#iPadOnly book » Section 3 - There's an app for that! » Chapter 27 - Handy Apps

Chapter 27 - Handy Apps

Many small apps make using the iPad a bliss. Here are some of them.

There are many apps that are really handy on the iPad and or the iPhone but that may not be enough to have their own category per se, so we decided to group them here and write at least a short paragraph about how we use them.

Apple Notes

Augusto still uses this built-in app:

“When Apple released their Notes application on the first iPhone, I was really mad (and complained a lot) that it did not include categories, or tags or anything else to manage my Notes. Over the years I have made peace with this. The cool part is the fact that it is connected to iCloud, so any change can be accessed by my iPad, iPhone and Mac. And recently, the ability to search Notes has improved significantly. You can use iPad’s global search to find a Note you’re looking for.”

Michael doesn’t use Apple Notes, he does his entire note taking in Evernote.

Contacts and Calendar

We both use the built-in Contacts and Calendar apps and we love the way they sync with the iCloud and with our family members. In one of the later chapters in this book Michael will explain how he syncs his iCloud with his wife’s and shares the calendars together.

This is what Augusto thinks about these apps:

“I have trusted my Calendar since 1995. That was the year I got my first PalmPilot. Over the years my calendar has evolved and improved. Today, my personal, work and family Calendars live in iCloud. I love using colors for each calendar. Each work calendar, personal calendar as well as every member of our family gets its own color. It helps identify each activity even without reading the detailed info.

What I love about the Calendar on the iPad more than anything else is the week view. In general I don’t use any other view on the calendar on the iPad. I am aware that you can do the same on the iPhone, but even with the bigger screen of the iPhone, it is not as comfortable to work and plan as it is on the iPad.

As with the calendars, my contacts are also in iCloud. I love to have them sync to every device without any effort on my part. In the years of the Palm, I had categories for those contacts but now I just leave keywords in the note field of the contact so I can find the information quickly by simply using the search function.”

Apple Airport Utility

Augusto is very grateful for this little app:

“All of my Wi-Fi routers are Apple Airports that together work to extend the network so we can access them all around the house. Before Apple released this little application, it was simply impossible to manage my Apple Airports on the iPad or the iPhone - you always needed a Mac or a PC.

This application allows me to update, restart and configure my Apple Airport Wi-Fi network in a really easy way. It’s not an application I use daily but I am really grateful that I no longer need a Mac to configure my Airport network.”

Banking Apps

We have mixed experiences with our Online Banking Applications

We both try not to physically visit our banks. Instead, we use online banking to manage our finances. With the iPad it’s getting even easier.

Augusto’s take on the banking apps in iPad:

”I live in the USA. There are many banks with applications on the iPad. In my case I use Bank of America and WellsFargo.

I really like the fact that I can use their applications, which allow me to pay bills, transfer money, deposit checks and more, all in the comfort of the sofa and the ease of the iPad. I can’t put my finger on why the apps work better than their respective web sites, but in my experience, they do.

Michael still prefers his bank’s web sites:

“My case is different. My banks are in Europe - Barclays in Spain, mBank and other banks in Poland. All of them have iPad apps at the time of this writing, but these are still very basic. They also make the authentication really painful as they ask me to remember both my usernames and passwords to log in for security reasons. That’s why I prefer to use 1Password and log into their web sites on the iPad and manage everything from there. However, I’m sure the future of ‘appification’ will also reach my Internet banks and their apps will improve as well.”


Michael found a new type of calculator in this app:

“When I initially wrote this chapter I complained about the lack of the built-in calculator app on the iPad and the fact that I needed one and that I found one in an app called ‘Calculator Pro’. Well, it’s all irrelevant now.

The thing is, the built-in calculator app on the iPhone, as well as the Calculator Pro app on the iPad try to replicate the old calculator machines… without taking into account that we live in the 21st century and have a much more versatile and capable machine now - the iPad.

To my surprise, there is an app that takes advantage of the iPad and works in a totally different league than the old-school calculator - the app is called Soulver. It’s a notepad with a built-in calculator that can be used somewhat as a spreadsheet. I know, it sounds complicated but it isn’t - you just have to get this app to see what I mean. Suffice to say, all of my calculating needs, as well as currency conversions, are done by this app. Just get it - this is what a calculator for an iPad (and iPhone) should look and work like.”

Apple Cards

Augusto convinced Michael to give this app a try:

“This is another Apple application that I use constantly. I love the idea that I can take a picture (or use one of my pictures) and send a card to anyone. Like a postcard with my kids’ photo to their grandparents. This makes the process both convenient and inexpensive. Michael didn’t know about this app but now he’s sold on the concept as well.”

