Making full use of the new hardware
Apple loves promoting the iPad as a gadget “that defined a category”. Whether or not that’s true, it’s clear that the company has struck gold with its seminal tablet PC. The iPad 2 has sold well since its release back in March.
With larger screens than Apple’s iPod touch and iPhone, both the iPad and its second-generation counterpart work well with apps designed to maximize the larger visual real estate. Here are twenty iPad 2-compatible apps that have proven very useful—or entertaining—for the geeks here at Best of Media.
It’s easy to see why this app is called “your personalized, social magazine”. Flipboard not only pulls content from a variety of social networking and news media sources, it presents updates in a clean, reader-friendly layout. Imagine viewing your Facebook updates, tweets from people you follow, new articles from your favorite websites, and the latest news as a virtual magazine, and you have a good idea of what Flipboard can do.
Looking for a fast-paced action game with RPG elements? Braveheart HD is the iPad game for you. You control a miscreant warrior forced to find the holy grail to avoid execution. The game pits you against waves of enemies, in over six different settings. What makes Braveheart stand out is its unique control scheme: players spin the warrior with their finger to create a deadly melee cyclone, or tap on two different areas and launch crossbow bolts against distant enemies. Kill enemies to earn gold and experience points needed to make your character more powerful.
Whether you’re dreaming about your ultimate vacation, or searching for great travel deals, Jetsetter’s clean presentation and comprehensive database will keep you hooked. Browse through a series of upscale destinations, all presented through high-quality photography. Read community reviews for a better idea of the travel experience, and book rooms at discounted rates.
There are some concerns over the direction taken by Twitter’s official app for the iOS. But the iPad benefits from superb presentation and an intuitive user interface. Even if you’ll find yourself encountering “promoted” hashtags and limited integration with non-Twitter-approved services, you’ll also enjoy how the Twitter iPad app takes full advantage of the tablet PC’s large screen.
Instant messaging is part-and-parcel of the modern online experience. So for iPad users who rely on the services listed here, IM+ will prove very useful. This instant messaging app makes lets users manage multiple chats at the same time, and allows chat logs to be emailed for record keeping. IM+ supports the following chat protocols: GTalk, Yahoo, MSN/Live Messenger, AIM/iChat, ICQ, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and Jabber. The paid version (IM+ Pro) also supports chats via Skype.
The iPad 2’s built-in camera isn’t anything to write home about. But the ability to edit videos instantly right on your tablet? That’s unprecendented. iMovie takes full advantage of the iPad 2’s more powerful hardware, which is no surprise since it was developed by Apple itself. The app also lets users rearrange and trim video clips, and facilitates the import and music, text, and pictures. All with no significant slowdown whatsoever. Complete edits can be uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, CNN iReport, and even iTunes.
When a classic game becomes even better in a virtual environment, then you know the right decisions were made. Like Jenga HD’s use of the iPad 2’s built-in accelerometer. Players can tilt the iPad for a better view of tower of blocks, so that they can pull out the right piece and leave their opponent with an unstable structure. For as Jenga players everywhere know, the first to cause everything to come crashing down loses.
Like iMovie, GarageBand was developed by Apple. And like its video-editing counterpart, this song composer lets budding producers and professionals alike realize their audio fantasies. The app accepts input from electric instruments (via a special adaptor), or lets users play notes through a virtual keyboard and set of guitar strings. It’s even possible to tap on virtual drums and create a catchy beat.
The iPad’s built-in notes app is pretty good, but sometimes doodling is much more intuitive (and faster) than mere text input. Enter PenUltimate, a responsive app with basic controls that turns the iPad into a sketchpad of sorts. Write down those insights as you become aware of them, with either your finger or a stylus that works with capacitive touchscreens.
For iPad users with easy access to a reliable internet connection, DropBox is a godsend. This app provides quick access to any DropBox account, an online repository of files accessible on any supported device. Save important documents on your desktop PC, and access them right on your iPad as needed. DropBox will save you from the trouble of constant syncs with iTunes.
Here’s another app that takes full advantage of the iPad 2’s more powerful hardware. Google Earth makes virtual tours throughout the world possible. Users can explore the most dense urban sprawl, or take a trip to the most remote landmarks. The app maximizes the iPad 2’s upgraded graphics hardware, providing a fluid and responsive experience—provided your internet connection is good.
Real Racing 2 HD
This racing simulation turns the iPad 2 into a giant steering wheel. Real Racing 2 HD players can opt to rely on the tablet’s built-in accelerometer for steering control (turn the iPad 2 to the left, and the car goes left), and even connect their iPad 2 into an HD TV an enjoy full 1080p graphics. The game itself isn’t too shabby as well, with a world racing tour guaranteed to test even the most hardcore simulation drivers.
Buy up property and improvements, all in the name of bankrupting your competitors! Who needs a game board, when Monopoly HD for the iPad can provide the same real-estate dominance experience for the entire family? Players can compete alone against computer opponents, or play with friends and loved ones. In the special tabletop mode, the app automatically rotates the playing field, so that players don’t have to turn the iPad around when its their turn.
This app translates words it sees through the iPad 2’s camera into an understandable language, making it a perfect companion for frequent travellers. Find out what signs and documents say, and see the translation added right to the original object, augmented-reality style. Even better: the app doesn’t require an internet connection to work its magic.
Home 3D for iPad
Designed for architects and interior designers, of the professional and hobbyist kind, Home 3D for iPad lets users turn their structural and amenity dreams into reality. Lay out rooms, turn them into 3D spaces, and add virtual furnishings. Create your dream home or office, or review proposed changes through this app’s walkthrough mode.
Documents To Go Premium
Microsoft Office users will love Documents To Go Premium, an office suite that works not only on the iPad, but the iPod touch and the iPhone as well. This collection of a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software emphasizes functionality, making it great for those who need to edit their Microsoft Office documents on the go. Like many other iPad apps, this one takes full advantage of the larger tablet display.
Millions rely on the online encyclopedia Wikipedia as an authoritative source of information, some reading to pass the time, or even a source of the latest TV show synposes. Wiki Offline makes all that content available on your iPad—even if you don’t have an internet connection. You’ll only need to go online when you first launch the app, to let it download the entire encyclopedia (the English version will take up 3GB on the tablet). Pictures and tables aren’t included, but can be fetched on demand.
Turn your iPad into an oversized recorder with this app. iRecorder is great for students, professors, meeting atendees, and interviewers who don’t want to miss anything important. The clean interface makes it easy to sort through recordings and review them. Another great feature of this app: easy-to-follow instructions that pop up at the right time.
Listen to online radio stations with TuneInRadio. The app also lets users set an alarm, so that they can wake up to their favorite tunes. And if a particular song or a broadcast proves interesting, users can also record it for posterity. A reliable internet connection is of course required for TuneInRadio to work properly, which shouldn’t be a problem for any geek’s hyper-connected home setup.
Doing research online and you’ve encountered interesting links not relevant to your work? Instapaper lets desktop web surfers save articles, blog posts, and other kinds of online texts for some off-time reading. Then they can check out what they’ve marked for “Read Later” (through their PC’s browser extension) on the iPad, stripped of ads, sidebars, and other distracting elements.