20 best iPad productivity apps

January 2, 2013

The iPad can help you get more work done in less time. Here are 20 great apps to increase your mobile productivity.

iAnnotate PDF

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We like this app so much, it won the 2012 Tabby Award in both the Productivity and Collaboration categories. iAnnotate is an indispensable tool for marking up all sorts of documents. Choose from a variety of pen types, highlighters, stamps, and other tools. You can even record voice annotations, and share edited PDFs with colleagues or use iAnnotate to manage your own PDF library.


OmniFocus

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OmniFocus is the granddaddy of all iPad task management apps. The iPad version of this turbocharged to-do list features the power of the desktop Mac version optimized for your iPad’s touch interface. Use it to manage simple task lists, as well as multi-level hierarchical projects. With support for contexts and location-based reminders, you’ll always stay on top of your tasks, no matter where your day takes you.


Paper by FiftyThree

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For those times when tapping out words on a keyboard isn’t enough, Paper can help capture sketches, diagrams, and other visual data. The free app includes a basic drawing tool, reminiscent of the lines created by a fine fountain pen. The physics of the pen are lifelike, and Paper’s interface is gleefully free of any extra elements like faux torn pages, giving you more room for your ideas. Paper is Apple’s 2012 pick for iOS App of the Year.


TaskPaper

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Don’t let TaskPaper’s simple interface fool you. For task lists and notes, TaskPaper’s powerful search and filter tools can keep even the most prolific note-taker organized. Use your Dropbox account to sync TaskPaper documents between multiple devices, and use simple syntax and gestures to create new tasks, mark items as “done,” and more. Best of all, TaskPaper uses simple plain-text files, so you can access and edit your lists and notes using practically any software or device.


Reminders

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What Reminders lacks in whiz-bang bells and whistles, it makes up for in simplicity and elegance. Create multiple lists, and set dates for individual tasks. But that’s not all Reminders can do. Setting repeat schedules can keep you from forgetting repetitious items, but even better are the location-based reminders. You can set Reminders to notify you of certain tasks when you arrive or leave certain locations, making it a perfect solution for both remembering to email balance sheets to Accounting when you get to the office, and remembering to pick up your dry cleaning on the way home from work.


Chrome

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Apple’s mobile version of Safari is a decent browser, but for serious web surfing, you’ll want to keep a copy of Google’s Chrome on your iPad. The mobile version has what many consider to be a better interface for viewing multiple pages in tabs. All it takes is a swipe to switch tabs, and you can have an unlimited number of pages open at one time. Heavy users of Google’s ecosystem will also appreciate Google Account integration, and the ability to sync browsing sessions between devices. There’s even an Incognito mode to keep your browsing history private.


Things

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Cultured Code’s Things offers a clean and intuitive take on a task manager. But Things is so much more than a simple to-do list. Adherents to David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy will appreciate support for contexts and next actions, but the beauty of Things is that it’s also flexible enough to work however you do. Tagging features let you organize and re-organize tasks on the fly. Things also integrates with Apple’s Reminders, so you can use Siri to dictate items and import them into Things.


FlightTrack Pro

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There are tons of travel-tracking apps in the App Store, but FlightTrack Pro’s clean layout and deep feature set make it a must-have for frequent fliers. With information on 1,400 airlines and thousands of airports, FlightTrack Pro can keep you updated on travel delays, and help you navigate even the most convoluted terminals. With updating gate and baggage-claim info you’ll always know where you’re going, and push notifications let you know about delays as soon as they happen. We also love the Repeating Flight feature for tracking commuter flights, and the easy synchronization with Calendar.


Presence

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Working on your iPad is great—until you realize you forgot a crucial document on your Mac. Presence eliminates that problem for good, by making the contents of your Mac’s hard-drive available on your iOS device. Browse files, and download (or upload) the stuff you need, when you need it. Presence also works for file sharing, without having to wait for large files to upload. Just send a link, and the recipient can securely download, directly from your Mac. Using Presence on your iPad requires a $40 application running on your Mac, but for telecommuters and anyone who’s often out of the office, it’s worth every penny.


