Tablet (iPad) Tools
All of the applications ("apps") found in this lists below can be found with a simple Google or Apple App Store search. A link to the apps parent site is provided when available. This list of apps presented is the product of extensive searches, testing, and use. It is not exhaustive nor all inclusive, but a good place to start. You may have already found your preferred tools, but if not, we hope that this list saves you time by presenting the best apps and tools for use in planning.
Not sure what type of tablet you should buy? Click HERE for a great article comparing the iPad, Microsoft Surface Pro, Google Nexxus 7, and ASUS.
Trainings and Video Tutorials
A web-based iPad training session was held on July 17, 2013. The training went over the basic functions of the iPad, select apps (mail, camera, safari, Dropbox, etc.), as well as an intro to GIS Pro. If you would like to watch that video, click HERE.
General Tablet/iPad Use
The following two videos show the basic functions of the iPad and some of the accessories we use to make them field worthy.General iPad (video) - This video shows the general use and functions of the iPad
Accessories (video) - This video highlights some of the accessories that the WCD uses with its iPads
Here are the links to the products mentioned in the Accessories video above:
- Cases: Otter Box Defender (water resistant), LifeProof Nuud (waterproof)
- Waterproofing coating for electronics: Liquipel
Smartphones, Tablets and GPS Accuracy (2013) - Article by ESRI about using smartphones and tablets for GPS
For the applications, or “apps”, shown below, a “$” indicates that there is a cost associated with downloading the app; a “free” means it is no cost to download the app. Some of the free versions of apps also have an upgraded version that offer more features, but you have to pay for them (typically $0.99-$10). Paid applications can often times be downloaded onto multiple devises for one cost.
Many apps have multiple interfaces such as desktop, web, phone, and/or tablet. Those are indicated below with a “W” for web, “P” for phone, and “T” for tablet. Not all applications are available for both the Apple and Android platforms. The apps shown below are guaranteed available for Apple devises (i.e., iPad).
Short video tutorials have been made to guide you through the basic functions and features of select apps. Those are highlighted below. If the video is blurry at any time, change the "quality"/resolution in the YouTube window to a higher number (720).
Field Inventory/Mapping Apps
There are a variety of field inventory type apps out there depending on what your needs are. The ones listed have been tested for field inventories and assessments.
- GISPro ($; P, T) – An expensive app ($99-$300), but offers a variety of great features that can be used to do complete field inventories, including: identifying and marking features (points, lines, and polygons) with descriptions and photos, creating GPS waypoints, creating shape files with points or GPS tracking, uploading and editing maps, measuring fields and distances, and more. All feature classes and layers can be fully customized with your own icons, colors, and inputs (i.e., timestamp, description, photo, dropdown list, etc.) for livestock, riparian, river, or other assessments and shared with others. You can also upload entire feature layers from ArcMap such as parcels, rivers and streams, contours, soils, etc to be viewed in GISPro. Maps can be cashed ahead of time for iPad devices with only WiFi capability. All projects and data can be download in a variety of ways including as a KMZ, shapefile, or GPX file to be stored as P&I notes in a file or opened with other mapping programs (i.e., GoogleEarth, ArcMap). The program is streamlined (not cluttered) and very easy to use.
- GISPro (video) - To learn more about GISPro, click here to watch a short video tutorial on the basic functions and highlights of the GISPro app.
- Exporting KMLs from ArcMap to GIS Pro on iPad using Dropbox (video) - This video shows how to get large datasets (parcels, soils, etc.) from ArcGIS into GISPro with the use of Dropbox and an extension called Export to KML.
- Importing a KML from GISPro into Arcmap (video) - This video shows you how to export a KML from GISPro and then import it into ArcMap using Dropbox as the file transfer solution.
- Exporting files from GISPro using Dropbox (video) - This video shows how to export files to KMLs/KMZs and Shapefiles from GISPro using a Dropbox account
- Import shapfile from ArcMap into GISPro using Dropbox (video) - This video shows how to import a zipped shapefile into GISPro using Dropbox
- ArcGIS (free; P, T) – This is a simple version of ArcMap that allows you to view different kinds of maps and measure distances or areas such as fields or fence lines and share those maps via email or Facebook. This is a very limited version of ArcMap and does not allow complex mapping or data transfer.
- Google Earth (free; W, P, T) – Version of Google Maps that shows features (roads, places, etc.) along with interesting visual angles. You can import maps and or layers to view in the program. Maps cannot be saved.
- Spyglass (free; P, T) – This is a GPS orienteering tool that gives you exact coordinates in multiple units of your current location while using the camera feature to allow you to match those with your current environment. The program also allows you to find and mark coordinates/waypoints, gives you speed of movement, and allows you to take and match pictures with points or current location. All data can be downloaded to other programs. This is a great tool to use for inventories where you want to record coordinate information via pictures in the field.
- GPSLite (free and $; P, T) – A basic GPS application that lets you record tracks and waypoints and add pictures to waypoints. All data can be emailed or downloaded and viewed in any GPS or mapping program.
