In our iPad mini Productivity Guide, we discussed some of the ways that the smaller-sized tablet can help improve overall workflow. Now we’ll focus on how you can use the Apple mini iPad as a phone to improve communications in your home, office and just about anywhere else on the planet.
First things first – why the heck are people so interested in using their iPad mini as a phone, anyway?
One of the main reasons is device consolidation. Sure, the iPhone is a fantastic mobile solution, but is it the most versatile? When it comes to one-device solutions, the iPad mini might just be at the top of the heap. In fact, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber tweeted, “It’s not the fastest, or highest-resolution, or anything-ist, but the iPad Mini is the best computer ever made.” We agree. And with the right apps you can add telephony to the laundry list of the mini’s capabilities.
iMore’s Editor-in-Chief Rene Richie cited the mini’s superior battery life and larger screen size as a reason why he likes using his iPad mini as a phone at airports, as certain apps really do benefit from the screen real estate of the iPad mini.
According to Richie, “Sometimes, when I want a more expansive, more IMAX iOS experience, I find myself reaching for my iPad mini, holding it one handed, going about my same business, and enjoying it tremendously.”
We couldn’t agree more, as we’ve been using our mini iPads as phones around here and enjoying it tremendously as well. Here are some ways you can save time, save money and improve business communications by using your iPad mini as a phone. We follow that with some practical tips.
iPad Mini: The Ultimate Office Phone
If you work as an inside sales rep or customer service agent, you might be all-too-familiar with the tedium of switching between multiple browser windows while on a call in order to access relevant customer data. This is certainly pain that I felt during my years as an inside sales rep. Here at RingDNA, we’ve replaced our desk phones with iPad minis in order to access customer data in the same interface we use to make and take calls.
RingDNA transforms your mini iPad into a smart phone. And when we say smart, we mean it! The moment a call comes through on your iPad, you’ll instantly see which advertisement, promotion or even keyword caused a lead to call. You can also quickly scan their LinkedIn, Chatter, Facebook and Twitter Feeds in aggregate, as well as access their past call history from Salesforce.com and even check out their company news feeds. Best of all, the app automatically logs calls, emails, notes, tasks and more as activities in Salesforce.com
If the idea of using your iPad as a phone seems a little strange, don’t worry. We offer a free version of our mobile telephony app so you can see first-hand how much more powerful your business calls can be thanks to the contextual data that RingDNA delivers. In fact, some our customers take between 100 and 150 business calls a day on their iPads.
And if you’re a sales rep who likes taking calls on the go (as many sales reps like to do), we offer two options. If you have the cellular version of the iPad mini, we recommend using it to take advantage of the screen real estate to view customer data on the go. If not, you can still get access to rich prospect data before, during and after calls, as well as automatically log call activities in Salesforce.com from your iPhone with our iPhone app.
While our app is the ultimate business telephony solution for iPad users, there are other apps that are geared toward consumer audiences. We recommend that you start by provisioning a Google Voice number (it’s free). Be aware that the normal Google Voice app uses cell phone minutes. The Talkatone app works in tandem with Google Voice to provide unlimited free minutes. Talkatone is free, but you can pay a bit extra to remove adds and enjoy calls that are slightly clearer.
The mini iPad’s screen size is also perfect for video calls. Here are some ways to take video phone calls on your mini:
FaceTime – Apple offers native functionality for video chatting with other Apple device users. It’s free and easy to use, but not ideal for business.
GoToMeeting – GoToMeeting offers a video conferencing app for iPad that was tailor-made for business conferencing.
Skype – Skype is a great solution for consumer video chatting. Like the web app, calls with other Skype users are always free.
Bonus Tip 1 – Improve Call Quality with a Professional Headset
If you’re just looking to call your mom back in Albuquerque, call quality might not be of paramount importance. But if you’re using your iPad mini to make and take professional sales or customer service calls, call quality matters. By using a quality business telephony application and investing in a first-rate headset, you can sound like you’re working in a high-end call center (even if you’re taking a calls from your living room). We recommend that before investing in a headset, you carefully read reviews on sites like Amazon.com to make sure that the headset can truly deliver pro-quality sound.
Bonus Tip 2 – Wi-fi vs. Cellular
Ever hear the Clash’s hit song Should I Stay or Should I Go? That’s the exact question you should be asking when deciding between the iPad mini wi-fi and cellular options. Do you only want to use your mini as a phone in your home or office or do you want the flexibility to take and make calls from anywhere? The cellular version of the iPad mini will run you substantially more money. It really depends on your lifestyle. If you’re a field sales rep that is constantly making calls from your car, a park or other places, you’re going to want the cellular option.