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What’s on my iPad?

It’s now 2012, a bit since Christmas and that fateful day you unwrapped your new iPad, iPhone or iPod. You’ve had time to get comfortable with it, play around with the stock apps, set it up the way you like—now it’s time to really see what it can do!

The best part of owning an iOS device over an Android or Windows Mobile device is the truly staggering amount of quality apps that are present in Apple’s App Store. From the outside, an Android user will scoff at the App Store, saying you are living under Orwellian-like control. Well, I like not having to worry about viruses, trojans and spyware, not to mention the fact that I like having a committee vetting apps before I spend money on them. That makes me feel very good and encourages me to buy and download more apps.

Back when iPod was ascendent, asking “What’s on your iPod?” was de rigueur. Now with the App Store, that phrase has morphed into “What apps do you have?” I feel I’m a regular guy, beyond a few odd tics here and there, I’m not extreme in any one field, so I think my iPad may have an app or two for nearly anyone, and I’d like to present them here for your pleasure.

Please note there are in many cases, different versions of these apps exist for the various generations and iOS devices out there. Some are only for iPhone/iPod, some are designed for the larger screen of iPad, while many are hybrids that work on any platform. Some developers have released HD versions of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. So, just make sure that you are choosing the right one.

 

Everyday

 

CNN App for iOS

We could go on all day about your choice of news provider, and I actually do prefer the BBC, however their app sucks. A beautiful interface, including a full-screen top news story slider makes this app my choice to consume news.

CBC App for iOS

For my local news I choose the good old CBC. You can have it display local news exclusively or combined with national news. For those interested you have direct access to CBC radio as well.

Facebook App for iOS

In my view, this app needs a lot of work to go before it’s really ready for primetime. However, for straight up consuming, it’s great! Fullscreen photos, in-line content, and access to chat, but lacking in power features such as marking stories as spam or just hiding them. For people like me that run pages, it’s downright useless. My solution? Use the app for reading updates, then switch to the web version for updating my page.

iBooks App for iOS

When it comes to E-readers, I really hate the fact that they’re ripping us off so blatantly. Seriously, does is it only take a dollar to print and ship a book or magazine? I’m hoping this will change in the future, for now, I’m happy to save the dollar and also save a few trees. When it comes to some books though, I’m old-school. I like my hardcovers, but for pulp fiction and magazines, I’d rather have them on my iPad.

I’m a big fan of National Geographic magazine and when I saw the iPad version, I was completely blown away. Books are one thing, but magazines works amazingly well on an iPad. National Geographic is known for its photos, and on iPad, full-screen, amazing colour and collapsed captions makes you feel like you’re right there. Articles are now placed into a single column, and inline videos make the paper magazine downright boring.

How To Cook Everything App For iOS

Many years ago, my sister gave me a very large and heavy book by Mark Bittman that did, indeed, seem to give you instructions on how to cook everything. The iPad version is much lighter—not to mention searchable—and contains unit conversions and built in timers. One of the great things about this book is that he teaches you how to pick and process produce, properly carve a large bird, and give you the basics of knife knowledge.

Food Network App For iOS

The Food Network Canada app lets you search recipes from the likes of Alton Brown, with similar features as the How to Cook Everything. I appreciate the fact that I can search at recipes by chef, ingredient or theme. So, if you like the cooking styles of Bobby Flay or Giada De Laurentiis, simply search their recipes. If you make an account, you can also make a favourite recipe list.

My Recipe Book App For iOS

So, we have replaced the large collection of books over the stove, but what about the grease stained cards, and torn prints off the Internet? Never want to forget that recipe for pork tenderloin you tweaked and made your very own? Then check out this app, and do as I did, nuke the recipes it came with… as it defeats the entire purpose of the app in my opinion. It’s easy to input ingredients and measurements, and you can use your devices the built-in camera of your iDevice to instantly take photos of your dish.

Flipboard App For iOS

I don’t use it, but I hear it’s great…

For as popular as it is, it’s surprising I have not used it! This app will bring popular news from chosen sources including your social media pages and lay it out much like a magazine. Some so there is no better way to consume your news!

IMDB App for iOS

My personal choice…

I’m one of those people that watches a show, sees a familiar face, and MUST know where I saw the actor before. Well, the Internet Movie Database is the app that will tell you that the serial killer from CSI was also a mime in Northern Exposure back in the early 90’s. You can search by actor name, show/movie or even by character name. There’s also a A huge collection of movie trailers and trivia that makes this a must have app!

