“What can I do with my iPad?” (part 2)

This is the second part of a very brief overview how you can make good use of your iPad. This time, we are looking into what I find are the core uses of the iPad in academia: getting organized, acquiring information, and conceptualizing ideas.


Things where your iPad shines: organize, read, conceptualize

Your new iPad really excels when it comes to some core aspects of your academic life: organize, read, and conceptualize. If you want to organize your time and tasks across research, classes, and meetings, you can look into installing a Getting Things Done app. I admit: I haven’t done this yet. This seems to be one of the most competitive fields of app development, and I decided to wait it out until one or a few clear leaders emerge. You can check out this comparison (although it does not discuss the very popular Things app), if you like, and I promise I will post my solution as soon as I found it.

You can read various material with your iPad. For books, you can check out iBooks (free) from Apple, the Kindle (free) app from Amazon, or the Kobo (free) app (among others). I tried out the first two, and I am not impressed so far since most books I am interested in (non-fiction / academic books) are not available. If you are reading well known classic books that are out of copyright, however, you are in luck, since you might be well able to get those for free in iBooks (but also in many other book apps).

If journal articles are more your thing, then you want to check out a couple of PDF readers that are available for the iPad. iRead PDF (free) and GoodReader for iPad (99 cent) are among the less pricy options to read and do some annotation in PDFs. I haven’t used those two, since when I got the ones I use neither iRead nor GoodReader allowed to do annotation. But since this has changed now, you can definitely give it a try. Two pricier options are iAnnotate ($9.99) and Papers ($14.99). What is particularly great about these programs is that they also offer you some decent file management. If you are using a Mac, Papers is a great choice, since it can sync with its brother on the Mac.

Last, your iPad really shines when it comes to conceptualize your thoughts. I am using my iPad to build mind maps via MindNode ($5.99), which I can sync with the Mac version of MindNode. Another nice app is Popplet ($8.99), which allows you to plan out your thoughts before you start write them out. I have reviewed Popplet here already, so you can get more information if you scroll a little bit down. Alternatively, you can check out the free Popplet Lite version. Of course, you can also just freely draw on your iPad. One free app that allows you to do so is Adobe Ideas.

Of course, there are a ton of other apps that fulfill similar functions. And more and more are coming every month. So stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion of apps that make your iPad really shine.

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  1. Bhagyalakshmi Venktesh says:


    Thanks for sharing what you know. I have downloaded the docstogo app but am struggling with the powerpoints. Can you help? where can I find apple’s key not presentations in my ipad?

    By the way, I teach at K J Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research in India in the marketing area.

    Thanks once again,

    Bhagyalakshmi Venkatesh

    • Jo says:

      Hi Bhagyalakshmi,

      Thanks for stopping by. I haven’t tried the DocsToGo app myself yet, so I cannot comment on that unfortunately. Maybe some other reader can?

      Regarding the Keynote presentations, you can use Apple’s own Keynote app for that. It is quite good, although if your presentations are heavy on the design and animations, I think you will be better off with the Mac version. Presentations you write on the Keynote app for iPad will automatically go to iCloud, which you can access on the web. You can also upload your keynote file from your Mac to the iCloud browser online, so you can use it on the iPad.

      Of course, there is also dropbox to exchange files.

      Monitor this blog, these are topics that will be discussed at some time.



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