Updated: iPad Apps-a-plenty

Xavier Verhoeven
4 April, 2010
View more articles fromthe author
AAA
News

With the iPad now available to US Apple fans, the iTunes App Store is awash with apps for early adopters to make the most of their shiny new device. Some are iPad specific, some are universal to work both on iPhone and iPad. Some use HD to designate their iPad availability, others “for iPad” or Slate. Some are free, some not-so-much (Wired found one for $900).

At this stage, the apps are only appearing in the US iTunes store, which makes sense given no one knows when residents outside America will actually get their hands on iPads. But all the apps can easily be viewed by others (and bought if you happen to have a US iTunes account).

So what’s there for launch? Well, quite a lot. There are more than 2,000 available already. Of most note to Australian readers will be the locally developed apps already available – of which we’re sure to see more over the coming weeks. But as with the iPhone, there is undoubtedly an inundation of less-than-brilliant choices, so we have a look at some of the winners (with the Aussies up first). Just click on the app title to see it in the US iTunes App Store.

Update: Some iPad apps are becoming available on the Australian iTunes store. They’re not being featured as yet, but by clicking the links you can access the apps on the local store. Australian pricing is also available in these cases.

 

Locally developed apps

 

Synotes Slate ($3.99)

Developed by local team Syncode, Synotes Slate is the iPad version of Synotes that I recently reviewed for iPhone. In case you didn’t read it, Synotes is a brilliant notes and task management system that syncs your information across devices and into ‘the cloud’.

Synotes Slate has been written from the ground up to utilise the iPad’s larger screen. Nice touches include the new realistic paper look and adoption of the split-screen layout with pop-up menus so that all your notes are easily accessible.

Phases HD ($2.49)

From Aussie team Bjango that has given us such gems as Consume and iStat (and some great Mac apps under the iSlayer name), comes Phases HD. The team’s iPhone apps have ranked as highly as #2 on the iTunes App Store, most probably because they’re stunningly designed with intricate detail, and always work like a charm.

Phases HD is no exception. The app displays moon and sun related information for all you budding astronomers. You can view the moon phase, age, illumination, moonrise, moonset and much more for any date or time. The iPad’s GPS can be used to show the most accurate information, or a city can be chosen from a database of over 20,000 locations.

Comic Zeal Comic Reader 4 ($9.99)

Comic Zeal has continually been described as the best way to read Comics on the iPhone. Now Bitolithic have upscaled that experience for the iPad, and with over 18 months of development already put into the app, it’s a polished piece of software.

The iPad version has more simplified controls than its earlier counterparts, and of course the larger screen helps you see all the detail more clearly. The developers have noted the difficulty of building the app without seeing an iPad, and promise updates as they become more familiar with the device. But it already looks amazing.

The Early Edition ($5.99)

This app is without a doubt a brilliant idea. A personal daily newspaper automatically put together using your favourite RSS feeds. Made by Glasshouse Apps, who were behind the very sleek Barista and Cellar iPhone apps, The Early Edition is a brand new app that combines what’s great about print and the web into a familiar, intuitive and beautiful interface.

It can’t yet sync with Google Reader (most people’s preferred RSS system), but this has been promised in an update – and when it arrives, it stands a strong chance of being the premier RSS reader for the iPad. Just flick and slide through your feeds, and tap a headline to view the article in full screen mode. Too easy.

Flight Control HD ($5.99)

After selling more than 2,000,000 copies of Flight Control for iPhone, there are high hopes for the iPad version from Melbourne developers Firemint. They also have an iPad version of Real Racing, but I’m a sucker for the retro styling of Flight Control.

Like the iPhone version before it, you have to coordinate flights coming in to land at an airport. How? By tracing a route for them with your finger. It’s addictive, to say the least. The iPad version sports new maps, updated graphics, co-operative and battle missions for multiple players, and obviously utilises the extra screen area for better gameplay. Oh, did we mention there’s also a 3D mode? Just put on red/cyan glasses, and you can see the aircrafts floating above the iPad screen.

StickyBeak (free)

Going head to head with Glasshouse Apps’ The Early Edition, Stickybeak from Sydney developer James Wilson is another RSS feed reader (and Twitter client). You may know Wilson as the lead developer behind Lithium, a well known network monitoring application for Mac. Compared to The Early Edition, Stickybeak is more of a traditional RSS reader, but its big feature is the combination of RSS and Twitter into one client – focusing on people and content rather than timelines.

