Essential iPad apps

This is a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for a while now, and a discussion on my cataloging listserv reminded me I hadn’t yet. I finally got a tech toy I’ve been wanting for ages – my long-coveted iPad. I’ve had it about three weeks now, I used my tax refund to pick up one. I lucked out that one of my best friends, who has amazingly excellent taste, already owned pretty much the exact model I had my eyes on (iPad 2, 32 GB) and sold me hers because she was planning to upgrade. Lucky because the model I wanted is no longer in Apple’s refurb store. She also gave me her case, which I get tons of compliments on. Right away I set it up with the apps I wanted. I’ve had an iPhone for 3.5 years now, and I’m an app addict, so I’ve explored many of the apps out there. My initial apps on the iPad were ones I was already using, then I went and grabbed several others I’d scouted out ahead of time. And now, dear reader, you can benefit from my time playing with apps to save you time setting up your iPad.

I’m not going to cover all of the apps I have, some I’m still exploring, and the order may seem random, but it’s not. I’ll be going in the order I have them arranged on my screen, which is a logical order to me.

Starting with social media. I spend a lot of time on social media, and much of it on either my phone or the iPad.

Social Media apps

Tweetbot is a Twitter client that my friend introduced me to (same friend who sold me the iPad – told you she had great taste!) It is a paid app – it’s $2.99, and it is not universal – you have to pay separately for iPhone & iPad. But it’s totally worth the price. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive for the Mac or I’d be using it on all my devices!

Tweetbot is nice because it’s got a nice interface that’s much better than the standard Twitter client. If you’re used to iPhone/iPad/Mac touchpad gestures it will take no time getting used to. Swipe one way across a tweet & it will show you the whole conversation string. Swipe the other way, it gives you more details. Tap the tweet & it brings up buttons to reply, retweet, favorite, share, and more. When composing a tweet it will help you autofill Twitter names and hashtags by bringing up options. I love this because sometimes I forget someone’s twitter name or mix it up with their forum name or other online name. With Tweetbot, I hit the @ and start typing their name or what I think is their twitter name and it will give me options. For example – Frazer Hines (actor who played Jamie MacCrimmon on Doctor Who in the 60s) goes by the twitter handle of @WhoFrazer. But I sometimes forget that. If I start typing “Frazer” Tweetbot brings up @WhoFrazer as an option in the list. Super useful trick when you follow hundreds of people!

Next is Facebook. I actually like the iPad version of the official Facebook app. It really looks nice when I have the iPad set up horizontally. I also like that on the iPad I can tap “x Comments” and it brings up a bubble without leaving my feed. Similarly, when I get a message I can just pull down the bubble, respond, and then continue reading. If you spend a lot of time on Facebook this is a definite must-download.

GetGlue is another social network I’m on – it lets you check in to movies & TV shows you’re watching. I’m a Die Hard Doctor Who fan. I’m waiting for GetGlue to say “You’ve watched Doctor Who HOW many times? Are you insane?” (I may have over 100 checkins…) Their official app is well-made and pretty easy to use.

Trillian is my consolidated chat client of choice. It’s a free client that lets you sign in to Google Chat, Facebook Chat, AIM, Yahoo, Windows Live (aka MSN), ICQ, Jabber, and MySpace IM, all at once! I have Facebook, Google, AIM, Yahoo, and two Windows Live accounts added to mine. It’s a simple interface but it works. It’s nice to only have to have one app running instead of one for each service.

Other apps in the social media folder include Messenger (you can iMessage with people who have iPhones or iPads through this), FaceTime, Skype, Pinterest & TinyChat. Messenger & FaceTime work just like on the phone, I have yet to actually FaceTime with anyone to be honest. Pinterest, TinyChat and Skype I haven’t had a chance to explore in depth.

Moving on to Weather.

Weather apps

My phone really has the weather app suite, since I have multiple apps which warn me of major events. On top of that, iOS 6 will sound a very loud obnoxious alert for a tornado warning. It seriously startled me out of a very deep sleep last summer – which is a very good thing for a tornado warning alert!

On the iPad I only have a few apps. The big one is Weather HD. I picked this up a while ago for my phone, and it looks even more gorgeous on the iPad. Simple interface with just the important stuff and a nifty animation showing the current weather visually.

I also have the WeatherBug and WeatherChannel apps – they’re both excellent so it’s more a matter of personal taste. I like WeatherBug’s interface on my phone, still deciding on how much I like the iPad version. I have the free version of both those apps (my phone has the paid WeatherBug Elite on there).

Productivity folder!

Productivity apps

A few others that I haven’t explored yet in here. I’m just going to talk about the ones I really have spent quality time with.

DropBox is an absolute essential! I’ve used this so much already! I have it installed on my iPad, iPhone, and MacBook. I’ve also used it on my old Dell computer. If you set up the app to automatically upload your camera photos from the iPhone or iPad, you get extra storage. You also get 500 MB extra if you sign up from my link. One awesome thing I discovered with DropBox? I can toss a presentation or a video in there & run it right in the app!

The only other app I’ve really spent time with is Guidebook. It’s basically an event schedule program. You download Guidebook, then you download the guide for your event. I first used it on my phone last year when Anime Central used it for an at-con guide. This year I have that and the C2E2 schedule loaded in. I use these mobile guides at con SO much I can’t imagine not having these anymore. I highly recommend Guidebook – take a look, you never know what event you go to that might use Guidebook for schedules!

On to my favorite folder – Books!!

Books apps

I’m a librarian, and a voracious lifelong reader. So some of the first apps I opened up were the book ones (many of which I already had on my phone).

iBooks is Apple’s bookstore. I like that there’s some interactive books in there.

Nook and Kindle are of course Barnes & Noble and Amazon’s ereaders. I own a Nook 1st Edition, and while it’s full of PDF books, I also have a good chunk of SciFi and classics loaded. Anything that was bought directly from B&N can also be added to the app. I have books in all of these – since sometimes an ebook will only be in one store.

Kobo is really my favorite though. I like their prices – I try to price compare between Kobo, Nook and Kindle. Usually Kobo wins. There’s also community comments on books purchased through them – if someone else read the book you might see their notes indicated on the book (and also a count of how many people are reading that title.

For comics, I downloaded Marvel Unlimited. This is a fairly new app to interface with’s Marvel Digital Comic Universe (MDCU), which is a subscription site. With a MDCU account you can read tons of back issues. The big problem with this app right now is you can only load up to 6 comics to it to read offline (when not connected to wifi). Still, the interface is good and they have a great collection.

ComiXology is my other main comics app. They are like a Comic Book Store shrunk down to miniature size. Keep an eye out for their freebees – the only reason I have so many comics is because I grab hem when they’re cheap.

Reading Rainbow is really my favorite app though! I grew up on the show and I doubt I would be a librarian if not for that show. The app takes the best parts of the show and puts them on an iPad. There’s different islands to explore, and if you subscribe for $9.99 a month, your children (or let’s face it, you) can select up to 5 books at a time for their backpack, then return the books once read. There is an option to read the book yourself or have it read (narrated) to you. You can also view LeVar’s many field trip videos in the app as well.

I will leave off there. There’s still a few more categories to explore but that will be another blog post.

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