If developments continue on the same track, the laptop is set to be put out to pasture – because more than three million iPads have already been sold. They are more compact, considerably lighter, more energy-efficient, easier to use, and don’t come with the trappings of a keyboard and a mouse. Moving parts are a thing of the past, and the batteries last at least 10 hours. But some questions need to be addressed: Can we work faster with our fingers than with a mouse? Is it easier to edit the contents of tables with finger movements?
We don’t click any more, we touch. The virtual keyboard automatically appears on the pad, so our eyes don’t have to move from keyboard to screen. And one thing is definitely true: Those small programs – also known as apps – are much faster and simpler to install than the bulky, old-style program packages. The same is true of updates and distribution: Data carriers and interfaces are no longer needed, because the connection is wireless, through UMTS or WLAN.
If studies conducted by a number of market researchers are to be believed, day-to-day office tasks in a typical company can definitely be mastered with a tablet PC. According to such studies, a slim-line computer with a touchscreen could replace a conventional notebook in at least 50% of business cases. Daily tasks include reading and writing e-mails, creating presentations, drawing up documents, accessing business processes such as ERP applications within an app, or controlling such business processes using a Web browser. What’s more, company videos can be shown or video conferences held, as long as the tablet PC has an integrated camera. It is highly likely that SAP’s ambitious plans of reaching a billion users for its ERP software by the year 2015 will only be achieved with the help of smartphones and tablet PCs.
- App 1: Office2 HD 3.3.1
- App 2: SAPPLAPP 1.3
- App 3: SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 2.0.319 and SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand
- App 4: Mellmo Roambi Visualizer 3.0.2
- App 5: Citrix Receiver 1.1
Office2 HD – Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint
Many potential iPad users quite rightly ask whether it’s possible to compose texts and edit spreadsheets, as well as use e-mail, the Internet, address databases, and calendar functions. Byte Squared recently launched its Office2 HD app, which cuts a fine figure on the iPad. Both .xls and .doc files can be edited, although compatibility is initially restricted to the Microsoft Office versions 97 through 2003. An update to the current version (2010) is expected soon.
A new feature for the iPad is the ability to save all documents. And there’s no need for them to be e-mailed to the iPad. Instead, they can be transferred from the desktop by WLAN. Then the application appears as an additional drive in the Windows Explorer.
Furthermore, Office2 HD can display Microsoft Access files stored in a MobileMe cloud, PowerPoint presentations (.ppt), and PDF files. The native iPad app Office2 HD costs U.S.$7.99 and takes up a mere 3.1 MB in the tablet PC’s working memory. The Office2 HD app can be downloaded straight from iTunes (direct link).
This app is designed to make a company’s entire SAP system available to people who are away from the office, and is primarily aimed at midsize enterprises. This means that even in meetings with customers or vendors, managers can access the SAP system located at headquarters.
This app is especially good at calling and tracking transactions within the SAP system. Dialup or connection takes place through the company VPN, and an SAP Internet Transaction Server (ITS) needs to be preinstalled so that the graphical user interface can be rendered as HTML pages. SAP ERP 6.0 already contains an ITS, so only users of older ERP versions need to install an additional server.
The app requires a minimum of firmware 3.1.2 and runs on the iPad in native resolution (1024 x 768 pixels) as well as on the iPhone (320 x 480 pixels). The iOS 4 software update with fast app switching is also supported. This tiny program takes up 100 KB in the working memory and costs U.S.$0.99. The SAPPLAPP app can be downloaded straight from iTunes (direct link).
SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer 2.0.319
Access to SAP BusinessObjects Explorer has been available for the iPhone for around six months, and now a version has been released that’s specially tailored to the iPad. After the app starts up, users can choose whether they want to work with SAP BusinessObjects Explorer or SAP BusinessObjects BI OnDemand. It is remarkable that this one app in fact comprises two applications – and that it doesn’t cost a cent, either.
Free of charge, SAP provides a cloud for up to 10 MB of data and a table of up to 2,000 data rows. For more information, see the articles Cloud for Free: BI on the iPhone and On-Demand Software for BI Beginners. The iPad app for SAP BusinessObjects Explorer, including SAP Business Objects BI OnDemand can be downloaded straight from iTunes (direct link).
Mellmo Roambi Visualizer 3.0.2
The company Mellmo was already making waves at the recent SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando, Florida. Based on its own Roambi Enterprise Server 3, it provides a connection to SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI R2/3.0/3.1, enabling data for reports to be displayed and edited on the iPad using graphics. For the iPad, the Roambi Visualizer acts as the interface to the Enterprise Server 3. The data can be in the form of .rpt files created using SAP Crystal Reports 2008 or an older version.
Access to non-SAP environments – such as IBM Cognos Reports versions 8.3 and 8.4 or higher, or Microsoft Reporting Services 2005 and 2008 – is also possible. The native app for the iPad is free-of-charge and produces quite respectable graphics from complex data records. On its Web site, the provider has published a 16-page handbook, which enables users to get started with the app’s functions quickly. Roambi Visualizer 3.0.2 takes up 12.6 MB in the iPad’s memory and can be downloaded from iTunes (direct link).
Citrix Receiver 1.1
With the Citrix Receiver, you can display the entire virtual desktop of Windows systems, including the current version 7.