My Top 5 Most Used Business Apps for iPad

As a frequent flyer that booked over 150,000 actual flown miles last year, I like to travel light. In that vein, I prefer to travel with only an iPad and no laptop. Sure, I do have a MacBook Air that I could bring. These days, I find that flying with the iPad solo fits the bill.

As a diehard iPad user, I’m often asked about the applications I use and why. That brings me to this list. There are many different applications that I (and others) have used and find useful. However, I find that I come back to these applications more than others. As a bonus, I’ve added a few honorable mentions to the end.

Top 5 Most Used Business Apps

1. Pages/ Keynote: Pages is Apple’s version of a word processing application. It lacks more complex features like reviewing found in Microsoft’s Word. But it is great to for taking notes and creating documents. And you’re able to export to PDF and Word formats. Keynote is Apple’s version of a presentation application. I do find creating presentations in Keynote cumbersome. So, I create the presentations in PowerPoint on my laptop then transfer them into Keynote. Using the iPad video adapter, I am able to present right off the iPad. One tip: make sure to test your presentations after conversation to Keynote. Some of the more complex features don’t translate cleanly. But with trial and error, I have found what works and doesn’t work.

2. iThoughtsHD: A stellar mindmapping tool which is a great way to collect thoughts, move them around and organize them. Using the iPad Video Adapter, your mindmap is displayed on a projector which is a great way to collaborate with others. And there are plenty of ways to export your mindmap…or just email it to folks.

3. Penultimate: The toolset would not be complete without a freehand drawing tool. It is a great tool for drawing charts and pictures of your thoughts. While you can use your finger to draw, I find a stylus more functional and precise. And again, like iThoughtsHD, you can display to an external projector using the iPad Video Adapter. In addition, you can export or email diagrams around too.

4. Box: I’ve used iDisk, DropBox, Box and iCloud. iCloud is great for sharing between Apple applications and devices. However, I found that Box provided better usability between platforms and applications. In addition, Box gives you the ability to select “favorites” of files or folders to access offline. That’s great for use on an airplane. In addition, a increasing number of apps support the WebDAV standard allowing files to be saved directly to Box. Conversely, files can be opened by specific applications instead of simply using the Box file viewer.

5. Kayak: This is a new entry to my list. I used to be a TripIt Pro user. However, I have found that Kayak now provides updates to trip (flight changes, gate changes, etc)…but without the subscription feel that TripIt Pro requires. Don’t get me wrong. TripIt Pro is a great application. The only reason I dropped them for Kayak was the fee. And I was already using Kayak for other purposes too.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Twitter: Call me a purist, but I fancy the classic application. There are others that work well too.

2. Skype: Calls from overseas can be pricey. So, I tend to rely more on Skype. I also use Skype if I’m in a location with spotty cell coverage…but good Wi-Fi. Convention centers and hotels come to mind.

3. United Airlines: The new(er) United app is really an app for iPhone. Aside from the graphics, it works well on the iPad for looking up details about your trip and alternative flights.

4. WordPress: It’s a decent way to make posts to your blog, change pages and check stats.

5. LinkedIn: Similar to the United app, this one is designed for the iPhone too. But I still find it more useful than pulling up a browser to search, make connections and send notes.

Necessary Hardware:

1. Apple VGA Adapter: This is one of the most used cables in the bag. It connects between the iPad’s 30-pin connector and a VGA port. Sure, there is an HDMI version. But I have yet to find a place that has a projector or display with HDMI over VGA.

2. Apple Wireless Keyboard: Over time, I’ve become very proficient with the iPad’s on-screen keyboard. But there are times when the external Bluetooth keyboard is called for. And it’s a very light addition to the bag.

3. Incase Origami Workstation: This is a great case for the Apple Bluetooth keyboard. Before getting it, I kept having trouble with the keyboard constantly turning on when I threw it in my bag. Then it would drain the batteries in the keyboard and the iPad. The Origami case provides enough protection for the power button on the side. In addition, it serves as a great stand for your iPad making it into a pseudo laptop.

4. iPad 10w Power Adapter: The power adapter that comes with the iPad is great. But you never know when you will need a bit more extension to the cable. Or run into a plug that won’t fit the iPad’s power brick. That’s where this cable comes in handy. And it works for your iPhone too.


I hope you find this list useful. Enjoy!

Tim Crawford is ranked as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Chief Information Technology Officers (#4), Top 100 Most Social CIOs (#7), Top 20 People Most Retweeted by IT Leaders (#5) and Top 100 Cloud Experts and Influencers. Tim is a strategic CIO & advisor that works with large global enterprise organizations across a number of industries including financial services, healthcare, major airlines and high-tech. Tim’s work differentiates and catapults organizations in transformative ways through the use of technology as a strategic lever. Tim takes a provocative, but pragmatic approach to the intersection of business and technology. Tim is an internationally renowned CIO thought leader including Digital Transformation, Cloud Computing, Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT). Tim has served as CIO and other senior IT roles with global organizations such as Konica Minolta/ All Covered, Stanford University, Knight-Ridder, Philips Electronics and National Semiconductor. Tim is also the host of the CIO In The Know (CIOitk) podcast. CIOitk is a weekly podcast that interviews CIOs on the top issues facing CIOs today. Tim holds an MBA in International Business with Honors from Golden Gate University Ageno School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Golden Gate University.

1 comment on “My Top 5 Most Used Business Apps for iPad

  1. Pingback: My top most used business tools and applications when traveling – AVOA

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