LogMeIn

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If you need to access a PC from your iPad (or work in a mixed environment of Macs and PCs) LogMeIn is the way to go. Run the companion server software, and you can access and control your computer remotely, right from your iPad. LogMeIn can even transfer photos to and from your iPad, and Cloud Bank integration works with popular cloud services like Dropbox, Google Docs, or your own WebDAV servers for easy access to all of your data.


Textexpander

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Using Textexpander can turbocharge your iPad sessions, utilizing custom snippets of text to keep you from typing the same things over and over. It works well for things like boilerplate email responses, email addresses, complicated URLs, and any other textual information you find yourself repeating. Copy and paste expanded text into any app, or use any of over 100 apps that offer native support for your Textexpander snippets.


OmniPlan

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OmniPlan is built to handle heavy-duty project management on your iPad. Track everything from project milestones to employee schedules and equipment availability, and easily share everything with your entire team. The visual timeline makes staying on track a snap, and you can track changes to project plans to keep everyone on the same page. The Automatic Leveling feature distributes work amongst your collaborators, scheduling specific tasks to maximize productivity.


Pocket Informant Pro

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Apple’s suite of built-in Contacts, Calendars and Notes apps can handle much of your day-to-day information, but for some, switching between multiple apps to manage the basics is too cumbersome. Pocket Informant Pro takes many of its design cues from old-school paper planners, and true to form, it holds all your appointments, addresses, notes and tasks in one place. Pocket Informant also takes advantage of your iPad’s capabilities, alerting you to tasks you can complete nearby, and syncs with Apple’s native apps or Google’s online services.


Bento 4 for iPad

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If you’re constantly scrolling through spreadsheets 47 columns wide just to read your data, Bento can help. This little-brother to Filemaker is at heart a database app, but don’t let that scare you. The baked in designs can help turn even the scariest spreadsheets into something you actually enjoy looking at. With powerful search capabilities, Bento simplifies drilling down to just the data you need, and it’s flexible enough to work with numbers, text, images, and anything else you have to keep organized. Thanks to the Bento Template Exchange, you can download user-contributed templates, and edit them to fit your needs perfectly.


iThoughts HD

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When you’re brainstorming, sometimes worrying about structure can get in the way of capturing your best ideas. iThoughts lets you doodle, draw, and take notes, without worrying about strict organization. As you refine ideas, you can organize concepts or tasks into a flow chart-like structure. For maximum flexibility, iThoughts HD imports and exports to many popular desktop mind mapping applications.


Roambi Analytics

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Normally business intelligence reports require a lot of processing power and a fancy display, ergo, a laptop. But Roambi’s dashboard-style analytics let you analyze and share up-to-the-minute company information right from your iPad. Integrate with a variety of data sources, and instantly create engaging visual data displays.


Agile Project Manager

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This iOS app uses a project management methodology known as Scrum, which gives flexibility and adaptability to changing project requirements. It uses a ticket system and a virtual cork board to track individual pieces of your ongoing projects. You can plan and track the progress of your development cycle on your iPad during multiple “sprints”, and easily share plans and results with your team, thanks to integrated Dropbox syncing.


Peak Meetings HD

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Ironically, meetings aren’t always terribly productive. Peak Meetings HD helps you capture ideas as they happen, giving you a framework for your ideas and insights based on seven different templates designed for different types of meetings. Best of all, everything is fully searchable, and you can send or print copies of your notes to your colleagues, to keep everyone on track.


Instapaper

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In fast-paced business environments, information is crucial—but it’s hard to keep up with all the Internet can throw your way. Instapaper is perfect for collecting all the articles, blog posts, and press releases you want to catch up with later. A simple bookmarklet sits in your web browser, allowing you to save things with a single click. Then when you have time to read, you can launch Instapaper on your iPad, where all your saved articles are presented in a clean, reader-friendly layout.


AirDisplay

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AirDisplay turns your iPad into a secondary display for your desktop Mac or PC. As long as your devices are on the same network, you can turn your iPad into extra screen real estate. You can even use the iPad’s screen as a tablet input device to control your computer.

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