As another meeting draws to a close, at a juncture in the ongoing cycle of constantly keeping everyone aware of what everyone else is doing, two figures in the meeting are the centre of much discussion. They are both using iPads, editing spreadsheets, taking notes and firing off emails.
But do these devices really help business or are they just there to be seen?
The iPad’s benefits and limitations have been much discussed, so we will not cover them again, but are these tablets here to stay or are they just a flash in the pan?
The success of the iPhone and Android platforms means we are used to the idea of having a smartphone in our pocket, able to browse the web, check emails and socially network at any hour. So where do these new not-quite-laptop smart devices fit in?
Well for a start you can use your iPad to stream a video call via WiFi using Facetime to users with another iPad, an iPhone or a Mac. This is good, however what happens when you want to make a regular call over your iPad or to non-Apple device?
There is another option. You can use a VoIP account, such as Multi User VoIP, through an app, such as Fring (This is something we’ve tried in the Gradwell office). This allows you to use your business telephone system on your mobile device through an internet connection. With progress being made with the 4G mobile spectrum over the next few years, mobile connections will be reliable enough to make VoIP calls outside of WiFi hotspots, giving users the ability to make cheap calls wherever they are!
Emailing is more user friendly on a larger tablet screen than on a smartphone, generally reading text is also a lot more comfortable and with the battery life of around 10 hours, the need to constantly hunt for power is negated. The ability to give sleek presentations, manipulated via another App is also a must have for the board room and the iPad yet again has a vast array of answers to this. According to our own self confessed Apple addict, the best feature of the iPad, is “the ability to print from anywhere wirelessly using the Air Print App”.
Regular meetings for us here at Gradwell, consist of plenty of hot drinks, pens, notepads and a slideshow (if we are lucky). However, meetings have recently begun to be conducted in the presence of iPads. They have become a useful alternative to unplugging a laptop and dragging it in to the meeting room, allowing users to quickly pull up files or web pages, and share information quickly.
So have we seen the death of the faithful pen and paper? Like the ‘paperless office’ Bill Gates once promised, use may reduce but not necessarily eradicated. With the increase of affordable and reliable cloud services such as Dropbox for files or Hosted Exchange for email, hyper connectivity is on the rise, but traditional methods will prevail.
The biggest current obstacle for now is the price. Apple is undoubtedly shrewd in their business operations and although the tablet computer market is competitively priced, it will never be cheaper than a pen and a piece of paper.
If you want to find out more about cutting call costs and using VoIP out of the office, contact a member of our sales team on 01225 800 808 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Image by Adam Jackson)