iPad

20 apps that take advantage of the iPad's strengths

I have said that the Apple iPad is only good at two things but that it's really good at those two things. I've compiled a list of my 20 favorite apps for taking advantage of the iPad's strengths.

I have said that the Apple iPad is only good at two things, but it's really good at those two things and I've compiled a list of my 20 favorite apps for taking advantage of the iPad's strengths.

The best way to view this is the gallery of screenshots. However, you can also view it as a text-based list below.

1. Flipboard

It's amazing how quickly this has become my most used app on the iPad, since it was just released in July. It displays news stories based on them being shared via Twitter or Facebook and auto-formats them in a newspaper-like column format. You can scan the headlines and first couple paragraphs and then click through to the site to the open the full story right in the built-in web browser in the app. (Tip: search for TechRepublic or Jason Hiner and you can set us up as one of your sections in Flipboard.)

2. Kindle

The best way to read books on the iPad is the Amazon Kindle app, mostly because it has a large selection of titles available and it does the best job of syncing between multiple devices -- iPad, iPhone, Android phone, PC, Mac, and more.

3. Documents to Go

The best way to collect, manage, and read business documents on the iPad is with Dataviz Documents to Go, which not only allows you to sync local files from your computer but also connect to cloud services such as Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync, and iDisk.

4. ToDo

There are tons of different "to do list" managers for the iPad, but the one I prefer is ToDo. The UI makes it look like an old day-planner and it can do online sync with the Toodledo service.

5. Twitter

Twitter's official iPad app is the best way to access Twitter and is an example of the kind of imaginative new UIs that good developers will attempt once they get grounded in touch-based tablets like the iPad. Check out the way the Twitter app exposes more or less info by sliding left and right. (Other useful Twitter apps include Osfoora, Twitterific, and Tweetdeck.)

6. Analytics HD

One of the great ways to take advantage of the iPad as a viewer is to use it for quick glances at business dashboard metrics (see QlikView, SBO Explorer, and Roambi). This even translates to the simple task of checking traffic metrics and user info for your website. If you use Google Analytics, the Analytics HD app is a great way to view site data from the iPad.

7. Evernote

The iPad is a surprisingly good note taker. The keyboard is about 80% as good as a laptop keyboard but the convenience of a more portable device is valuable as well. Evernote is a great note taking companion for the iPad, since it can auto-sync your meeting notes back to your PCs and/or smartphones. Just keep in mind that it's an online service and so be careful that you don't use it for any business-sensitive data. For that stuff, you can use locally-controlled files with Apple's built-in Notes app, for example.

8. Pulse

Pulse is another iPad news aggregator like Flipboard, only instead of building its sections based on social feeds it uses RSS feeds. Like Flipboard, it presents the info in a visually-compelling format using images from the articles that it is linking to. You can use the RSS feeds for TechRepublic and/or Tech Sanity Check if you'd like to use Pulse to keep up with the latest posts.

9. SkyGrid

Another great news aggregator for the iPad is SkyGrid, but its specialty is pulling together news on hot trends in real time. It's not nearly as visual as Flipboard or Pulse, but SkyGrid helps fill in the gaps by surfacing hot news that might have been missed by your favorite RSS sources and your social network.

10. ProPublica

ProPublica, a non-profit publication of investigative reporters, is doing some of the most important work in journalism today -- the work that has increasingly been cut out of the profit-driven newsrooms. Plus, they have an excellent iPad app. The three column layout gives you the latest stories from ProPublica (most of which don't make the mainstream news), the middle column links to good investigative news pieces from the mainstream media (many of the stories are buried), and the third columns has ProPublica's "Projects" or groups of stories where you can stay up to date on on-going issues such as the Gulf oil spill. Keep in mind that ProPublica is non-profit and funded completely by donations.

11. NPR

Another one of the best iPad news apps from a media organization is the NPR app. It lets you quickly skim top stories, read related text articles, and quickly add stories to a playlist that you can then listen to all at once.

