It’s been a great first year for the iPad. Great iPad apps have contributed a lot to making it the magical device it is. Here are my picks for the Best iPad Apps of 2010.
2010 is nearly done and boy does it feel like it flew by. Amongst other things, it feels like just a short while ago that the iPad launched and I was waiting in a line to buy one in the wee hours of the morning. It’s been over eight months though – and my high expectations for the iPad have been exceeded, and continue to be every day.
Great iPad apps play a big part in making it such a fantastic device. I’ve tried out scores of iPad apps across just about all categories this year. Some are terrible, some mediocre, some good, and happily some are superb. So I thought I’d share my picks for the Best iPad Apps of 2010 here.
Hit the break to see all my picks …
Best iPad App
Aweditorium: An awesome music discovery – and just plain music enjoyment – app. It has a tagline of ‘Aural Happiness’ and it more than delivers on that. The developers could just use ‘Happiness’ and it would still be perfectly accurate. Basically, if you like music you’ve gotta love this app.
Best iPad Weather App
Weather HD: Very basic, at a glance view of the current weather, with hourly and daily forecast views. What makes it special is the gorgeous UI with video views of current conditions in your chosen locations. It also gets frequent and useful updates. Not for those who need lots of detail and maps and so on, but I found I installed several other more heavy-duty weather apps and never look at them.
Best iPad Note Taking Apps
Simplenote: Offers a simple and attractive interface that is just ultra comfortable to work with plus some powerful features like tags, pins, versions, sharing, and a nice web app that it syncs with automatically with zero effort.
WritePad: Does quick and excellent handwriting recognition if you write on the screen with finger or stylus, and you can also switch to using the standard on-screen keyboard. Lack of a good desktop or web sync partner is its one big miss for now.
Penultimate: Great for freehand writing on the iPad with finger or stylus (does not do handwriting recognition). Easy to write and draw in. Lets you organize notes in notebooks and send single pages or full notebooks as PDFs.
Evernote: The versatile, go everywhere, workhorse of note taking apps. It has a huge array of powerful features, and lets you quickly create text, voice, or image notes. It also offers very good iPhone and desktop apps and a web app that is usable in any browser. It’s touted as a second brain to store everything in, and it carries out that sort of role very well.
iA Writer: Possibly more of a writing app than a pure note taker. Beautiful interface, typography, and attention to detail make it a real pleasure to use for all sorts of writing efforts. Has quite a few nice little bells and whistles for writers, including text focus mode, word counts and reading time indicators. and the excellent keyboard extensions that show common special characters as an added row on the standard on-screen keyboard. Syncs with Dropbox.
Best iPad Productivity Apps
1Password for iPad: Simply the best password manager app for iPad and iOS. By a long way. Industry standard strong security and encryption, easy to use and good looking interface, and an excellent set of features. Offers effortless sync via local WiFi or Dropbox.
Things for iPad: I’ve tried a number of task management / to-do apps on the iPad and iPhone. Things is by far and away my favorite. It manages to combine a broad and powerful feature set with a beautiful and simple UI, that just makes you want to get things done. Also has great iPhone and desktop apps, although it is relatively pricy to own all three.
Apple’s iWork Suite for iPad: The suite consists of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote – for word processing, spreadsheets, and slideshow presentations, respectively. All three are very impressive mobile apps and I find Keynote especially powerful and easy to use. All offer decent options for exporting in MS Office compatible formats.
Price: $9.99 each
Office2 HD: Great, versatile documents viewer and, much more importantly, editor. Lets you work with documents held in Google Docs, Dropbox, and MobileMe iDisk. Supports a wide range of document types and is great for creating and editing with.
PDF Expert: Powerful, feature-rich app for working with PDF documents on the iPad. As well as letting you read and annotate PDF documents, highlight text, make notes, draw with your finger and save changes in formats compatible with Preview and Adobe Acrobat, it even allows you to fill in PDF forms.
