I get asked a lot of questions about iPad apps. The most common one being, “What apps should I buy?” The answer is, “It depends on what you do.”
Since I’m not you, I can’t tell you which apps you will need to make your life with iPad a happy, excellent and most wonderful place filled with sunshine, daisies and superlative enlightenment. What I can do though, is share with you the apps that make my life better. I’m a writerly type, I take lots of photos and spend a lot of time fiddling around on social networks. I’m also a mother of two teenagers and three dogs. My life can get quite hectic at times. There are days when I look at my iPad and want to kiss it because it made dinner easier to put together, or it minimized the amount of hassle I had to go through to exchange information on when appointments were with my husband and the kids. Thankfully, I also have a lot of days where I just don’t have to do anything unless I darned well feel like it, and I have apps for that too.
Let’s start with the thing I do most.
1. Facebook for iPad. I have tried other Facebook apps. Let’s face it, all of the iPad apps for Facebook categorically suck. None of them work well. None of them are stable, and some of them even ask that you pay them money so that you can have a piece of software that only “kind of” works. The latest iteration of the Facebook app for iPad is actually really nice to use! Rather than being a ported over web app, it is now a native iOS app and it’s about time that Facebook got around to making those changes!
2. Tweet Bot for iPad. It’s 3$. I know, but it’s worth 3$ to buy this app. Also, there’s the fact that it’s nicer, cleaner and faster than Twitter for iPad, but if don’t want to spend it, Twitter for iPad is free and it works ok. It’s just nowhere near as nice, or as cool, as Tweet Bot.
3. Pinterest. Well, did you expect this not to end up here? Pinterest is an awesome place to store stuff you see on the internet that you think is cool. You can load up your boards with whatever you like. It has a nice display so you can all of the things that your friends are pinning. The Pinterest app for iPad is much the same as the app for iPhone. The only part about it that I find lacking, is having to use Pinterest’s buggy web browser within the app, in order to pin new items to your boards. It’s difficult to do if there isn’t a “Pin It!” link available to you on that particular web page.
1. App Shopper. I spend way too much time playing games on my iPad. Way, way too much. IPad gaming is significantly less expensive than it is on any console, with the most expensive game I have purchased possessing a price tag of 19$. It’s a lot for an iPad app. App Shopper has gotten me a couple of deals, especially on a favorite RPG of mine from Square Enix. 7$ was a deal at the time, especially when the regular price for the game was 15.99$. I spent so little money on that game, thanks to App Shopper. App Shopper lets you look at the most popular apps on the App Store and then you can add the things you want to your wish list. When the price drops on your app, App Shopper notifies you of the drop and you can swoop in and buy your app when it’s cheap!
2. Unstuck. This app is like a little session of therapy, right on your iPad. If you’re feeling stuck, like you have writer’s block, or you’re having a conflict with your family or friends and don’t know how to work it out, sit down and do the exercises in the app. Unstuck helps you figure out what’s got you feeling stuck in a rut and sets you on a path to get back out of it. It’s pretty awesome. In fact, I just had to use it so I could move on with making this list and look! It works!
3. Reminders. This little built in gem of awesome is the only reason I remember to give my dogs their pills on time. It reminds me to do things when I get home, or when I leave the house. I can program it via Siri and forget about it, until it beeps at me and, because it syncs via iCloud, reminders go off on my Mac, my iPad and my iPhone. So no matter which of the devices I have on me, one of them is complaining that I’m not doing something I should be. It’s a wonderful way to keep yourself on task. I also use it to share a shopping list with my husband so that when we run out of things at home that he can pick up on his way from the office, he can just check the list and see if anything’s on it. No need to bother him with a text or a phone call while he’s in a meeting.
4. iCal. I schedule all of our appointments via iCal. My entire family uses a shared calendar that is distributed to our devices via iCloud. We used to use Google Calendar for this, but have found iCloud way easier to use and much more reliable. When I make appointments for the kids at the dentist, it shows up on their iPods to remind them that they have a dentist’s appointment. If they have a school event that day, they can let me know in plenty of time so I can reschedule the appointment. If I’m going to be busy on a certain day and my husband wants to call to have a guy look at our roof, he just looks at the calendar to see what days I’ve got appointments and then he can schedule his own appointment for the contractor to be at our house, so I know when I have to be home to meet the guy.
1. iBooks. Here’s the thing about iBooks: It’s prettier than the other reading apps on the iPad. I know that the iBookstore doesn’t have nearly as many books as Amazon does for the Kindle, but I’ve actually had books I paid for go missing on my Kindle, only to discover that a newer edition has been published and rather than allowing me to keep the old edition that I paid for, it was removed from my Kindle. No credit was made to my account to reimburse me for the loss of the title and no notification was sent to inform me of the change. That’s not how iBooks rolls. But also, the app is just flat out elegant! It feels like you’re reading a real page turner, because you are actually turning pages. You can actually flip through a book, sadly without the cool sound effect, but the visual impact still applies. The iBooks app just takes everything about all of the other book reading apps and kicks it up a notch. I buy books on iBooks first and Kindle second, because the prices are usually the same and I really enjoy the reading experience on iBooks.