Clipboard Manager and History

This app makes copying and pasting a little more convenient according to Michael:

“One of the few things I was really missing from my ‘computer life’ before going #iPadOnly was a way of copying many things to the clipboard at once… (which I did on my Mac using a third-party app) and pasting them later..

When the iPhone initially launched, it didn’t have a Clipboard at all… now the iOS has Clipboard but I wish it was more versatile. Once you copy something there… and then you copy something else, the first thing disappears forever.

Thanks to the Clipboard History app I can almost replicate my PC flow here. I open up the app and for a few minutes, the app is monitoring everything I copy to Clipboard and is saving it in the app. I can select a piece of text, copy it, select another one, copy it again, and copy something else… and I know all of this is being saved in the app.

Later when I want to paste this information, I just go to the app, click on something and it’s copied to clipboard again and I can paste it wherever I want.

This is still not ideal. I’d rather have a more robust Clipboard with full history integrated directly to the iOS (and ideally synced with other devices through iCloud) but it’s sufficient for now.

The thing is, after so many years of OSX and iOS one would think they’d enhance the Clipboard to boost our productivity… but they didn’t. Thankfully we have apps for that.”

Explain Everything

This app allows you to use videos, pictures and your current screen of the iPad and create interactive explanations of what you’re doing. Michael is using this app to explain things to his team and Augusto uses it to explain things to his family. We’re also recording some videos with this app to post on our #iPadOnly web site.

Find My Phone

Find My Phone it is something that any user of iPhone, iPad or iPodTouch should activate. Not only is it great to find your device around your house, (the most common use in our households) it is a powerhouse should your device go missing. Find My Phone allows you to see where the device is, change the password and more.

It is really a great tool, especially because we all have delicate and confidential information on our devices. This app allows you to remotely delete or lock your device. That’s why we strongly recommend, if you have an iOS device (and we assume you have as you’re reading this book), please get this app and activate this service. Better safe than sorry.


This is an app that turns the iPad into a real Mac remote control. Michael uses it a lot:

“When I’m far away from home but need to perform something on my Mac… or when I’m in my bedroom and still need to do an administrative task on my Mac… I use LogMeIn Ignition app to do it directly from the iPad. This app lets me tap on my Mac’s screen through the iPad’s screen.

OK, I must admit that now I’m more than a year working almost exclusively on my iPad so my use of this app has decreased substantially in the last 12 months. I find it harder and harder to have a task I need to perform on my Mac that I can’t do on my iPad. However, if such a thing shows up, it’s convenient to quickly access my Mac’s desktop via LogMeIn and see my desktop screen and do what needs to get done.”

Augusto also uses LogMeIn:

“I have been using LogMeIn for a long, long time. Having my parents living in another country and being their tech support person made me turn to this app. Before the iPad I also used it to access my personal computer from work. When I got my iPad and LogMeIn released their Ignition application it was a no brainer for me. It is honestly an application that I don’t use often, but that every time I do, I can’t express how happy I am to have it. My MacBook is on all the time since it is the iTunes hub in our house. I can manage it remotely with my iPad and LogMeIn.

In my opinion, LogMeIn on the iPad is not robust enough to use your iPad as a terminal to work on your remote computer in a permanent way. It is not necessarily LogMeIn’s fault and more the need to use the mouse for many things on the Computer. I am sure there are people that would make that work, as I am sure that if I needed to do it for a short period of time I would do it, but in general it is not a substitute for the computer.

That said, it is great for when you need to access your Mac for something quick, find documents, and do simple and quick things on the MacBook when I am out and about.

While I was writing this, I was trying to remember when was the last time that I accessed my MacBook using LogMeIn Ignition and I could not remember. The reality is that I have migrated most of my file structure to the cloud, and because of that I have needed this app less and less. Most likely the reason to keep it on the iPad is to do support for my parents’ computers. Anyway, I still believe it’s great to have this app just in case.”


Michael doesn’t use this app but Augusto swears by it:

“I do visual maps, mind-maps and outlines constantly. Every book that I have written (including this one) began in an outline. I have never found a more complete solution than OmniOutliner. I can use multiple files, and add/remove information as needed in the outline until it is ready for prime time or until I am ready to begin writing. At that time, I move the outline in text form to Scrivener in the Mac where I create the folder structure that will sync to the iPad, ready for me to write.

If you need or like to use outlines, this application is probably the most powerful tool you are going to find to accomplish that.”


Augusto recommends this app for cooking:

“My wife loves to cook. A couple of years ago I got her this app - it is a recipe application and nothing more. It shows you how to add ingredients and prepare the meal with beautiful pictures. It even allows you to adjust the amount of a recipe automatically. Let’s say you want to cook something for one person instead of two. Paprika will adjust your ingredients and will calculate the correct amounts.

You can automatically extract many recipes from the web, make meal plans, categorize the recipes you have created and build your list for groceries.

