There is a lot of interest in the iPad and in tablet computing in general, and when I write about it I get questions. There are not many practical articles about the iPad for Realtors because the device is still so new.
Here are the most common questions I have encountered, and my answers:
1. Can I print from an iPad? Yes, you can print from the iPad. It uses wireless printing and only works with some printers. The details can be found on the Apple Web site. I have never had any need or desire to print from my iPad.
In fact, for me part of the beauty of the device is that I use less paper. There are alternatives to printing from the iPad — one is putting documents to be printed in Dropbox and printing them from a computer.
2. Can I access the multiple listing service from my iPad? I cannot answer that question for everyone, but I can access my MLS and I don’t have to use the mobile version or an app. I can see the MLS and use it just like I would on my PC.
The best way to find out if your MLS is accessible from the iPad is to ask someone who has one or go to an Apple store and test it with your MLS system. I have been told by agents in some states that they cannot access their MLS on anything but a PC.
3. Does the iPad have a USB Port? The iPad does not have a USB Port, and you probably will not miss it. Files can be placed in Dropbox. The Dropbox app on the iPad makes it easy to share files across platforms. It acts as a virtual USB drive. Files can also be easily emailed from your computer to an iPad.
4. Can I write a real estate contract on my iPad? I have been writing contracts on my iPad and the electronic contracts I use are all in PDF format. I am using an app called Noterize. I have tested other apps, and Noterize is by far the easiest to use. I keep blank contracts in Dropbox.
I access them when I need them and can type or write on them and I can have my client sign them on the screen. I can email them from the iPad and in general I don’t need to print contracts anymore.
5. How much does Internet access for the iPad cost? All iPads work on Wi-Fi and some work on 3G networks. Wi-Fi access is usually free and no data plan is required. The 3G models require a data plan for accessing the 3G network. Plans start at $15 dollars a month for limited access. IPads with 3G are available via mobile carriers AT&T or Verizon.
I own a 3G unit and I recommend this version for real estate pros because we are not always in an office or a place with Wi-Fi when we meet with clients.
In general, I think the apps that we choose depend upon how we work. The location-based apps are useful for working with buyers and sellers, as is the presentation software. The iPad makes it easy to access and view any kind of information that we need on the job.
If you are a note taker you will appreciate the Evernote app for the iPad. It can be used on your phone, tablet or PC to write notes or clip Web pages. I start a notebook in Evernote for each client, and the notebooks become my client files, complete with legal contracts, notes, photographs, voice notes and even emails. Everything is tagged for easy retrieval and can be printed if needed.
There are so many more apps for the iPad today than there were a year ago, and so many more ways to use it. We were all skeptical about the device at first, but now it looks like it is here to stay and will keep getting better.
The best way to learn how to use an iPad for business is to use it and to experiment with apps and to ask others which apps they like.