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5 iPad productivity tools for under £3

Software you've probably never heard of

The Apple iPad 2 officially launched in the UK last week. However, it's only Apple fan-boys and gadget-fiends that populated the massive queues that formed outside Apple stores across the country on Friday night, right? No one in their right minds would be this excited over, say, a tool for getting work done.

Well, you'd be three-quarters right.

A Forrester Research survey of 2,300 IT executives revealed one in four companies use or plan to use tablets. Signs show CIOs (chief information officers) are warming to the iPad and drafting formal adoption policies. Meanwhile, employees are bringing their iPads to work.

The bottom line: the iPad isn't just for consumer-driven entertainment - people also want iPads so they can be more productive. Already great iPad productivity tools have emerged, chief among them, Quickoffice and Dropbox. Some apps straddle work-life balance, such as Evernote, which can be used to take both personal and business notes and voice memos.

Then there are a few cool iPad productivity apps that you've probably never heard of. Here are five under £3 that will be a great help to most companies and their workers.

DocuSign

Imagine you're a salesperson with an iPad making a pitch to a client. With DocuSign (free), you can hand your iPad to your client so that he can review his order and you can close the deal on the spot. The customer can electronically sign an order using their finger on the iPad via DocuSign on the mobile Safari browser.

The iPad can blow open the doors for signing everything from sales orders to property forms electronically. DocuSign currently claims more than six million users of its cloud-based service, many of whom work in Fortune 500 companies.

Last fall, DocuSign came out with a free iPad app for managing documents that need to be signed. With the iPad 2, the app lets users take a picture of a document so that it can be electronically signed. There's also a geo-location feature built into the app that records the location of a signing for audit purposes.

iA Writer

At some point, most everyone needs to write a lengthy document - if not a great novel, then a report, memo or other directives. If you need to write something longer than a 140-character Tweet, use the iPad app that most writers prefer, iA Writer (59p).

iA Writer strips all the frills of formatting and word processing and lets you focus on the words in standard Courier type (think: typewriter). The virtual keyboard is set up to make common punctuation easy without having to switch to the symbols keyboard. Arrow keys help you navigate around the document.

Another cool feature: focus mode, which dims all the words except for the three lines you're working on. That way, you can make those words really sing. Reading-time and word count indicators on the upper right corner keep track of the document's length. The only feature this app doesn't have is a way to get around writer's block.

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