My wife used to own many recipe books, but instead of looking through those for hours, she is now using Paprika to prepare our meals.”


This is a very geeky app, but important if you’re running your own server, or a server infrastructure like Michael does at Nozbe:

“As a CEO of an Internet company I’m wearing many hats. Over time, I finally got many great and talented people to replace me in programming, system administration and other tactical duties. But as mentioned in my chapter about Textastic, every now and then I step back into one of these roles. I sometimes code and I sometimes need to log in to one of our servers just to see if everything’s all right without asking my CTO about it. He’s got too much on his plate anyway.

To access our Linux-based servers via SSH I use an app called Prompt. People who have been using the ‘Terminal’ app on the Mac will feel at home with this one. People who don’t know what the Terminal app is for on the Mac, will have no idea what I’m talking about.

To be fair to the latter group, and probably the majority of the readers of this book, I’ll stop right there. If you need a Terminal replacement on your iPad, just get Prompt.’


Augusto likes to get inspired with this app:

“I love Quotes. I always have. I always will. QuoteBook is one of those cool applications that allow you to sort, search and ‘manage’ quotes from the people you find inspiring.

Using this app allows me not only to get inspired but also to explain things in the words of other people.

I use this application extensively, not only to share inspiring quotes on Twitter but I also store those tweets that I want to share more than once. For example, I store snippets from my books or information on the sales of my books.”

Drop Manager

As mentioned numerous times in this book, we’re both fans of Dropbox as one of our ‘cloud solutions’ for going #iPadOnly. However, the native Dropbox app, as much as it has improved over the years, still requires you to go to their web site to perform basic administrative functions. Michael doesn’t like it:

“I hate it that to rename, move or in any other way manage my files in Dropbox I need to go their web site which is not touch-friendly at all. Thankfully there is an app for that, too. I use Drop Manager for Dropbox - an app that fills in all these blanks. I can rename files and folders easily, copy them, move them around, you name it.

OK, the app is not very pretty and its design leaves something to be desired so there is a little bit of a learning curve to using it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very useful. That’s it in a nutshell. This app is just useful and I use it almost daily.”

Scanner Pro

How Augusto’s iPad turned into a scanner:

“I used to travel with NeatReceipt tucked in my bag. It wasn’t big, but required the Mac in order to work. Since I no longer carry the Mac and I am mostly on the iPad, I began looking for a solution to solve that problem. My solution is an application called Scanner Pro. The app not only takes a picture of the document, but also performs a bit of image-rendering magic to ensure it’s as legible as can be. I think it is really incredible that I can scan a document anywhere, convert to PDF and send it without anyone knowing that I simply did all that on my iPad.”


Take your keyboard snippets to the next level - here’s why Michael uses this app all of the time:

“In the chapter about iPad’s keyboard (or the lack of it) I talked about the built-in keyboard shortcuts in the iOS. These are great but they are all one-liners. Meaning, if you’d like to define a keyboard shortcut for your entire physical address, or for an email signature or for anything else that requires more than one line, you’d have to define multiple keyboard shortcuts.

In TextExpander, things are different. You can define as a single keyboard shortcut an entire email message, a template of a document or anything else for that matter. I use it often to create templates. For example, a template for a blog post, for an email message, for a paragraph, a chapter, a list of links, and much, much more.

The only problem is that TextExpander is a third party app so only some of the iOS apps (and none of the Apple’s apps) support it. However, most writing apps do (like Byword, Nebulous Notes, AI Writer…). That’s why for my writing purposes, I have created many TextExpander snippets and use them almost every day.

My best advice is for you is start with creating a blog post template if you’re a blogger. I just type ‘msblog’ and my entire blog post is filled in with all the parts of the blog post I need to include. Extremely useful.”


You Tube it is the standard of video. You may like it or not. You may like or dislike Google, but the reality is that You Tube is one of the most important search engines, and you may be surprised on how many answers you can find there.

Yes, you can do YouTube on the browser, or you can use their application. It really depends on how many videos you view on YouTube and how much you like the extra features that the app offers, such as the favorites or the watch later features.

Augusto likes the YouTube app but Michael prefers to watch the YouTube videos in the browser as he manages his YouTube channels there and wants to make sure he has all the functionality in place to do so.

There’s an app for what you need, too!

In this chapter we covered the most notable ‘Handy Apps’ we use and primarily wanted to convince you that there is an app for almost anything on the iPad.

According to Apple there are almost 400,000 apps that are designed specifically for the iPad in the Apple App Store (out of 900,000 apps in total). This makes the iPad a very mature platform that can tackle almost every problem and help you jump on the #iPadOnly bandwagon. The best part, most of these apps are not only useful, but very focused, touch-friendly and just pure fun to use.

Next Chapter: Section 4 - Why iPhone matters when you're going #iPadOnly

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