There are all kinds of hidden productivity tools inside the App Store. It just takes some time to scour the vast catalogue of apps.
Here are four excellent applications that will help with some of the smaller tasks that can be time consuming, such as contacts, calculating, note-taking and staying focused on the task at hand (what I often find especially challenging).
This app brings some personality to your task management. It allows you to set up a list of tasks and assign a time length for each one. After setting the time, 30/30 will sound and alarm and politely tell you that it is time to move on to the next activity.
Sure, you probably could accomplish the same thing with a regular timer, but this has cool icons and an attractive interface. I have found it very useful for staying on topic when doing all sorts of tasks: especially meeting TabTimes deadlines.
(Making apps more discoverable on app stores will be one of the key topics discussed at the Tablet Ecosystem conference in San Francisco on September 12).
Digits, the calculator for humans
For some reason Apple still has not deemed it necessary to create a proper calculator for the iPad. While there are plenty of third-party options, an interesting one is Digits, the calculator for humans (yes that is the app’s full name).
Why is it marketed as being a tool for mortals? The calculator’s tap is correctable. Instead of needing to restart an entire strand of calculation if you mistype a number, just go anywhere on the strand and change it.
Contact management on the iPad is pretty subpar. Sure, iOS 7 promises more polish by finally ditching the faux address book, but there are still further innovations possible.
One such app is Contaqs, which integrates with the existing address book on the iPad to create a far more customizable experience. You can group contacts via “smart lists,” tag favorites and create a secure backup of the entire batch.
For the location aware Contaqs also will tell you which contacts are currently near your location. Contaqs also has a much cleaner interface and emphasizes large photos to make it easier to browse through contacts.
MindNode has taken full advantage of the blank canvas the iPad provides. While a little pricier than many other apps at $9.99, that's hardly expensive for the useful tool that it is. MindNode does an admirable job of allowing you to really sketch out your thoughts and ideas.
Users can type in one concept and then use different colors and lines to scatter out branches of thought. The app refers to each hub as a node - these can then be connected with others, rearranged and differentiated by various colors. Highlight nodes or change the length of the lines to further magnify certain strands of thinking.
The creations can also be shared with others through iCloud or Dropbox.