I have been putting this post off for a while now, but I am finally compelled to write about all of the apps that I am using on a regular basis on my iPad. I am compelled by just how many conversations I have had about doing more than just consumption with the device. The following list of Apps are what make the iPad essential to me. They are what make it more than just a toy:
Before I go too deep, here are the apps that I have on my iPad right now (While there are a great many Jailbroken apps that I would recommend, I think that it would be somewhat counterproductive to highlight those in this blog post because the vast majority of users are never going to open up their device as I have.):
- Accuradio – This is the one and only radio service (other than the amazing NPR of course, which has been downloaded so many times for iPhone and iPad that it hardly needs mentioning in this list) that I have found which I do not find myself skipping through songs I have already heard or artists that I could care less about. I think it is because it is being curated by real people rather than by an algorithm. The stations vary widely, but my favorite is Future Perfect Radio.
- IM+ Lite – This is the best way to chat on the iPad (Multiple sessions at any given time, push notification, etc) I use Google Talk all of the time on my laptop, but this was the only reliable way to continue to do so on my iPad. And with backgrounding (either on a jailbroken iPad or in the iOS 4 which is forthcoming), you will never again miss out on a conversation that you could have taken part in.
- Atomic Browser – This is one of the only apps I actually paid for (99 cents). I love the ability to choose tabs over Safari’s odd pagination system. I also love that I can change what the user agent is (this means that I make a website believe I’m running Internet Explorer or another desktop browser). This gives me the opportunity to see the desktop version of every website if I wish to do so, rather than the more limited versions of mobile sites.
- Air Sketch Free – Killer. This app allows me to draw on the iPad and have it display on any computer (or projector) that is on the same wifi network. This means that I can present without cords as well as I can allow everyone in a room to see the same thing that I see. Just awesome.
- DejaPlay – I have written about this app previously because I think that it is wonderful. It is the best way for me to view videos that my friends and colleagues are sharing on twitter and facebook. It compiles every link that is shared and puts them into an elegant video display. Rather than wasting time down the rabit hole that is YouTube, I can watch my network curate my video library in real time.
- GoodReader – Another pay app (also 99 cents) makes the iPad into an uploading and downloading machine. While the app was created for the purposes of viewing big documents, I pretty much exclusively use it for downloading files uploading them to other sites. Here is my favorite use case: I open up GoodReader and pull a file from my e-mail and put it up on Dropbox and then share it out with everyone I wish to. Another thing I do a lot is upload things to FTP sites and web servers that I maintain. This means that I don’t have to wait to get to my laptop to update a file. I also can get access to all of the files on my iPad from my computers without having to use a USB cord. (In fact, I haven’t synced my iPad, ever. I activated it once and that was it. I haven’t seen the need.)
- CloudBrowse – Although this is becoming less valuable to me as I find other interesting workarounds, this is still the only way to really get flash or Google Docs to play nicely on the iPad. Useful, if a bit crippled without a paid account.
- Dropbox – I have become more and more dependent upon this product to sync everything I need. Whenever I need to look at a file or send a link to someone, I just jump into the app and grab it. What else can I say… it just works.
- Sundry Notes – Best App. Seriously. It’s uses are incredibly far reaching. The only thing I can compare it to is Keynote, Smart Notebook, Word, and Skitch all rolled into one. From this app, I can take handwritten notes, typed notes, screenshots from any webpage, insert equations, and do voice recordings of what is going on. This app is ridiculously useful for meetings, brainstorming, presenting, and everything in-between. The export to PDF works great and you can even view your notes online if you want to sync with their service. Oh, and you can annotate PDF’s from your computer if you wanted to do that by syncing them in iTunes. Crazy awesome.
- Idea Sketch – A free and well laid out mind mapping software. Brainstorming in here is a pleasure. Export works great and you can even let other people edit your brainstorms if you e-mail them along.
- Adobe Ideas – The drawings and writing that you can do in this app are incredible compared to pretty much everything else out there. This is mostly because the app translates your jagged strokes into smooth vector graphics. My favorite part, though, is the enormous drawing area that you can zoom in and out of to draw and write in detail. I guess I would most compare it to an iPad version of the Prezi interface. Slick.
- Google Earth – I thought about not including this in the list because of how used it already is, but I think that if you have only used Google Earth on a laptop you are missing out on some of the best interactive learning that is available anywhere. I have spent hours just observing the differences between cities by zooming in and out on Denver and Kansas City. Feeling as though you can control the entire world is just cool.