Dropbox: Honestly, it is not the greatest of apps as yet, but it is such an outstanding service – for online file sync and backup – that it is a must-have on the iPad, so that you can open documents from it and save to it.
Printer Pro: A very good all-rounder printing app for the iPad. Easy to use and lets you print to both wireless and shared printers on your network.
Best iPad Twitter App
Osfoora HD: There are a number of good Twitter apps for the iPad, including Twitter’s own official entry, but Osfoora HD boasts easily the handsomest UI and a complete set of features. This is the one that best suits and best takes advantage of the iPad.
Best iPad News Apps
River of News: There are a number of good options for RSS reader apps on the iPad that sync with Google Reader, but River of News is the best I’ve seen (and I’ve tried lots). It offers seamless, fast, and complete sync with Google Reader, great features and options, an ‘infinite scoll’ viewing mode, and a great looking interface.
Flipboard: Gorgeous social-networking aware news magazine. Lets you view your Google RSS feed, as well as your Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr streams, plus lots more in brilliant magazine style pages. Apple’s iPad App of the Year. Lets you comment on, like, share, and favorite items.
Best Newspaper and Magazine Apps for the iPad
Wired Magazine: Great content, lots of multimedia and interactive elements throughout the issues, top-notch typography, photos and layouts. Above all, this is the magazine title that has most embraced what the iPad offers as a medium. This is a *real* iPad edition and because of that it’s a pleasure to read on the iPad.
Price: Free, $3.99 per issue as in-app purchase
USA Today for iPad: This has never been among my favorite print titles, but as with Wired Magazine, this is the newspaper title that has produced the best *real* iPad edition – by far. It offers slick multimedia and interactive elements, some great ways to personalize the content you see (especially in the Sports and Weather sections), an easy-to-navigate and fun to use UI. It also provides round-the-clock updates to its content, which very few other newspaper titles are doing.
Best iPad Reference Apps
Art Authority for iPad: Spectacularly great virtual art museum for the iPad. Contains tens of thousands of the world’s greatest works of art, presented wonderfully well. It’s easier to get around than any museum and provides an intimate and personal experience with all the amazing art it showcases. A great educational tool and a true flagship app for the iPad.
LIFE for iPad: A superb rendering of LIFE’s famous and admired photos collection. The collection covers an enormous range of topics and places. A great family app this one, that you can spend many, many hours with.
Terminology: Touted as a ‘browser for the English language’ it’s a combined dictionary and thesaurus. It has a lovely interface and is easy and fun to use. I’ve found it continually useful for both my own reference and when my daughter stumps me with a words-related question.
NASA App HD: It’s NASA – on the iPad. Thousands of images from NASA’s Image of the Day and numerous other NASA sources, videos, live streaming of NASA TV, current NASA mission information, launch information and countdown clocks, and tons more great content. If you or your kids are even mildly interested in NASA and space exploration, this is a fantastic app to have around – and one that gets continual updates that keep it fresh as well.
TED: The amazing TED Talks on iPad. TED Talks are ‘Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.’ This app puts over 700 of them on your iPad, with more being added every week. A go-to app for whenever you want your brain to get some real stimulation.
iFixit: Repair Manual: If you’re at all interested in doing some of your own repairs for your iPad, iPhone, Mac or Windows computer, camera, or just about any other popular device, then this app might well be your new best friend. It offers thousands of step-by-step guides from the excellent iFixit.com site for an extremely broad array of devices and appliances. The guides are presented beautifully and are incredibly easy to follow.
Best iPad Coffee Table Book Apps
Ansel Adams: A beautiful iPad book showcasing the work of America’s most famous and celebrated photographer. Its basic but elegant interface lets Adams and his work take center stage. Sections featuring old movies of Adams at work and letters from Adams offer great insight into the man behind the wonderful photography.
