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iPad – Recording Audio

 

Your iPad isn't just limited to word processing and web surfing. You can turn it into a product creation machine as well by using it as a way to record audio. Now you can create a podcast, audio course or seminar wherever you are, without toting along your laptop or other equipment. While the internal microphone won't give the same sound quality as a $100 external mike, it can get the job done when you're traveling light.
 
Before choosing an audio recording app, ask yourself the following questions:
  • What am I going to use the audio for? Is it for products, for updating my blog, for podcasts?
  • In what file format do I need to be able to export my audios?
  • Do I want to send directly to iTunes?
  • Do I want to use just what comes with my iPad, or do I want to plug in an external microphone?
  • Do I want to be able to edit my recordings or just record and send?
  • How long will my recordings be? Less than five minutes, or significantly longer?
  • How much time do I want to invest in learning the software?
 
Once you've answered those questions, there's a selection of audio recording and editing software for you to check out:
  • VC Audio Pro. ($5.99 from the App Store.) This app is self-described as “a recording studio in the palm of your hand”. It enables audio recording and editing on the iPad (and on the iPhone and iPod Touch as well). You record with an external microphone that you plug into the headphone jack. Then save and upload to your preferred site for podcasting, products, audio blogs, and more, as .WAV, or M4A formats. CBS has used VC Audio Pro for professional-level broadcasts, however, reviews on this app are mixed.
     
  • AudioBoo. (Free.) This is an app that lets you record and share your voice or audio recordings of up to 5 minutes, and post to your account on the Web, and then share via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. While it's not great for paid products, it could be perfect for quick audio updates to your followers. It's more of a social networking app than a product creation app.
     
  • AudioMemos2. ($0.99) The Voice Recorder offers a simple, easy-to-navigate interface to record audio and export it via iTunes. There are a number of add-ons, such as voice activation, recording compression, and trim recordings that will make your podcasts or audio blogs even more professional. 
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iPad – Storing and Accessing Files

 

If there is a limitation on the iPad, it's the ability to store and retrieve files. Fortunately, there are apps in the App Store to address that problem. (Let's face it; there are apps in the App Store for just about everything!)
 
If you're on the go (and we've already decided you are), then you need an easy way to access and store files, documents, and other data, for retrieval from any computing device, whether it be your iPad or your desktop. Here are just a few of the options you have available to you:
  • Google Docs. (Web based.) Google Docs is part of the Google suite of office applications. A server-based application, it allows you to store files of up to 1GB in size for free. You can access your files from your mobile devices (including your iPad) as well as any computer with an internet access. You can save them to your device or computer in a variety of file formats, including ODF, HTML, PDF, RTF, Text, and Word. You can share access with other users, work collaboratively, and tag and archive your documents.
  • Dropbox. (Free app.) Dropbox is a popular file backup, storage, and sharing service that has free and paid versions, up to storage of 100GB. There's a free iPad app that allows you to view photos, videos, documents, and presentations from your Dropbox on your iPad, share and send files via email, and export Dropbox files to open in other iPad apps.
  • MobileMe. MobileMe is a service offered by Apple that will allow you to sync your desktop, laptop, iPhone, and iPad information (contacts, email, calendar, and files) together. Using the MobileMe iDisk, you can store your files online and access and download them anywhere, as long as you have internet access. You can also access and share files with other MobileMe users. With intuitive Mac interface, MobileMe is easy to use and quick to set up, but may not be the answer if you want to share with other, non-MobileMe users. $99 per year for 20GB of storage and 200GB of monthly data transfer.

If you're already using a file sharing/backup service, chances are, there's a way to use it on your iPad, and that's a great place to start. Why reinvent the wheel when you already have something that's working? Just do a quick search at the App Store and you'll see if there's a way to incorporate your iPad into your current systems. If not, check out one of the solutions above.

 

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iPad – Email Management

 

I've found that I tend to use my iPad for what I call “bits and pieces” tasks, in other words, things I can do with little bits of time because they don't require a long, concentrated period of attention. I've already mentioned how great the iPad is for Internet surfing, but another fantastic productivity boost came when I started to use it to manage my email while away from my desk.
 
If you're like me, you get a lot of important but not critical email messages. You know, stuff that you need to read and maybe even want to respond to, but it doesn't contribute to your bottom line or your customer care. Now, instead of using my precious desk-time for that task, I save those emails for when I have a few minutes here and there.
  • Email app. (Included on your iPad by default.) I've found the email app on my iPad to be perfectly adequate for handling all my needs.
 
