UK Prime Minister David Cameron owns one, White House staff use them and Apple can't make them fast enough. No matter where you sit on the pro-/anti-Apple fence, the signs are clear: iPads are in, netbooks are out, and the tablet story has only just begun. Apple's always-improving tablet may not yet quite provide all the utility a business traveller needs, but we know many will choose to carry an iPad rather than a laptop on their next trip all the same. Here's six essential apps for business travellers.
Kayak Explore and Flight Search
How it helps: This handy app (also available for the iPhone) helps you find and book flights and hotel rooms, tapping into Kayak's dedicated travel information search engine. That engine searches through most popular travel sites, so you can track down what you need on a number of criteria -- price, comfort or positive feedback. Get it here.
How it helps: This app (iPhone version shown in the video) will help you with your journey. It delivers live flight status reports from FlightStats and live flight map tracking in the US. The app integrates with TripIt, so you can carry all your TripIt information using this app: that info can include flight info, flight and hotel reservations, car rentals, meetings, weather reports and and much more. Better yet, you don't need an Internet connection to get to your data. Get it here.
(Don't forget, you can speed your progress through the airport once you get there using the useful GateGuru app, which shows you where the various departure gates are at numerous airports.)
How it helps: You know where you're going, you know a little about the place and you've booked a great hotel -- but what's the weather like? Enter WeatherBug Elite and you'll get beautifully-presented weather forecasts through an easy-to-navigate user interface. Not just the weather, you'll also get infrared satellite, humidity, air pressure, wind speed, next day high and next day low pressure data. You even get live weather cameras. Nice. Get it here.
Price: Free, but books cost extra
How it helps: Perhaps you've never visited a country or city before -- but why add extra bulk with a travel guide when you'll be carrying your iPad along with you. Take a look at Amazon's website and you'll find plenty of travel guides for sale in Kindle format. There's numerous titles also available through Apple's iBooks app. Get acquainted with where you're going before you reach your destination -- without taking up precious baggage allowance.
Get iBooks here. Get Kindle here.
Free Translator for iPad
How it helps: This is a basic translator for your iPad. It uses the free Google Translate API to provide translations between many languages, including Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish and Vietnamese. It keeps a history log (which you can edit) and has its own built-in email sending function. The bad news? You'll need to be online (3G or WiFi) to use the app. Get it here.
Price: Free, calls cost extra
How it helps: You'll see TruPhone's excellent VoIP app on every traveller's list. Why? Because it lets you make calls to landlines and cell phones using your iPad and a Wi-Fi connection, just so long as you have a set of earphones (such as the standard iPhone earbuds) with a microphone. This can save you so much money when compared to hotel telephone rates or cellphone network roaming fees: TruPhone offers excellent rates from numerous popular destinations. Get it here.
Now you've read this, why not take a look at Computerworld's list of 12 great apps to help boost business productivity.