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The top business iPad & iPhone Apps of 2012

27 Dec 2012

A quick glance over at Apple's list of the top free and paid apps for 2012 for both their iPhone and iPad products clearly shows that your kids (or at least your inner child) is taking over your favourite Apple devices. Apps like YouTube (Google), Draw Something (Zynga), Temple Run (Imangi Studios), Angry Birds (Rovio), Where's my Water (Walt Disney) and Bejeweled by PopCap are all in the respective top ten hits of the year.

Apple has created these lists by download counts on their App stores, however that doesn't help the professionals out there much, especially those of us out there with a keen $50 iTunes gift card now burning a hole in their pockets post Christmas, so we've devised a short list of what we found to be the best iPhone and iPad apps of 2012 for business or professional use. Most of these apps, especially if on an iPad are combined with a bluetooth wireless case really put the iPad into a serious working machine and next time you are away on a business trip you may find yourself seriously asking yourself if you truly need that big chunky laptop!

Finally, if you have any good suggestions for apps that you couldn't do without in your professional life, please feel free to let us know on our twitter feed or Facebook page.

The best iPad Apps for business, in no particular order:

CloudOn (Free): Edit Microsoft Office Docs (docx, xlsx, PDF) in a real version of Microsoft Office the cloud and store them in your DropBox, Google Drive or account.

Office2 HD by ByteSquared: Microsoft have let slip that they will be releasing the official Microsoft Office 2013 app for iOS and Android some time in 2013, but when that is and if it really will happen is still subject to much conjecture. If you can't use CloudOn because your workplace doesn't agree with you using cloud based apps to store company records/data (yep, Audit NZ reckons that's a Data Sovereignty issue) then Office2 HD is the closest thing you will get to near compatability with Office on an iPad. It's not perfect though so expect to be let down from time to time when you least expect it, so for this reason I either use Apple Pages (it works nicer, it just has very poor MS Office compatability) or you can try CloudOn or Microsoft's Office365.
Apple Pages & Numbers: Apple's own respective take on Word and Excel. These apps will make your documents and spreadsheets look really awesome if and only if, you don't then put them into Microsoft Word. As soon as you export these into Word DOC or Excel XLS format, be prepared for everything pretty about them to be lost and all the formatting to be all over the place. If you want to make the documents universally viewable the way you intended, stick with the PDF export option which is also built in. On the upside, the 3D charts in Numbers are easy to use and is overall much easier to use on a touch screen than Microsoft's brand new Office 2013 for Windows RT (Touch/Surface).

Apple Keynote: Apple's own take on Microsoft's PowerPoint. It's truly a beautiful piece of software designed with the touch screen user base in mind. If you think you could make pretty nifty presentations with PowerPoint at work, prepare to dazzle your audience with the slick abilities of your tiny little iPad. Bring along an iPad connector to VGA or HDMI adapter so you can easily plug your iPad into a projector for best results!

SlideShark by BrainShark: Desperately need to display a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and only have your iPad to spare but want it to look exactly like the presentation did in PowerPoint? Worry not, SlideShark does just that, even with Microsofts newer pptx format.

iAnnotate PDF by Branchfire: We haven't been able to yet find an app as easy to use and as well designed at being able to mark-up PDFs on any other platform including the PC and Mac as this app from BranchFire. Simply put, if you want to annotate a PDF, whether it be highlighting text with a virtual highlighter/marker or put your signature in a PDF form; everything you need to do with a PDF is in this app. A must for anyone that deals with more than a couple of PDFs.

Citrix Receiver & VMWare View (Free): Citrix & VMWare's respective virtual desktop apps. If your workplace uses either Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop, or VMWare View, then speak to your ICT team and get them to hook you up with the necessary URL so you can work on your corporate applications or workspace from the luxury of your home on your iPad. Never will you need a PC or Mac again for work!

