Help Me With My New Toy

I sent in the page proofs for How to Teach Relativity to Your Dog this week, and by way of celebration, I went out and helped boost the economy by buying some consumer electronics:

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Yes, I now have an iPad. Just one with wi-fi, not the 3G version, because we already send Verizon enough money, and if I need instant access to my email absolutely anywhere, I’ve got an Android phone. But I like shiny things, and this is pretty darn shiny (even if I’m hampered by it needing an immediate software update that’s taking six hours).

Anyway, I have a few ideas about what to put on this, and SteelyKid definitely has some ideas about what to put on it (one of her first requests on seeing it was “Let’s play Angry Birds!” She had to settle for playing it on my phone, because it hadn’t finished downloading). But I know there are plenty of people reading this who have had one of these for way longer than I have, so: What are the must-have apps that I need to maximize the shininess of the new gadget?

Comments

  1. #1 cisko
    November 5, 2011

    For fun: I’ve been obsessed with Carcassonne – an iOS version of the board game. Maybe I’m just bad at it, but the AI is plenty good enough to give me a challenge. I also had a lot of fun with Madden 2010 on the iPhone; I haven’t played the ’12 version on iPad, but I’d definitely give it a try.

    For RSS: If you use Google Reader, I’d recommend Reeder. I’d rather use it than Reader on the web.

    Remember The Milk has become my go-to list management app. That might be more of an iPhone thing, however.

    And, of course, for that “science fiction made real” feeling, you can’t beat Google Earth.

  2. #2 Brian Shoot
    November 6, 2011

    Pulse is great. Like a reader only better.

  3. #3 AndyB
    November 6, 2011

    For work purposes, I use Goodreader to organize and annotate PDFs. My pleasure reading is split across three apps:
    - Bluefire reader: Unlike iBooks, it supports the Adobe DRM scheme used by many ebook vendors
    - Kindle cloud reader: For Amazon’s format
    - Overdrive: The recommended client for eBook loans at my local library

    Other recommendations: Planets, 3D Sun, the nasa apps, and Yelp (which makes very good use of wifi-based location search). Recipe apps like epicurious are also useful.

    That said, content creation on a tablet can be frustrating, given how the overzealous autocorrect feature mangles technical jargon. Before buying, I would recommend trying a few productivity programs using the demo iPads at the store, to see which ones handle your symbol and formatting needs.

  4. #4 AndyB
    November 6, 2011

    For work purposes, I use Goodreader to organize and annotate PDFs. My pleasure reading is split across three apps:
    - Bluefire reader: Unlike iBooks, it supports the Adobe DRM scheme used by many ebook vendors
    - Kindle cloud reader: For Amazon’s format
    - Overdrive: The recommended client for eBook loans at my local library

    Other recommendations: Planets, 3D Sun, the nasa apps, and Yelp (which makes very good use of wifi-based location search). Recipe apps like epicurious are also useful.

    That said, content creation on a tablet can be frustrating, given how the overzealous autocorrect feature mangles technical jargon. Before buying, I would recommend trying a few productivity programs using the demo iPads at the store, to see which ones handle your symbol and formatting needs.

  5. #5 Michael Norrish
    November 6, 2011

    If you’re going to want to read PDFs on it, then I definitely second the recommendation for Goodreader. The Dropbox app is good if you’re already a Dropbox person. I like Password Touch as a way of storing passwords (use it through Dropbox to get easy synchronisation), and Instapaper is good for reading chunks of the web “later”.

    There are lots of games out there. Seconding the earlier comment, if you’re that way inclined (ho, ho), the Carcassonne app is definitely a very nice implementation of the board-game. (The other contender for “best realisation of a board-game on the iPad” would be “Ticket to Ride”.)

    It works well as an e-reader so I installed iBooks, Kindle and Kobo. If you’re already part of the Kindle eco-system, Kindle is a no-brainer.

  6. #6 Pam
    November 6, 2011

    I third the rec for Goodreader. It does MSOffice documents, too, and has great organizational features. It interfaces with Google Docs, Dropbox (I think), and some other stuff that I haven’t used.

  7. #7 Jen
    November 6, 2011

    Ascension — complex card came, nice formatting, internet play (turn-based). Molecules is nice for looking at 3D structures, but that’s not really your field. Garageband is incredible, I’d imagine that the little one would love it (and you could remix her singing and such) — totally worth the $6 or whatever it is.

  8. #8 David
    November 6, 2011

    Newton’s cradle.
    Starmap
    Keppler’s Orrery

  9. #9 Gerard
    November 6, 2011

    River of News is great

  10. #10 GrayGaffer
    November 6, 2011

    GoodReader seems unanimous, it definitely does do DropBox, to the point I no longer bother opening the DropBox app.

