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Actions for iPad: Automating your computer from the iPad


Actions (US$3.99, with free Mac or Windows client) provides a really nifty tool for anyone who wants to fine-tune their workflow. It provides a soundboard of pre-programmed and customizable actions that live on your iPad and work on your computer.

You tap items on your tablet's screen; they trigger actions on your PC. It's basically a macro system that lives on your iPad. If you're familiar with any scripting apps like Keyboard Maestro or Quickeys, Actions will be instantly recognizable. Just install and pair to a desktop app that provides the OS integration.

Instead of assigning trigger keys, you work with a visually appealing iPad interface with simple customization and large, friendly buttons. Add your iPad to a stand, and you have one-tap access to many desktop features.

Although this app will help anyone who wants to bring repetitive actions to an easy-to-access interface, it brings an especially good match for anyone who works with kids with gross- and fine-motor skill deficits. The large buttons, and easy-to-recognize colors and symbols offer a wonderful synthesis of opportunity.

In my testing, I did find some minor quirks -- for example, the Apps folders were not searched on my attached external drives. That made launching installed-on-secondary-drive-Xcode a bit of a challenge. Plus searching through my extensive apps list would have been helped by a scroller of some kind, not just a standard table. I would also have liked an obvious way to switch off the interface sounds for office use.

For the most part, I think people are going to love Actions for iPad, however. It's innovative, fun and useful. The graphics are beautiful and the app is well-thought-out.

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