Despite their early adoption by consumers, tablet PCs are just now being used by businesses. But it’s really all about the apps, and thankfully there has been an onslaught of useful business-oriented apps that have transformed these devices into a full-fledged business tools.
Ecommerce businesses are uniquely suited to take advantage of this. Many ecommerce owners already use their smartphone apps, and the tablet PC just builds on that ability to keep things running smoothly in or out of the office.
I looked at the top 100 ecommerce-related apps with the highest user ratings and the most downloads for each of the top three tablet devices: Apple’s iPad, Android Tablets and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook. I then handpicked from that group of 100 to focus on 36 highly rated and popular productivity apps for each tablet device.
Storage, File Sharing and Remote Desktop Apps
- Air Sharing HD. Wirelessly mount your iPad as a drive and quickly load it with files, and then view, share or print your entire file system. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: $9.99
- Egnyte Enterprise App. Secure cloud storage, file sharing and file backup for businesses. Upload, download and view files from a PC or Mac. iPad, Android Tablets. Not available for BlackBerry. Price: App is free, pricing for the plan varies.
- Dropbox. Some tablets do not come with a USB port — or any kind of port — to upload or download files. That’s where Dropbox comes in. Install Dropbox on your iPad and access the files on any other computer that has Dropbox installed. You can simply share files between devices or share files with other users. iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: App is free, pricing for plan varies.
- Jump Desktop. Another remote desktop app exclusive to the iPad allowing for full desktop control of any of your desktop PCs or Macs. It supports Bluetooth keyboards and even supports projector connections so your iPad can be a more useful presentation device. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: $19.99.
- Citrix Receiver. A secure remote desktop application that gives you instant access to any Windows or Mac desktop computer and allows you to run all applications, send emails, and edit documents from the road. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
Conference and Phone Meeting Apps
- WebEx. Attend meetings-on-the-go with on your iPad wherever you happen to be — schedule, attend, present and go. You can enjoy all the standards of a conference meeting, streaming data, audio and even video. And for tablets with front facing cameras, you can participate in video conferences. If you don’t have a front-facing camera, you can still stream other users’ videos on your device. iPad, Android, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: App is free, pricing for plan varies.
- Fuze Meeting. You can host and attend any teleconference or video conference meeting with Fuze and you can even invite other participants to the meeting that do not have a Fuze account. Fuze is compatible with Apple iWork apps and MS Office apps, PDFs, videos and other still images, so you can create and run multimedia presentations. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: App is free, pricing for plan varies.
- Skype. Make free calls with other Skype users, call other contacts for very low rates and for tablets with a front-facing camera, make free video calls. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
Payment Processing Apps
- Intuit GoPayment. Take payments at expos, tradeshow shops and conferences with your tablet — running Intuit GoPayment. You can swipe cards with any of the compatible card reader accessories that GoPayment supports. Customers can sign a tablet’s touch screen to authorize their transactions; you can even drag and drop items into a customer’s cart using your fingertips and you can email receipts to customers at point of sale. GoPayment can sync with QuickBooks. iPad (coming soon), Android Tablets. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: App is free, pricing for plan varies.
- Square. Accept credit cards and sell your merchandise while on the go or when setting up shop at a design expo, garage sale or trunk show. You’ll receive a credit card reader from Square to process the cards. iPad, Android Tablets. Not available for BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: App is free, pricing for plan varies.
Document Creation, Viewing and Organizing Apps
- Things. Manage all your to-do lists with this handy app. Set up repeating tasks, get reminders, sort by due date and create multiple projects with their own custom to-do lists. iPad: Price: $19.99. Ultimate To-Do List on Android Tablets: Price: Free. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook.
- Bento. FileMaker Pro’s robust database app for the iPad offers 25 built-in database templates, so you can manage contacts, track projects and expenses, plan events, follow items sold and inventory numbers and make to do lists. iPad. Price: $4.99. Not available on Android or BlackBerry.
- Evernote. An all-in-one note-taking app. You can create text, photos, and even record audio notes; sync all your notes to your desktop PC or Mac; create text notes on images, where notes even contain geolocation info for mapping and researching of an idea further. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free
- iWork Apps. “Pages” is the word processor. “Numbers” is the spreadsheet creator. And “Keynote” is the presentation app. When working together, they turn your iPad into a document-creating workhorse. You may never use your laptop or desktop computer again. Pages, Numbers, Keynote. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: $9.99 each.
- [Office2 HD]. For MS Office or Google Docs users that also use an iPad for business, this handy app allows for viewing, creation and editing of all Word, Doc, and Excel files right on your tablet. PowerPoint files are not yet compatible with the app. iPad, Price: $7.99. Spreadsheet for Android Tablets, Price: $4.99. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook.
