To me, I feel the primary use of an iPad is content consumption and much that has been written about the iPad, even on this blog, has been related to this concept. However there is a lot to be said for using iPads as communication tools, interacting with others, just as computers have been for years. I thought a post discussing some tools and apps for interacting with others through the iPad would be helpful because there are many great uses.
I should start by saying that when communicating with others online through Internet communication I use email through Google, online chat (text, audio, video) through Skype and occasionally Google Talk for those friends and family members that have yet to discover Skype or those who prefer to stay logged in to the online Google email system and find Gtalk easily available. I also maintain blogs when I want to provide information about myself or topics of interest to me to a broad audience to view as they please. I don't use Facebook, I don't Twitter, I don't use Myspace, I don't use AOL/AIM, Yahoo, MSN or any other available platform out there currently and it works for me. I like to keep things simple so to speak. But I do, however maintain MANY Google email accounts, and about 3 Skype accounts because I am a person who emphasizes and practices boundaries between personal, professional and everything in between. I appreciate the ability to control how my personal and professional selves are made available to others and maintained online as we enter a time of increasingly greater online relationships and interactions.
That beings said there are four or five applications (six if we count Blogpress which has already been reviewed here) that allow me to communicate and interact with others using the platforms described above.
*NOTE: I'm also an iPhone user so a lot of my communication is done through my iPhone (email, SMS/texts, and Skype especially). But I go back and forth with each device depending on the current need and ease of my desired function at that time.
IPad Email Application (free and pre-installed on the iPad)
For me, the iPad Apple Mail Application is one of the best tools for mobile communication out there, even ahead of the Mail application on the iPhone because of the larger keyboard in the iPad. Throw in the ability to setup Exchange email accounts to keep Email, Calendar and Contacts in sync, this is a home run app!
Read more about setting up Exchange Accounts on the U of M servers.
Google/Safari (free)Safari for iPad AppSo easy, so great, so self explanatory. Login, check email, write email, send email. On the iPad, the Google Mail application is just great! Bonus is the ease of integration with Google talk that just pops up in a second window. Winner of an app!
But, some might wonder why you would go to the online version when you can just use the built in Mail features. One reason- using an iPad that isn't yours, you wouldn't just setup a Google account in the other person's Mail application. Another, for someone like me, I use a lot of the Google Apps features in addition to mail such as Reader, Blogger, Google Talk, etc. And I also have MANY Google accounts. Online, you can get everything Google for that one account in one place.
Skype (free)Skype for iPad, iPhone, iPod TouchWhere do I begin with Skype? First, I should mention that Skype has yet to produce an iPad version on their iOS App. So how do you use it on the iPad? The cool thing about apps made for iPhones is that they can be viewed on the iPad in either native form (tiny screen size of the iPhone) or they can be blown up and stretched into iPad size. This is not the case for all iPad apps on iPhones though unless the app has been enabled for both platforms (denoted by a + sign next to the app in the Apple App Store.)
Skype on the iPad, well it is simply Skype as we know and love. Chat with other Skype contacts, use audio, text, your Skype credits work to call regular phones. It's Skype but on the iPad. AND, as of January 1, 2010 Skype video came to iOS!
For iPhone users this was huge especially those who are using 3GS model iPhones without the front facing camera and Facetime abilities. On the iPad this is neat for many reasons, though all of which, currently, can only center on the receiving of video on iPads. For instructors you could record your live lecture on your computer using Skype and send the feed to students on their iPads. I really enjoy Skype and features such as video on mobile platforms continue to take this app forward.
IM Chat Apps- IM+ vs imo.imIM+ iPad App imo.im App
Lastly, like me, many people manage multiple email, IM, and Skype Accounts. Mobile Platforms such as the iPad are doing a great job allowing us to integrate these multiple accounts into a single application. Two I have tried and like are
IM+ (free and paid Pro versions) and imo.im (free).
IM+ Pro screen grab
imo.im screen grab
Personally, I find imo.im to be better for the interface and account controls. In IM+ Pro, I can't seem to find a way to view my IM contacts on Glogle or Skype without making myself "available" for chat. In IMO there is the simple "view offline buddies" option. That might seem like a small feature but we all have this online "friends" that message us the second they see us pop up online. IMO allows me to have greater control. I need to spend more time with both to see which one I prefer. For now, Skype is my primary app for chats but the more people move to Google, the more Google Talk is being used.
- posted using Blogpress for iPad