The Apple iPad is a game-changing device for small-businesses owners who either want to manage operations more effectively on-the-go or use the device to expand and enhance their customer and client relationships.
Many iPhone and iPod Touch applications are also available for iPad, but why limit yourself to duplicating what’s already on your smartphone? The iPad’s screen real estate makes the device ideal for using richer apps, such as presentation managers and collaboration tools (for sharing contracts or conducting meetings, and so on).
This 2012 list of 50 Essential iPad Apps for Small Business updates our popular 2011 edition to feature many innovative and best-selling applications released during the past 12 months. (We also kept some favorites from the previous list.) Of course, technology changes quickly, so remember to read all the details about an application before you download it to ensure the current version meets your needs.
Sales and Marketing Apps
1. Analytics HD ($6.99)
Manage up to 55 different Google Analytics reports from your iPad.
2. Facebook (free)
Facebook had more than 500 million active monthly mobile users as of April 2012, and we bet you’re one of them.
3. Free Conference Call (free)
You need a free web account to go with this app, which lets you schedule, hold, and manage conference calls for free from your iPad.
4. GoodReader for iPad ($4.99)
A perennial best-seller among PDF readers for the iPad, GoodReader also handles high-resolution images and Microsoft Office documents.
5. GoToMeeting (free)
Attend meetings held via GoToMeeting, with access to presentations and video feeds (depending your iPad model).
6. HootSuite for Twitter (free for up to five social profiles)
Send and schedule Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare account updates.
7. Instagram (free)
Upload photos instantly to social networks and blog platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Posterous.
8. Intuit GoPayment Credit Card Terminal (free)
Accept credit cards via your iPad using this free card reader, which carries low transaction fees and now uses geolocation to figure local sales tax.
9. Line2 (free for local calls; $14.99 per month, pay as you go)
Add a phone line to your tablet for extra calling flexibility on the road.
10. LinkedIn (free)
Interact with connections, update your profile, and manage your inbox.
11. Pinterest (free)
Update and share virtual bulletin boards on the third most-visited social network.
12. Skype (free)
Make and receive free domestic and video calls with anyone else on Skype; complete discounted calls with anyone in your Skype Contacts list.
13. SlideShark: PowerPoint Presentations on the iPad (free, up to 100MB of storage space)
Display Microsoft PowerPoint presentations, preserving animations and graphics. The catch: You’ll need a SlideShark account.
15. WordPress (free)
Receive alerts about new comments, moderate incoming reviews, and update your WordPress-powered website or blog.
Document Creation and Management
18. Documents Unlimited PDF and Office Editor Apps Pro for iPad ($4.99)
Create, view, and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. Directly edit files in Google Docs without downloading them.
19. Dragon Dictation (free)
Can’t stand the iPad’s on-screen keyboard? This popular voice-recognition app allows you to speak and instantly see your words appear as copyable text, as an email, or as social-networking updates on Facebook and Twitter.
20. Dropbox (free)
Access all your documents, presentations, and videos regardless of your location.
21. EasySign (free)
Use your finger or a stylus to add your electronic signature to PDF, Word, Excel, image, or text files.
23. FileApp Pro ($4.99)
A best-selling application for organizing and reorganizing many different types of files and documents on your tablet.
24. JotNot Fax (free app plus 99 cents per fax)
An outbound-only fax app that lets you send PDF documents to fax numbers in the U.S. and Canada. You need Box.net, Dropbox, or iDisk to retrieve documents. Use JotNot Signature to digitally sign documents.
25. Jump Desktop (Remote Desktop) ($14.99)
Access and control your computer from your iPad.
26. Keynote ($9.99)
Create presentations complete with animations and transitions. Use video mirroring to share the content with an audience.
27. Notability (99 cents)
This well-regarded app lets you annotate PDF files or capture handwritten notes.
28. Numbers ($9.99)
Work on spreadsheets or edit Excel and CSV files with this highly graphical application.
29. OmniGraffle for iPad ($49.99)
Create quick diagrams, web wireframes, charts, and more using built-in stencils or custom shapes.
30. Pages ($9.99)
Apple’s official word-processing software comes with 16 templates and styles and saves documents to iCloud for editing on other devices.
31. Penultimate (99 cents)
Create notebooks that can be organized by topic or project. Supports realistic pen strokes.
32. PrintCentral ($8.99)
Print directly to printers on Wi-Fi networks without additional software.
33. Quickoffice Pro HD ($19.99)
This best-selling iPad app for creating and editing Microsoft Office documents is optimized for iPads with SmartTouch technology.
34. Scanner Pro 4 ($6.99)
Scan checks, agreements, white board information, or multipage documents; save and upload to Dropbox, Google Docs, or Evernote.
35. Splashtop Remote Desktop for iPad ($4.99)
Get one-touch access to your PC or Mac desktop and applications with this best-selling app. Works over Wi-Fi or 3G/4G wireless networks.
Productivity, Organization, Financial, and News
36. AudioNote: Notepad and Voice Recorder ($4.99)
Create meeting notes that combine text and audio comments.
37. Bento for iPad ($9.99)
The iPad’s most popular database app includes 25 templates you can use to organize events or contacts and to track projects.
38. Dolphin Browser for iPad (free)
A fast mobile web browser that customizes your news-site reading experience through special webzine and “speed dial” features.
39. Evernote (free, limited storage)
Take notes and photos, create to-do lists, and record voice reminders that can be synchronized across computers and mobile devices.
41. Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine (free)
Creates a social media “magazine” using your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Reader news feeds and timelines.
43. News.me (free)
Need to keep tabs on what colleagues and others are reading? That’s the unique twist on this reader app.
44. OmniFocus for iPad ($39.99)
Keep track of multifaceted projects, adding notes and photos as appropriate. Adds location awareness to tasks that need to be handled in a specific place.
46. Roambi Analytics Visualizer (free)
Create rich business intelligence reports from Excel, CSV, and HTML information. Requires a $99 subscription to create reports from Google Docs or Salesforce.
47. Salesforce for iPad (free)
This oft-downloaded but unsupported app from Salesforce Labs lets you browse Salesforce apps, tabs, and records.
48. Shoeboxed Receipt Tracker and Receipt Reader (free)
Snap photos or receipts and export information to CSV format and accounting software, including QuickBooks.
49. Time Master + Billing ($9.99)
Track time and manage billing from your iPad and then export data to QuickBooks.
What’s your essential iPad app? What categories would you like to see considered for additional lists? Share your comments and suggestions in the Comments section below.