- SoilWeb (NRCS) (free; P, T) – This is an application that links up to the NRCS Soil Data Mart. The app uses a GPS locator to find your current location and give you comprehensive information about the soil you are currently on. There is no mapping or multiple soil view tools. Data cannot be saved or shared. Use this tool when you are out in the field doing soil inventory analysis and want to identify the soil type you are looking at.
There are many different types of weather apps out there. I have selected the top ones that give comprehensive radar and forecast information.
- NOAA Hi-Def Radar ($; P, T) – NOAA provides a comprehensive, detailed radar and forecast app with time-lapse. You can view the current and forecasted weather for your current or desired location. There are a lot of customizable tools and features available such as storm tracks, wildfire maps, weather warnings, and more.
- MyRadar (free; P, T) – This is a free weather app that provides a good radar and basic forecast for current or desired locations. You can save, share, and/or email the page.
Work Element Apps
There are a lot of work element apps available. The ones listed are the basic few that give the most utility for field work and assessments. A search in the App Store will pull up more apps for organization, project management, and to-do lists purposes. Those are largely based on personal preference and therefore have not been listed.
- Evernote (free; W, P, T) – Evernote is a note storing and information corrugating program that is accessible anywhere on the web, phone, and tablet. It automatically syncs with the other interfaces so you do have to. Evernote loads a plug-in button in your Outlook, web browser, and other applications so that you only need to click one button to automatically store/file something into Evernote. When using on a mobile devise, you can take meeting notes, save links and documents, and take pictures with notes and GPS locators all with one click. Evernote partners with many other apps to create an automatic flow of information into Evernote so all of your notes, news clippings, and more are stored in one place.
- Evernote (video) - To learn more about Evernote, click here to watch a short video tutorial on the basic functions and highlights of the Evernote app.
- Dropbox (free; W, P, T) – Dropbox is a virtual file folder that you can access anywhere: desktop, web, phone, or tablet. It is the best tool to use for accessing files when working remotely or traveling, transferring pictures and documents from a mobile devise to your desktop, or sharing large files with others. Dropbox is not meant to work out of, just transfer and store files. It is the primary way that files are transferred to and from your iPad.
- Dropbox (video) - To learn more about Dropbox, click here to watch a short video tutorial on the basic functions and highlights of the Dropbox app.
- Dropbox (get free account) is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Never email yourself a file again!
- LogMeIn (free; W, P, T) – This apps allows you to access and use your desktop from any location including your iPad. It is very handy when you need a document, need to print a file, or access a program on your desktop. Safe and secure log in features.
- LogMeIn (video) - To learn more about LogMeIn, click here to watch a short video tutorial on the basic functions and highlights of the LogMeIn app.
- DocsToGo ($; P, T) – Save, view, and edit Microsoft documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) with this app. It has basic functions only and cannot do things like high powered Excel calculations or complex PowerPoint creations. It can be used for in-field data collection, basic document creation, and to and fill out field inventory sheets in the field. Documents sync to your Dropbox or DocsToGo folder and are wating for you via auto sync when you get back to the office.
- DocsToGo (video) - To learn more about DocsToGo, click here to watch a short video tutorial on the basic functions and highlights of the DocsToGoapp.
- SketchBookX, Notability, Skitch (free, $; T) - These types of drawing apps can be used to edit photos by drawing directly on them or adding text notes. Photos such as maps, images taken in the field, or documents, can be edited and saved back into another app (GISPro, Dropbox, Evernote, etc.) for use.
- SketchBookX (video) - To learn more about SketchBookX, click here to watch a short video tutorial on the basic functions and highlights of the SketchBookX app.
- FasterScan HD (free; W, P, T) – Use this (or other scanning app) application to scan documents, save them in high definition, and access them on your desktop. Documents are “scanned” by taking a picture with this app of any document and saving it. This is useful for taking obtaining copies/scans of records or documents when out in the field at a farmers house.
- MoblePay, Square, other Credit Card App (free; P) – These apps can take and process credit cards for sales (i.e., plant sales, goods, education). The app is linked directly to your bank for easy processing and typically charge less than 3% fee.
Social Media Apps
These are the primary apps associated with sharing and social media. Other are available for specific media needs and networking.
- Twitter (free; W, P, T) – Look for agencies and organizations of interest (USDA NRCS, LPE Learning Center, Dairy Farmers of WA, Manure Manager, eXtension4U, NRCS Washington, WSU CAHNRS, etc.). By following organizations and people of interest on Twitter, you can get the latest news and information available right when it happens. This is a great way to keep on top of new tools, practices, and issues on note.
- Facebook (free; W, P, T) – Look for agencies, organizations, and individual Conservation Districts. Similar to Twitter, you can get the latest news, notices, and information available. You can also participate in the conversation by posting comments.
- LinkedIn (free; W, P, T) – WA CD Livestock Planning Group, other people, agencies, and organizations. LinkedIn is the “professional” version of something like Facebook. You can access peoples bios/resumes, as well as join groups to share news and participate in discussions. LinkedIn offers the ability for you to create a discussion group the can have restricted access or open access. This is helpful when you want to create a workgroup for idea and information sharing.