The first thing most people do after buying an Apple iPad is head to iTunes and start downloading apps. But with thousands to choose from, where do you start? Sure, Apple makes some recommendations, but who knows how they create their list. Apple also makes it pretty easy to see what is most popular, but does anyone really need three different versions of Angry Birds? If you want essential apps that improve almost everything you do with your iPad, start with this list of 10.
Before I continue, I should say that this is my personal list. Although I solicited suggestions from the PCMag staff, there was no way we could all agree on the same 10. To make it concise, I had to make it personal. So any omissions are my fault entirely. That said, I think the list is pretty killer.
I had just a couple of requirements for this list. The apps had to have wide appeal among average users. Sketch for the iPad is certainly a killer app, but if your artistic abilities are like mine—the word "limited" comes to mind—it is useless to you. Likewise, the Bloomberg iPad App is the best way to track your investments, but, after a year with unemployment at over eight percent, precious few of us have those anymore. When I say these apps are essential for every man, woman and child, I mean it.
Before we get to the new winners, I should briefly mention the Apps that are getting bumped from the list. They are all still great apps, but they just can't keep their spots the top ten. Instapaper was simply replaced with a faster, more stable app that offers the same functionality. Others, like Angry Birds, just got old. But don't worry, change is good.
Of course, you are probably going to download and install a lot more than this, but consider these apps a great start.
The iPad is perfect for viewing photos, and even makes a great digital photo frame. But what if you want to make changes to those pictures? Adobe’s Photoshop Express lets you crop, straighten, rotate and flip images. There are also a variety of filters and effects. For fine editing you will still need to work on a PC, but for basic fixes this app is fantastic. And you can’t beat the price.
Packed with more than 25,000 recipes and some stunning photography, the Epicurious app makes for mouthwatering browsing. Just type in whatever you have in your fridge and the app will give you some ideas for dinner and create a shopping list for any ingredients you don’t have. What, you don’t cook? But you have to eat, right?
Free with $8.99/Month Subscription
Most of the iPad’s video watching experience revolves around iTunes, but NetFlix makes a great alternative. If you subscribe to the service, you can down the app for free and access the thousands of videos in their online catalog. You will need a strong WiFi connection, but after that you will have hours of low-cost movie watching before you.
With its bright color screen and touch-sensitive display, some people actually prefer reading on the iPad more than the Kindle itself, with its non-reflective E-Ink display. Regardless, if you have a kindle account, you have to down the app and find out. Just log in and you can download all of your archive books. Plus, you get color previews of all the book covers.
There are a lot of great news applications for the iPad, but if I had to pick one it would be AP mobile. Not just text stories, but also photos and video, this apps keeps you in the loop. It also supports a local news feed so you can get news that is truly close to home.
Easily my favorite iPad app. I spend all day browsing the Web, but don’t have time to read every random story I find, no matter how cool or important it might be. Instapaper lets you grab it for reading later. Sounds simple, but it is enormously useful.
OK, so I cheated here, iWork is really three applications in one: Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, but they are all worth downloading. Even if you don’t think you will ever build a presentation on your iPad at some point you are going to want to open one and edit it. And page sis simply the best word processor on the iPad so far. Get Numbers just because you never know when accounting is going to send you an urgent spreadsheet that needs work. This will help you get work done wherever you go.
Download this $5 app, and you can turn your iPad into a side monitor for any Mac or even Windows 7 PC. The connection between devices is made using WiFi, so rendering HD video can be a bit sketchy at times, but it is fine for basic computing. Just create another window for IM, Twitter, or whatever and drag it onto your new virtual display. It is also a great way to get around that pesky “no-Flash-Video-on-the-iPad” problem.
Facebook and Twitter have great clients for the iPad, but Tweetdeck gives you one app to rule them all. Tweetdeck lets you view and update all of your accounts from one dashboard
Angry Birds Free
I was a late to the Angry Birds party, but having played it for the last two weeks I now see it as a triumph in casual gaming. Whether you are a hard core gamer into first person shooters or more of a Solitaire player, Angry Birds is essential downloading. There are walkthroughs of every level on YouTube if you get stuck.