Here are some of the basics:
 
You can connect easily with a variety of email services. It's plug-and-play when it comes to accessing your email accounts from your iPad. You can access Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, as well as others. You just need to enter your email account name, password, and maybe the server, and you're good to go. Want to adjust the settings? Simple. Go back to your main screen and click on “Settings” then “Mail, Contacts, Calendar” and you can adjust a number of features – including how many email messages you want to see at a time and the time periods for checking for new messages.
 
You can connect with multiple email accounts. Got a customer support email account, a new orders account, and a private account? No worries! Your iPad will allow you to add multiple accounts and view them all in the same screen or separately. You can also set one default account to keep things simple.
 
You can compose, read, delete, forward, and perform all the standard email functions on your iPad. Pretty much anything you can do on your regular email browser can be done on your iPad.
 
You might choose to create an iPad-only email account. Just in case you want an account just for on the go, or maybe to connect with your VA while you're travelling.
 
You can create a custom iPad signature. Although many people like the default “Sent from my iPad” because it shows how cool you are, you can change your default. Just go to Settings → Mail, Contacts, Calendar → Signature.
 
You'll soon find that working your email on your iPad is just like using a laptop or desktop. It's really that simple!
 
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iPad – RSS Feeds and Bookmarking

 

If you've got an Internet-based business, I bet you're spending most of your working time online – probably in front of a desktop computer. This is understandable for many tasks, but it gets frustrating when you're feeling stuck at your desk unnecessarily. As mentioned previously, one of the biggest advantages of the iPad is its portability to take your business on the go.
 
There are certain tasks that are easy to do on your iPad, while others are more difficult. For instance, you may decide you don't want to code an entire website on your iPad (and who would), but you can't argue that the perfect tool for catching up with your favorite business blogs and websites. No longer will you have to waste those random ten minutes here and there in line at the post office or at the doctor's waiting room. Instead you can use the time to catch up on your reading!
 
So here are some quick and easy ways to optimize your iPad for easy Internet surfing. My two favorites are bookmarks and RSS feeds. Here's what you need to know about each:
 
Bookmarks. Just like on your computer, you can save often-frequented websites for quick retrieval. You don't have to type in your horrendously long WordPress dashboard URL; just add it once, then use the bookmark function to save it for the future.
 
1.    Click on the Safari icon from your main iPad page.
2.    Open and view the webpage that you'd like to bookmark in Safari.
3.    Tap the Plus (“+”) icon at the top of the page.
 
A drop-down menu will appear and ask if you want to add a bookmark, add the site to your home screen, or mail the link to that page. Follow the prompts to save your URL for future visits. (Bonus: You can sync your bookmarks with your computer Internet browser.)
 
RSS Feeds. You're likely already familiar with RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds for reading blogs and other websites. If you're using your iPad as a way to keep up on your blog reading while on the go, you will want to configure your favorite RSS feeds to be delivered right to your iPad.
 
Setting up RSS feeds is, as the name promises, real simple! Here's how:
 
1.    Open Safari and navigate to your favorite blog or website.
2.    When the site opens, look for the RSS feed icon and tap on it.
3.    This will open the web-based RSS reader, showing all the latest posts in the feed.
4.    Then just bookmark the feed as you would any other site, using the steps above.
 
Using these steps will ensure that you're ready to get to work, keeping up on the latest and greatest, whenever you have a spare minute.
 
If you'd prefer to use an app news reader, there are several that are rated highly. My favorite is:
  • Pulse News Reader. (Free.) Pulse is a gorgeous app and it lets you add all of your favorite blogs to it. Praise for this app includes “The iPad Pulse Reader Scales the Charts” – NYTimes. This reader also allows you to quickly share articles on facebook and twitter, too. 
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iPad – Contacts and Appointments

 

Remember the days when you had to carry around a stack of business cards to keep all your numbers handy? Then came the 90's when we could enter them into our PDAs… and tote THEM around. Not anymore! Now, your iPad can serve as your virtual phone book – but a heck of a lot less bulky and a lot more fun.
  • Contacts app. (Included on your iPad by default.) The Contacts app stores names, numbers, email addresses, and more so you can get the goods on your lunch date before you sit down at the table. It'll even allow you to store a picture and notes, too. The notes feature is ideal for storing kids' names, favorite foods, last order volume, and more, so you can impress them with your encyclopedic knowledge. And when you enter an address, you an even tap the screen to automatically open Google Maps and get door-to-door directions.
 