Citrix GoToMeeting & Cisco WebEx (free to use): If you want to host meetings with either of these apps then you will need to shell out for a reasonably costly annual license, but if you just want to participate in meetings for either of these famous vendors enterprise-level skype competitors then it's free to use. The technology in either is particularly awesome, with GoToMeeting taking the edge. The quality in either is brilliant and you can have up to 26 people in a meeting, four of which are visible at any one time on the iPad's screen. Both offerings have a 30 day free trial. Now the big question is, do you spend more than the license cost for either on lost time and transport costs annually, if the answer is yes and you like this technology, then either of these products could change the way you do business.

WebDavNav+: This is the paid for version of the free WebDavNav app. The main difference is that you can save multiple file stores, whereas the free version only allows one. If your workplace have enabled WebDav on their Windows file servers (SMB/CIFS) then you can browse your H and Y drive (or whatever your workplace calls them) from your iPad. You can upload and download content from them to your hearts content and it even integrates with the iPad email app, so you can download attachments from your email directly to your workplace file store.

Blogsy: Yes, the Wordpress app is free and is pretty good, and it's competitor Posts isn't too bad either, but this is the app that a lot of the Blog posts on this very web site are created on. Integrate videos, photos, web clips, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and much more at the tap of a button with absolute ease whilst making your blog posts look really professional.

EverNote (free): The iPad app of the Evernote app is truly an excellent experience, especially when paired with a bluetooth keyboard on your iPad: Better than Apple's built in notes app, Evernote allows you to make notes and sync audio recordings of meetings, photos, annotations more between all of your devices. It works on Android devices as well as Windows PCs, macs and iOS devices so nobody will be left out if you decide to share a note with someone. If you store masses of data then you may have to upgrade to one of their paid plans, however if you archive old notes you'll find that the free storage is enough for most.

iBooks (free app with paid books): Apple's own iBooks bookstore is finally here in NZ and it offers a wide array of factual resources for business purposes.

DocScan HD by iFunPlay (free, paid upgrade option available): DocScan HD does what it says on the tin really, and it does a pretty reasonable job. Whether what you have written on a piece of paper is written in reasonably ledgible handwriting or print-out type, you can 'scan' what's on the piece of paper in question simply by sitting your iPad infront of it and snapping the camera with this app. It then recognises the characters and enters them into text on your iPad before your eyes. Excellent if you don't want to have to re-type an entire document. It can make mistakes depending upon how well you take that photo, but the price is right and it'll save you precious time. Time is money people!

TeamBox HD: If you've been kind enough to give all your team iPads for Christmas, then your office productivity may well just get a lift from this app (otherwise stick with Asana, see above iPhone section). This app allows you to create projects, assign tasks to individuals and more.

Taposé: This multi-window app allows you to take notes in a split screen fashion. For example, imagine you were interested in taking a portion of a web page and copying it into a note, Taposé allows you to do just that. You can also have maps, audio, text notes, highlighter and photos all lopped into the same journal. Excellent if you want more than Evernote and don't need to sync between different devices.

Penultimate: Somewhat like Taposé, but more basic - allows you to use a stylus (or your finger, if you have to) to scrawl down notes on your iPad.

Docusign Ink by Docusign: Ever wanted to sign a word doc, PDF or other media file which otherwise would require you to print it out on paper, sign it, scan or fax it off again? Well, want no longer, Docusign Ink does just that. It integrates with the iPad mail app or also your favourite cloud services such as DropBox and Google Drive, so wherever you have a doc that needs your autograph, wherever you are, you can quickly and easily do it.

Diet Coda by Panic: If you have Coda 2 on your mac then this app is even better than it is on it's own, but on it's own, it's the web coders tool for the iPad. Combine this with a bluetooth keyboard and you are in web coding heaven: Edit PHP, XHTML and many more common formats right from your iPad to your remote server via SFTP or other protocols. It also has a built in SSH client if you need shell access on your server.

vSSH Client Lite (free): Following on from coda. If all you need is a free, easy to use but fast SSH client to access your server over the xmas break, look no further than the free vSSH client Lite. The full fat version is essentially the same but without the pesky ads. If you are looking for a fuller featured SSH client, look to Panic (above), their Prompt app makes light work of things like Bluetooth keyboards etc.

