I got my 64GB 3G iPad back in May – back when you could still get a totally unlimited data plan. I bought it primarily for my photography business, since I believe viewing portfolios should be a hands-on interactive experience rather than a presentation. Since then, I’ve grown to love it.
One of the main reasons that I recommend it to colleagues, family, and friends is the App ecosystem that Apple has built around the iPad. There is an endless amount of options for the iPad user to make it into a personalized device that does the things that is important to the owner. Apple has also made buying Apps like buying candy – cheap, simple, and tasty! Don’t like an App? Well, only .99 down the drain. Yes, it’s not an open ecosystem – but with the relaxing of the developer rules over the past few weeks, Apple has rendered that argument mostly moot. So – I’m going to avoid the “closed platform” rats nest for the purpose of this article.
What I am going to talk about are the Apps that I use and find valuable. These aren’t going to be exhaustive reviews – just some one liner thoughts about each app. I’m also not going to talk about the pre-installed Apple stuff unless there is something remarkable about it. I’m also going to skip iPhone only apps unless there is no replacement on the iPad. Today’s article is everything that isn’t a game – which I’ll cover in a different article.
- Osfoora HD – My favorite Twitter client. Well designed, fast, easy to navigate. Only single account, but very powerful and fast.
- Friendly – Facebook client. Since there’s no native iPad Facebook app.. and the iPhone Facebook app is buggy.. this is everything that I’d want a Facebook app to be.
- Reeder (+) – Google Reader client. I get about 99% of the news this way VIA Google Reader. It’s a clean design and easier than Google Reader itself to skim news. Only drawbacks? You can’t manage your subscriptions within the account and I keep seeing spoilers for Survivor and The Amazing Race in the Reality Blurred feed.
- Things (+) - Getting Things Done! This is the best task manager out there if you are into GTD. It’s super clean and elegant which is a big plus over Omnitask and others – and I think simplicity is one of the most important factors for an organization system. I only wish there was a Windows client!
- Evernote (+) - Note Taking. Easy to use, uber-cross platform. Take notes in Evernote, retrieve them everywhere! Also can do voice and picture notes and geotag them.
- SmugMug – I use this as my ‘portfolio app’ instead of ‘Photos’ since I store my work on SmugMug.
- Kindle (+) – Since I have a Kindle, it’s nice to be able to read my content on other platforms. Kindle beats iBooks by a first-round KO in my e-book. Still prefer actually reading on my Kindle, though..
- Pandora (+) – Great free music discovery client. Look up a favorite band and hear other music similar to it (like Genius on iTunes). I can’t wait until iOS 4.2 for the iPad when Pandora will run in the background.
- Google (+) – The Google voice search works so well! I use this more on my iPhone, but it’s still very useful on the iPad
- Digits (+) – No native calculator on the iPad? Really? This one is sweet with an adding machine tape that you can mail to yourself
- 1Password (+) – Password Vault – Keep your passwords in one spot with 256-bit encryption. I love this since I have literally hundreds of logins
- Bento – Personal Database – Neat Hypercard-like personal database. It looks really cool.. just haven’t had the need to inventory my DVDs or make a task list (use Things for that)
- WordPress (+) – WordPress management – Nice for moderation and on-the-fly content creation, but it doesn’t support some of the plugins that I’ve added to my blogs (hello SmugWP)
- GoodReader (+) – PDF reading and editing. Not as compelling since iBooks does this too – but the markup and saving of documents is a nice feature
- OmniSketch – Strange drawing apps with ‘active’ brushes. Got it thinking it would be a good sketch app but it’s more useful for painters
- Gowalla – Location-based Social Networking – Nicely done, but I never got into the location-based social networking game. I’m the reigning mayor of “Don’t Care”. It’s the same reason I never installed Foursquare.
- Twitterrific – Twitter Client – Used this prior to Osfoora HD and Twitter for iPad. Some love it, I don’t. I could never figure out how to do simple things and that made it dead to me.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn Client – LinkedIn isn’t my favorite social network – but for those that rely on it, it’s a good client and a must-have.
- Twitter – Twitter Client – This is the official Twitter client. It’s nicely done if not a little unique in some areas. I’d probably use this if I didn’t love Osfoora HD so much.
- Wikipanion – Encyclopedia – I think the iPad is to Wikipedia as the Kindle is to eBooks. I use this constantly as an extension to my brain. I can’t tell you how many arguments this has resolved.
- WebMD – Medical Reference – Enter a symptom, get a list of possible ailments. Fortunately, I haven’t had to use this yet. It’s a beautiful app.
- Fandango (iPhone) – Movie Information – I’ve only been to a couple of movies in the theater in the last couple of years due to little kids. I used this app to find showtimes and locations for all of them.
- IMDB – Very nice (and free) movie reference app. Installed this one to keep track of my semi-famous stuntman brother-in-law.
- iBooks – One of the few Apple apps I’ll talk about. I never use this for eBooks.. but it’s a pretty darn good PDF reader and I use it often for that. It’s sometimes buggy in that it sometimes doesn’t show PDFs that I have on my device.
