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iPad User Perspectives

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Editor’s Note: In lieu of “A Conversation With …” and on the heels of the March 2 launch of Apple’s iPad 2 tablet, Springfield Business Journal asked for volunteers among local businesspeople to share their iPad experiences. Find out more about what they like – or don’t like – about this mobile technology.

On the iPad Wagon
What led your employer to obtain an iPad?
“In our case, being a nonprofit, it was donor-driven. We had a regular donor who felt (the iPad) would be a help to us.” —Jeff Nene, Convoy of Hope

“GeoEngineers Inc. purchased our first iPad as a test to see if the form factor would integrate with our current field-based work. Many of our employees already had iPhones they were using to collect field data, and we thought the larger screen would make field data collection easier and faster.” —Andrew Sparks, GeoEngineers Inc.

Out With the Old?
Does your iPad replace your desktop or laptop computer?
“I’d say it is a 90 percent replacement. I can do almost anything on it, but if I am putting together a long presentation or a spreadsheet or a very nicely formatted Word document, the computer is still easier.” —Don Harkey, Galt Consulting

“It doesn’t replace either, but its portability makes it easier to take around with me than my laptop if I don’t need the laptop’s functionality, or where I wouldn’t bother to take the laptop, like waiting for appointments (or) quick lunches.” —Louise Knauer, Community Foundation of the Ozarks

Given its size and shape, do you find the iPad convenient or difficult to transport?
“The size of the screen is ideal for field data collection. The weight of the iPad with the armored case we purchased is a little heavy for extended periods of standing while collecting data. … Since we do much of our field work out of state, we transport the iPad on commercial aircraft. The iPad is a post-PC device, and it does not need to be taken out of carry-on bags when going through security.” —Sparks

Taking Care of Business
What are the most useful iPad functions?
“Syncing with Dropbox allows me to access all of my information. Before the iPad, I used to grab multiple folders and notebooks before going out for the day. I had to print out documents that I wanted to share. Now, I just have the iPad – no folders or notebooks. Before meeting with a client, I can review past notes. I can forward reference material. I can show videos. I can access Web sites. The most useful aspect is that I don’t need to know exactly what I need before I hit the road – it is all with me.” —Harkey

“The variety of the apps, the ability to use it and hook it into a data projector, and its transportability.” —Zac Rantz,  Nixa Public Schools

“For work-related purposes, it’s e-mail, calendar, notes and Web access. (It’s) easier to use Google Maps than on my phone, iBooks for some reference materials and Jumbo Calculator. I don’t have an iPhone, but just (the iPad’s) size alone makes it easier than when I’ve used iPhone’s Google Maps. Definitely better than my Blackberry’s map app.” —Whall

What are your primary iPad uses during the workday?
“I reference my e-mail and calendars as well as client files from Dropbox, which syncs with my computer at my office, my laptop and my computer at home. I also use multiple apps that allow me to pull my bank balance, record expenses, keep up with social media and keep up with the news. I can attend GoToMeetings and Skype. I also utilize it for reading books and watching movies on Netflix. I can even scan and accept credit cards.” —Harkey

“Primarily in meetings, taking notes; video or graphic presentations to small groups; and keeping up with our social media accounts.” —Nene

“Note taking, organizing our advertising/sponsorship program, social media, presentations, news source from different apps.” — Rantz

“We use the iPad when on site visits performing initial reconnaissance of an area for the design of horizontal directional drilled pipeline crossings of rivers, roads or other obstacles for above ground construction. The combination of mobile (geographic information system)-based mapping with the built-in GPS helps us locate existing pipelines and plan exploratory soil borings. … Another iPad use is for tracking known sinkholes and local geology while in the field.” —Sparks

Would you recommend the iPad to other business professionals?
“Yes. This is one of those tools that could (help you) be more efficient and let you connect more.  If you can use the cloud features and sync a lot of items together, then you will really work on the efficiency of your office.” —Rantz

“The iPad is not a laptop replacement for most people, but it is great for mobile applications where an iPhone is too small and a laptop is too big.” —Sparks

Top Picks
Which apps do you like best?
“Good Reader is almost indispensable  … to open PDFs and (Microsoft) Excel (documents). Touch Sketch lets you roughly sketch out ideas for layouts or graphics. Penultimate is a good handwriting recognition app. It’s nice to use to jot down quick ideas or notes and e-mail them to myself, and can be less conspicuous than using the keyboard for Notes. app syncs my Box cloud files to the iPhone.” —Whall

“Evernote notebook app, Mail for e-mail, Twitterrific for Twitter, Facebook, occasional Web surfing on Safari … and a Bible application.” —Nene

The Wish List
Is there anything the iPad doesn’t do as expected?
“Maybe the biggest thing is finding the right combination of apps. (The iPad) doesn’t do everything out of the box. You have to find the right apps that are reliable and work well with each other. This takes a significant amount of time, but it also allows you to customize the way you work.” —Harkey

“It is a little more difficult to use on documents and spreadsheets than I had hoped.” —Nene

What functions do you wish the iPad could provide?
“Flash Player and USB port would be my first choices.” —Whall

“I wish it could connect to a small scanner. I would also like to project the iPad display on a projector. This currently only works with presentation apps. It would also be nice if the iPad could make calls directly.” —Harkey

“To work better with all forms of media – mainly Flash player.” —Rantz

“Full-featured (Microsoft) Word and Excel applications. I am also in search of the perfect task manager app that will work across (my iPad, iPhone and Mac laptop).” —Nene
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