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Tag Archives: apps

iPads for business – Part 4: Storing Data and Files

Posted on January 30th, 2013 by Tim

At Geek-Guru we have found that one of the greatest challenges in swapping your laptop for an iPad is managing your data. On your laptop you will be used to storing files on the hard drive or a USB pen disk. Files can be copied over at will and stored pretty much where and when you like. This is not the case with the iPad. Apple made a design choice early on to highly restrict access to the underlying file system on the device. You can’t just go nosing around on the C:\ drive like you can on a PC. This has some benefits, in that you are less likely to damage or delete some important system file, but also a lot of drawbacks. How do you get files on to the device, how do you share files between apps and how do you get those files back to your desktop or laptop when back in the office?

How should it not be done?

It is possible to add files via iTunes. Don’t!

How it should be done?

The easiest way to solve all of the issues presented by the iPad file system is to use a cloud synchronisation program. These will enable you to sync easily between multiple devices including PCs, MACs and Laptops. They also keep a copy of your data in the cloud meaning backup is covered automatically.

Accessing files on the iPad just involves downloading your cloud app of choice, finding the file and using the apps ‘Open In’ functionality to open the file in your chosen editor or viewer. Some editing packages (such as Quick Office HD) even have built in tools to access cloud services directly without using a third party sync app.

Some apps to consider

At Geek-Guru we have done a great deal of research on the various sync platforms and have some brief tips below. We’ll be reviewing some of these in more depth in future posts but for now this should be enough to get you going:

  • Dropbox – The original and still considered by many to be the best. You get 2GB of free space and support for this platform is very high in regards to integration with other apps. However, additional space can be expensive and support for multiple users is very dear. There is also no web editor for files.
  • Box – Probably one of the best in regards to enterprise file sharing between multiple users. Very well thought out apps and top notch cloud access but you do pay a premium for these features. Probably the most expensive option so only worth considering if you need the enterprise features.
  • Sky Drive – Microsoft’s cloud offering is our platform of choice for Windows users who also use Microsoft office. 7GB of free space, very slick integration in Windows and web versions of Office tools, such as Word and Excel, make this great for single user access. However, there is currently no shared access available and the iPad app could arguably be a little more developed.
  • Google Drive – Our app of choice for shared access. Very well priced and good apps available for both PC and IOS. However, web editing does involve embracing Google apps (their own version of Office) and a lot of people are not yet ready to drop Office completely. You can use this for storage alone, and continue to use Office, but then you might ask yourself why not just use Sky Drive?
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iPads for business – Part 2: The drawbacks!

Posted on January 14th, 2013 by Tim

So if you read last weeks blog post on the benefits of iPads you may be about ready to run off and buy one for your business right now. They’re lightweight, offer great battery life and lets face it they are incredibly desirable. However, you may want to consider some of the limitations of iPads before you take the plunge (yes, I know it’s almost heresy to say so but iPads are not perfect).

What an iPad is not

We touched on this in our first post in this series. Namely that the iPad is not a Microsoft device and does not run Windows. On first glance this may not seem like an issue but there are some circumstances were you may need to run Windows based software.

Consider these cases:

  • You have some bespoke business software that runs on Windows
  • You use Office extensively and need full Office functionality on the road
  • You need to use software that does not have an IOS version such as Sage Line 50
  • You have paid for software that runs on Windows and don’t want to pay for new software on your iPad
  • There simply isn’t an app that does what you need

In each of these cases an iPad would not tick all of the boxes and you would require a laptop or tablet running Windows. It could be that an iPad would do 90% of what you require but that the 10% is still enough to rule it out as your sole mobile device.

Drawbacks of the iPad over a laptop

Even assuming that you are happy with the functionality of an iPad and are sure that you can find apps that fulfil all of your needs you may still rule it out on other grounds.

It’s worth bearing these points in mind:

  • The iPad does not work with flash based websites. Whilst a lot of businesses have re-engineered their websites to work on IOS devices, not all have.
  • File storage can be clunky and illogical. Accessing files on an IOS device is unlike anything you may have seen before. Whilst there are ways around the way IOS deals with files they can be clunky and prone to user error. For those used to a PC that has a shared file system this is irksome at best and a complete show stopper at worst.
  • There is no facility for expanding the storage or saving files to flash memory cards. I.e. you can’t just pop a 16GB SD card in to an iPad like you can with most other devices. The size of iPad you buy to start with is what you have for the life of the device.
  • There are no USB ports, network ports, CD/DVD drives or other such technological delights you may be used to on a laptop. This may not be an issue but it’s worth bearing in mind before you ditch that laptop completely.
  • It’s a touch screen device and typing large chunks of text will always be slower than using a traditional keyboard.

So there you have it – the drawbacks in a nutshell. Many people will decide that whilst the iPad only does 90% of what they are after, it does it so well that it’s worth sacrificing that last 10%. Equally they may decide to take both a laptop and iPad on the road and use the two in different ways and at different times. Whatever you decide it’s worth piloting any iPad roll-out before you spend a great deal on devices. This way you can be sure that you don’t end up missing some critical business function that the iPad is simply not capable of fulfilling.

 

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iPads for business - Part 1: Why use an iPad?

Posted on January 09th, 2013 by Tim

There’s no doubt that iPads are here to stay in the business world. They are easy to carry, lightweight and with great battery life they represent a strong choice for anyone who requires a portable device to access web and email on the move.

At Geek-Guru we often get asked whether an iPad makes a good replacement for a laptop. This isn’t always as straight forward to answer as it sounds as they are very different technologies serving different business needs.

In this blog series we aim to answer some of the more common questions, dispel some myths about iPads and offer some advice on how to get the most from them in your business.

What is an iPad?

The Apple iPad is a touch screen tablet device that offers mobile computing functionality in a compact and light weight body. The most important thing to remember is that an iPad is running IOS (Apples own software) and not Windows. This means that it runs apps designed for IOS and can’t run the Microsoft applications that you are probably used to. The most common question that we get asked, by far, is whether an iPad will run Microsoft Office. The answer to this is no but that is not to say there are not comparable word processing or spread sheet applications that will do some (although not all) of what you are used to.

What the iPad does very well is offer a lightweight device to browse the web, access email  and take advantage of numerous other apps to keep in touch and manage business data on the move. As the leading tablet the iPad has a huge number of apps available including many of those you will be used to on your PC or laptop (such as Skype, DropBox etc). This means that many of the things that you previously used a laptop for you can probably do on your iPad.

Whilst it may not be your primary reason for getting one it’s worth saying that the iPad also represents a great entertainment system. All of the major streaming services such as Love Film, Netflix and iPlayer have apps available which means at the device you have used for work can also be used to wind down at the end of the day. Users who work away from home a lot or travel frequently will appreciate the simplicity of having a single device for both work and pleasure.

The benefits in brief

The iPad is a great business tool and excels at the following:

  • Lightweight, easy to carry and excellent battery life when compared to a laptop
  • Perfect for on the road web browsing
  • Comes with tools for email and company messaging
  • Perfect for communications services such as Skype
  • Lightweight document creation (basic word-processing, spreadsheets)
  • A wealth of other apps covering everything from task management to presentations.

With all these benefits you may ask why an iPad would not be good in all circumstances? Check out Part 2 next week where we look at some of the things you can’t do with an iPad and why you may decide a laptop is still the way to go.

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