The Guardian Eyewitness: Stunning daily images collection from The Guardian newspaper’s award-winning Eyewitness photography series. It is jam-packed with unique and powerful images. Also offers Pro Tips from The Guardian’s photography team to offer technical insights.
LIFE Wonders of the World: Another great app from LIFE. Superb images and accompanying text on wonders from ancient times to modern day, from all around the world.
Best Photo Effects App
FX Photo Studio HD: Another very crowded field sort of category. There are stacks of very good apps in this area. FX Photo Studio HD is the one that stands out for me for the best combination of a broad and attractive set of effects combined with a very simple and pleasant interface. This makes it an easy, approachable app even for clumsy users like me.
Best iPad Games
Stick Golf HD: A crazy, completely different sort of golf game – featuring whacky course layouts that require trick shots to get around, fun scenery and course environments, and an ever-increasing craziness level as you move up through the levels. Challenging, big fun, and easy to jump in and out of if you have a few minutes to kill.
Need for Speed Shift for iPad: There are quite a few great racing games for the iPad. Need for Speed Shift is the one I’ve found the most gripping. Great selection of cars, tracks, modifications and control options.
Angry Birds HD: The iPad version of the massively popular game. It deserves its huge success. Easy to get into but challenging and fun for all ages. Also gets a lot of update love.
Multitasking: Frenetic, fun game that tests your reflexes and your ability to multitask at high speed. You have to try to solve simple math problems, pop balloons, unscramble three-letter words, whack moles, play pong defend, and more – all at almost the same time. Challenging and another that’s easy to jump in and out of for short spells.
Crosswords: Includes puzzles from a great set of sources, from newspapers and magazines round the world and cryptic and classic puzzles. Offers new puzzles every day, hints, answers in ink or pencil, quick views of your recently played puzzles, and a comfortable interface. Universal app, playable also on iPhone and iPod Touch.
Rage HD: I’ve never been much good at FPS type games and hence have never found most of them compelling. I did spend time with and enjoy some of the old-school classics of this genre though – things like Quake and Doom. Rage HD is by the makers of those two classics. And it’s great fun on the iPad, has amazing graphics, and has easy enough gameplay that even a dork like me can enjoy it.
Risk: The Official Game for iPad: A classic old board game brought to the iPad. This is a great rendering of the simple game of world conquest for the iPad. Very easy to play and relatively challenging.
Best iPad Apps for Kids
Dr. Seuss eBooks from Oceanhouse Media: Many Dr. Seuss titles are timeless classics and Oceanhouse Media are the officially licensed publisher of them on iOS. These eBook apps feature the brilliant original artwork, fun, interactive elements, impressive, professional voiceovers, options to have the stories read to you, or for you to do the reading. These are lovingly rendered and incredibly well executed.
Prices: From $1.99 to 3.99
Ultimate Dinopedia: Excellent dinosaur reference app from National Geographic. Features over 700 dinosaurs, great artwork, full page images of each dinosaur, videos, audio clips with background on each dinosaur, and tons of fun information.
Ocean Blue for iPad: Provides a 3D ocean world to view and interact with. Features lifelike images of a good range of sea creatures – from clownfish to sea turtles and even sharks.
Solar Walk: A 3D solar system model for the iPad. Offers close-ups of all the planets, details on their trajectories, structure, and history of their exploration, and points of interest as you navigate through space.
My picks, naturally, reflect my areas of biggest interest in the iPad App Store. I haven’t set out to cover every single category of iPad app, as there are some that just don’t grab me and that I’m not very knowledgeable about. I’ve also chosen to include some favorite iPad games even though I’m really not much of a gamer, on the iPad or anywhere else – so you may well find that’s not my strongest section.
I’m happy that there are a good number of free apps here and a good range of prices – and that that just happened naturally, with no effort on my part.
I hope you will all jump in and share your thoughts on the apps I’ve included, what you agree and disagree with, and all the great apps I didn’t get a chance to include here.
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