    You will be wanting t do content cration. Apart from checking out aApps like Pages and Numbers, you might also want to check out the Blue Toth keyboards. I have the Apple one and it akes a big difference when I want to get serious.

    Outside of that, I am not sure where your interests lay. Starry Night and/or Starwalk for astronomy. Moon HD and Mars HD are also great. iTap VNC so you can access your desktopsf from your couch. I use that for managing a virtual screen buffer on my Home Theater Mac Mini.

    The iPad is also great for watching movies in bed with headphonews, so you don’t bother your partner. Netflix does a really good job, VLC for local movie copies and VLC Remote for controlling it oyour main machine. If you want to go the hardware accessory route on yur main machine get an EyeTV and control and watch from your iPad.

    I also have a number of work related apps, like the iTap VNC and iTap RDP, and iSSH. Drwaing packages like TouchDraw and OmniGraffle.

    And for my main hobby there are many exceptional pro level synthesizer and sequencer music Apps out there now. Indeed, I believe the greatest explosion of creativity unleashed by the iPad touchscreen Ui happened in the Music industry and is now coming to fruition with the advent of iOS5 with Backgrounding, CoreMidi and CoreAutio. A reason to have multiple iPads in the studio ebben.

  11. #11 Thisbe
    November 6, 2011

    Well, I’ll step up and be the dissenter about Goodreader. Caveat: I’ve never actually used it. A couple of my colleagues tried out various apps for annotating pdfs before I got my iPad, and they were unanimous about the superiority of iAnnotate PDF. I’ve been super happy with it. I literally can’t think of anything big that’s a problem, and they’re always making it better.

    I use OmniGraffle apps – particularly the graph sketching app, which is fabulous for ME. It might be too low-tech for your physics needs, though; there’s no access to any equations, you just get to draw a sort of general picture. But I find it useful.

    Oh sort of important – I went ahead and got a stylus to use for writing on the Pad, and I am so happy. The top-reviewed one by several different reviewers was made by Wacom, which is not a surprise. Wacom also has a drawing app, which is totally functional and fun.

    I downloaded something that I haven’t had much chance to use called ScreenChomp; but for someone who teaches, it might be really useful. It got great reviews and some awards.

    My recent favorite game is called Contre Jour. It is thematically similar to Cut the Rope, but more beautiful. The small one should like it, and it is happily free of all the negativity inherent to Angry Birds.

    I have another game called Sprinkle, in which asteroids hit sad little alien houses and you have to put out the fire. It’s a good one.

  12. #12 CCPhysicist
    November 6, 2011

    First, get a case to protect it. Second, I really like having a bluetooth keypad, but be sure the one you get meets your typing needs. Try before you buy.

    I have the WiFi version and find it works great, since there is both open or secure WiFi everywhere I usually use it (at work) and secure WiFi at home.

    Did anyone mention NCAA March Madness on Demand (free version)? Awesome.

    The IMDB app is really helpful. Everything you want to know about movies, old or new, including local show times if you give it your location.

    You didn’t say WHICH angry birds! (The original one really is best on a big screen like a Macbook Pro with stereo sound. Makes the iPad version look lame.) I have “Seasons” on my iPad. Lots of variety, especially the new puffer bird that appeared in the “2012″ Ham’o’ween. (It all started with Halloween in what they now call the “2011″ set of seasons.)

    I recommend Adobe Ideas. It is a simple little sketch pad app that can be used to draw whatever, either for reference or can be mailed as a pdf. I like using it to sketch an idea for some in-class example. There is an upgrade version with layers, etc, but the free one is fine for my needs. I have the real Adobe stuff on a more powerful machine, so I use it just for notes.

    If you have a Kindle, get that app and sync the things you want to read on the iPad. That could be color storybooks for SteelyKid, for example.

  13. #13 Janne
    November 7, 2011

    If you are a weather fetishist or would like to become one, get Weather Pro, probably the nicest looking weather forecast app, and the forecasts are superb as well (much more accurate than the crap yahoo built-in stuff).

  14. #14 Moshe
    November 7, 2011

    In no particular order:

    Things
    WunderRadio
    Skype
    Kindle
    Stanza
    GoodReader
    Reeder
    Papers
    NoteBook
    Nightstand
    Zagat
    Air Video

    That should get you started…

  15. #15 jncc
    November 9, 2011

    games:
    -Plants versus Zombies.
    -Casey’s Contraptions

    -Mobile RSS as you feed reader
    -Instapaper (you can install a button on your desktop browser and save articles to read later on your iPad – in a much cleaner, uncluttered format [just make sure open the whole article on one page before saving it])

  16. #16 Markus Laumann
    November 14, 2011

    Note Taker HD by Dan Bricklin
    I was tempted to buy an iPad just to use this program. If only he wrote for Android… :(
    If you want to see it demoed watch the Triangulation interview Dan did with Leo Laporte:
    http://twit.tv/tri14

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