12. The New York Times Editor's Choice

The Times offers a selection of its top 10-12 stories in six different sections (news, business, technology, opinion, arts, and features). It has a very clean UI that maintains the look of the traditional newspaper and includes a mix of stories from Times reporters along with wire feeds from the A.P. and Reuters.

13. USA Today

While The New York Times only gives you a selection of top stories, the USA Today offers virtually all of its stories in digital format on the iPad, and in a layout that reflects the newspaper's design but is also optimized for a digital experience on the iPad. Plus, the company recently restructured to put greater emphasis on digital content and devices such as the iPad, so we should expect more of USA Today's best content, graphics, and photos to make their way into the iPad app.

14. The Guardian Eyewitness

A real diamond in the rough among iPad apps is The Guardian Eyewitness, which features amazing world news photography from the popular UK newspaper. Another great world news photo app is The Big Picture from Boston.com.

15. The Weather Channel

Unlike the iPhone, the iPad does not come with a built-in weather app. However, The Weather Channel has filled the void with an excellent app that takes advantage of the tablet interface. I've never been a big fan of The Weather Channel's desktop PC widgets, but they've done a great job with the iPad app.

16. NASA

Let's face it, most of us geeks love space. The iPad itself was, in part, inspired by science fiction such as Star Trek. NASA has a strong tradition of sharing its space exploration advances and research and they've continued that tradition in multi-touch style with an excellent iPad app that lets you explore photography from satellites, see NASA's launch schedules, research historical information about missions, and watch NASA TV live.

17. Netflix

I'm a big Netflix nerd. I use it a lot for watching documentaries and old TV series (like Star Trek: Voyager and the IT Crowd), so I'm thrilled that there's an iPad app. It lets me watch movies and shows (on-demand) when I'm traveling instead of getting gouged by the pay-per-view fees in hotels. As I said in my article, The truth about iPad: It's only good for two things, I'm not crazy about watching video on the iPad but Netflix is causing me to warm up to it as it makes more and more content available for streaming. My only complaint about the Netflix app is that it doesn't have iPad-specific functionality for queue management. It just takes you to the standard Netflix website and the drag-and-drop functionality in queue management doesn't work very well because the AJAX code is meant to work with a mouse. (Keep in mind that this app requires a Netflix subscription.)

18. Hulu Plus

Like Netflix, Hulu can stream video content from the major studios to your iPad. While Netflix leans more toward movies, Hulu leans more toward TV shows. The two have some overlapping content, but not a lot. You need a Hulu Plus membership ($9.99/month) to get the content, which includes a lot more back titles and not just the most current stuff, which you can get for free at Hulu.com (although it won't work on iPad because it uses Flash).

19. Angry Birds

This famous iPad/iPhone game (now available on Android as well) is highly addictive, even if it is silly and vapid. I'm not going to try to explain it here if you don't know anything about it, just know that it's a very simple game to play but actually involves some minimal strategy that makes it pretty fun. I don't play it that much, but I definitely use it to distract my four year old for up to 20-30 minutes at a time. She's now better at it than anyone in the family.

20. Scrabble

I've been a Scrabble fan for a long time but hadn't pulled out a board in a while when the game suddenly saw a revival in recent years in digital form, including several knock-offs such as Words with Friends. My favorite way to play digital Scrabble is the Pass'n Play mode on iPad. But the iPad also has an individual learning mode, a local network mode, Party Play (where you can use an iPhone or iPod Touch as a tile rack), and a mode where you can play against a Facebook friend.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

