10 iPad Tips To Help You Ditch Your Laptop For Good

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While the iPhone 5 is deservedly getting all the recent press, its bigger brother, the iPad, continues to transform peoples’ lives. To wit, I recently went on a business trip with only my iPad, leaving my, heretofore-constant travel companion MacBook Pro behind. There are countless other reviews out there for you on Apple’s new iPhone. They can all pretty much be summed with, “Oh, just go by the thing already.” I’ll focus, instead, on how you can shed weight and save time by not having to schlep your laptop (even if it’s an Air). With the right apps—and the right case—you won’t miss a step.

1. The TouchType case


I reviewed this Kickstarter-funded case yesterday, and it provides an ingenious and elegant solution for the main issues with respect to iPad productivity: the keyboard and the stand. Touchtype ingeniously constructed its case with a pocket that allows you to slide the keyboard into the case itself. Importantly, you can still use the iPad when the keyboard is neatly tucked away, but, when you need to type, it slides right out, and—placing it wherever you like with respect to your iPad—you’re ready to go.

2. Simplenote


This is a cloud-based note-taking app that’s elegant in its simplicity. It syncs with a number of different desktop/laptop note-taking apps (I sync mine with the minimalist Notational Velocity), and ensures that whatever notes you take on the road will be there for you when you return to your home computer, and vice versa.

3. Apple’s iWork Apps


Pages, Numbers, and Keynote all made a giant leap forward recently with the overdue updates to Apple’s iCloud service. Now, much like Simplenote, any text document, spreadsheet or presentation you create on one device (laptop, desktop or iPad) will be available on any other device that is connected to your iCloud device. Apple seems to have finally worked the kinks out, and these apps work beautifully on the iPad.

4. Evernote/Skitch


Everyone knows and loves Evernote, and, of course, it works as you’d imagine on the iPad. What you might not know is that with their acquisition of image editor/notator Skitch, you can now create quick drawings, diagrams, as well as notate documents. I use this Skitch/Evernote combination a lot, for instance, when I need to take a picture of a whiteboard, and then make notes to its contents.

5. Hello Fax


Hello Fax eats eFax’s lunch. It’s a web-based faxing service like eFax, but better and cheaper. Beyond “just” being a web-based fax solution, its app allows you to fill in and sign PDF docs. So, someone emails you or faxes you some document you have to add your name, address, whatever to, and sign, you can now do it all via the Hello Fax app. You can then fax it or email it back to them.

6. Google Cloud Drive


With this app you can access any document you have on your Google Drive. This is great for viewing shared docs, etc. Frustratingly, you can’t yet edit any of the docs you access.

7. Skype


Still feels like magic to me when my iPad “rings,” and i’m connected to a conference call via the Skype app.

8. LodgeNet


This is a remote app to control the TV in your hotel room. Apparently, something like 99% of all germs on the planet consolidate atop hotel TV remotes, and so avoiding them (assuming you can find the remote in the first place) seems like a good idea.

9. Dropbox


Great for sharing large files between colleagues (amongst its many other features).

10. 1Password


Really necessary to sync your iPad with your laptop’s 1Password account so that you have all your passwords and log ins and credit card numbers securely stored and accessible with you while on the road. You do have 1Password on your home machine, right?

Bonus tip: While you can use an app like the great TextExpander (which I use constantly on my laptop) for reducing the number of times you have to type frequently-repeated words or phrases, on the iPad it’s pretty wonky (and—oddly—doesn’t sync between your devices). Instead, just go to Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcuts on your iPad, and you can add in frequently-repeated words and associated text snippets. It takes a while to build up your “library” of snippets, but, man, once you have them in there, you can just fly through emails, etc. The best part is that these text snippets tend to work across all apps on the iPad, unlike those in apps like TextExpander. I honestly don’t understand why Apple (or pretty much anyone other than me) doesn’t trumpet this feature. It alone will save you Lord of the Rings amounts of time.

So, there you have it. Follow these 10 tips—one great case and 9.5 apps—and you’re ready to leave that laptop at home, fly through security, reduce weight in clutter, and generally feel less encumbered. Importantly, you’ll also, you know, have your iPad with you to watch Breaking Bad on the Netflix app after your productive work day.

Follow George Howard on Twitter “@gah650”: www.twitter.com/gah650]