So now that both the iPad and the iPad 3G are out, I thought I would post a roundup of the best iPad apps out there that I’ve found. I know there is a lot of curiosity around the potential of the iPad and its interface. I would love to hear from other people what apps they have enjoyed.
Evernote – This is one of the best apps ive ever used. In fact, the draft for this post was typed on the iPad in Evernote. It syncs all your notes and documents with your iphone, ipad, and computer. Making sure that anytime a new though jumps into your head you have a place to stay organized. Creativity doesn’t just happen 9-5, Monday – Friday, so it’s nice to have your thoughts in sync.
Marvel – This app represents one of the great points of differentiation between the iPad and the Kindle. The Kindle is great for books, but for news and things like comics it was always a problem. The iPad’s capability really kicks up the options for those categories. As an added bonus, Marvel allows you to download some of their classic comics for free. There is another app called “Comics” if you aren’t happy with just Marvel.
NPR – Great app for news buffs. NPR posts great articles that are excellent to read on the crystal clear iPad screen. One of the cooler features of this app, however, is that you can stream your favorite shows from NPR right to the iPad on demand.
AIM – I can’t show a screenshot of this one without having to blur out everyone’s Facebook comments and my AIM buddy list. For me, the instant messaging client is a necessity for work communication, so that is a major part of why it made my list. This app is a pretty standard AIM client but nice to have nonetheless. The app has “Lifestream” which will aggregate your social activity but I prefer hootsuite for my social aggreation.
Pandora – Standard Pandora app with an iTunes looking interface. I’m a Pandora fan. I haven’t found any limitations in this application versus the full web version yet. The expandable menu for each song allows you to bookmark the song or the artist. There is also an option to buy the song direct from iTunes or search the artist in iTunes which I find handy if you have interest in the songs you are hearing. It is a bummer that since there is no multitasking, once you start browsing for the artist in iTunes, the iPad has to stop playing Pandora. One other thing that I noticed is you can’t delete a station if you accidentally add one which is easy to do with the sensitive touch interface.
Words HD – Scrabble with a luxurious board compared to the iPad’s tiny cousin the iPhone. I wonder if I’m getting an unfair advantage playing on the “big screen”. It’s a great way to stay in touch with the family if you were scrabble opponents as kids like mine was. Plus, you might learn something. One down side of words is that you never get penalized for playing incorrect words, so you can try combinations until you’re blue in the face. Scrabble also makes an application for $9.99 that I haven’t tried yet. It would really be nice to play against more than just one person.
Molecules – This one is an install and forget it sort of thing. It is fun to play with for about 10 minutes and think of doctors using the iPad to enhance their general diagnosis capabilities. There are molecule setting options for DNA, Acetylcholinesterase, Insulin, and TRNAPHE. The application also offers different views (I prefer the cylinder view myself). If you are in the medical field there is one very cool thing you can do with this. This application connects to the RCSB Protein Data Bank. In a matter of minutes I was able to download the Crystal Structure of the 2009 H1N1 virus, view, and rotate on the screen, pretty cool.
Netflix – I love being able to stream high quality movies using the Netflix app. I watched one over WiFi that looked amazing. When you watch movies over 3G Netflix downsamples the stream. The 3G at my house using full bars was noticeably slower when browsing movies and loading the app. The video quality was not great and jerky in parts, but you’re watching a streaming movie from the cell towers so, not quite there yet. I think AT&T is a tad deluded about their network capability but that is a separate post.
SugarSync – Even though there is no accessible file system on the iPad I sync my documents to the cloud via SugarSync. The files you sync to SugarSync can be viewed and emailed to others using their iPad app. Dropbox is also on this bandwagon. Make’s it easy to be sure you have access to your important files anywhere. I tested viewing docx and xlsx files and it worked fine. It does not allow you to edit the documents however.
Labyrinth 2 HD – Fun game to try out the gyroscope. This has a multiplayer option and is made by Illusion Labs, the same company that coded the Skateboarding came Touch/Grind HD. This game has a lot of features for encouraging social engagement through multiplayer, online browsing, and level creation, but really I just tried the single player levels. It takes a little while to get the hang of all the new obstacles that are in this, but once you get past that it is pretty fun, a tutorial will take you through the basics.
ABC – Stream ABC shows, although it crashed my iPad a couple times.
Yahoo Entertainment – I have multiple TVs in the house and only 1 has a cable box. This is a great TV guide if you have analog TVs in the house or don’t want use the guide. This has some other features, such as, video on demand for news and sports. It also has entertainment news in a format that I’m not crazy about. I personally am just using this for the guide capability. One of the really handy features of the guide is the “Show Details” option. By using this you can click on a show and see all the information about all the shows in the season, so if you are coming in mid-stream, you can see where the season is at with respect to the story line.
The Weather Channel – Nice array of weather functionality and views. The app utilizes the iPad’s location services and can do multiple map overlays including clouds and radar. I personally never really trust weather reports so its nice to be able to play back the radar and see what is actually about to happen. This app also offers a streaming video weather reports, but the local reports are pretty robotic.
These are my favorite apps that I have dug up so far. You might be asking, where are Facebook, Hootsuite, LinkedIn, Google Docs, and Google Voice. If you look at my home screen you’ll notice that I have a few of those on there. However, these are simply Safari home screen links to the respective sites. I’ve found that for the most part all those items listed above work fine for the iPad using their straight up web browser modes. Facebook has a link for touch devices called touch.facebook.com but I find I just end up using the actual full site.
So for these there aren’t apps for them, but are apps needed? The beauty of the iPad is that standard websites with no browser plugins work great.
Apps I tried and didn’t love:
For both Amazon and Kayak the search functionality is quite a bit more limiting than on the actual site, and both their full sites work fine on the iPad. So from my perspective there is no real point in having an app for those, but if you do build an app, it needs to be able to reproduce the search criteria. It’s the same problem on the iPhone but the point for simplicity is a little more arguable for the iPhone due to the form factor. For Twit Touch – I love the TWIT network but this app keeps crashing my iPad. It’s nice to be able to watch streaming live TWIT shows, but I really need more stability from that app.
So there is my first roundup. Looking forward to what gets built in the future. Please comment and let me know some great apps that you have found.