Against my expectations, the iPad has hit the ground running ever since its release, and with the innovative apps that have been gracing it, it’s hardly surprising. Here is a list of apps that have already been released or are soon to be released that should go some of the way towards justifying your iPad’s price tag.
Flipboard is perhaps the first iPad-specific app that genuinely revolutionises the way we do things. This app gathers various links, photos and news articles that get posted by your friends on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites, and organises them neatly in the form of a virtual magazine.
What stands out about Flipboard is its streamlined accessibility and ease of use. All the articles load up extremely quickly and it’s a wonder how it organises the many messy links from all your social networking sites into such a slick interface.
The whole thing looks great on the iPad display, and it goes without saying that the touch-screen allows you to float through the various articles with swan-like grace. The early success of this FREE innovative app means that we can expect regular updates that should make this already-slick app all the slicker.
Ok, so not everyone is interested in astronomy, but for those who are then this is a beautiful app to get lost in. Whether you just want to do some star-gazing, travel through time, or look at Meteor showers in deep space, Star Walk has it all.
The great thing about this app is that it is accessible to astronomy beginners while also being useful for those specialised in the field. The Telrad feature allows you to measure angular distances between stars (not that I understand astronomy enough to know the purpose of this), and there is a considerable catalogue detailing objects in both deep and shallow space. All of this presented through an intuitive and sleek interface that never distances you too much from the wonders of space.
Star Walk received design awards in both 2009 and 2010. Its regular updates should ensure that it remains the most comprehensive, visually pleasing and enjoyable astronomy app to indulge in throughout 2011, particularly on the crystal-clear iPad screen.
While Facebook is hardly something that needs promoting, the ambiguously named FacePad is the most innovative facebook app for the iPad and as such I feel obliged to mention it.
Facepad is a third-party facebook app that streamlines facebook specifically for the iPad. While the only difference between this and official facebook apps is aesthetic, it makes the trivial activity of facebooking feel very slick and ‘new age’. The interface is very intuitive and relies on various popover panes for navigation which can be swiped away or accessed at your leisure.
While the iPad waits (in vain?) for an official Facebook app, Facepad is the best way to get your social networking fix. Also, with rumours on the wind that the official app will only be a blown-up version of the iPhone one, Facepad could well retain its crown as the best integration of facebook with the iPad’s capabilities.
So the Amazon’s digital-book-reading App has been around for a while, but 2011 will be a crucial year in finding out whether it will catch on on Apple’s devices. Its case will not be helped by the recent revelation that Apple have forbidden Amazon from providing web links for purchasing their books.
Politics aside, the Kindle App is probably the best book-reader App out there. It allows you to synchronise all your e-books between devices, meaning that as long as you have a device, you always have access to your books; stick in the mud that I am, I don’t see how carrying an actual book around is such a burden, but then this whole e-book craze seems to be catching on quite nicely so I’m obviously just wrong in my cynicism.
Most gaming enthusiasts will know that Dead Space is the most terrifying game to play on the big consoles. With the game’s trademark lack of user interface making it perfectly suited to the crystal-clear and intuitive iPad display, it was inevitable that this space horror shooter would go mobile.
Dead Space looks and plays brilliantly, utilising the minimal interface of its big console counterparts. There is a plethora of brutal weapons, varied scenery, and the gameplay utilises the touch-screen very smoothly.
At £3.99, Dead Space can be considered one of the more pricey iPhone games, but with a 5-hour storyline and some intense action sequences its price tag (which, let’s be honest, isn’t that high anyway) is perfectly justified.
Temporarily ignoring the fact that The Daily is the product of Rupert Murdoch’s menacing News Corp. empire, it can’t be denied that this is an innovative iPad-specific way of news-reading.
With many of Murdoch’s millions thrown into it, The Daily is a very well presented newspaper, with a decent amount of both video and written content. While some may dispute its 79p weekly cost, The Daily, even at this early stage, offers more than the average news website. There are up to 100 pages per issue, carousel-style navigation and neat additions such as 360° pictures and animated images in certain news and sports stories.
Whether The Daily succeeds is still unknown, but it definitely signals a shift in the way news is distributed. As paper publishing makes way for digital distribution, expect other newspapers to follow in Murdoch’s footsteps throughout 2011.
A relatively inexpensive Sat Nav App for the Facebook generation. The latest version of CoPilot is set to feature an overhauled interface and provides multiple routes to your selected destinations.
Aside from these functional upgrades, CoPilot 9 will also feature an integrated Bing search engine made for tracking local businesses and services. And for those hopelessly addicted to the trivial activity of letting the whole world know where you are through Facebook Places, this App will feed your habit by letting you post updates to Places in real-time; after all, everyone wants to know when you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic in London, don’t they?
Other unique features include the option to save the exact location of your car, driving directions to ‘geotagged’ pictures taken by your smartphone, and a walking mode which helps you navigate cities on foot. Yes, CoPilot is making our dependency on our own sense of navigation a thing of the past.
While this can hardly be called a ‘promising’ app given the fact it’s been around for a while, ESPN’s app looks set to remain the best source of sports news for the iPad throughout 2011.
Scorecenter XL offers the plethora of statistics, scores and commentaries on the biggest leagues in the most popular sports (including the Barclays Premier League, lads). However, what makes this stand out from the crowd is that it also lets you watch highlights and goals from games almost as they happen.
To streamline the experience, Scorecenter allows you to pick your favourite teams and players to follow, giving on constant instant access to only the sports news that you actually care about! Best of all, this app has recently been made free on the App Store.
9. The Shadow Sun – By Ossian, Release Date: Q2 2011
While the iPad is quickly establishing itself as a worthy gaming platform, it still lacks an immersive, epic RPG experience. Thankfully for swords-and-sorcery enthusiasts everywhere, The Shadow Sun looks set to make a breakthrough in this genre.
The Shadow Sun promises in-depth character development, a varied game world and, as you can see, beautiful graphics that will sparkle on your iPad screen (and make you look like a complete nerd if played in public) . Your choices affect the story, the gameplay is fast-paced, and you can even take on party members. In other words, this isn’t the ‘Lite’ RPG experience iPad users have come to accept, but the full-on thing.
Ossian have delayed The Shadow Sun until Spring 2011, suggesting that they are striving for perfection with this ambitious project. Could this be the RPG that iPad gamers have been waiting for?
Mobile TV is looking set to flourish on the iPad throughout 2011, and this recently-released iPlayer app shows why. The app improves on using web-browser version in many ways, making it a more iPad-specific experience.
What makes this app stand out from other iPlayer apps is the option to watch live BBC TV wherever you are. Even though it’s early days yet, the catch-up shows and live streaming all work smoothly over a WiFi connection. With the developers promising regular updates to the service, we can only hope that at some not-too-far-away point iPlayer will be accessible over a 3G connection.
BBC have also recently mentioned that they plan on releasing a paid, global version of this app in the future. So at a hitherto unknown price, you’ll be able to access live BBC TV and all you favourite shows wherever you are in the world.