The iPad isn't just a hot new consumer device, it's also an increasingly popular tool for business. Each week we take a look at the new or updated business apps for the iPad, and highlight trends in how tablets are being used in the enterprise.

It was a short business week in the U.S. and there were few new application releases this week. But there was one that caught or eye: Oracle Virtual Desktop for iPad. We also found some interesting articles on use cases for iPads in the workplace.

Oracle Virtual Desktop Client for iPad

This week Oracle released an iPad client for its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment. It joins Citrix and VMware in offering tablet support for VDI.

We've made the case before that VDI will continue to play a role in the enterprise, even in the post-PC era because it will enable users to maintain a consistent desktop across multiple devices. However, another approach is possible: making important files accessible from the cloud, and syncing application states across devices (which is what WebOS aims to do). It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

iPads for Field Technicians

TechWorld ran an article today about a lifecycle management application from Siemens. The app has been around for a couple months, but that isn't the interesting part. What's interesting is how the use case for tablets:

The advantage to carrying the lightweight iPad, which is connected to the Teamcenter data wirelessly, is that technicians can stay in place on the large machines being serviced, rather than having to climb down a ladder and find a workstation to call up the information, Taylor said.

"iPad support is now an enterprise requirement," writes RedMonk co-founder and analyst James Governor in a post about both the Oracle app and the TechWorld article. "From an architecture standpoint it makes little sense for enterprises to develop their own iPad apps - but when it comes to consuming them they're demanding native from vendors."

iPads for Point of Sale

Also, Information Week looks at another common use case for the iPad: point of sale systems for retailers:

Microsoft currently holds about 87% of the market for so-called Point of Sale, or Point of Service, operating software. But retailers' desire to arm employees with mobile gadgets through which they can provide and receive customer information while, say, on a showroom floor, has them eyeing tablets.

All the reason for Microsoft to get Windows 8 out the gate as soon as possible.

5 Free Collaborative Whiteboard Apps For the iPad

This week we took a look at free collaborative whiteboard apps, such as ZigZag Board (pictured above) and SyncSpace. Check them out and let us know which one you like best.