Well, kind readers, I bring great news. While tablets began their existence as excellent content consumption devices, content creation took a while to come to fruition. But with Apple and Microsoft providing strong office software for the iPad, the ability for you to break-up with your laptop is now realistic. If you’re more of a Microsoft purist, you may prefer their suite of apps; Word, Excel and PowerPoint are finally available for the iPad and may be purchased along with the Office 365 subscription for $99/year. Apple’s collection of office apps — Pages, Numbers and Keynote — are now included for free (that’s free as in beer) with all new iPad purchases. And the interface is gorgeous offering streamlined templates to get you closer to a completed document before you’ve even begun. It’s important to note that Microsoft uses their standard .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx file formats — but Apple’s suite can edit and save in the very same Microsoft formats. So collaboration on documents with your PC pals is a no-brainer whichever way you choose to go.
And the next time you need to create a compelling presentation take Keynote out for a spin. It is a breath of fresh air that will help your presentation rise above the sea of snoozer PowerPoints. Not only is Keynote a joy to use, the built-in transitions and animations are stunning. If you want to keep your audience’s attention: start with a winning outline, don’t use too many words on your slides, and build it with Keynote.
But now that you’ve created all these wonderful files, where do you keep ‘em? They could live on your device, but the real joy of the mobile experience is the portability of your files — being able to get to them easily from anywhere. The cloud-based storage marketplace is on fire. The list of contenders is long, but a few of the majors are Dropbox, iCloud (Apple), OneDrive (Microsoft), and Google Drive. All provide capable storage-in-the-sky, but each bring their own take to the solution. A current favorite is Dropbox as it’s platform agnostic. But sometimes a combination of services can serve you well; if you can keep track of where different items go. As I use Apple’s apps for office documents, I keep these syncing in iCloud where my latest versions of Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents stay up-to-date on each of my Macs and iGizmos. But for PDFs and other miscellaneous documents, I pop those into Dropbox — which I can also access from any device. If you are a heavy Microsoft user, you may take more advantage of OneDrive. And Google Drive is a strong offering if you spend your time on the Android platform. Each have a free level and multiple tiers of paid levels so take a peek at the fine print before making your final choice.
Finally, signing documents, both your own or from others, is a cornerstone of business correspondence. A PDF app like PDF Expert 5 ($10) can do more PDF acrobatics than you can shake a stick at. Filling out digital forms, annotation and markup, applying your digital signature — it’s all there.
So this summer, load up the iPad with your favorite set of office, storage and PDF apps and have that difficult conversation with your laptop: “It’s not you; it’s me.”