If you're looking for something more robust, there are a number of different apps in the App Store to check out, including:
  • Contacts Journal. ($5.99) This is a high-end personal Contacts Relationship Management (CRM) system. More than a phone book, it's more like a “to do” list that you can associate with each contact, along with a filtering option, export capability, and more. This tool is ideal for someone who interacts with a large number of people on an ongoing basis – perfect for sales professionals. This app was featured on Mashable.com as one of the “5 Useful iPhone Apps for Business Networking”. It was also featured on Forbes.com as one of the “10 Best iPhone Apps for Business Networkers”. So, obviously this is an impressive tool.
     
  • ContactsP HD. ($2.99) This is the basic Contacts app with added features. It has more customization options, including a revved-up graphical user interface, lots of search options, and ability to set groups.
     
  • Contacts Pro for iPad. ($1.99) This app allows you to input and password-protect a large number of data, such as credit card info, website/email log-in, etc. This is a useful app if you're concerned about the security of your contacts being compromised.
 
On the calendar front, boy, does the iPad have you covered!
  • Calendar. (Included on your iPad by default.) The basic Calendar app is a super-cool journal-look calendar, to which you can easily add recurring or standalone appointments. View it as a day, week, month, or list, and interface with your desktop.
 
And of course there are other options if you prefer a more specialized calendar:
  • CalenGoo ($6.99) The best feature of this app is that it syncs with your Google Calendar – and it looks just like your Google Calendar screen, too. Includes an integrated task list called Google Tasks; tasks with due dates are automatically displayed on your calendar. They've really done a nice job on this. It can be used when you don't have an internet connection, as well. (For instance, if you're not near a Wi-Fi hot spot.) The changes you make to your calendar will upload the next time you're connected to the internet.
     
  • PocketInformant ($14.99) This app is more calendar than most people need. But if you like to be organized to a “T” check it out. You can tag events, group tasks, send appointment meeting requests, set icons for events and tasks, and filter and search your calendar and tasks – as well as perform all the ordinary calendar functions.
 
As with any App (or software program, for that matter), figure out what you need your program to do before you go buy one. Don't assume you “need” the biggest and best, when the default free version might do everything you need in a simple and easy-to-use manner.
 
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iPad For Word Processing

 

If there's one task most business owners need their computing devices to perform, it's word processing. After all, you can send emails from your phone, but I definitely wouldn't want to compose a 500-word monthly report or blog post on that tiny screen.
 
Thankfully, there are several options so that you can use your iPad as a word processing dynamo. Here are my favorite selections:
 
  •  Notes. (Included on your iPad by default.) Notes is an app that provides you the ability to jot down thoughts, lists, ideas, and more using the iPad's built-in, touch-screen keypad. While not particularly robust (compare it to taking notes on a yellow legal pad, which is exactly what the screen looks like!) it is a quick and dirty way to capture written notes without a lot of extra bells and whistles. It's an easy-to-use, intuitive interface and is perfect to use when you just need to jot down a note and can't find pen or paper.
     
  • Pages. ($9.99) At the other end of the spectrum is the Pages app, available for download from the App Store for less than $10. Want to create brochures, resumes, reports, and other graphic-intensive text documents? Pages is your answer! Most run-of-the-mill business owners may find it to offer more than they need, but if you do a lot of template-based documents, it may be just what you're looking for. Got Microsoft Word documents that you'd like to edit on the fly? You can import them into this program. Amazingly, this program not only allows you to import, but it will export your finished document in Microsoft Word or even in a PDF format. Wow. This app is so powerful it may even entice you to buy the Apple keyboard for iPad and make your iPad your main word processing tool.
     
  • CleanWriter. ($0.99) CleanWriter is just what the name says; a clean and simple approach to creating text documents. With just a few options (three font choices, two black-and-white color themes), CleanWriter will let you create bare-bones documents quickly and easily, and save them as .txt files. You can upload and download the .txt files when synching your iPad via iTunes, and email portions of your documents as well. Their claim to fame is that their tool is so simple, minimalistic, and clutter-free that it allows you to focus on writing. The app page says “All features are hidden from sight, leaving you alone with your words.” Classic.
     
  • Documents. ($0.99) If you want a middle-of-the-road solution, Documents may be what your heart desires. Advertised as a “full office and documents management suite,” Documents allows you to create, edit, and manage spreadsheets and text files. One killer point: You can sync files to your Google Docs account which is very cool. Once saved, files can be opened by MS Word and Excel, Open Office, and all major office suites. So, if you need spreadsheet capability and total integration with Microsoft Office or Open Office, this one might be the one that works best for you.
 
Because the price points on these applications are so low, we suggest that you try a few to see which best fits your needs and which interface fits your working style. If none of these does it for you, keep checking the App Store, as new programs are being developed all the time.