The decision to focus on both Twitter and RSS feeds in the one app was based on Wilson’s realisation that he was viewing content from the same people on two different applications. “Stickybeak offers an experience akin to listening to an entire album instead of a bunch of singles on a random playlist,” he says. And for a free app, it looks to have a few good features to keep people happy, including support for syncing with Google Reader.

Pocket Weather World HD ($2.49)

This one’s especially useful seeing as the iPad doesn’t include an Apple weather app like the iPhone has. Adelaide-based ShiftyJelly, the team behind the very successful Pocket Weather AU and Pocket Weather World for the iPhone have re-written the latter for the iPad. They promise the AU version will also be available when the iPad comes to our shores.

There’s not a lot to be said about Pocket Weather World HD. It has up-to-date weather (and the local time) for 60,000 locations worldwide. The interface is sleek and futuristic, with a plethora of information available on screen. And in Melbourne especially, an app like this pays for itself almost instantly.

Carter’s Encyclopaedia of Health and Medicine ($12.99)

Going head to head with Glasshouse Apps’ The Early Edition, Stickybeak from Sydney developer James Wilson is another RSS feed reader (and Twitter client). You may know Wilson as the lead developer behind Lithium, a well known network monitoring application for Mac. Compared to The Early Edition, Stickybeak is more of a traditional RSS reader, but its big feature is the combination of RSS and Twitter into one client – focusing on people and content rather than timelines.

The decision to focus on both Twitter and RSS feeds in the one app was based on Wilson’s realisation that he was viewing content from the same people on two different applications. “Stickybeak offers an experience akin to listening to an entire album instead of a bunch of singles on a random playlist,” he says. And for a free app, it looks to have a few good features to keep people happy, including support for syncing with Google Reader.

 

The best of the rest

 

Shazam for iPad (free)

Shazam was one of the first apps I installed on my iPhone, and was great for impressing friends. Well, before everyone else had it too, that is. The amazing app can ‘listen’ to music you have playing (on the radio, TV, in a bar) and can identify what the track is. It’s nothing short of brilliant – although occasionally stumbles on lesser-known Australian songs.

The new iPad version will be hoping to make its way onto a lot of Apple tablets. It’s launching with unlimited song tagging, which its iPhone counterpart had until the paid version arrived, and it appears Shazam for iPad will be going down the same route. But we can’t blame the developers. It’s an amazing technology, and they should be allowed to make cash without relying on ads. The iPad version offers an easier way to skim recommended music and lets you send updates to Twitter or Facebook.

Bento for iPad ($5.99)

Based on the iPhone version, Bento for iPad is an enhanced version of the personal database app that makes the most of the iPad’s increased screen real estate. It does so elegantly, and in keeping with the layout of Apple’s own apps – with a split-screen view in landscape mode.

The app supports different field types (text, dates, currency, emails, etc), and switches the input mode for each (keyboard, scroll wheel, numeric pad, etc). You can set your databases up from scratch or use the 25 pre-designed templates – including contacts, inventory, time billing, and recipes.

iBooks (free)

iBooks is undoubtedly going to be a selling-point for the iPad, and makes it a significant competitor to the Kindle (though there’s an app for that too – see the next app). iBooks is an ebook reader and store in one. The app opens up to a bookcase of your library, with the store available by flipping the bookcase around. The app has a number of nifty features including changing the text size and font, dimming the screen within the app, the ability to search for a spot in the book, highlight or bookmark passages, and even look up the meaning of a word that has you stumped.

The iPad can also read any ePub formatted books, so many classics available freely online can also be added to your library. Oh, and a nice bonus: A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh comes preloaded to kick you off on a wave of nostalgia while you get familiar with the new way of reading.

Kindle (free)

Amazon has released a new universal version of the Kindle app, meaning the same version works on both iPhone and iPad. The Kindle reader for iPad has many of the same features as iBooks, including page-turning animation (though this can be turned off), notes, bookmarks, and highlighting. You can also easily get Kindle to show text as black on white, white on black, or black on sepia.

The Kindle store already has so many books available that this app is sure to be a strong competitor to iBooks. And for us Australians, there are already Kindle books available, whereas the iBookstore may not be up and running to coincide with a local iPad release.

Note: iPhone screenshot shown, as iPad screenshots are not displayed on the iTunes store for universal apps.

Pages, Numbers, Keynote ($12.99 each)

This trifecta has a lot riding on it. Making up Apple’s iWork suite for iPad, the success of these three apps will likely define the iPad’s success as a work tool. Pages brings word processing to the touch interface, while Numbers will let users create charts and tables on the fly, and Keynote can be used to both write and present presentations (the iPad can be connected to a projector or display via the dock connector for such occasions).

