iPad 2 Practical Cloud Management

This post is all about my frustrations and solutions with accessing cloud storage on the iPad 2. It is large but I believe that it reads quickly and is worth your time. I will also discuss how my business-centric apps work with those cloud options. It’s important to remember a few things before we get started.

  • The list of cloud storage options is not exhaustive. There are several others which are not listed but are likely to be of importance to larger enterprises, like RackSpace’s and Amazon’s offerings.
  • The list of apps is not exhaustive. These are just the ones that, after researching each category, I chose to acquire.
  • All of Apple’s cloud offerings are consolidated in the iCloud column. Apple’s offerings are in a state of transition. They all seem to be consolidating into iCloud.
  • The iPad 2012, 3, New, or whatever designation you want to use is not being considered. First I don’t have one and, second, it won’t matter to business apps for a long time anyway. The iPad 2 has 512 MB of RAM while the new iPad has 1 GB. Business apps that grow to need that extra RAM will drive the business move to the new iPad.
  • I have signed up for the free accounts for several cloud storage options to evaluate which one(s) I like best. I’m not recommending that as a strategy for you.
  • Evernote does not pitch their offering as a cloud storage option. Their cloud storage is just used as a way to share information between several devices. They make their money on the movement of data, not its storage. However, other apps do focus on their cloud storage.
  • SA FTP stands for StrAIT Advisors FTP service. It is hosted by Go Daddy as is part of the service for hosting our websites. It is shown here to represent FTP servers in general. Where there is FTP support there is usually WebDav support for those of you that care about such things.
  • My iPad 2 is a 16 GB model so cloud storage is important. If you have a 32 GB or 64 GB model you may rely more heavily on internal storage, as I would if I had one of those models.
  • To date, I have acquired over 85 apps (a paltry sum to most iPad owners). Most don’t apply to the focus of this post. Many are no longer installed on my iPad but still available via iTunes if I change my mind and want to reinstall them. Some of those listed below are off my device for now.
  • Most of the cloud storage options listed have their own iPad app. Those apps are not shown.
  • The topic of cloud storage is a very fluid subject. This snapshot is valid as of this date but expect rapid changes.


Let’s look at the apps by category:

Office apps

  • QuickOffice: QuickOffice Pro HD is my go-to office app on both my iOS and Android devices. That’s mainly because of its storage options and support of various Office formats. It’s also an excellent file manager and PDF reader. Listing it in both categories would be confusing.
  • Pages: This is Apple’s word processor. It does a beautiful job and can produce visually stunning documents. It can export to Word.
  • Numbers: This is Apple’s spreadsheet. It too does a beautiful job and can produce visually stunning documents. It can export to Excel.
  • Keynote: This is Apple’s presentation package. Like the other two Apple products it works well and produces visually stunning results. It can export to PowerPoint. If you are going to make presentations to clients on your iPad, this is the tool to use.
  • As a PC and Microsoft Office guy, QuickOffice is the most intuitive and easy to use office app. If you’re a Mac guy, the reverse is true. Regardless, the Apple apps are vastly larger and cost much more (combined) than QuickOffice. To be fair, the first serious computer I ever bought was the original Mac. I loved that machine but the business world went the PC route and so did I.

File managers / PDF readers

  • This category is combined because all file managers on this list are also file viewers. I needed to try several file managers because file management is the worst feature of iOS 5, period! It’s very limited and non-intuitive. It’s only easy to use for very basic users. Jobs blew it on this one. I was desperate to find a decent file manager.
  • ReaddleDocs: This is a decent file manager and PDF reader. However, it was a close second to GoodReader and was retired to iTunes.
  • GoodReader: This is my go-to file manager and PDF reader. It is the best PDF annotator of the group, even better than ezPDF and just short of Acrobat X Pro on the PC.
  • FileMan: A very useful tool, primarily because it does a good job of accessing SkyDrive. SkyDrive is important because it gives me 25 GB of free storage. That’s by far the most of any cloud vendor.
  • iFiles: This is a very good file manager and beats QuickOffice with its FTP access.
  • iUnarchive: This is a worthy file manager. It’s here because of its focus on file compression.
  • TouchDocs: This is focused on a better UI for Google Docs than the one Google provides. Based on user reviews, the Google Docs app itself crashes when spreadsheets are edited or loaded. I’m sure that will be fixed soon.
  • ezPDF: This has been my go-to PDF reader on all my other non-PC devices. However, on the iPad it isn’t a great file manager and doesn’t annotate quite as well as GoodReader. I reluctantly retired it to iTunes.

Note taking apps

  • Evernote: This is the center of my business universe. It’s how I keep my most used reference information at my fingertips on all my devices. It’s how I collect research. Its only downside is that the UI on the iPad doesn’t use a folder hierarchy and display as well as on Android and Windows. However, that’s my Apple file management complaint surfacing again. It’s not Evernote’s fault.
  • PP Notes: This is a useful note taking app. I like almost everything about it. It takes dictation better than anything else I have, so it’s a keeper.
  • Penultimate: This app is for people who just want to handwrite their notes. Because of that it’s very simple and for some people that’s enough. Not for me, so it’s been retired to iTunes.
  • OneNote: This is the iPad version of Microsoft’s OneNote application on the PC. I have been a big OneNote user for a long time and still like the tool. However, this version is very limited and doesn’t compare well to Evernote for most things. However there are some key things that OneNote does on the PC that I continue to use so I need the ability to view a “.one” file on my iPad.
  • Awesome Notes: This is my favorite note taker. That’s primarily because it will sync directly with Evernote. Other note taking apps will export their notes as PDFs which, in turn, can be imported into Evernote. However, this approach is cleaner. I also prefer the way it imbeds drawings into notes.

Project Management apps

  • Project: SG Project is my go-to iPad project schedule tool. It can export to and import from Microsoft Project, which I use on the PC. It doesn’t do the portfolio management piece that it’s big brother does so it may get upgraded soon.
  • SCRUM: Agile PM is my go-to iPad agile project management tool.

Drawing apps

  • Sketchbook: A handy tool for quick sketches on the iPad. It can produce more “art like” work than a purely vector based package.
  • TouchDraw: A great Visio alternative for the iPad. I love this tool. It is a major part of my business.

Others

  • iThoughts HD: A great tool for mind mapping. I won’t go off on a tangent here on mind mapping but I have made other posts on that topic. It will import and export to Mindjet MindManager on the PC.
  • Mindjet (not shown): Another mind mapping tool. It is an extension of Mindjet Mindmanager Pro, which I use extensively on my PC. It’s good but not quite as good as iThoughts HD.
  • HanDBase: This is a small database manager for the iPad. I use it on other devices to make small, relational databases. There are more robust tools available but none and simple as this one. I really don’t want to be building complex relational databases on a portable device anyway.

Well, that’s the list. I think I’ve set personal records for longest blog post and most links in a single blog post. Sorry about that. I hope it does provide you with a useful reference location for the future. I’ll try to make it shorter next time. Thanks for stopping by…

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