What really are the best iPad apps available for those in the writing biz, especially those knee-deep in writing for the web (including blogging, SEO, Analytics, web editing, etc.)? There are literally hundreds of apps available, but it will take lots of money, time, and wasted space before you can cull the herd for the best apps. I’ve very nicely done all the work for you.
Basecamp – Basecamp is one of the most popular project management systems out there, and the App Store has a few different apps for tapping into your Basecamp accounts. There are various packages and prices, and while some work well for the iPhone, you don’t need any of them for the iPad. Instead, it’s best to just make a home screen link directly to your home in Basecamp. That’s why my Basecamp icon is our nifty logo.
I highly recommend the same method for Facebook. There is no iPad Facebook app, and the iPhone app looks terrible. Just create a home screen link and you can do everything you would normally do on Facebook while using a computer. The one big caveat here is that if you need to scroll down in a Facebook pop-up screen, just go on ahead and accept the fact that you won’t be able to. You will have to do things the long way.
SharePlus ($14.99 and free for Lite) – For those who use Microsoft Share Point instead of Basecamp–or in our case, in addition to–there is a handy app for those of us who do not have a mobile Windows product. SharePlus lets you do everything, and I mean everything, you can do as if you were sitting at your computer. Okay so you can’t upload files (one bad limitation to the iPad), but if you need to check on your projects and dole out assignments on the fly, you don’t have to wait until you get back to the office to do so.
DropBox (Free) – DropBox is simply the best and easiest way to share files between your computers, iPad, and iPhone. Not only is the app free, but a DropBox account is free for up to 2GB. For quick transfers of txt files and photos, you most likely won’t need any more than that.
Jungle Disk (Free) – Jungle Disk is a cloud file sharing/storage service that is relatively cheap and quite easy to use, and now you can quickly look up a file on your cloud without your computer. You can also upload and download certain files on and off your iPad.
Documents to Go ($16.99) – Need to create a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, or a Power Point presentation on the go? Never fear, Documents to Go is here! With DTG, you can create new Office documents, open up certain files from emails (such as PDFs), and sync it with your computers so you can use it similarly to DropBox for Office Documents. In addition, you can also sync DTG with DropBox AND Google Docs. The latter alone has made the price point worth it as I share more documents with Google Docs than I create Office documents to email out, personally use, etc.
GoodReader for iPad ($.99) – One of the iPad’s biggest limitations is the seemingly lack of ability to download and upload files via FTP. Thankfully, there is GoodReader that acts as your personal mobile FTP. You can download into and upload from DropBox, Docs to Go, and other cloud storage such as Box.net. I personally love it for blogging purposes. I can’t upload images through WordPress blogs on my iPad, so I use GoodReader to upload them for me and then I can just use the handy URL.
Markup for iPad ($9.99) – If you like the sound of GoodReader, then let me tell you about Markup. It is also a FTP app, but it takes things a step further. With Markup, you can edit the actual HTML of the webpages, save it, and then view your handywork. No web developer with an iPad should be without this app.
Analytics HD ($6.99) – This app is exactly as it sounds: a Google Analytics app. No matter if you monitor one Google Analytics account or fifty, you can view them all and pull up sharp Analytics reports at a moment’s notice. This especially became useful while visiting a client and realizing I had none of my reports with me.
PhotoPad (Free) – Simply put, this is a mini-Photoshop-like app. It obviously doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Photoshop, but you can make plenty of little tweaks to images before uploading them to your site, such as scaling, cropping, painting, erasing, and color effects.
WordPress (Free) – If you’ve used the WordPress app for your iPhone, then you know how limiting this app really is. It’s not without its uses, though. You can’t write a detailed post that includes lots of style formatting and images, but you can approve, delete, and reply to comments straight from the app. It’s also great for editing your WordPress posts and pages.
Joomla Admin Mobile (JAM!) $9.99 – This app is just like the WordPress app above, except it’s for Joomla. Like WordPress, you can access your Joomla administration on your site through Safari on the iPad, but it’s very limiting in what you can do. You can edit articles, but only in the HTML view. JAM lets you add articles, tinker with menus, and manage your sections and categories. If you use Joomla for blogging, then this app is a no-brainer for you. The biggest downside to the app is that it never once tells you of everything you have to do to use it. It never mentions that you need a JAM account, or that you need to install a JAM plugin, or anything like that. It takes a couple of trips into the reviews section to learn all of that, which is a bit shameful for the developers.
Penultimate ($2.99) – I use this app almost daily. It’s basically just a notepad app, but you physically write on the screen with a stylus instead of typing in notes. You can also create multiple notebooks within the app to separate out your notes, and then email them or save them to your iPad as images. I have used this for to-do lists, taking notes at conferences, writing down reminders, the list goes on and on. It’s quite possibly the best $3.00 I’ve ever spent on the device.
MailChimp (Free) – Obviously you won’t need this unless you use MailChimp for your newsletters, but if you do, you’ll love it for its handy analytics features. You can’t create campaigns with it, but you can check the stats of all the campaigns you have sent without logging into your computer. Did your campaign send, how many people opened it, how many reported spam abuse, how many clicked on the links within, etc.
Desktop Connect ($14.99) – Since I’ve been traveling so much as of late, this app has been fantastic for me. It allows me to remotely connect to any computer (that I’ve set permissions for of course), allowing me to screen share and access files. For those who constantly have to fix your parents’ or friends’ computers over the phone, you can piece together how much easier this makes it. I’ve loved it for the fact that if I forget to bring a document with me on a trip, I can access my computer at home, move the document into Docs to Go on that computer, and then download it straight to my iPad.
If you’re wondering where Twitter is in this list, I have to say that I have not found a decent free Twitter app as of yet. Since I don’t pay for Twitter as it is, I have a hard time paying for an app to use it on the go when I could just go to the m.twitter.com pages. TweetDeck is unfortunately awful for the iPad. The only free Twitter app that I have found to be closest to usefulness as TweetDeck is the official Twitter app, and while it’s nice and easy to use, I don’t like how I can’t view multiple Twitter accounts at once. I can use multiple accounts, but I can’t see all their activity at the same time, like I could on TweetDeck when it worked. Maybe it will work again someday, but until then, you’re almost better off with just a home screen link.
Every one of these apps has made my job in writing for the web easier. Now I almost have no excuse for fixing code, editing a blog, tweaking a graphic, or checking a site’s search engine rankings and analytics, unless I say that I left my iPad at home. My boss knows better, though.
Next week…must-have plug-ins for WordPress….