Must-have apps for the iPad road warrior

We're not going to tell you how to get your work done. But with good VPN, screen-sharing, and time-management apps on your iPad, you'll be prepared to tackle any task.

9 ipad pro keyboard stock
Credit: Apple

Taking your iPad Pro and iPhone out on the road? These apps can help you get some serious work done without a computer. Whether you’re on a business trip and forced to connect to random Wi-Fi networks, or you’re spending the day at a local coffee shop for a change of scenery, you can remain productive while keeping your data safe and secure.

Protect your data

Something we hardly think about when we’re at home or in the office is someone snooping on our Wi-Fi traffic, looking for bits and pieces of personal information as we go about our daily tasks.

But when you’re using public Wi-Fi networks, you should constantly think about just that scenario. You’ve probably used one without even thinking twice about it—I know I used to all the time. But recently, I’ve started to use VPN apps when I’m not home, in an effort to protect my personal data.

Routing your Internet traffic through a VPN will encrypt important data, rendering it useless to would-be bad guys. Some apps can even block ads and trackers in addition to keeping your data safe. Not too shabby, right?

operavpnui

Opera VPN on the iPad. 

The App Store is full of VPN apps, each claiming to be the best and the fastest. I can’t vouch for all of them, but I can tell you I haven’t had a bad experience using either the free Opera VPN app or while testing HotSpot Shield VPN.

As with all free services on the Internet, Opera VPN does collect some of your data in anonymized form and sells it to third-parties. But that does get you free unlimited VPN service plus ad blocking.

HotSpot Shield also offers a free version of its service, paid for by showing ads in the app itself. To go ad free, you can sign up for a yearly Elite subscription for $29. On top of that, HotSpot’s CEO told ZDNet earlier this year the company doesn’t keep or look at your data.

Keep access to your computer

As someone who does a lot of work on an iPad Pro, I often need to access a file or run an app I only have on my iMac in my home office. The easiest way to do this is to use an app like Screens.

screens4 ios quick actions

Screens 4 has a Quick Action for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, letting you choose which Mac to connect to before you even launch the app. 

Screens ($20 in the App Store) lets you remotely connect to, and take over, a Mac or PC, from anywhere you have an internet connection. The app is super simple to set up, requiring you to install Screens Connect on your computer and connect it to your account.

From there, Screens does the rest. You can move files to your iCloud Drive or Dropbox account, in turn making them available on your iOS device. Or you can run a full-fledged computer application on the screen of your iPad while you’re (potentially) hundreds of miles away.

Don’t think of it as cheating on your iPad Pro, think of it as a way of unlocking its full potential.

Remember to take breaks

When you work in an office, interruptions are all too common. Sure, they can be frustratingly common, but at least your coworker telling you about his weekend plans provides a quick break from the task at hand. When working alone, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in work and bam hours pass without as much as a glance up from the screen.

Instead of trying to remember when to get up and take a break or switch tasks, install an app like Be Focused. Using Be Focused, you can set timers designed to help you keep track of the time you spend on a task, then switch to another one or just go for a walk.

There are a lot of Pomodoro-inspired apps available for iOS users, so if you find Be Focused doesn’t work for you, keep searching until you find the right one.

What works for you?

I have found using these apps have made traveling with nothing more than my iPhone and iPad Pro something that I no longer cringe about. Have you gone iPad-only for any extended amount of time away from the office? If so, what app or service have you found that’s made the transition easier on you?

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