- Web Projector – One more 99 cent app, here. Although I use my jailbroken capability to project anything on the iPad from the VGA cord, this is the cheapest way I have found to project anything that you can access from a webpage. It works very well and gets updated frequently.
- FeedlerRSS – Other than the web interface for Google Reader, this is my favorite (free) way to read the blogs I follow. It works well and lets you get through quite a number of posts in short order. My favorite thing about it is that I can actually see the blog posts in their original context, which is missing a lot of times when I just read it on Google’s site.
- Caster Free – I can’t tell you how cool this app is. You may just have to see it for yourself. It is a single stop for creating podcasts from multiple recordings, mixing them, processing them and then posting them to either an FTP site, a blog, or even Dropbox. I can’t believe that this one is free, actually. This is content creation at its finest on the iPad. (I know that AudioBoo and other services do this well, but you don’t own the files like you can here.)
- Story Kit – While this isn’t the most polished app in the list, it is one of the most interesting ways to create a book. It would work well with younger folks as well as with very simple content.
- Gooey – I use Google Docs to take notes quite often, or to leave myself reminders. This is a great way to add a Google Doc that is a quick note. There really aren’t a lot of features other than a pretty interface with this one, but I really like being able to save a quick note that syncs directly to Google Docs. I also like that it is free. Watch out, though, some versions of this app do crash. Good thing I only need it for a few minutes at a time.
- Granimator – Possibly the easiest, most creative art app. Basically, you paint with great drawings. It is meant to create backgrounds, but I think that it makes for a great backdrop for note taking or brainstorming. It also definitely gets my creative juices flowing to see someone else’s creation. Just cool.
- PaperDesk LT – If you just happen to have a VGA cord lying around for your iPad and are interested in projecting some drawing, text creation, or other brainstorming activities this is the perfect free app. I really like the way that you can save sessions for later to keep on projecting what you were working on even after you leave the app.
- Photopad – The best free image editor. All of the editing features that you would expect from a desktop editor with the ability to save right back to your Camera Roll. I can’t tell you how many screenshots I have rotated and cropped in here.
- uStream Viewer – Although we can’t record or stream from the iPad with the current version (although I swear you can see where the camera is supposed to go), I absolutely love being able to attend events in real time with chat. This is the only non-native iPad app in the list, but I think that it really works well in pixel doubled mode.
- iDraft – Adobe Ideas does pretty much everything I need from a drawing program and Sundry Notes does pretty much everything I need from a note taking application. So, what do I use iDraft for? Well, to make pretty diagrams and pdf notes with multiple pages. The simple pencil in this app makes it look like I am using a calligraphy pen, with the ability to make thin and thick marks by changing the speed of my gesture. The words I make in this app are nothing short of beautiful.
- JabberPad – Possibly the coolest concept for any app on the list. This app uses open protocols (including a jabber server) to create a collaborative whiteboard with any iPad on the same wifi network. Not only that, but you can chat with the other people in the same whiteboard. I can’t wait until you can contribute using your computer on the same network as well. Brilliant.
- Analytics (It looks like this is no longer free. I wouldn’t pay 6.99 for it, but it is pretty cool.) – While this isn’t really creating or consuming, it is really nice. This allows me to see my Google Analytics account (or at least the most important info to me) on the iPad. I love just taking a quick glance at how the different websites and blogs I maintain are doing and what I might need to change or highlight.
- Desktop Connect (pricey at 11.99, but worth it) – There are many free versions of VNC viewers (log into your desktop or laptop from the iPad) for the iPad, but this is the only one I have found that lets me login to a Mac from anywhere (at least for this cheap). This is because they have a desktop software called Easy Connect that actually authenticates using your Google Account. This means that not only can you see your desktop computer from your iPad no matter where you are in the world, but you can also see any of your friend’s (according to your Google Talk account) computers if they are online. They will have to give you access, but I think that the idea of actually seeing the network of your friend’s computers is stunning.
Well, that is it. That is my list of why the iPad matters right now. Again, there are some missing things that I need to Jailbreak my iPad for, but the ones I mentioned above are reason enough to buy and use an iPad and never look back. The iPad is not a device for mass consumption. It is a device like any other, completely dependent upon what you actually want to do with it. I want to create with it, so that is what I do. While not all of the apps above speak specifically to this need to create, they all inspire me to create more and better. Call me a fan boy if you must, but I believe in creating with whatever is available and it just so happens that I have an iPad.