It’s yet to be seen whether touch-typing is possible on the virtual keyboard, but I hope it is. Being able to do some productive work on the iPad makes it a lot easier to justify buying one. Apple have also released some good videos of Pages, Numbers and Keynote in action.

Twitterific for iPad (free)

The war is already on for a good Twitter app on the iPad. Among those already released are Twitterific, TweetDeck, and Twittelator, all popular choices on the iPhone. Tweetie is yet to come to the party, but the iPhone version will work on the iPad. Twitterific was the first app I ever used for Twitter, and I still think it’s one of the better ones.

Twitterific’s iPad improvements are mainly focused on the program’s interface: there’s now a split view when the device is in landscape mode, allowing you to choose which type of message is listed in the main display. Tapping on any user’s avatar summons a popover with their profile allowing you to easily follow, block, or just see more information about them.

Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List (free)

If you’ve ever needed to find a recipe quickly, Epicurious is the app for you. It allows you to search an online database of 27,000 recipes and easily create shopping lists for what you need to make them. The universal version just released does everything the iPhone version served up before it, but now takes advantage of the iPad’s big screen for a new ‘cook book’ view, making it easier to follow recipes on the device.

Note: iPhone screenshot shown, as iPad screenshots are not displayed on the iTunes store for universal apps.

Tetris for iPad ($9.99)

Is there any gaming platform that Tetris hasn’t been on? EA Games came to the iPad party, releasing a whole swag of games to coincide with its launch. Of course, the most anticipated of the bunch is Tetris, and it looks as good as its iPhone counterpart, if not better.

Tetris for iPad now sports D-pad style controls either side of the gaming area, and includes new modes (one of which involves using a crayon to draw on the screen – I’m intrigued). This one is bound to be addictive.

eBay for iPad (free)

As one comment on the App Store notes, if you don’t like your iPad, you can now use it to sell itself with this app. eBay for iPad brings everything you’d expect to the platform, building on the iPhone version, which was ultimately pretty good, but couldn’t rival viewing the site on a computer.

The iPad version gets a whole lot more graphical, putting images of items on sale front and centre. Clicking any item then brings up more details in a pop-up window in the middle of the screen. This looks like a clever design that puts the iPad’s interface elements to good use.

Gmail (not an app, just a new optimised layout)

Even though this isn’t an app, I’ve included it for two reasons: it looks great, making brilliant use of the iPad’s interface to access your gmail, and it shows that despite the war raging between Apple and Google, the latter is still showing support for the new tablet.

The new view offers a two-pane layout with your inbox/messages list on the left and the selected conversation on the right. If you’re accustomed to the conversation layout of gmail, this web app might be a better option that Apple’s own Mail app.

Sudoku Duo ($3.99)

For any Sudoku-loving couples out there, this app is for you. Play head-to-head (literally) or collaborate to solve the puzzle. There’s even a solo mode if the competition gets too fierce. Beyond that, there’s not a lot to this app. It’s a cute take on Sudoku, with a nice interface that should make it a bit of fun.

1Password ($8.99)

There are two types of people in the world: those who use the same password for everything, and those who have hundreds of passwords, often randomly generated, that they need to keep tabs on. If you’re the latter, then 1Password is probably the solution for you. It has long been the winner on Mac and later iPhone, but now the iPad version rounds out the offering. You can save your passwords, generate new ones, and sync between your devices. You’ll never be left scratching your head because you can’t login to some obscure service you only use once a year.

The iPad app comes in two flavours and two prices: 1Password at US$6.99 or 1Password Pro at US$14.99. Those with the Pro version on their iPhone get the iPad one for free, as it’s being released as a universal app. Those with the standard version have to buy the iPad version separately, as the standard option will be offered as two non-universal apps.

Things for iPad ($23.99)

Things, the popular task manager from Cultured Code is now available for the iPad, adding to the Mac and iPhone versions already available. The app strikes the perfect to-do app balance by simplifying the process while still offering all the features you would expect from a task manager. Like its Mac and iPhone siblings, Things for iPad has a clean layout and beautiful design that is easy to navigate.

The app allows you to create lists of to-dos, notes, due dates, and projects (which contain their own to-dos). You can browse through the items, and check them off when you’re done. Things for iPad will almost certainly boost your productivity, but it does come with a premium price tag.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments friendly on the topic.

Contact us