 

Tools

 

Shazam App For iOS

One of those simple things that will hold you in awe of technology; Shazam will listen to a music track over the car radio, TV, or in the club and instantly tell you the artist name, track name, and where you can buy it online. Like the sound of the music playing but nobody nobody knows who it is? Shazam it!

A Free Level App For iOS

A great example of what makes iPhone more then just a phone. The look on people’s face when I whip out my iPhone to check if something is level is priceless. It works using the sensors in your device, and it’s great for hanging paintings and leveling shelves.

Kitchen Dial App For iOS

Another tool for the kitchen, this app instantly tells you how many tablespoons are in a gallon is, or any other variety of kitchen related measurements. I use this ALL the time, no 6 teaspoons for this guy, thanks to Little Chef, I know that is just short of 2 tablespoons! Plus, if things get messy, give it a flick to enter single hand mode, and use the tilt sensors to choose and turn the dials!

Solar Walk App For iOS

More of a reference than a tool, Solar Walk is a beautifully rendered atlas of our solar system, great for learning or teaching, or just for the arm chair astronomer. You can check out major artificial satellites of earth, surface features of Mars and other planets, and travel to Barnards Star. If you don’t know what that is, chances are you could learn something from this app. If you happen to have a pair of the ol’ red-blues, you can turn on 3D view!

Wolfram Alpha App For iOS

Google, but for data. Want to know the population of the city you live in? Atomic weight of Einsteinium? What aircraft are currently in your airspace? Ask Wolfram and it will tell you! Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri, references this search engine for many of it’s questions. This is a great tool just to have around!

Portfolio App For iOS

My own pick is what I take to client meetings. It’s a fully customizable portfolio application that lets you brand it for your company. Easy to set up and use, it’s a great way to show off your best work to your potential client. Once it is set up, it comes across as an app that you had specifically written for your company, very fortune 500 indeed!

 

Creation

 

iMovie & Garage Band For iOS

Just like their Mac OS X equivalents, but with a super touchable interface! I’ve played around with Garage Band primarily for score creation, but I’m sure others have created far better works of sound. I use Final Cut Pro for my professional videos, but for everyday family videos, iMovie is a nice and easy way to do them!

Pages & Numbers For iOS

What separated iPad from iPhone for some time were production apps like Pages & Numbers, Apple’s version of alternatives to Word & Excel. These apps alone are probably what have allowed me to put aside my Mac, and make my iPad my everyday machine. A full featured word processor and spreadsheet with not only intuitive touch control scheme, but full compatibility with their Microsoft counterparts.

Procreate App For iOS

One I have not used, but the examples of work I’ve seen done with this program utterly amaze me. This program, along with similar apps have made art digital in a way that a tablet and stylus never did. Anybody interested in seeing how a touch interface and art can combine, or if you are a serious artist interested in a new medium, download now!

 

Games

 

Contre Jour App For iOS

A very stylish puzzler with a twist, instead of controlling the character, you control the environment. Nudge and fling your cycloptic creature to get through each level, deform the land, grab ahold of him with glowing elastic bands and pop through spacial rifts!

NyxQuest App For iOS

One of the rare games that captured my attention to the end. A very original and atmospheric game with nice storyline, NyxQuest is a side scroller that not only has you avoiding enemies, but solving environmental puzzles to advance. The character gains abilities through her adventure and the environments change enough to keep you interested! I cannot wait for a sequel!

Chopper 2 App For iOS

Another side scroller with relatively simple graphics and stupid simple game controls, but for some reason, highly addictive. Challenging game play with a wide range of beautifully rendered 3D environments, Chopper 2 was hard to put down.

Empress Of The Deep App For iOS

Combining the old school puzzle/exploration of Myst, the recent spaz in hidden object games, and a modern tree huger theme, Empress of The Deep is spread over two episodes. Though a little retro for my tastes, it was an engaging game, and also good for the kids in that’s it’s not violent or too scary, and it makes them solve logic puzzles that exercise the brain.

Dark Nebula App For iOS

My favorite in the rolling category, you control a marble through a maze. In this one, somehow you are an intelligent alien marble and you have to navigate your way through a rather industrial, and surprisingly dangerous environment. Making great use of the sensors in iOS devices, you have to have very fine motor control to make sure you don’t end up in the depths of some great machine.

Mirrors Edge App For iOS

A truly unique game, and one that needs to be tried out! Ever heard of parkour? Well, this game let’s you dance on the top, edges and sides of skyscrapers in an attempt to evade the big brother government. You character is a young and agile lady by the name of Faith, and your goal is to not fall of a building, nuff said.

