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iPad thoughts part 3 – Other Apps

While the iPad’s built in apps are an impressive if incomplete start, the real strength of the iPad will be it’s app store. Like the iPhone has already proved, having a vast catalog of easily available and mostly cheap software is a huge selling point. Currently the available iPad apps are a bit frustrating due to the amount of excellent iPhone titles just begging for a bigger screen but not yet available. Here are some of the titles that have impressed so far.

Magic Window

Using a huge amount of high quality time lapse photo’s played like a video this app makes for a great desktop clock. All of the photo slideshow/clock apps tried so far have missing features or problems, but Magic Window is both simple and flexible enough to not irritate. There are currently fifteen photo sets available but not all are installed by default. This sensibly keeps the initial download smaller and required sets are added from within the app.  ‘Nightfall over the San Francisco Bay’ and “Goblin Valley State Park’ are two of my favourites, and the ability to control the speed of playback makes this a perfect iPad app to show off to photo loving friends.

AccuWeather

One glaring omission from the built in iPad software is a weather app. Maybe Apple want to do something more advanced than the widget like iPhone weather app, or it was just a low priority. Fortunately there are several decent weather applications for the iPad, of which Accuweather offers the most eyecandy. The default view is very much a larger and slicker version of the iPhone weather app. Tapping the lower left corner button brings up additional options for the lower half of the screen, including video weather reports (currently US only), maps and lifestyle weather forecasts. Want to know the risk of Hair Frizz today? This is the app for you. A small advertisement pops up occasionally from the bottom of the screen, for 59 pence or 99 cents you can buy the ad free version.

BBC News International

Quite a swish interface here, with each category showing four stories that can be swiped left to reveal more news. The order and visibility of news categories can be changed to suit, and live news radio is available with one button press. Unfortunately this app is still a bit buggy, I have experienced the story pane on the right going blank and requiring a restart of the app to fix.

USA Today

This offers a different presentation of news stories with a scrolling list on the right and smaller widgets on the left. Tapping the section title brings up the bar shown in the middle of the screen for fast access to the other areas. Landscape viewing is also supported, adding a further news column on the right. Selecting an article takes you to a full screen view and a horizontal swipe slides to the next story. USA Today is certainly smooth to use, and can only get better when the currently unavailable sections (such as crosswords) go live.

Epicurious

Huge online recipe database? Check. Compile list of ingredients from multiple recipes? Check. Email the list to whoever has to go buy said ingredients? Check. Save recipes to your favourites list for future use? Check.
Add in a very slick interface and a siding progress indicator to remember where you are in the instructions, and this in one food application that’s a pleasure to use.

IMDb

The online movie database does itself proud with this one. From the top rated 250 movies to today’s movie star birthdays to box office takings, this has just about everything the movie fact fan could ask for.

Wikipanion

Just like the IMDb app, Wikipanion provides fast searching of wikipedia. The one and two thirds screen layout is instantly familiar, searching is easy with the drop down results list and the GeoNames search shows entries near your location.

Urbanspoon

If you want to find the best restaurant nearby offering a specific type of food or price this could be the app to choose. On my recent New York trip I browsed the 24,693 places to eat, found the nearest Outback Steakhouse and spent a most happy evening there. The user reviews help pick the best, and the show popular filter narrows down the vast selection to something a bit more manageable.

UpNext

As an iPhone app this was impressive, now on the iPad it amazes everyone I show it to. Imagine Google earth on the iPad with 3D buildings, zooming in and out, rotating. Add online searching for business, food and accommodation in any tapped building. Then add subway stations and lines, favourites that sync to an online account and user reviews. Even without the online content and building search this is an awesome app which proved to be a huge help getting around New York recently. Boston, San Francisco, Austin and Washington DC are the only other available cities so if more are added this essential app will only get better.

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