Making the iPad Shine

My God does the iPad attract finger prints, luckily for Apple it is not the device that makes the iPad shine – the app developers really make this device shine. When the iPad first came out it was really cool, but cool is not enough to keep most people from having buyers remorse. With the iPad though every week brings a new great app that makes the iPad just that much better and usable.

Apple success with the iPad is very much tied to the quality and relevance of the apps that developers create for it. As it stands right now – based on the quality of apps – the iPad is pretty damned successful.

Here are some apps that really make the iPad shine:

Instapaper

It has existed since day one on the iPad, and since day one it has been the best way to read anything on the iPad. Marco Arment’s app really shines, it is a splendid readings experience for everything you throw at it. This is the best way to read your Instapaper items – the best way to read anything on the iPad really.

Reeder

A relatively new player in the iPad app arena ports the popular iPhone RSS reader to the iPad. This is absolutely the best way to read your news feeds on any platform. A mix of speed and beautiful design will leave most torn between reading something in Reeder or sending it to Instapaper (which it also supports).

MLB At Bat 2010

It helps of course that I am a huge baseball fan, but MLB has done a fantastic job with their iPad app. I am not going to say that this is better than being at the game (it isn’t) nor is it better than watching the game on TV – it is however awesome if you can’t get the game on your TV, or to supplement your TV watching experience (for those of your hardcore enough about baseball).

Ego for iPad

I had no reason to want Ego on the iPad as the iPhone version was nearly perfect. Ego for the iPad expands upon its web analytics offerings from the iPhone to add full page logins for your analytic tracking services. Beyond that it is an absolutely beautiful app.

1Password for iPad

This is a great password and credit card number keeper, more than that it really is a well designed app. One of the best parts of using it is logging into the application it takes you through vault doors to access your private data. Very, very well done application that makes you feel secure with your data through the visual design alone.

Things

There is no shortage of beautiful task management apps available for the iPad, Things however is among the best looking and more functional options you can buy. Things does a fantastic job of capturing textures without over using them.

Calendar

This is all Apple, I have been using iCal since 2004 and have always hated the way it looked. Calendar for the iPhone is nothing special (to be nice), but the Calendar app on the iPad is a true winner. I have stopped using iCal on my Mac in preference of only using the iPad app. Forget about using the Month and List views as they still suck, but the Week view and Day views are excellent (except that you can’t swipe to go through days in the Day view – fix this Apple).

Penultimate

I never would have thought that a pen drawing app would be worth paying for, but Penultimate truly is. You get a very vintage feeling notebook on which you can draw (very realistically) with an ink pen. This is one of those apps that you have to see to fall in love with, words here will not do Penultimate justice.

Financial Times

Everybody and their Mom seems to have a news app out for the iPad, Steve Jobs was right though as Financial Times really does shine as the start of the lot. The navigation is not as obvious as it is in most apps, but it is for this very reason that the app looks beautiful. Of course the glaring omission in the app is the inability to share links to articles – that fact aside this is the best news app available.

The Guardian Eyewitness

Some would say it is a news app, I say it is strictly a beauty app. Eyewitness serves up one news photo per day, full-screen. You get a short description and notes on how the photographer took the shot.

Articles

Let’s face it, Wikipedia is damn ugly to look at, Articles though makes it a beautiful way to look through Wikipedia. I can’t remember the last time I actually used the website.

WeatherStation Pro

Looks like a one use device that you would find in Brookstone, but WeatherStation is the best looking (yet informative) weather app that you can get for the iPad. Everything you need, nothing you hate (like ads).

Pinball HD

It has been ages since I played a real Pinball machine, however aside from getting a TILT warning Pinball HD feels pretty great (and looks even better).

Solitaire Classics HD

They get a huge knock for having a title that is too long to display in full – but they more than make up for it in style once you get in the app. The animations and card movements / looks make everything look very real. Especially the fact that Solitaire remains a pain in the ass to beat.

Night Stand HD

This clock app for the iPad happens to be one of my favorite iPad apps of all time. Put it on the Flip Clock display and sit back and enjoy. Realistic, beautiful and useful-ish.

Epicurious

This app give you recipes, but more than that you can tell that it was designed from the outset to be used in the kitchen, from a distance. The text is large and very legible. The design is not as beautiful as those that I have mentioned up to this point, but it really doesn’t need to be – this app is incredibly useful.

With over 10,000 apps in the store now, I am constantly finding new apps that push the bar even higher. Don’t be fooled when you look at the iPad’s specs and think that it is just a large iPhone or netbook type computer – because the iPad’s success is in its apps.

Originally posted for members on: June 16, 2010
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