Today is the first installment of what I hope to be an ongoing series at the CRT blog, Mobile Tools. This topic will cover all those applications out there that allow you to use your smartphone or other mobile device to complete tasks on the road that used to require either lugging around a laptop or going back to the office. In this installment I am going to focus on iPhone and iPad apps that allow you to view, edit and even sign documents while on the road. There are several applications that are available and I will briefly summarize some of the ones that I was able to find.
The following applications allow you to read various types of documents such as PDFs, Word Documents and eBooks. They are designed to make reading easier and have limited to no ability to edit documents.
- Mail – The mail application has the ability to read many documents that are attached to your email, such as PDFs. While it will work in a pinch, it requires that the document be attached to an email.
- iBooks – This application preinstalled on your iPad and newer iPhones and iPod touches. More of an electronic book reader, it does allow you to read PDF files that your sync through iTunes, and documents can also be added from Mail attachments It’s a good reader application, but the requirement of iTunes syncing is restrictive.
- GoodReader – GoodReader is available for both the iPhone and iPad and is a bit more flexible. It too can have documents added from Mail, but it also allows you to download documents stored online on Google Documents, DropBox and other cloud based file storage service. You download the document to GoodReader over the internet and GoodReader saves it for easy and fast access, even when offline. GoodReader also has limited editing ability for some types of files and costs $0.99, a really good price for such a useful application.[Update 10/8/2010 Version 3 of Goodreader adds support for annotating PDFs, another cool and useful feature!]
Reading a document is all well and good, but sometimes you need to edit the document as well. These apps allow you to do just that.
- Apple’s iWork Apps for iPad: Pages, Numbers and Keynote – These three apps are the iPad version of the iWorks productivity suite from Apple and allow you to view and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations respectively. Each of these apps is designed to work with the iWork productivity suite, so if you are running a Mac and have iWorks these apps provide tight integration. All three apps also support access documents on cloud based file services, mostly through access to Apple iDisk and iWork.com accounts. If you don’t have either of those, it can access documents on a WebDav server as well. Each one of these applications is $9.99 so to get all three is about $30.
- Documents to Go – Dataviz has been in the business of providing mobile document editing software for several years, and their Documents to Go suite, which originally was written for PalmOS is now available for the iPhone. Documents to Go allows you edit read and edit PDFs and Microsoft Office documents (premium version required to edit Powerpoint). You can download a free desktop application, for both Mac and Windows to manage syncing documents between your device and your desktop and includes WiFi syncing. The premium version also includes access to cloud based file storage services, including Google Docs, iDisk and others. Documents to Go is $9.99 for the basic version and $16.99 for the premium,
Being able to sign documents without the need to printed hardcopies while on the road is in many ways a killer feature of mobile devices for people in the real estate industry. The following applications allow you to electronically sign documents on your iPhone or iPad.
- DocuSign – DocuSign is a well known player in electronic signatures and are even partnered with NAR to create solutions specifically for members. The DocuSign application is free for download and requires you to be subscribed to a DocuSign plan, and as a result has tight integration with the DocuSign service. On top of this it also links with other cloud based file storage systems such as Google Docs and Box.net.
- Zosh – If DocuSign is a little too heavy for your needs, Zosh allows you to annotate and sign documents using digital signiture capture, basically sign with your finger. While it does allow you to email the annotated and signed documents, it does not connect to online file storage systems. Zosh is $2.99 in the app store and it’s price and simplicity make it appealing choice for those that just want to simply annotate and digitally capture signatures.
Document handling is one of the most important tasks your electronic tools, including your mobile tools, can perform. This is a small list of applications for iPhones and iPads that can help you be more productive in that arena and there are sure to be more on the way. Keep a look out for more articles from CRT about Android applications that give you similar functionality.