How to use your iPad Pro to replace your laptop (Part 5)

Some of the many useful utilities on Apple's iPad Pro that help you get more things done than you knew was possible

Apple, iOS, iPad, iPad Pro, Apps
Michael Simon/IDG

We’re looking at how you can use your iPad Pro to replace your laptop. I thought it might be useful to share some of the many useful utilities that help you get more things done than you knew were possible on Apple's iPad Pro.

Episode guide:

  1. Part OneiPad Equipment
  2. Part TwoKeyboard, Typing, Shortcuts, and Dictation tips
  3. Part ThreeHow to multitask on iPad Pro
  4. Part FourHow to use Apple’s Files app and tags
  5. Part Five: Useful utilities to help you get things done
  6. Part Six: iPad productivity tips

There’s an app for that

Apple’s new iPad Pro is a foundation platform for future vision and implementation in the tablet space. If you look, you’ll often find that in almost every case, you can get your hands on an app that will help you get things done. All the same, there are always a few useful apps you should think about installing on your iPad for when you need them.

The following list answers a range of pretty normal user needs.

Notes for the rest of us: MyScript Nebo

Apple’s Notes app is good, but if you use Apple Pencil, Nebo is better. The app lets you create multiple notes, including sketches, diagrams, and more.

It also integrates powerful intelligent character recognition, meaning that as you write your notes in your own hand using Apple Pencil, the words will be turned into editable text. It even lets you make bullet points and more. And you have some other neat features thanks to MyScript's 'Interactive Ink' technology.

You can keep notes in a highly visual, clear filing structure and export them in multiple formats, including PDF and Word. You can also handwrite a diagram and export it into PowerPoint. I think this is one of the most effective note-taking utilities for iPad Pro around. Get it here ($7.99)

The researcher’s friend: PDF Expert

I like to store my PDFs in Apple Books for later reading, but I find its filing system too clunky. PDF Expert makes things so much better: edit PDFs, work on PDFs you keep stored in iCloud without downloading them, merge PDFs, read them in Split View mode, and more.

It also offers day, night, and sepia reading modes and lets you annotate your documents using Apple Pencil. If your business deals in lots of electronic documents (contracts, forms, and more), this useful app is most certainly one you’ll want to get. Get it here ($9.99).

NB: If you need to sign lots of documents in different formats (Word, RTF, emails, and so on), you may want to take a look at SignNow (free).

Run Flash on an iPad? Photon Flash Browser

“But the iPad won’t play Flash …”

Well, to be fair, even Adobe has moved on at this point. But if you really must use Flash, try using the Photon Flash Browser. Get it here ($4.99).

Files on your Mac: FileBrowser

This powerful app is a must-have for iPads.

It looks a lot like Apple’s Files app, but it lets you take a look at files stored on connected Macs and PCs, FTP servers, NAS servers, and more. You can even copy files between all these places. It has other handy features, too.

I think this app is essential for workers on the move. Get it here ($5.99)

Yes, you can handle files on external storage: Yoink

Install this app, and you’ll find a new section in Files, Yoink.

This lets you store almost anything you can drag and drop on iPads: images, texts, URLs, documents, and more. You can also import items or send them to the app using the Share sheet.

What problem does it solve?

It lets you easily create folders containing all the relevant research you need in easy-to-navigate spaces. It also syncs with iCloud (Mac support coming) and supports Siri Shortcuts. Get it here ($5.99).

That archive thing: Zipped

If you sometimes need to handle Zip archive files, you need Zipped. It can unpack archives, save items to selected folders, and let you create archives. The app conveniently supports drag-and-drop, Split View and Slide Over, which makes it much easier to work with your "stuff." Get it here ($.0.99).

Yes, you can code on an iPad: Coda

Can’t use an iPad for writing HTML code? You know that’s not true.

Panic’s Coda proves this.

Coda is a stylish, highly featured and effective website editor you can use on your iPad, working online or offline on that code. It’s a text editor, FTP client terminal and supports all the common file transfer protocols and most file types. Get it here ($49).

Where's a hotspot? Wi-Fi Map

Searching for a local Wi-Fi connection? You need Wi-Fi Map, which shows you all the closest Wi-Fi hotspots to your current location. It also curates the most recent passwords for these hotspots, so you may not even need to enter one yourself.

NB: Never access any confidential sites over public Wi-Fi, and use a VPN service.

Get it here (free).

Print almost anywhere with PrintCentral

Apple’s support for AirPrint seems a little questionable at the moment, given the number of people I have querying me about it. PrintCentral is the tool you need to have installed when print is essential.

The app enables you to print not just to AirPrint-compatible printers, but to wired and non-compatible wireless printers via a friendly Mac or PC.

You can also print remotely over 3G and 4G and access a whole collection of other useful features, including support for Bluetooth printers. With this app you should be able to print anything, anywhere. Get it here ($4.99).

Why is my network slow? Network Toolbox

AirPort Utility gives you basic information, but if you want to get to grips with real hardcore geekery, you need Network Toolbox.

The app contains a huge selection of powerful tools for scanning, investigating, and maintaining networks, or for analyzing local or public Wi-Fi networks for security problems or misconfiguration. It even includes security test exploits — and has a rich selection of how-to videos for novice users. Get it here ($6.99).

What am I doing Tuesday? Things 3

This is the best app I’ve come across to help you manage your tasks on the go. Beautifully designed, the app grows with you and is kitted-out with a plethora of powerful tools to help you take control of projects and your daily, monthly, and yearly tasks. Make lists, sort them, share them, categorize them, search them, and so much more (and, yes, it supports Siri Shortcuts). Get it here ($19.99).

A better mail manager: Boomerang Mail

This app is fantastic. Install it, link it up with your email accounts, and you’ll suddenly have access to an incredibly powerful email and management tool. Priotitize messages, schedule replies, switch incoming mails on and off again, get summaries, ask the built-in AI for briefings of incoming messages, and set and reschedule meetings. The app works with Gmail, Outlook, Exchange, and Hotmail. Get it here (free).

Meeting notes plus: Otter Voice Notes

Otter is a smart note-taking app that empowers you to remember, search, and share your voice conversations. You can record live meetings or import them, and you will get real-time transcriptions created as the audio is analyzed.

While the AI that does the transcription is a little inaccurate, it does link its transcriptions up to the time line, so it helps me track conversational moments. Get it here (free, $79.99 premium).

Human transcripts as a service: GoTranscript

This is another take on Otter, but with human transcribers. This little app lets you record conversations on your iPad, which you can then send to be transcribed by humans at a cost of $0.72 a minute.

This is the app front end of a 13-year-old transcription business that now has a team of 20,000 transcribers, proofreaders, and support specialists. Clients include Bose and Netflix. Get it here (app is free, fees applied).

What about a calculator?

iPad doesn’t ship with Apple’s Calculator app built in. For some reason, though, you can use Spotlight and/or Siri to calculate most things. If you find you need something to handle more complex sums, try Calculator or PCalc, both of which are free.

I do hope this short series of articles helps you get more done on your iPad than you thought you could. I’ve said it before and will say it again: The list of things you can’t achieve on an Apple tablet is shrinking even while the tasks you can accomplish grow.

In previous episodes:

  1. Part OneiPad Equipment
  2. Part TwoKeyboard, Typing, Shortcuts, and Dictation tips
  3. Part ThreeHow to multitask on iPad Pro
  4. Part FourHow to use Apple’s Files app and tags
  5. Part Five: Useful utilities to help you get things done
  6. Part Six: iPad productivity tips

I’ll let you know when I publish the next article in this series: Please follow me on Twitter and join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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