- Documents To Go. Edit, create and view Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files that used Office 2007-2010. You can also view, but cannot edit, PDFs, iWork files and Google Docs files. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: $14.99.
- GoodReader. A universal file reading app. It can handle books, movies, maps, pictures and more — whether that file is a PDF, TXT, DOC, PPT, XLS, iWork file or several video and audio formats. GoodReader also allows users to mark up their PDF files, leaving sticky notes, highlights, freehand drawings, shapes, strikeouts and typed comments. iPad, Price: $4.99. exPDF Reader for Android Tablets, Price: $.99. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook.
- Salesforce Mobile. Get all your Salesforce data right at your fingertips on your tablet; access all account information, track account activity and recent sales, log phone call and meeting data right after they take place and respond immediately to new leads or customer requests —wherever you are. iPad, BlackBerry PlayBook. Not available for Android Tablets. Price: App is free, pricing for plan varies.
- Dragon Dictation. Voice recognition software that serves as your personal secretary — record a voice and almost instantly see it in text form. Record a meeting, phone call or keep your hands free while dictating an email or text message. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: Free.
- Voice Memos. A simple voice-memo-recording app that is only limited by the size of your tablet hard drive. You can even keep recording while running other applications. iPad, Price: $.99. iRecord Pro for Android Tablets, Price: $1.49. Not available for BlackBerry.
- Pocket Informant. A full-featured calendar and task application to keep you organized and on time for every meeting, phone call or appointment. Manage to-do lists, contacts and your calendar of events — it even syncs with Google Calendar and Toodledo and can be configured to sync with Outlook for extra cost. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: $14.99.
- Wyse PocketCloud Pro. Access any of your desktop computers remotely — PC or Mac — over WiFi or 3G and 4G networks. Leave your laptop at home and use your tablet to grab a forgotten file or report, edit and send an email from your desktop or even help solve a computer program from anywhere you happen to be with your tablet. iPad, Android Tablets. Price: $14.99 Not available for BlackBerry.
Financial and Business News Apps
- Bloomberg. Track all the latest world market data with Bloomberg’s financial news app. Stay current with news, stock quotes, company descriptions, market leaders and laggers, price charts and market trend analysis. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
- The Economist. The digital version of this venerable international business magazine with analysis of finance, technology and world markets. You can read the magazine on your iPad or let your iPad read the magazine to you while you listen along. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: App is free, each issue can be downloaded individually for $5.99. Subscribers can access digital issues for free.
- Financial Times. Read the full paper on your tablet on the way to work or on the way home. You can even download the full paper and read it offline when no connection is available. Digital version comes embedded with high-definition images, video coverage and interactive market data. iPad, Android Tablets. Price: App is free with limited access to 10 articles. All articles can be purchased via subscription service, price varies by plan. Not available for BlackBerry.
- Mashable. Take the Mashable tech coverage with you wherever you are with this official app. iPad,Android Tablets. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
- Analytics HD. Track all your Google Analytics data with this handy app. It features full screen charts, multiple accounts, quick access to “Today” and “Yesterday” reports and much more. iPad, Price: $6.99. Google Analytics Widget for Android Tablets, Price: Free. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook.
- Ego. Manage and track all metrics data for Ember, FeedBurner, Google Analytics, Mint, Squarespace, Tumblr, Twitter and Vimeo in one app. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: $2.99.
- Roambi Visualizer. Take your business report data from Excel, Google Docs, Salesforce and dozens more, and turn that data into interactive visual, up-to-the-minute charts to help crunch your analytics numbers. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: Free
- PollDaddy. Create, manage and take customer surveys right on your iPad and gather crucial data immediately while you are at expos, design shows or conferences. iPad. Not available on Android or BlackBerry. Price: Free.
Social Networking Apps
- WordPress. Manage your WordPress blog or website wherever you have an Internet connection with your tablet device. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
- Blogger. Keep your Blogger blog up to date at a coffee shop, on a train or while running errands, with this official app. Android Tablets, Price: Free. BlogPress for iPad, Price: $1.99. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook.
- Twitter. The official Twitter app for you’re your tablet. Tweet, send direct messages, share photos and videos and keep up with customer support through your Twitter feed and on the go. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
More Business Tool Apps
- Google Mobile App. One of the most multi-faceted search tools around. Search by taking a picture with your tablet camera and let the image recognition software return relevant results. Translate text in multiple languages. Perform standard Google searches with your voice, and speak your query — staying hands-free — and find businesses nearby without having to type in your current location. iPad, Android Tablets, BlackBerry PlayBook. Price: Free.
- Google Translate. Translate text into 57 different languages. Use the voice recognition software, speak the text and have it translated into 15 different languages. Listen to accurate pronunciation of translated text in 23 different languages and copy and paste translated text and send it as an email. iPad, Android Tablets. Price: Free. Not available on BlackBerry PlayBook.