyboard, etc. It would also be nice to see some social networking tie ins such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc. to lookup and compare info with.

 

The Bottom Line

Card Scanner Pro is definitely a contender. It's stable (haven't had a single crash, which isn't always the case with Apps in this category), and does a good job at what it does. I like that it can show you the original card on demand when you're editing a particular entry and can't tell what the OCR was trying to read. This is great for not having to keep the paper card. If you don't have a business card reader App or not happy with your current one, Card Scanner Pro is worth a look.

 

You can get Card Scanner Pro for $6.99 here from the iTunes

billings-touch

8 Business Apps That Keeps My World Spinning

In my daily work as a web designer and educator I use a few apps to help me stay in the loop. Whether it is keeping track of projects and billing, doing a presentation or getting files from my local computer, these are some of the apps that I use.

Daylite Touch

Daylite TouchSince I use the Daylite application on the Mac, I use Daylite Touch on my iPhone. This is all project and customer relationship management (CRM) based. Daylite keeps notes and informations on all projects and leads (opportunities) that I have going on and shows me the exact status of them as well as stores tasks and appointments in the Daylite calendar.

The application itself is free from the App Store but requires a Daylite Touch license to work from Marketcircle and requires syncing with the computer application.

PayPal

PayPalMost payments into my company are done through PayPal and being able to check my account status from anywhere on the iPhone is a big plus for me. Even though I rarely use it for transactions itself, you can both request and send money through the app.

PayPal is available for free on the App Store.

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