Fresh off a 12 day trip to Europe where my research team presented a paper at the SSSR 2010 Conference, I wanted to share the different iPad apps I traveled with. I loaded the device with a variety of apps and media that I hoped would allow me to be productive during the trip. It was my hope to use the iPad the entire time in place of the MacBook Air I normally rely on during travel. In the interest of full disclosure, I did have the Air with me. (Hey, you ALWAYS need to have a back-up plan!) Also important to note, while I did use a 3G model during the trip, the AT&T data service is not accessible in Europe, which limited the availability of some apps at certain times.
My iPad strategy for this trip was to use the iPad for both Creation and Consumption purposes. I really wanted to try to be productive during the 6-7 hours of both flights, not just spend the time watching movies and listening to music. I also wanted to diligently eliminate all that paper-based clutter (and weight) from my satchel, i.e., take text files with me rather than carry books, magazines, paper copies of articles and printed PDFs. I’ve created a Google spreadsheet to share direct links to the iTunes App Store of all the apps I will share. The spreadsheet also includes a brief overview of the ways I find myself using each app and the cost of the app. This time around, I really tried to keep things free, but I did decide to try a few Paid apps. Currently, I have around $12 - $15 invested in the apps that will be showcasing. This post, we’ll focus on the apps I targeted for CONTENT CREATION.
Many of you are probably familiar with Evernote, but I have to start with this app. This free resource is essentially a word processing app that syncs your files to your cloud-based account, making them available from virtually any and all devices. It is a must have. You install it locally on all the devices you want to access files from. It has a Mac & PC client, a web-based client, as well as mobile versions for Blackberry, iPhone and iPad. The nicest feature of the mobile app is that it allows you to edit while you're off-line and sync back up when you are able to connect to a wifi signal. It's really a nice productivity app and I found myself using the iPad edition quite a bit in the absence of a full blown Google Docs option. I took notes at the conference with Evernote, kept track of important addresses associated with travel, and even used it to jot quick notes to myself during thoughtful dinner conversation with my colleagues.
Next up is the Dragon Dictation app. This is another free application for iPhone and iPad. It's a speech-to-text app that allows me to dictate into the iPad microphone and then either copy and paste or e-mail the resulting document. I’ve been using this handy app quite a bit in conjunction with Evernote as I write blog posts on the iPad. The only real drawback with Dragon Dictation and the iPad is that with current OS, there is a lack of multi-tasking so you can not keep both Dragon the Evernote open synchronously to complete the CUT/PASTE regimen. It really is a bummer, but the convenience of dictating voice notes can be extremely useful in some situations. Because of the need for a network connection, Dragon Dictation only worked for me when I was connected to a wireless network at the conference center or my hotel.
For blogging purposes, I was set with the WordPress app. I’ve posted some thoughts about this app here, and I still find it a pretty decent blogging tool. The biggest problem I had on the trip had nothing to with the app and everything to do with motivation. I just didn’t ever really feel like blogging, so I didn’t. I think part of the issue I always have with blogging is the fact that I can’t write short posts. I always tend to be too focused too focused on writing a perfect post, with beginning, middle and end rather than tossing my thoughts out there on a series of short posts. For those quick hits, I normally find myself using Twitter and Twitpic on my Blackberry. Whatever the case, for blog post creation, I had intended to use the WP app. On my next trip, I’m going to try to blog at least once.
Perhaps a bit of a stretch for a creation app, but then again, perhaps not, textPlus was something that I found myself using a lot. The cost prohibitive nature of enabling my Blackberry for usage in Europe left me without text messaging and IM services, which I rely on heavily to communicate to my family, or so I thought. In the days prior to leaving, I heard about textPlus, and handy app that allowed me to send SMS text messages to mobile devices that were back in the U.S. You can import contacts from your iPad into this app, or add your own manually. I used this app extensively to communicate with contacts during my trip. It would have been even more productive if I could have accessed the 3G network.
The final app on the creation side is RDM+. This handy little app enable remote desktop capabilities. Basically, it puts all the creation tools I have on my desktop machine accessible to me via the iPad. This handy app allows me to access multiple workstations, like my home office iMac, work MacPro, laptop, etc. from my iPad as long as each device has installed the free companion RDM+ desktop software. I used this app frequently while at the conference and in the hotel to print a document for a co-worker back at the office, or locate a local file and email it. It takes some practice with the app to really get the hang of “clicking” and selecting icons from your remote machine, but I eventually figured out that tapping the screen activates your single left mouse click, and using a two finger tap allows you to right click. Once I mastered this technique, I was able to access and use Photoshop to edit a digital image and upload to my Facebook account. At the time I purchased RDM+, it was a mere $6.99. Since then, it has been raised to $9.99, but worth the investment.
So there you have it, five apps that I found very helpful for content creation on my iPad while I traveled. I’m happy to say that with a combination of these apps and the Safari web browser, I was able to use my iPad about 99% of the time I was abroad. In my next post, I’ll be talking about apps I used for CONTENT CONSUMPTION, some of which enable creation.