25 comments
PFCNPFCN
PFCNPFCN

Where is the Disruptive Innovation? PFCNPFCN Updated - 17 minutes ago I've yet to read that anybody identifies any of these iPad applications as contributing to WWWW - 'World-Wide Wealth & Welfare' or 'Win-Win-Win-Win' (take your pick!). Where is the contribution to EFFECTIVENESS of B2B Mobile Processes - in which EFECTIVENESS = f(Q,P) where Q is Quality of process and P is Productivity of process? No wonder there's so little Innovation in the World if this is all it takes?. Regards, PFCN (Profitable Fulfillment of Customer Needs) Sir George the Dragon Slayer from Canada Dragons' Den October 2009

fettman24
fettman24

I think I am addicted to angry birds! I wonder if there is an angry birds anonymous meet group! I'm curious though how the DISH app with the sing adapter is not on here. Who wouldn't like to watch all of their TV programs on a iPad?! As an employee I have been lucky enough to use it quite a bit, definitely one of the top apps in my book.

isol
isol

As per my experience Sortshot application for iPad is really amazing!!!! In this application we can add tags and tagging options also include personalized keywords, ratings, favourites, or type of media ? photo or video. Tapping on a tag provides instant results so that we can further refine our search with additional tags and keywords.

justamom
justamom

Oh so narrowminded! I am a "homeschooling stay at home mom" and my IPAD is priceless for so many aspects of keeping organized, connected, and inspired! You might want to consider how many different types of people make use of this device.

AwesomeMarce
AwesomeMarce

A much better article would have had the "top 10" in each catergory... how many news apps do you need for crying out loud? Thumbs down on this article...

CurtisTheGeek
CurtisTheGeek

Cinq for iPad is very cool. You can access all of your photos remotely from your Mac or PC and post them to Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. Cinq.Tunaverse.com

lisacoleman
lisacoleman

Remote desktop / air video / syle.com (very popular, I'm sure with tech republic readers). Great list Jason.

rastr
rastr

There's no decent crossword app? No need to buy an iPad then!

chris.rodriguez
chris.rodriguez

AudioNote allows you to record while you are typing and it timestamps the voice recordings with the typed notes. Evernote is more widely used because of its MAC origin but I am still looking for a stylist that will allow me to hand write notes. The Pogo Sketch stylists are too thick and are only good for pictures.

The Groffer
The Groffer

Pretty weak list rally. Not to say that news aggregators aren't useful but there are way stronger apps out there to put the ipad to full strengths. If you want real document portability one key app is Goodreader especially if you do any work with PDF's. It handles PDF's better then my computer and the formation on the ipad is sublime. While the kindle app is good the Kobo app is better when it just comes to reading books. The trade offs are that Amazon has more books. So really get both if you can't find what your looking for. Evernote is great, but you need connectivity unless you want to pay their full subscription. There are several other note apps that work almost almost as well, are free and let you store locally.

chris
chris

ridiculous...

walks.in2.trees
walks.in2.trees

so what you're saying is that it's an over-grown smartphone? I don't see anything useful in this list. maybe to journalists...but i already get all this on my HTC Touchpro...granted with a smaller screen...

jackvandijk
jackvandijk

So Apple got to you and you caved in and wrote a positive review.

robvandy
robvandy

Overall I agree with your assessment of the limitations of the keyboard and mouse related problems. I think most of these will be solved with innovative developers modifying our interface to bring out that functionality in other ways. But I also think that as a journalist, you carry a natural bias to the applications you need the most and that would be a viewer, content aggregator, word smithy tools. If you were an end user in construction, you might find or drive the development of an entirely different set of applications as a top list, and these might lead you to say that the most useful features of an iPad are its ability to work with technical drawings, colaborate with project team members, dynamically document work site details, project management, and more. I think the platform is limited less by the technology released in this first and sescond OS version and more by the speed of change in interface and functional design by the developers. We must begin somewhere on that path of change and this device has shown that much more is possible, and now is the time to make that happen.

