Wednesday, June 22, 2011

iPads at Home and School, part one: Index and Productivity apps

Edited 6/15/13: I see these posts are still getting a lot of traffic, two years later! Much of this info is outdated. However, I am working on updating my iPad app pages for 2013! I'll post to my blog as updates are completed, or you can check the page directly.
One year ago, I wrote this post about my early favorite iPad apps for teaching, and it still receives more hits than any other post on my blog. My iPad has now become a regular part of my teaching workflow, and recently the Lower School received 8 shiny new iPads for classroom use. I'm also purchasing several iPads for use in the LS and MS music program next year, which I will sync with my account for access to my most snazzy (expensive) music apps. This series of posts is a list of my favorite 75+ apps, for personal use and for teaching. I've put short descriptions of the apps, and will post full reviews of some of them in later posts. Enjoy, and please add a comment if you have a great app I'm missing.

App categories for Jo's Massive List (these will become links as I publish each category):

Productivity apps:

  • Bento: Bento for the iPad is a simple, attractive database program that can work as a standalone product or sync with Bento for the Mac and/or iPhone. Information fields can include photos and other media–useful to music teachers is the recent addition of audio fields. I keep track of my students in Bento, divided into collections by class, with text fields for my notes on their progress and photos/recordings of projects.
    Bento (generic screenshot, since all my records have students' names and photos)
  • Corkulous: Corkulous was an early favorite app, though I am now more likely to use iThoughts or Pages because of their superior syncing ability and easy workflow. Corkulous is loads of fun for notetaking or simple scrapbooking, though, providing an unlimited number of virtual corkboards with notes, to-do items, photos, etc.
  • DropBox: Dropbox is a cloud storage service that provides 2GB free storage. You can access a wide variety of stored files from the iPad app, which are instantly synced between all your devices. The best thing about DropBox, however, is that many apps use it as a seamless way to keep your files synced within the app. Get an account now!
  • Evernote: I am always having to tell people that no, I don't work for this company. I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this app in all its forms! Evernote is a cloud-based note service that works through apps on the iPhone, iPad, desktop, and any web browser. You can quickly upload typed-in notes, pictures, PDF files, screenshots, web pages, etc. to Evernote where they are immediately available on all your devices. Evernote integrates with many apps and hardware. For example, right now I'm in the middle of scanning years of filed papers with my Fujitsu ScanSnap, which sends them directly to my "Paperless" folder in Evernote, where I can later add tags and other information. The other completely awesome thing about Evernote is that it goes through all your PDFs and images and performs text recognition on them so that absolutely everything is searchable. A basic account is completely free! Read more here.
Part of my "Brain" notebook in Evernote

  • iCab Mobile: iCab Mobile has become my go-to web browser on the iPad. It looks a lot like desktop Safari. It has tabbed browsing, allows downloads of many types of files, integrated DropBox support, etc.
  • iDisk: If you are a MobileMe user, this one is a no-brainer. Access your iDisk on the go. I'm assuming that this app will change as Apple integrates the new iCloud service and phases out MobileMe.
  • Informant HD: The built-in iPad Calendar app isn't bad, but one thing I miss from my Palm OS days is having a full-featured personal organizer with to-do integration. I've been pretty happy with Informant, which is also available on the iPhone. It syncs with your internal calendar and/or with Google calendar, and unlike other calendars I've tried, it's never messed up my data even though I sync with both, including several shared Google calendars. The to-do integration is well done, and after a bit of a learning curve, it is quick to enter or change data.
June 2011 in my Informant calendar
  • iThoughts HD: I haven't been using iThoughts for very long, but it already ranks at the top of my "favorite apps" list. I am a big fan of mindmapping for brainstorming and personal productivity, and iThoughts allows you to create beautiful mindmaps with an intuitive interface that does all the organizational work for you, while allowing all the customization you'd like.
My summer brainstorming iThoughts project
  • Numbers: One of Apple's iWork suite, Numbers is a beautiful spreadsheet app that is easy to use and creates professional-looking graphs and presentations. I don't use spreadsheets often, but it is fun to play with!
  • Outliner: CarbonFin Outliner is a great tool for linear organization. It's a simple but powerful app for creating hierarchical outlines.
  • Pages: Apple's own word processing app, part of the iWork suite, was one of the first apps to convince users that the iPad was much more than a media consumption device. It is quite a powerful word processor, with all the features you'd expect: many fonts, standard formatting options, the ability to insert photos and clip art, and, added recently, the ability to organize your docs into folders and wirelessly sync with your desktop or iPhone.

  • ToDo: Though I now use Informant HD as an all-inclusive personal organizer, Appigo's ToDo is a thing of beauty if you don't mind having a separate app for your to-do list. It uses a gorgeous intuitive interface with a variety of themes, and integrates well into the Getting Things Done (GTD) method of personal organization.
ToDo for the iPad

Stay tuned for Teacher apps!

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