In some business jets, pilots are bringing iPads into their cockpits instead of heavy flight bags stuffed with paper charts, operation manuals and checklists.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently authorized jet-services provider Flight Options to use iPads as "electronic flight bags" in the company's 13-seat planes.
"(The technology) enhances safety and significantly reduces the pilot's workload," said Matt Doyle, vice president of Flight Options, which operates a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.
It's not just aviation where tablets are making inroads in the workplace. From bank executives to beauty salon owners to restaurateurs, businesses are putting the most popular tablet to work, to inform clients, travel lighter and save paper.
Corey Mania, owner of Mania Hair Studio in Park Ridge, N.J., said she uses iPads to help clients choose a hairstyle and make their next appointments. New Jersey jewelry designer Scott Kay uses them to replace display cases carried by its salespeople.
David's Bagels in Montvale, N.J., is saving money on payment processing by using an iPad to take customers' credit and debit card payments with an application called Shopkeep. The iPad is mounted at the checkout area with a card-swiping device attached.
"It tracks all data I need, and customers think it's cool," co-owner Rob Solimano said.
White-collar workers are embracing the device as well. Newark, N.J., lawyer Jerry Zaro said he now just carries an iPad. "I have over 500 files on it. It's a walking file room," he said. For him it's the most important technological advancement since the cellphone.
In health care, the federal Food and Drug Administration has approved iPads for diagnostic radiology so doctors can read images when they are away from their desks. Cardiologists are using an iPad application with three-dimensional graphics to teach patients about their hearts and how they can be repaired.
Scientists and conservationists announced recently that they've developed a free iPad and iPhone application to help ships avoid collisions with whales in the North Atlantic.
The iPad has been around for less than two years, and through the end of last year 55 million were sold. Part of the iPad's allure is the number of applications available — more than half a million.
Forrester Research predicts tablets will be in the hands of 112 million U.S. consumers by 2016. A Forrester online survey of tablet owners — conducted last year before the Kindle Fire hit the market — showed 73 percent used iPads. Statistics on how many tablets are being used at work are hard to find; however, a Forrester survey last year of information technology workers at companies with 20 or more employees showed 13 percent of them used tablets for their jobs.