iPad Main Screen

Digital office part III: mobile software

Previous installments:

Part I: Introduction and hardware

Part II: Mac Software

Part III: Mobile Software

10 years ago mobile software meant having a Palm is your pocket. At some point, I decided to change my Palm pilot for an iPod Touch. Combined with MobileMe, I had by address book, calendar, e-mail, browser bookmarks and keychains sync across all of my devices  (home, office and mobile). Nowadays it might seems trivial with Google services and all…

In term of digital workflow, the iPad has been a revolutionary device for me. It replaces my paper tablets and papers documents in meetings. It is one of my most productive gears I have ever bought (productive here is synonymous of actually doing work with the device not spending time working on – as in tweaking – the device itself)

The applications I use often sits on the first screen, which is shown below. The key ones are in the bottom “dock”. The same major apps are also installed on my iPhone and work with the Mac counterparts:

iPad Main Screen

  • DevonThink To Go (DTTG): my files everywhere in sync with DTPO on my Mac. I also take all of my meeting notes in DTTG, which are then sync back to the Mac and are fully searchable moving forward. Without DTTG, you will still need another application that provide you with a “file system” for your iPad if you want to keep various kind of documents. Before DTTG became available, I was using Air Sharing. Nowadays DropBox app for iPad could play this role but you won’t get the benefit of DTPO-DTTG synergy. With DTTG, I keep a copy of all my ongoing projects and associated documents, my read/review folder and my electronic tickler file system (the electronic version of the 43 folders system). About 10 Gb of data give or take.
  • iAnnotate : the best on the market I think. Handles PDF files and full annotation tool-sets. Results are compatible with acrobat and other PDF reader. In addition you can project any PDF document on a multimedia projector and annotate / write in real-time. It further accepts WORD and PPT that it transform on the fly to PDF (performance is not always on par with a print to PDF on OSX). The first application I bought when I got the original iPad and has been update consistently ever since. 10$ well spent! Note that the interaction between DTTG and iAnnotate is excellent. DT assigns a unique ID to each file. From DTTG you can get a file out for annotation and send them back again to DTTG. The unique ID will allow DTTG to replace the original file with the annotated one and later sync with your Mac database. Similarly, it is easy to get new files in DTTG from DropBox or Apple Mail. However, Pages, Keynote and Numbers do not play as nice in their current versions with DropBox and the like, and going through e-mail is the only option without going through your Mac (and iTunes).
  • Things for iPad. This version is just gorgeous. I find doing my weekly review (GTD again) much more easier and fun on the iPad version then the Mac one. A fast and efficient cloud sync is mow in place (stable beta version). I almost never use the iPhone version now.
  • Apple Mail: University Exchange server, iCloud, GMAIL.
  • Apple Calendar: iCloud sync, Google calendar.
  • Apple Contact: iCloud sync.
  • 1Password for iPhone/iPad: It sync with its main database that sits in a DropBox folder (it is encrypted) when you have WIFI access.
  • Dropbox: if you are worried of storing your data on a third party server, there is a nifty application (PC, MAC, iOS, Android, …) called BoxCryptor that offer support for DropBox encryption.
  • Apple Safari: iCloud sync.
  • Message / FaceTime / Skype.
  • Reminder: For Family use as we share one reminder list, otherwise I use Things.
  • Page / Keynote / Number.
  • iTeleport: conecting to any Mac / PC from my iPad. Cool!
  • Papers: companion to the Mac version.
  • iThought HD: Doing mind mapping on an iPad is almost as good as on paper.
  • PressReader: the digital version of our local newpaper subscription. No more dirty hand.
  • Airport: I manage the Airport at home and at work with it!
  • iBook.

I am still search a good “scanning program” using the new iPad camera.

I also keep a bunch of other applications that I used more or less often, including a few games (like Civilization and tChess Pro). However the first 8 entries above I use everyday and, with their OSX big brothers, are an integral part of my digital workflow.


  1. Thanks for this post. I think you really may want to look into Sente — it would resolve lots of your longer processes involving annotations. One of my most important apps on both the Mac and ipad.


    1. I was a Sente user for sometimes but switch to Papers for is very effective citation mechanism. But I do hate how Papers 3 deal with sync, libraries and so on.


  2. How do you take a PDF from Papers, edit it in iAnnotate, and then put it back in Papers? I can open in iAnnotate, but then cannot put the annotated paper back into Papers!


  3. Hello Luc
    thank you for the very interesting information about your digital life.
    Still searching for a scanning program?
    … then try CamScanner+
    I’m using it nearly every day to store flip charts or handwritten minutes.



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