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iPad Apps: From Note-Taking to Storage


January 18, 2016 | Elliott Carter | 5 Minute Read

Elliott Carter


So… you unwrapped an iPad Pro this Christmas and are sitting there playing Clash of Clans while your fancy keyboard and pencil stylus sit there unused, apart from the odd doodle and email…Now what? Time to get productive with these apps!


OneNote (Free) – OneNote has always been our favourite place to collaborate on an idea, check to-do lists, plan an event or just doodle. With its fresh looking interface, its ability to sync our notes across our devices and allow us to share pages with colleagues instantly via the app, this app is a must-have for organising your life.

Paper (Free) – An alternative to OneNote, but an alternative that doesn’t scratch the surface on abilities like collaboration and calendar integration. However, it’s a great app for note-taking and on the plus side you have the ability to add precision shapes, text and photos. I also find it makes even the most talentless artists such as myself create some rather masterful work.


Skype for Business (Free)* – We constantly use Skype to get in touch with our colleagues instantly. We can use it to host conference calls, present our desktops, send over documents for a quick read and on the odd occasion, send a video of a cat doing something funny. Once released for iOS, this allowed us to be on the move yet keep in touch via Skype as opposed to texts and calls, allowing us to do so in such a way we could still use all the great functionality Skype can offer. For example, while on the train we could load up Skype for Business and jump into a conference call and watch our colleague present his desktop on our mobile device. Bearing in mind though this only works for conference calls not just a single call. We do look forward to the day this becomes a feature.

Storage and File Management

OneDrive (Free)* – While out and about, the usefulness of being able to grab that document you have been working on to show someone with ease is a joy, and the OneDrive app makes this all the more simple. You can quickly access your documents stored in your OneDrive and if you want to make adaptations you can open them in the Office apps for some on-the-go editing.
Alternative applications such as Dropbox and Google Drive are available but features do vary.

Day to Day

Word (Free)** – Probably the most used application in the Office suite and on iPad its easily our most used productivity app as well. Well, that or OneNote… Either way, on first impressions we instantly decided its minimalist, well organized design is perfect for iPad. At ease we can access our Word docs stored in SharePoint or OneDrive and it just works. Word for iPad offers nearly 120 fonts, the usual tools for formatting the fonts, the ability to easily work with pictures and the ability to work with tables. Impressive, simple, and a must-have.

Excel (Free)** – At first the idea of using Excel on an iPad can seem daunting and impossible without the use of a keyboard and mouse but we think Microsoft have done an excellent job of optimising Excel to fit and function on a tablet. And it’s not like getting a cut down version either as you have access to most of the desktop functions such as: formatting, sorting, filtering, columns, rows and charting styles all packed into one sleek application. Overall, its familiar, we can actually use it to work on our spreadsheets and we love it.

PowerPoint (Free)** – A program we all use and love. With the help of Morph/Designer it allows us to create some of the sleekest presentations ever including ones where fancy charts appear and do fancy things. All very impressive. But the thought of PowerPoint coming to iPad had us worried that we would lose all this functionality. Yes, here and there it needs a tweak such as the ability to change transition and animation duration and some other advanced features, but you have a wide range of transitions and animations to use and its ability to get your presentations from OneDrive/SharePoint makes it the perfect app for on-the-go presentations.

Misc. Utilities

Dragon Anywhere (Free) – We’ve all said things that we wish we could have written down, only to forget them instantly, and that’s where dictation comes in. We find Apple’s pre built dictation tool works great but only if you do 2/3 lines at a time – after that it’s a shot in the dark. Dragon Anywhere on the other hand offers very accurate voice transcription and even the ability to share messages via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter. This dictation app is both fun to use and immensely helpful, the only downside is you need to be connected to the Web to use it.

Office Lens (Free) – A popular and commonly used app amongst our team. On occasion we have to use a good old whiteboard and pen (until we get our hands on a Surface Hub that is!) and we find getting whiteboard notes onto our devices can either be a long process of typing it all out or just taking a photo and hoping it’s legible. But with Office Lens it’s different: as opposed to just taking a photo, Office Lens can recognise corners and will then crop, enhance and clean up the image, creating the perfect scan – more to this, you can even take a photo from an angle and it still adjusts the image to seem as if you were taking it from the front! With in-built sharing you can then upload it directly to OneDrive, selected Office programs such as OneNote, send it via email or save it directly to your pictures.

IFTTT (If This Then That) (Free) – We are all busy people and sometimes it’s the little things we forget. IFTTT cannot only help with organisation but remind you when you need to leave work to pick up the kids (we’ve all done it). It’s a clever app that uses a certain ‘this’ to trigger  a certain ‘that’, for example it detects when I arrive work and can show me my To-Do List, email me copies of notes or offer to block off the next hour as “Do Not Disturb” in a tap. The options for this app are limitless and if you really wanted to you can even send yourself a phone call just as you are about to go into a meeting. No excuses needed!

Duet (£10.99) – Nothing is more harmonious than being sat down in front of the fire with a cup of cocoa bingeing on Netflix. Well, that’s what I thought until I discovered Duet. This clever little app allows you to extend your Mac / PC screen onto an iPad all through the lightning cable. Simply install the Program onto your Mac/ PC and the app onto the iPad and, et voila, you have a second screen. The touchscreen functionality works, making it an entirely fresh experience for the non-touch screen PC owners. We were so surprised by not only how smooth it was but the way it just worked without having to mess around with IP settings trying to sync over Wifi!

* Functionality is dependent on the Office 365 licence you own.

** Free version only allows you to view documents but with an Office 365 subscription that entitles you to Office for mobile you can have full blown editing capabilities.