We've talked a lot about how the iPad is making Apple some space in the enterprise. On launch, critics slammed the device for neither being fit for enterprise use nor for use as a netbook replacement. They were wrong. With iOS 4.2 the iPad is an even better fit for business. I've taken a short look at what's coming inside the upgrade, and identified five high-level iPad apps for business users.
Apple recently confirmed 65% of Fortune 100 firms are already using the tablet, or at least trialling its use. This is just part of its powerful market share -- if iPad were counted as a PC, Apple would be the biggest US PC maker, bar none...
"I don't know about you, but I've never seen an adoption like this in my life in enterprise," said Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook last month. "Enterprise is historically much slower moving on adoption."
The promise gets better. Even while we look forward to iPad 2.0, existing iPad owners can look forward to some interesting enhancements once iOS 4.2 reaches the iPad this month, not least an extremely simple print and audio streaming feature, and lots of additional improvements:
- The Safari browser no longer hosts a dedicated 'add bookmark' button, instead it has a sharing icon which enables you to email a link, print a page, add it to your home screen or create a bookmark. There's also a small icon showing you how many web pages you have open.
- The new multitasking bar is simple to use. Doubleclick on the Home button and it appears at the bottom of the screen. There you'll see a list of the last six apps you opened, flick your finger across this area and you have fast and easy access to your iPod functions, including the facility to send audio to AirPort Express and/or AirPlay devices you might have around your home.
- The iPod control area also features volume, brightness and screen lock controls.
- You get a choice of three fonts in the Notes app, and you also get in-page Safari search in order that you can search for specific words on a webpage.
- There's a slew of different features hidden inside Settings, including many improvements for accessibility.(I like the white on black setting a lot).
- The mythical but much reported Internet Tethering is not included inside the current GM. Folders, Multitasking, Game Center and Unified Inbox (really simple, really effective) also debut.
- Businesses improvements include stronger security features, new device management capabilities, and improved enterprise integration(SSL VPN, for example).
With the new software upgrade, iPad sure is looking more and more like a netbook replacement (install an app called Desktop if you want a more productive iPad), so what apps exist for business users?
Cortado Corporate Server for iPad
Developed by ThinPrint, this solution extends the corporate network and desktop to the iPad, offering complete independence from location-bound workplaces. Essentially it is a secure VPN through which a user can access centrally-stored files and other resources, complete with user rights and security protection, and get to access pretty much anything they can on their corporate desktop from wherever they happen to be at the time. Additional features include:
- send documents from the corporate network to others from the iPad address book. Documents created with Apple Pages can be printed to a corporate network printer.
- query database reports
- upload documents to the network
- fax documents or convert files into PDF or ZIP
Desktop Connect ($14.99) is another fantastic tool for enterprise users. It lets you connect to any computer from anywhere in the world -- you get to view and control Windows, Mac OSX and Linux computers. This is a complete desktop experience via your iPad. It supports VNC and Microsoft Remote Desktop. Communications are protected by 128-bit encryption. Additional features include:
- View websites with Adobe Flash
- Launch and view any application on your desktop.
- Remotely control Media Players and PowerPoint Presentations.
- Access an important business document while you travel.
- Guide your office administrator as you watch the desktop remotely.
- Provide tech support
WebEx for iPad
If your company goes in for WebEx meetings, then you'll be pleased to learn there's a free app that lets you join in these meetings using your iPad. This is a complete experience, you can share information and chat -- if you have a WebEx account you can even initiate a meeting. Additional features include:
- Attend WebEx meetings with full-screen view and free Internet voice conferencing (VoIP).
- Request a call-back on the phone of your choice.
- View content shared from any computer: documents, applications, or screen-sharing with live annotations. Pinch to zoom and scan.
- See who's in your meeting, and how they joined, with mobile and computer user icons.
Worried about security? Then you'll need MobileIron's Sentry software (the app is free). Using this, administrators with a MobileIron Sentry account can get a tight grip on security on an iPad, that's because the appdelivers real-time monitoring and response capabilities including:
- See every device that's connected to your ActiveSync email system.
- View threats by date and threat profile.
- Track devices and users
- See the most recently connected devices
- Block offending devices or users from accessing email.
- Allow device access by overriding automated policy or posture rules.
- Register devices to bring them into the enterprise fold.
- Wipe stolen, lost, or compromised devices.
Still worried about security? Then try Safe. This allows you to store and organise your sensitive data on your iPad -- and it is all encrypted with 256-bit AES security. This is handy because it means those incredibly secret company documents can be kept completely safe while you travel with your iPad. Lose your iPad and whoever has it will be hard-pressed getting at your data.
The app also lets you categorise all your bits and pieces of information, so credit card details can be kept separate from user accounts, for example. Additional features include:
- Add comments on each item.
- Organize and reorder Items.
- Reorganize items by moving them to another category.
- Change the password.
- Launch Safari direct from the url fields.
- Access to your data anywhere and anytime.