Randy Hagerman
Randy Hagerman

You might dislike Apple intensely, but give them their due and understand what a milestone the iPad is. Whether it does only a couple of things very well for you or a hundred tasks well for someone else, it's created a huge movement in the industry. Touch screens and tablets are the current revolution. My prediction is that 2011 will bring an onslaught of them. I'm no expert on computers, but I've been tying to use them since green screens and the days of DOS only. I had a variety of PC's until 2006 when I took the Mac leap [because I had just punched my PC and was very close to throwing it through a closed window-- How appropriate!] I've never regretted it. After entering the computer repair business this year, I now understand how closely related Mac's and PC's are. And I appreciate both of their strengths. The difference to me is that when I light up an Apple product , of which I have many, it works beautifully and doesn't waste any of my time. Or piss me off! Like Windows based PC's did so many times. Literally, 100's of hr.'s of wasted time... You wanna control the software in my device, Steve Jobs? Go ahead! As long as my device works for me immediately when I need and doesn't waste any of my time. So far, so good. not to mention that Apple's support is incredible. Try a Mac-- you'll never go back and maybe you'll rethink your post. And please don't try to compare an iPad to a laptop. It was never meant to replace that. Apple never pretended it could. You didn't mention product price, so I thought I'd pre-empt you. No doubt Apple products are premium priced- but so are their components. Their engineering is second to none also. You want the best? You gotta pay for it.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

There's no company in the technology industry that I talk to LESS than Apple. We don't even get review units of products from them. They are too much of a pain to deal with. So, any Apple product that TechRepublic reviews is a product that we purchased as part of our own budget. We get review units from virtually every other company.

dijcks
dijcks

This report of 20 best apps is highly personal to the writer here. Several "news" related apps, and then some other "OK" apps? One example is the GPS capability of the 3G iPad. Although there is still No stand-out Navigation, ( I use CoPilot and MotionX ), nevertheless, as a person who spends a lot of time on the road, these are some "must haves" for me. There are also some pretty nice Photo manipulation apps out there too. Somewhat Comical is the desire and effort to "MAKE" the iPad in to a computer. By the time one pays for an iPad, and the apps to force it to do what a computer simply does, well take a hard look at the time and money spent. I still consider the iPad, a very large iPod on steroids. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my iPad, but the truth is, I find it mostly useful to grab some emails on the fly, or as a Navigation tool. Finally, some games/music (more or less what it is designed to do), is how I use it! Luckily, the iPad can "hold" hundreds of apps.

rstoeber
rstoeber

Here's a few apps that I don't see mentioned very often, but I use them a lot: GoToMeeting and WebEx for online meetings Instapaper to keep track of things I want to read later iThoughts HD is a mind mapping type of app for organizing ideas or planning projects Go Daddy for managing domain names and DNS - much easier to use the app than their website Square app along with their credit card reader allows me to swipe credit cards iSip to allow use of the iPad as a phone with my Google Voice account (don't use it often, but priceless when I need it)

garybau
garybau

dropbox - quick file sharing iBook - reads pdfs and now ePub format( iWork-Pages can now construct multimedia ePub documents with embedded URL/video files/fileNinja/airSharing/mobilestudio - all provide easy wi-fi upload of docs without sync'ing goodreader probably the 'best' reader consume - updates on broadband quota, mobile phone usage the usual suspects all great! google earth AppShopper FindiPad twitterific iDisk 1password-keeps all passwords and key documents accessible and safe linkedIn facebook shazam skype if NASA POD was good then Space images is better!! TED - of course!! iBlueSky - mindmapping which links with NovaMind ...as i mentioned..plenty more!! barely scratched the surface, developers are improving everyday..AppShopper keeps track of the price drops and new releases..sometimes free for an hour or so!!

Dimitri915
Dimitri915

Either WinAdmin or VNC.. The ability to control you computer from anywhere in the word as long as you have Internet access is incredible. I use it on my Iphone on a daily basis which is only a 3.5 inch screen, (I can't live without it). I can imagine how this App looks on a 9.7 inch screen. Dimitri

ozchorlton
ozchorlton

The best app for anyone in Australia, (or who wants Australian content, is the ABC app. This app, has everything the iPhone app has, plus much more. Give it a try, I used it all round the world, to keep up with what was going on, around the world.

hauskins
hauskins

very useful for me to control numerous servers remotely. I have rebooted and even repaired UNIX systems remotely with my iPad

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