Tiny Wings App For iOS

The number one game on many lists, a single control and a cute, lovable character, this is a great way to burn away time waiting for the wife(or husband). He’s a little bird with tiny wings that wants to fly, but all he can do is use gravity and the hills to launch himself into the air, see how far you can get him!

Amateur Surgeon App For iOS

A very comical game that was one of the first to make unique use of the touch interface, making your finger into a scalpel, bone saw, forceps, ect. You are a pizza delivery boy turned street surgeon, and end up working on a variety of colorful characters with even more interesting ailments. Oh, and yea…you have to use improvised surgical implements…

Ragdoll Blaster App For iOS

Combining puzzler and physics game components, your goal is simple, hit the target with a rag doll shot out of a canon! Not as simple as you might think since there are a variety of barriers in the way, and you have to account for natural (and unnatural) gravity…

Angry Birds App For iOS

A success story, and probably one of the most addictive games of all time! Viral videos, plush toys and iPhone cases all star the lovable critters from this challenging puzzler. Simple premies, use birds with various abilities to knock down structures stuffed with egg stealing, sneering pigs. You will NOT be able to put this down.

Infinity Blade 2 For iOS

Remember that Playstation PSP commercial where the kid on the bus was making fun of the guy playing games on his phone? Then the commercial showed some of the”amazing” games you play on PSP (some for as low as $9.99!) compared to the 8-bit Castle Lame the guy was playing on the phone? Yea, how convenient of Sony to overlook Infinity Blade. No handheld game device or tablet has yet been able to match the raw graphics muscle of the iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Infinity Blade 2 shows you just how amazing games can look. Even if you are not into the hand to hand style of combat featured in this game, download it simply to see what your iOS device can do!

Galaxy On Fire 2 HD For iOS

Back in the day I used to play a game from Ambrosia called Escape Velocity, Galaxy On Fire is the closest modern equivalent I could find! A non linear game where you can be a explorer, pirate, trader or follow an engrossing storyline, the options are truly endless! Fully open space combat that’s not over complicated, a massive universe to explore with a wide variety of mission profiles, you don’t need to be a geek to like this one!

Kids

 

Talking Carl App For iOS

Want to see your kid laugh his or her arse off? Download the original talking character, Carl! A simple, squishy character that responds to being poked, proded and tickled, he will also repeat back to you what you say, in a hilarious voice that makes kids laugh for hours! For a real treat, get Carl going on multiple devices and let the magic begin…

Tiny Journey App For iOS

My son, like myself at his age, loves trains, and why not combine this love with some brain flexing puzzles? A simple premise, get Tiny the train to his station and pick up passengers along the way Trick is, you have to switch rails so that he goes in the right direction! I was pretty amazed at how far my lil guy got with these puzzles! For a lil older crowd, try Train Yard.

Monster At The End Of This Book App For iOS

Staring the lovable blue monster, Grover, your kids will laugh as he tries to stop you from reading his book. The exact same text as the book, but in a wonderful animated interactive experience that gets you kids actually breaking down the walls Grover builds.. And making a TERRIBLE mess in the process!

Toddler Shapes App For iOS

A great app to teach spacial relationships, all they have to do is drag the right shape to the right shaped hole. I remember the old wooden puzzle with that same idea….

Intro To Math App For iOS

Great for the kindergarden or preschool student, this app teaches the basics of numbers, what they are through graphical representations, drawing them through tracing, and basic mathematics using objects.

Intro Into Letters App For iOS

Like those old fridge magnets, get your lil one used to letters with this great app. Learn their sounds and how to draw them through tracing, you’ll raise a Shakespeare before you know it!

Math Board App For iOS

My kindergardener is already adding up 4 digit numbers thanks to this app. More for the child already doing math, it can be rigged to show your little one how easy it is to do simple mathematics! With quiz mode, and a virtual blackboard (featuring actual chalk dust!) it’s a classroom level experience that helps in teaching important math skills.

 

Summary

 

This is but the tiniest cross section of the more then 500,000 apps in Apples App Store, but I hope the scope is wide enough that you find at least something to snag your interest. I recommend sitting for an afternoon and just exploring, look through the top apps, see what new & noteworthy, and use the genius feature to find more apps based on what you have downloaded already.

If you liked the information here, go over to my Facebook page here and give me a “Like”, I give out a tip, trick or app recommendation each and every day!

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Ryszard Gold

Ryszard (Rick) Gold, From Calgary, Alberta, Canada has over 20 years of experience working with Apple products in a technical capacity. Passionate about technology in general, his natural troubleshooting abilities, curiosity and appreciation of good design lead him into working exclusively with Apple Computer products.
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