Top business applications for iPad
Enterprise software for tablets
By Brian Nadel | Computerworld US | Published: 16:56, 04 October 2010
OmniGraphSketcher for iPad
Do you need complex graphs to make that presentations sing, even though you have the artistic talent of a slug? The Omni Group's OmniGraphSketcher for iPad can turn numbers into beautiful infographics. There's a helpful introductory tutorial and video to get you started, however, OmniGraphSketcher's four-step interface is one of the easiest I've worked with.
You can copy and paste your numbers in place or manually add them by tapping on a blank graph. OmniGraphSketcher turns your numbers into a good-looking chart or graph using a number of formats, including a line graph, bar graph or area graph. You can add colours, labels and captions. The program arranges its colour schemes in palettes that are named for artists like Mondrian and Hokusai. You can try out a new colour combination or graphing style and, if it doesn't look right, just try something else.
It took me 10 minutes to create two professional-looking sales graphs for an imaginary new product that might be used in a marketing report or sales presentation. Unfortunately, OmniGraphSketcher is limited to creating static representations of the data, I would have loved to have been able to create an animated graph.
You can also update your data and the graph changes to reflect the new numbers, or just drag the elements in the graph to the new shape. Although I found the latter method an efficient way to create graphs, sort of graphic finger painting, it turned out to be difficult to highlight the exact areas I wanted to change, particularly when I was on a bumpy train ride.
When you're done, the graph can be duplicated, saved as a .PDF or .JPG file and emailed to your co-workers or dropped into a presentation or report. At any time you can swipe through a gallery of your finished or in-progress items, making it easy to find past projects.
By being able to create such a variety of professional-looking graphs, OmniGraphSketcher lets the numbers do the talking.
On-Core Time Master
If you're a freelancer who has to bill for your time or you need some help with time management or expense tracking, On-Core Software's On-Core Time Master can help you make the most of every minute. Time Master is one of most customisable programs I've ever used. Getting started was quick, the app comes with explanatory videos and clear documentation.
Clients can be entered individually, from the iPad's contact app or by importing a comma-separated file. Activities can be set up by time or duration, or by punching in and out in on the fly for a single event. Tasks can be billed in a variety of ways, and the program can track multiple items by client, project or task. Payment can be based on hours, minutes or even seconds.
When you start timing a new task, a green circle starts spinning. It continues to time your work even if you're using the iPad for other things. Just tap on the rotating circle to stop or restart the timer.
Time Master lets you note whether expenses are reimbursable, whether you have a receipt and whether it's taxable. You can add expenses based on everything from how much you drive on the job to the number of pages you print for a client. Basically, anything that can be counted can be charged as an expense and sent as an e-mail or exported as a comma-separated data file.
While it can't be set to trigger an alarm when you've hit a preset monetary or time limit on a project, the app can deliver detailed reports for your own records or for attaching to an invoice. On-Core sells add-on modules for QuickBooks and for creating professional-looking invoices. You can also add the ability to synchronise with another device, for example with your iPhone.
Building your day around Time Master can help you make the most of your time.
If you need to monitor how your company's network is operating, then you'll want to download Codepacity's free app Network Utility onto your iPad. It can not only interrogate a corporate LAN but can test the network's performance and show what's going on behind the scenes. Originally designed for the iPhone, Network Utility occupies half of the iPad's screen, but you can hit the 2X button to fill the screen. It gets a little fuzzy, and part of the main screen doesn't quite fit, but everything is readable.
The software allows an iPad to connect with a corporate LAN via a WiFi link, all you have to do is type in your network's host address.
You can run a ping test, which sends a data packet to the server and times how long it takes for the round trip. Network Utility actually performs a series of four separate ping tests and displays the results. However, it stops short of averaging them, which would be a great thing to have if you were troubleshooting a problem or looking for a congested network port.
In addition, Network Utility can scan ports within a specified range to see who's using what and check on intermittent faults. It also runs a whois query to check on the domain name behind the IP address. The software can not only display the iPad's IP address, but also check on a LAN's host name and find its external address. On the downside, one thing Network Utility can't do is run a simple broadband test to gauge the connection to the Internet. You'll have to use Ookla's free SpeedTest.net Mobile app to do that.
The best part is its price. Network Utility is a freebie, but it inserts small ads at the bottom of the screen. For 99 cents, the Pro version goes ad-free.
In either form, Network Utility is perfect for IT people who need to roam from facility to facility.