App, app and away

Posted: January 21, 2011 in iPad, Technology
Tags: ,

New to iPad? Overwhelmed by the app store? Here are some to get you started.

Given that Apple flogged some 7 million of them leading up to Christmas, it wasn’t surprising that many of my friends ended up with a shiny iPad in their stockings. What was surprising was how many of them were not Mac users but instantly fell in love with the iPad and as a result have either switched to Macs or are planning to do so.

Needless to say I’ve had calls or emails from several of them asking how to do one thing or another. Most of them, faced with the overwhelming choice of the App Store, simply want to know what are the best apps to get. Obviously what apps you like will naturally depend on your interests and lifestyle (I’m not much of a gamer for example, although I’m rather partial to FIFA 11, Brothers In Arms and Scrabble on the iPad) but here (in alphabetical order) are the apps that I find myself using most often:

Allowabank ($0.99) – As our kids are too young to have bank accounts, I use Allowabank for keeping track of their weekly allowances. You can set it up for regular weekly or monthly allowances (we automatically add “interest” to encourage them to save) and any time they spend anything, we mark it in Allowabank and they can see exactly how much they have. A useful tool for helping them understand the value of money.

Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle (free) – I use both these book readers depending what books are available. I prefer the options and technical wizardry of iBooks (download Alice In Wonderland to see what I mean) but the Kindle has more choice and allows you to share books with other Kindle users.

Apple Remote (Free) – Essential if you have Apple TV. Easy to use and great for controlling iTunes playback to any Apple device on your wi-fi network.

Evernote (Free) – I’ve been a long time user of Evernote which allows you to quickly clip text, images, links and documents for later use. I already have it on my desktop and iPhone so extending it to the iPad and being able to have them automatically sync between each other is a no-brainer.

The Economist (Free, optional paid content) – Arguably the best publication on the iPad right now. If you’re an Economist reader, the $110 annual subscription is well worth it – plus you get access to  online content, archives and you can listen to an audio version of the whole edition. Alternatively, download the free Editors Highlights version for the week’s best stories. Like the ST you have to manually download each edition.

Epicurious (Free) – The excellent cooking website is even more useful on the iPad. We use it constantly as an interactive cookbook – you can also enter ingredients to come up with recipe suggestions and shopping lists. Well worth buying a Griffin stand for.

ESPN Scorecenter XL (Free) – Excellent sofa companion to the iPhone version which I use constantly for game updates and news. The iPad version adds video highlights, live play-by-play, stats and much more. Set it up to follow your favourite teams and sports.

Flipboard (Free) – A truly innovative app that pulls together content from your Facebook, Twitter accounts and favourite news feeds as well as specific Flip channels in an attractive magazine-style flipbook. It can sometimes appear a bit random in its layout but its an entertaining way to read your favourite content in one app.

Google Apps (Free) – I do almost everything in Google – mail, documents, maps, etc – so this was a no-brainer for me. Includes voice search, one-stop access to YouTube (which also comes pre-loaded on the iPad) and Google Earth (which, like most Google Apps, you can download individually). No support for Calendar though – although it’s easy enough to set this up in the iPad Calendar app.

Instapaper ($4.99) – A must-have if you visit a lot of websites but don’t have time to read all the content you want. Just click the “Read Later” button on Safari and Instapaper saves it for you to read at your leisure or offline. Syncs across desktop and iPhone/Touch too.

Circus Ponies Notebook ($29.99) – Similar to Evernote for clipping, saving and organising notes and again, something I’ve used on the desktop for sometime. It works just like a paper notebook allowing you to organise and sync notes by  pages and sections and really shines on the iPad which turns it into a powerful portable organiser. Expensive by App standards, but well worth it if you need this type of functionality.

NPR and BBC (both free) – Both these apps provide quick and easy access to multimedia news content that you can customise according to your interest but I think NPR does a better job of connecting you to a wider range of programmes, podcasts and playlists.

Pulse News Reader (Free) – A graphic way to skim through your favourite news sources and social media. Simply swipe through the photo headlines organised in horizontal strips.

Star Walk ($4.99) – Few apps show off the iPad like this brilliant guide to the night sky. It uses your location, date and time to identify the stars, planets and constellations above you.

The Sunday Times (UK) – (Free, paid content) – As a long-time reader of the Sunday Times, I love how this gorgeous app allows me to download all 12 sections on a Sunday morning instead of having to wait until Monday to pay $12 at the Phoenix. As much of premium print media disappears behind paywalls, this is good value – you can buy by issue (about $2.80) or a $17/month subscription which also gets you all six days of the daily Times and access to both web sites. The login can be temperamental and you have to manually download each section, unlike the excellent (and for now free) New York Times app which automatically updates everything when you load it.

Tweetdeck (Free) – For me, the best organised and easiest to use Twitter client.

WebMD (Free) – OK, so the local health listings are redundant for Bermuda, but this is another useful adaptation of an excellent web source providing a quick guide to symptoms, treatment and first aid. Qualified doctor not included.

Hope that’s a help to any new iPad users – and please, weigh in with your favourite apps!

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