2. Kindle. Well duh! Amazon’s Kindle Store has more titles than any other eBook seller on the planet, . I don’t like how Amazon does business in the eBook biz, IMO, they are a borderline monopoly, but if you can’t find it on the Kindle, it probably doesn’t exist in electronic format. That has power in the marketplace, even if they are unscrupulous jerks that charge authors to send their books to you over the air (an average of 2.50$ gets charged to the publisher for every single ebook purchased on the Kindle store to cover the cost of Whispernet and when the publisher and the writer are the same person… you get the idea) and pay out less than any other eBookseller, in spite of the volume of sales, but that has nothing to do with the app itself. The new Kindle app for iPad borrowed some features from iBooks, specifically the page turning animation, it’s not as polished and pretty, but it’s not at all buggy and does its job very, very well. probably.
3. Nook. Well, you have an iPad. Why should you be limited in where you buy your eBooks? Buy them where ever you want! And SHARE your NookBooks with your friends that have a Nook! It’s awesome that you are not trapped in a DRM nightmare, isn’t it?
4. Flipboard. Flipboard is a news reader app. It scoops the most tweeted articles on Twitter and compiles them into a beautiful magazine like design for you to easily flip through. It’s how I keep up on tech news and with the rest of the world.
1. Airport Mania 2: Wild Trips This is a fun chain of events type game. It’s probably designed for small children, I’ve given it to kids to play and they’ve enjoyed it. It’s 3.99$ for hours upon hours of cutesy fun. If you need to just spend five minutes doing something else, this is a great game for that.
2. Letterpress: Free word game in which you can play random opponents, or your friends. Try to make words with as many letter tiles as you can and the one who manages to color the board with more tiles wins! Okay, so my description doesn’t do it justice. What Letterpress is, is a heck of a lot of fun. If you like word games, get Letterpress and you may feel free to thank me in the comments, if you feel so inclined.
3. Chaos Rings: Um… hello? Square-Enix? You built me a game for my iPad that looks and plays like a Final Fantasy game! I love you! Thanks! If you are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, you will probably enjoy Chaos Rings, but with a 12$ price tag, it’s a bit steep for an iPad App, and I DO recommend the iPad version over the iPhone version. This game deserves the larger screen.
4. The World Ends With You: Solo Remix: I played this on the DS. The combat system on the DS was maddening to me. I never could get the two screen thing going just right, it’s a wonder that I ever beat the thing at all. So when I heard that an iPad port was coming out with new controls designed just for iPad play, I was all over that like a bad shirt. The World Ends With You is quite possibly the best game available for iPad right now, even though it will set you back 18$. If you enjoyed the DS version then you know that it’s worth it to buy the iPad version.
1. There is only one word processor for iPad in my world, well, besides Pages, which I don’t use, yet. It’s iAWriter. IAWriter is a minimalist word processor. It’s whole purpose is to get the job done for you on the fly, where ever you and your iPad happen to be, so if the mood strikes you, break it out, write your thoughts down and then shoot an email to your laptop from the app for later editing and polishing.
Table Top Roleplaying
1. I am NOT just stumping for this app because my husband wrote it, but I have to tell you that my husband wrote it, because it’s only fair. I have used several dice roller apps, Dice Tray is the best one I’ve used. I haven’t played around with the iPad version a lot. Dice roller apps are a dime a dozen on the app store, but what Dice Tray has that the others don’t, is fun art and a D&D ish feel that puts me right in the mood for roleplaying. There’s an easy single die roll screen and a screen where you can plug in whatever dice you need and you can make more screens, so if you want a screen for your damage roll, your to hit roll and your dodge roll, you can set them up and flip between all three. It’s .99 cents in the App Store. It’s worth a buck. Give it a look and see if it’s to your liking.
2. Notes: Yes, the generic “Notes” app. It’s the most useful thing I’ve found for jotting down some quick information, like how much loot you managed to get off of the orc your party has just slain, or how much gold you were paid for pulling off that assassination job during your last adventure.
3. For reading PDF character sheets and the like, I just open these with iBooks. iBooks is really versatile like that.
Evernote. Notice that this one doesn’t have a number? Well, if you didn’t, you should have. Evernote is like the Swiss Army Knife of apps. I use Evernote to organize my recipes. I use Evernote to organize my notes for the novels I’m writing. I keep photos of potential characters for my novels in there. In fact, I can’t think of many situations that you couldn’t use Evernote for. Best part? It syncs itself between all of the copies of Evernote for your Apple devices, so if you have it on your iPad, you will also have it on your iPhone and your Mac. Evernote is the bees knees.
If you are new to the iPad, or find this list lacking, there is only one App for you. It’s called AppStart. Let me just put it to you this way, to every person who has ever asked me, “What apps do you use on that thing?” This is the app you need. The first page has a great article titled, “Absolutely The First 10 Apps Everyone Needs to Download” and it escalates all the way to, “How to Dump Your Laptop”. The way it works is that you flip through the various screens and find your interests, find the things that you would like to do, or didn’t know you could do on an iPad and then you read the articles and you can download the apps based on the recommendations provided in the articles, right there inside the app. It helps you learn how to get the most out of your iPad right from the start and I think that every iPad should come with this little gem pre-installed.
That’s it! Random Gemini’s Definitive iPad App List. If you have any of your own suggestions for this list, feel free to add them in the comments!