Thought Leadership

What’s my iPad for?

By Colin Walls

I have been the proud owner of an iPad for nearly six months now. As I wrote at the time, I was not quite sure what I wanted one for. Later, I commented upon how my use of the device was progressing and, more recently, about my feelings for it. Now, with half a year’s experience behind me, I should be able to take a level headed look at the iPad’s place in my life and perhaps in society as a whole.

Although the initial furore may have died down, there is certainly much interest in iPads out there. During my recent travels, on seeing me “playing” with mine, two people struck up conversations with me about it, as did a plumber visiting my house this week. I believe both my daughters would like one [but I do not think my Christmas budget stretches that far!] and my Other Half is hoping I will move on to a better model soon so that she can inherit mine. The more I use mine, the more surprised I am that there is very little serious competition in the market yet, as I am convinced that “tablet” format computers will become ubiquitous. I think that, over the last six months, I have used my iPad for something or other every single day …

To recap which device I purchased: I got a 32G WiFi model. I regret not getting 64G, but that is not a disaster. I am glad I did not get a 3G model, as I have a MiFi device, which is infinitely more flexible [and a story for another day perhaps]. An iPad really comes into its own when it is connected and I love the instant access to online resources, but it is very useful standalone as well. Although I read that nearly 10% of iPad users have never downloaded any apps to their devices [which I found astounding], this ability to completely customize the functionality is a key value. Here is a summary of the apps that I use on a frequent, in many cases daily, basis:

I use the built in email and web browser apps all the time, of course. I make very little use of the other built-ins, except the App Store and Settings, of course.

On an everyday basis, I use:

  • Informant HD to manage my calendar and To Do list
  • Evernote enables me to keep documents in “the Cloud” and access them everywhere
  • I keep a diary using Maxjournal
  • I peruse a number of blogs and other RSS feeds using Blogshelf.

On more like a weekly basis, I use:

  • Mindo for mind mapping
  • GoodReader to access various document types
  • APG Calc Free gives me RPN calculator functionality
  • WordPress and BlogPress allow me to maintain my work and personal blogs respectively
  • Dropbox is a great way to move files around wirelessly
  • I use the built-in Photos app to capture pictures, but Photo-Sort to organize them and PS Express to “fiddle” with them
  • Eyewitness from the Guardian is a great source of photographic inspiration
  • Dictionary is handy for obvious reasons
  • I read e-books on Kindle
  • My business expenses are managed using BizXpenseTracker
  • I play a few games; current favorites are Scrabble, Boggle and Word Warp X

There are lots of other apps which I have tried and found to be either buggy or not useful to me. Others sit on the device, as they might be useful “one day” – I think I need to do a bit of a tidy. I have the Apple iWork suite – Keynote, Pages and Numbers. They seem to be very good, but I have yet had a compelling need to make serious use of them.

What am I looking forward to? I think a native Spotify app will be great; the iPhone app works OK, but I expect more. I am curious about what the new OS version will do for me, as I am unconvinced about multi-tasking being useful, particularly if it is at the expense of battery life. Being able to wirelessly synch my Google contacts would be great and I understand that the available multiple Exchange accounts will facilitate that.

I am not yet quite ready to leave my laptop at home when I go on a business trip, but that might happen soon. The main things I do when traveling are email, making presentations and writing stuff. I can do all that in my iPad. I just need to be brave.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at