- Betty Crocker – Love this app since it has recipes that I’ll actually cook. The “cook mode” and ingredient list makes it easy to use in the kitchen.
- Epicurious – Well done, but I haven’t used this a lot since I haven’t done a ton of gourmet cooking since I got the iPad. Love that it does a shopping list!
- Weber On The Grill – I’ve used this one several times. I was a big fan of the “Weber Cookbook” in dead tree format.. and this adds interactivity
- Eyewitness – Like “The Big Picture” but one picture per day with photo tips. I likes me my daily picture!
- The Big Picture – The actual website for the Big Picture chokes the iPad browser with all the HiRes pictures. This is a nice flip interface to their top-notch photoblog. I use this app every time they release a new photo essay several times a week.
- ABC News – Really cool and unique globe-style news visualizer. I ran this once and said “Cool interface” and never used it again.
- StumbleUpon – Social News – When I’m bored, I’ll sometimes use this to take me to a random website in the genres I’m interested in. I’ve discovered some very cool stuff by using StumbleUpon.
- USA Today – Nicely done but simple. Only a couple of dozen of the top news stories scraped off of the web.
- Pulse – Beautiful graphical RSS reader. I prefer Reeder.. but this is a really graphical way to browse RSS content that has a lot of pictures.
- Flipboard – I like this application a LOT. It formats RSS into a beautiful book where you turn the page. Nice interactive way to experience a news feed.
- Boxee (iPhone) – I love being able to remote control Boxee in my living room right from my iPhone or iPad.
- RokuRemote (iPhone) – My Rokus are getting a little old – but as much as I loved them, I never liked walking within a couple of feet of them to select music. This allows me to select music anywhere in the house.
- DISH (+) – I love being able to remote control my Dish DVR from anywhere. Full program guides plus scheduling over 3G is really great.
- TeamViewerHD – Remote Computer Control. I haven’t used this yet – but it’s ready to go when I do need to remote control one of my computers!
- Amazon (+) – I think I like shopping on here even better than on Amazon.com itself. Add in One-Click and Prime, and things now just magically appear on my doorstep. Yes, you can buy Diet Coke on Amazon.
- eBay (+) – Like Amazon – it is easier to use in many ways than the actual website. Browse auctions with high resolution pictures, manage your sales and your bidding all from this rich application.
- CraigsPro Free (+) – A pretty good interface for browsing Craigslist and managing for sale posts. I’ve used the iPhone version more since it’s simple to take a camera phone pic and post it directly to Craigslist.
- Dropbox (+) – File Sharing – It is nice to drag a PDF into for browsing on the iPad. I know this is popular, but in reality I don’t use it much.
- SpeedtestX HD (+) – Nice way to see what kind of 3G/WiFi throughput I’m really getting.. but I don’t tend to use it much.
- ConvertBot (iPhone) – Unit Conversion – There’s a million apps that do this, this one is nice and easy to use.
- WiFiFoFum – WiFi Sniffer – Never know when 3G is going to not work with AT&T – so this app makes it super easy to find an open hotspot. This saved me in Siena, Italy once when all the internet cafes were closed.
- WeatherProHD – For some reason, all weather apps kind of stink. This one stinks less than most and has a nice front page display. I wish it had a better weather map – it only shows a multi-state view.
- The Weather Channel Max+ – Beautiful and flaky. Nicest map of the weather apps but it does timelapse pretty slowly. The latest release crashes somewhat less and loads faster.
- WeatherBug – Installed it and never really used it.
- Accuweather.com – Used this a lot until I got WeatherProHD. Nice interface, bad maps.
- CineXPlayer – Multi-format media player. Installed it, never used it, probably never will since VLC is now out for the iPad.
- ABC Player – Viewer for all the ABC content. It’s free, and I’ve never used it.
- Netflix – Plays Netflix Watch It Now like magic. I don’t use this much, but that’s more because the Netflix content isn’t the most compelling.
- VLC – Multi-format media player. Just installed this one, I know I’ll use the daylights out of it. The only drawback is having to use iTunes to add content.
- AMS Amsterdam – Travel Guide – Haven’t used this yet, but bought it when it was free on the iTunes store. There’s a 100% chance I’ll go back to Amsterdam and this will be useful.
- UrbanSpoon HD – Restaurant Locator – Great interface, easy to use. Haven’t needed to look anything up yet.
- Negotiator (iPhone) – It’s the official Priceline iPhone app, and I’ve used this a bunch of times to find hotels on short notice. That’s the cheapest way to do Priceline, too!
- SunSeeker – Astronomy – As a photographer, knowing where the sun will be at what time is very useful!
- Emerald Observatory – Astronomy – An astrological clock that maps what planets should be visible. One of the most beautiful iPad apps!
- Topo Maps – Mapping – Downloads free topographic maps and shows where you are on that map. Very useful for planning photographic shoots.
- Google Earth – Mapping – Pre-visualize a journey by tipping the iPad to fly around your location. Nice port of the desktop app to a portable platform.
The Key: (iPad) – iPad Only, (iPhone) – iPhone Only, (+) Dual platform app