Apple has taken consumer electronics to a new level with a line of techno-gadgetry that consistently pushes the computing envelope.
From iPods to iPhones to Macbooks, the Apple line gives consumers access to features that combine the benefits of personal hardware with online integration.
But although Apple's products have made a big splash with consumers, they haven't been fully embraced by the business world. Many businesses are stuck in a PC mindset and have struggled to appreciate the business value of Apple devices.
That's too bad because many of Apple's products have features that are extremely useful in a small business environment. In particular, Apple's latest release – the iPad – has a range of good business apps that can make your normal business functions much easier.
- iWork Suite. iWork is Apple's productivity package that is designed to offer an alternative to MS Office. It contains Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets/charts) and Keynote (presentations). Most iWork files can be translated into PC formats and iPad versions make it a no brainer for a highly portable productivity resource. Cost: $10/module.
- Evernote. Evernote alone almost makes the iPad worth the investment. It's an app that lets you speak, write or type notes through an easy to use interface. As long as you're online, the files you create will automatically sync with your computer or laptop. Cost: Free.
- Dragon Dictation. One of the drawbacks of the iPad is that it doesn't have a traditional keyboard. Dragon Dictation accurately transcribes your voice into text that can be saved, emailed or sent as a text message. It also has a free Dragon search – you speak a question into the microphone and your iPad finds the answer from multiple online sources. Cost: Free.
- WebEx for iPad. Portable multimedia capabilities are what really set the iPad apart from other devices. The WebEx app makes it possible for users to participate in real-time WebEx meetings from virtually anywhere – a huge advantage for frequent business travelers. Cost: Free (for participants)
- Banto. Banto is a database app for business owners. It has 25 built in templates that help you keep track of everything from event planning to inventory, and it has the ability to auto-sync with your laptop. Cost: $5.
- Instapaper Pro. You may not always have access to the Internet. But Instapaper Pro lets you save web pages for later viewing so you can always have access to blog posts, white papers, news items and other valuable information. Cost: $5.