Here's our list of the best iPhone apps for business, again, in no particular order:

Fantastical by Flexibits: built-in calendar beater. Super quick to see appointments, super quick to add.

Asana: iPhone version of the excellent web based project/task based team organiser, free for up to 30 staff.

CloudOn: Now out for the iPhone, edit your office docs in the cloud with the real Microsoft office. Store your docs in cloud storage locations such as Google Drive or DropBox.

Google Drive: Store all your docs in the cloud, if you use Google Apps, this makes perfect sense to store all your docs here, if you don't, it's yet another addition to Dropbox which you can use for 5GB free storage.

Dropbox: 2-5GB free cloud based storage, integrates with your computer if desired.

Seek Jobs: find the ideal career.

CoBook: Free contact manager for all of your iPhone, Exchange, iCloud, Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn contacts.

LinkedIn: Free smart linkedIn app.

Parallels: Remote Desktop app for your Mac. Run Windows & Mac apps via Parallels on your mac from your iPhone/iPad.

Citrix Reciever or VmWare View: If your workplace uses VDI or Remote Desktop, connect to yours via these free apps and work anywhere!

Citrix GoToMeeting: Free App that allows you to connect to your GoToMeeting subscription. You can join or create a GoToMeeting conference call or webinar, view shared desktops and more.

Cisco WebEx: Other organisations may use WebEx, this free app allows you to have meetings with those using Cisco webex.

MailShot: Creat a mailing list on your iPhone and bulk mail your colleagues or customers.

iGone: Set multiple out of office notifications for your break from your phone easily.

Yammer: Social networking for your enterprise.

Lync: Microsoft's excellent communications software for your iPhone if your workplace uses Lync.

WebDavNav+: Browse your workplaces Windows file stores (provided your IT department has enabled WebDav).

CardMunch by LinkedIn: Scan your business cards by snapping a photo of them on your iPhone and it will add the details to your phones contacts and upload them to LinkedIn if desired. Free.

ContactClean: Clean up the contacts on your iPhone easily, especially if you have duplicate contacts. Free.

EverNote (free): Better than Apple's built in notes app, Evernote allows you to make notes and sync audio recordings of meetings, photos, annotations more between all of your devices. It works on Android devices as well as Windows PCs, macs and iOS devices so nobody will be left out if you decide to share a note with someone. If you store masses of data then you may have to upgrade to one of their paid plans, however if you archive old notes you'll find that the free storage is enough for most.

TripTracker (free): Track any flight.

AirNZ mPass: Air NZ's flight detail app, check in and more.

And finally, here are a few little apps to make your life easier or better:

MetService weather: Far better than the built in app, actually accurate most of the time for NZ weather.

Traffic AKL: Excellent Auckland traffic display app. Shows cameras, map based hotspots and more.

Yocto Clock (free): Great free alarm clock which plays your iTunes playlists to wake you up and much more.

KiwiBank, ASB Bank (free): Awesome personal banking apps which might even tempt you to switch bank.

MyFlyBuys (free): never feel the need to take yet another bulky reward card again.

Stuff, NZ Herald, Flipboard, 3 News, Google Currents, One News, Thirst and Zite: The best free news apps.

Qwiki (free): Lovely wikipedia style app that looks up a multitide of sources about any topic you are interested in and presents it in a very rich format including videos, photos and concise text. All of the text is read out loud. What results is a highly engaging experience suitable for Adults and children who want to learn about almost anything.

All Wrapped Up

So there you have it, that's our year in review. If you have any suggestions for apps that you think we might have missed, we would love you to let us know. You can keep in touch with the comments section below or via our Twitter or Facebook feeds. Also, if you are the author of an app and want to let us know more, or perhaps want to have a promo code giveaway for our readers then get in touch!

Hope you all had an awesome Christmas, here's to an even more productive 2013!

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