When the iPad was first released, there were “only” about 10,000 apps available. Now there are more than 90,000 … and counting.
So, as you can imagine, when I brought home my iPad, I was a little overwhelmed. I don’t know what I was expecting — where was the #socent app section?!
Needless to say, I was determined to populate my iPad with apps that were relevant to me and our work here at Changemakers. So, after some digging, a few disappointments, and maybe one too many levels of Angry Birds, I present to you: the top 10 apps for social entrepreneurs.
- iTalk – A high-quality application that allows you to record on-the-go. Whether you’re at a meeting in Nairobi or conducting interviews with local farmers in Cambodia, iTalk will capture great sound and allow you to email your recordings. It’s ideal for the times that you want to capture every detail, create audio content, or simply don’t have time to take notes. FREE
- Skype – Every social entrepreneur needs to stay connected. Here at Changemakers, Skype is a communications staple. Download the Skype app, and you will get alerts the same way you do on your computer — for requests, chats, and calls. The app is made for iPhone, but works perfectly on the iPad — it just won’t fill your screen. Come on, Skype team, where’s the iPad optimization? FREE
- PAPERDESK LITE – A portable collection of notebooks for those of you who wish the iPad was more writer-friendly. You can import PDFs that have been added to PaperDesk through iTunes — and you can mark them up! You can also record audio while taking notes, email audio files or access them in iTunes, keep notebook-specific tasks, and choose from six page styles and thousands of pen colors. And the best part? It syncs with Google Docs. FREE (The full version is priced at $2.99.)
- Dropbox – A file that lives on your hard drive and in the Internet ether, Dropbox syncs with any/all devices it is loaded on, allowing you to access files from anywhere. Why is this AWESOME to have on the iPad? Say you already use Dropbox on your computer (if you don’t, you should start — it’s a game-changer). Then you get an iPad to use in the communities where you work (because no one wants to lug around a computer). Download the Dropbox app to your iPad, log in with your existing password, and voila! Files at your fingertips. FREE
- Pages – If you’re wondering if your iPad can do word processing, wonder no more! With Pages (an Apple application), you can create and edit reports, flyers, and letters in transit — and since it’s a word processor, you don’t need to be online. You can work from the back of a cab, in between meetings, on the subway, and any other number of transitory moments. $9.99 (If the price is a deterrent, check out iA Writer, a word processor with Dropbox integration … it’s FREE.)
- INSTAPAPER – How many times do you come across a great article, think I’ll read this later, and never do? With all the incredible stories of changemakers and innovators around the world, it can be tough to keep a pulse on the ground. Instapaper allows you to “save” the interesting stuff you find online, and read it (get this) when you’re OFFLINE! Save “to read” material, and access it when you are in transit. $4.99
- TED – This one needs no introduction: The famous and ever-inspiring TED talks are available on your iPad. Search featured videos, categories, and create playlists. And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, you can download them for offline viewing. Swoon. FREE, of course.
- BENTO – The next best thing to a personal assistant. You’re a busy social entrepreneur; this app will help organize the details of your life. You can manage contacts, inventory, expenses, projects, your to-do-list, and more. It’s a perfect tool for the busy entrepreneur. $4.99
- Square – Accept credit card payments from your iPad. With a pocket-sized reader that plugs into your audio jack, you can take your business ANYWHERE. There are no monthly fees or contracts — just a 2.75% charge per swipe for all credit cards. Payments are deposited directly to your bank account daily. FREE
- FLIPBOARD – My favorite: Flipboard, your personalized, “social” magazine. With a gorgeous layout and easy navigation, you choose what to put in each section — it’s your magazine, full of the content that you care about most. In a world where information is king, this app is a game-changer. FREE
These apps have helped me manage various projects and stay informed about the things that matter to me and my work. They are great tools for social entrepreneurs: tools for efficiency, productivity, and access to information. Yet none of these are really “social change” apps.
The lesson here? There’s a gap in the market, friends — there may be more than 90,000 apps, but I have a hunch developers don’t consider “social good” applications a priority. Perhaps an opportunity for some innovative social do-gooders? <wink, wink … nudge, nudge>
Photo courtesy of leondel (cc)