Someone recently asked me about my experiences with the iPad, especially now that I now have an enterprise iPad (from the firm), in addition to my personal tablet.

I have made my feelings pretty clear about my evolving relationship with the iPad – my initial apprehension about the iPad being little more than a shiny toy and then the evolution of my usage as I began to discover new apps that let me do things better than I imagined it would at the outset. I have blogged about this often and I admit, I was wrong when I opined initially that the iPad was nothing but an oversized iPhone.

What really caused the transformation in my usage and productivity gains on the iPad was the evolving landscape of apps. So the next question that was presented to me was – what was the most useful application I had downloaded. Note: the question was about the most useful, not the most fun or glitzy.

I have used a number of apps ever since I started using the iPad. It’s difficult to pick one single candidate as the “most” useful app – but a few candidates came to mind. My top applications for usefulness would be:

  • Evernote: Excellent note taking tool, integrated with the Evernote cloud storage. Beautiful layout and absolute joy to use. Free
  • Pages: Part of Apple’s iWork package. Built specifically for the iPad, it’s surprisingly full featured and as expected from any Apple product, absolutely gorgeous. 9.99
  • Dropbox: Allows access to files uploaded to Dropbox from your other computing platforms. Very easy to use and extremely useful. Free
  • Flipboard: This is not strictly a productivity app (in the context of business productivity). But flipboard is perhaps the most elegantly designed and innovative app that I have ever used on the iPad. It’s incredibly innovative and it’s actually fantastically useful to browse media that interests you. Free

However, if I had to pick one app that I use everyday, am constantly amazed at the features that it has and one that makes my iPad go beyond just a flashy toy – it would be  Pages.

Pages is a fantastic, beautiful, well designed and surprisingly full featured word processor. I use it everyday to compose documents, write articles, take notrs during meetings, compose blog posts and read documents that are emailed to me from work. It is the one app that started the transformation of the iPad being a device that I would keep on the coffee table and use occasionally for browsing to the device that I carry with me to work everyday (and take to meetings to scribe notes).

I don’t have the other iWork modules – Keynote and Numbers. Given my experience with Pages, it may not be long before I splurge the $20 required to get the other two modules. I would absolutely recommend Pages for anyone who owns the iPad and wants to use it as something more than an email / browsing device.