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Great Apps for Your New iPad
Kudos

March 16, 2012

A quick listing of some of my favorite iPad apps, which I hope new iPad owners may find useful.

Reading

Early Edition 2

A newspaper style feed reader. This is the best app of this genre on any platform. It does crash from time to time, but not enough to be particularly annoying. My recommendation is to not put your full list of feeds into it. Instead, put a selected subset of them that would work well if you were reading them in a physical newspaper.

Warning: "Early Edition 2" was released separately from "Early Edition". Be sure to buy v2. It's a signficant upgrade in features from the original and there is no free upgrade path to owners of the original.

Instapaper

Instapaper is a great offline reading app. It's main competitors are Read it Later and Readability. I recommend Instapaper though because it's very well thought out, and by buying the app you're supporting a developer who is dedicated to making this the best reading app out there.

Social Media

Flipboard

Flipboard is a great way to see interesting things you Twitter and Facebook contacts have uploaded or linked to. It's free, well made, and a lot of fun.

Tweed

Tweed watches your Twitter feed and pulls out all the links from the people you are following. Unlike clipboard it doesn't bother with tweets that don't include any links. It's good enough to warrant mentioning here, but I find I don't use it very much. Usually, if I'm interested in something like that I'll just open Flipboard.n

Tweetbot

One of the best Twitter clients on iPhone or iPad.

Twittelator

Honestly, I think Twittelator is the most beautiful Twitter client available on the iPad, but it lacks Tweetbot's ability to easily see an entire conversation thread. Right now I'm using Tweetbot, but if they add that I'll switch back.

BeejiveIM

I'm not a big fan of using IM on the iPad, but if you've got to do it, this is the best app for the job.

Skype

It's not that I love Skype so much that I think you ought to run out and get it for your iPad, but if you're traveling and want to keep in touch with friends and family, Skype's iPad client is a great option, especially on iPads with front-facing cameras (not the 1st generation)

Productivity

Soulver

"Soulver helps you work things out. It's quicker to use than a spreadsheet, and smarter and clearer than a traditional calculator."

Imagine you took a typical calculator app and dipped it in awesome-sauce. That's Soulver.

OmniFocus for iPad

I hate to recommend someone-else's todo app when I'm in the middle of developing my own, but there is no denying that OmniFocus for iPad is the best GTD app available right now.

MindNode

Most people seem to talk about iThoughtsHD when discussing mind-mapping software for the iPad, but I really dislike its graphics. MindNode looks good and is very easy to use. Dachary and I have gotten a lot of value out of this for helping to plan our adventures.

iMockups

A great tool for quickly mocking up web pages, iOS apps, and just about anything else. I have a copy of Balsamiq Mockups on my desktop but I'll choose iMockups over it almost every time. Manipulating your mock-ups with a finger just feels, right, and has significant advantages when creating an iOS app.

Business Model Toolbox

I debated whether or not I should include this one. For most people pondering their business, or starting a business, I suggest just getting the book and skipping the app. For serial entrepreneurs, like me, who are constantly pondering different business models for potential new businesses it's a great way to work out the rough numbers and customer or supplier channels for a business. The problem is that it has some significant limitations. For example, when mocking up an iOS app you can tell it that apple with take x dollars per sale, but you can't say that it will take x percent of each sale. This means that every time you want to explore the consequences of changing your app price you have to go back and manually change the amount that apple will be taking. There are lots of little financial things like this that keep leaving me less than thrilled with this app. What's worse, is that while it doesn't have any bugs (that I've discovered) I can't remember ever having gotten an update for the app. They're just not working on it. Buying the book and just working out the numbers on paper may be a better option than buying this app. Or, better yet, figure out the channels, with this, or the lessons in the book, and then work up the numbers in Soulver.

Writing

I think the are two things that are required to do any serious writing on the iPad:

  1. An external keyboard. The Apple wireless bluetooth keyboard is wonderfully thin and adds almost no space when you lay it over your iPad.
  2. A willingness to use Markdown

Markdown allows you to use trivially simple markup, like sticking an asterisk on either side of a word to make it italic. With it you can quickly and easily generate well formatted documents on your iPad without ever having to use iOSs text selection tools to bold, italicize, create headings, bullet lists or any of the other common formattings.

Now, markdown can be created in any text editor, but an app that's specifically designed to handle Markdown can preview the formatted text, and turn it into a good looking email or PDF.

The best app of the bunch is Writing Kit. ScreenCastsOnline has made an in-depth screencast on it, which you can find on WritingKit's web site.

With that said, there are a bunch of really good iPad Markdown editors. If Writing Kit isn't your style check out Byword and iAWriter, both of which sync very well with their OS X counterparts.

Blogging

Posts

If you want a more standard WYSIWIG interface for your blogging Posts is a beautiful app that works great. It's the best looking blogging app I've seen on the iPad, and it works with Blogger and Wordpress

Poster

If you've got a WordPress blog and want to post with Markdown check out Poster. I haven't used this personally but it's been getting great reviews and it's one of the only ones that supports blogging with markdown without any special plugins on your blog.

Fun

Spice Bandits

A great, and challenging, Tower Defense game. It offers in-app purchases to help jump-start things, but a real Spice Bandit doesn't need in-app purchases.

Carcasonne

A wonderful port of the board game of the same name. If you like the board game you'll like the iPad version. Great sound, great voicework on the tutorial. Even includes a "solitary" mode.

Tower Madness

Another fun Tower Defense game. The graphics aren't fancy, but it's a lot of fun, and it has a split-screen two player mode which is great for killing time when out with a friend.

Letterpress

Available for iPhone and iPad this is a great word game that'll tax your vocabulary, and have lots of fun with a friend.

Utilities.

Dropbox

Duh.

1Password

Because 1 Password is the best password manager out there and once you start using it you'll want it on every platform you use.

Art & Design

Letter M Press

Letter M Press allows you to "Experience the Art and Craft of Letterpress". It does an exception job of recreating an old-fashioned letterpress on your iPad. It'll take you half an hour to lay-out the simplest type design, and you'll love every minute of it, or you will if the idea of working with a real letterpress is appealing to you.

iFontMaker

iFontMaker makes it trivial to design your own custom font, and export it for use on your computer. It supports a variety of glyph sets, including Japanese, greek, Cyrillic, and more. The only downside is that the tools provided really only work for designing handwriting style fonts, and there is no way to edit the bezier curves.

Misc

FlickStackr

Probably the best Flickr and 500px client on the iPad. It also offers good offline support.

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