If you are going to get the most out of your iPad, chances are you are going to end up spending a little money in the app store. But lurking between the iWork suite and cool apps like Things are a whole host of free productivity apps that will let you squeeze out the most from your iPad without squeezing your wallet.
Easily the best note taking app on the app store, Evernote will not only store out the notes you tap onto the onscreen keyboard, but also the notes you record with your voice. You can even store photos and synchronize your notes to your Mac or Windows-based PC. You can even geotag notes to make them location-based.
If you find yourself often needing to spit out a lot of words, but don't do as well with the iPad's keyboard, you'll find a free alternative in Dragon Dictation. The speech-to-text app can be used for "typing" up a quick e-mail, "writing" a chapter in your novel or just telling everyone what you are up to on Facebook or Twitter.
Speech-to-text isn't the only quick and easy way to leave yourself a note on the iPad. You can also go the old fashioned route and just write it by hand. Use Your Handwriting puts those kindergarten years of painstakingly drawing out capitol and little-case ABCs to good use by letting you scribble in a quick note to yourself. And with Use Your Handwriting's ability to note when you are getting close to the edge and moving over to give you more space to write, you'll actually find yourself getting the word out a lot quicker than you might think.
Scribbling in a quick note not enough? If you need a full-fledged task manager capable of creating to-do lists, Remember the Milk is the app for you. The easy-to-use interface makes note-taking easy, and the cloud-based design means you can type up the note on your PC and then view it on your iPad.
If you are going to be productive with your iPad, you will probably need to get some files from your PC or Mac onto your iPad. That's where Dropbox comes into the picture. Perhaps the easiest ways to gain access to your word processor documents and spreadsheets, Dropbox gives you up to 2 GB of free space before you need to upgrade to a premium account.
Whether you need a little bit of multiplication and simple division or you are trying to turn 248 into a binary number, TouchCalc has you covered. This simple productivity app can be a life saver if you need access to scientific functions, and programmers will like the different logical operators like AND, OR, XOR, etc. TouchCalc even has a statistics mode that will calculate mean, median, variance, standard deviation and range.
If your job entails doing research, you probably get a lot of mileage out of Wikipedia. But as great of a quick resource as Wikipedia can be, it's not always quick and easy to find the information. That's where Wikipanion can help. A great search tool for Wikipedia, this app will also let you quickly navigate the page to get to the information you need.
How many people can brag about carrying around two million words in their tote bag? That's just they type of ability the Dictionary.com app will give you, though unless want to be considered some type of book geek, you might not want to actually brag about it. The Dictionary.com app doesn't require an Internet connection to check out words, so you'll always have quick access to check your spelling, check the meaning of an unfamiliar term or just look up synonyms in the thesaurus. You can even tap the microphone and speak the word you are looking up.
This neat little app is great for doing simple flow charts and organizing tasks. And the easy interface makes mapping out the chart a breeze. Simply type the task into the hierarchy and then swipe in the direction where you want a related task to appear. You can even synchronize your flow charts and visual maps through Dropbox.
We all know that the iPad 2 doesn't take the the greatest pictures, but its amazing how much you can clean them up with Photoshop Express even if you don't buy the extra "reduce noise" feature. For those that need some basic effects processed on an image, Photoshop Express can do the trick. It includes sharpen and soften, saturation, brightness, cropping and even a few custom borders.
We might not quite be up to Star Trek standards, but the universal translator concept got a little bit closer when iTranslate hit the app store. Serving up over 50 languages, iTranslate even has some popular languages with free voices, which means you can hear how to properly pronounce the words rather than just reading the text. It even has built in voice recognition, though you'll have to buy transactions to get access to that feature.
The iPad has a lot of great offline features, but it's best when you are online. If you want to keep your productivity high, you'll want to be online as much as possible, and knowing where the closest Wi-Fi hotspots are can help you do just that. This app provides a great way to keep your bandwidth usage low on your 3G plan so you can use the cheaper plan, or just avoid paying for the plan in the first place by going Wi-Fi only.