Since Apple’s iPad mini came out last year, it has quickly become one of our favorite mobile business devices. This is an updated version of the popular productivity guide that we put out several months ago. Over time, we’ve found that the mini is the perfect size for portability, while offering a screen size that’s conducive to using a variety of productivity apps.
As we predicted back then, the iPad mini made our desktop phone unnecessary. The majority of calls in our office are taken on an iPad. Not only that, but it has also seriously cut into our usage of our iPhone, Mac Air and standard-size iPad. The iPad mini might just be the perfect blend of productivity and mobility. Here are some ways to get the most out of yours.
Use Your iPad as a Phone
We have an answer to the question, “When will the iPad mini have phone capabilities?” that has been popping up on the Apple forum and elsewhere. You can make calls on the mini right now – there’s an app for that. We’ve been using RingDNA premium and free apps on the mini to make and take all of our phone calls. It works flawlessly, and thanks to seamless integration with Salesforce, all our calls, emails, tasks and other things performed through the RingDNA app are automatically logged in Salesforce.com. There’s also plenty of screen real estate on the mini with which to view our contacts’ LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter streams, account records and other CRM data. Since it fits in the palm of your hand, we’ve been even using it as an alternative to our iPhones when making business calls on the go.
We take our calls using either the surprisingly excellent speaker or a Plantronics headset, but you can also use earbuds or any bluetooth device.
By the way, don’t hold your breath waiting for Apple to make calling a native aspect of the mini. As PC Advisor predicted, it’s unlikely to happen given Apple’s reluctance to blur the line between its products.
Creating Documents & Media
Typing speed is one reason you might be hesitant to choose an Apple mini iPad as your go-to mobile productivity device, and if you find fold-up keyboards less than desirable, you’re not alone. Consider using a keyboard dock. We use the Logitech Keyboard Case, which functions brilliantly as both a keyboard and a stand. Our typing speed is up significantly, and we’re confident that we’ll reach laptop speeds with more practice.
Software is also no problem, as Google Docs has become the defacto collaboration document creator of choice. As usual, just open a web browser, log in, and begin editing your documents. Other than editing Google spreadsheets, which does get hard on the eyes if there are more than 5 columns, we found virtually no drawbacks.
The mini also makes it easy to create stunning visual media on the go. It supports apps like Penultimate and Qvik Sketch Pro, which empowers designers create quality sketches on the go. It’s also great for generating quick video content. Around here, we use our iPad mini to shoot quality 1080p HD videos. We even retrofitted our mini with a zoom lens. We also had the chance to test video editing with iMovie on the iPad mini. The timeline editor works amazingly well, and is responsive to the touch. You could conceivably shoot and edit video using only the mini, export to YouTube, and embed the video on your website. All on one device. This can be an incredibly valuable tool for creating web content on the go.
The iPad mini can also run all the same work apps you know and love. Use Evernote to create sortable and searchable notes, automatically sync files with your desktop using cloud storage apps like Box or Dropbox, and use Expensify to generate granular expense reports on the fly.
The iPad mini also supports mobile CRM apps that can help sales reps stay on top of their leads and contacts while on the go. Our iPad mini phone app also makes reps more productive by automating a variety of sales processes, cutting down the time that they spend taking manual notes in Salesforce.com
Mobility & Battery Life
When we’re frustrated, we’re not at our best. And there are two things that are irking us these days – (1) lugging around heavy, awkward machines (ow!), and (2) poor battery life.
It’s obvious how the mini helps you in the weight department, but battery life is another reason you might consider an iPad mini as your go-to mobile device over a laptop such as the MacBook Air. At 10.5 hours of battery life on the mini vs. 5 hours on the Air, it’s a no-brainer. That makes it much more possible to take meetings, come and go from the office, and visit clients or customers without having to worry about getting that next charge.
You can gain even more battery life by connecting an external battery source like the morphie Juicepack Powerstation external battery. This offers two additional full charges for your iPad mini. This can be extremely helpful when you need to use your iPad mini to take phone calls or get some work done in an environment not conducive to phone chargers, as was the case when I wanted to get some work done on a camping trip earlier this year.