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iPad apps

It has been quite a while since I last reviewed how I use my iPad and what apps are important to me. Earlier this year, I upgraded my original iPad [which I bought when they were first on the market in April 2010]. My old device was passed on to my 80 year old mother-in-law, who is very happy with it [as nobody has yet told her that it is a computer, so she is not afraid of it]. I rationalized my decision to upgrade by considering the fact that I had used my original iPad many times every day since I first got it. Over two years, it had cost me $1 day to own. Good value, I thought.

I took the opportunity to review my portfolio of apps when I was setting up my iPad 3 …

Although I am not particularly constrained by memory space, I endeavor to install only apps that I am likely to use and not just grab anything that sounds interesting. I keep 2 pages of apps/folders. On the front page are the things that I use routinely and on the second page are apps that I am just trying out.

Routinely used apps may be accessed every day, perhaps numerous times, or they may be less frequent, but still very useful to have on hand.

Daily apps:

  • Pocket Informant Pro is probably my most-used app as it is where I access my calendar, To Do list and contact information. It synchronizes with my Google calendar and contacts and with my Toodledo To Do list [I also have the Toodledo app, but use it infrequently].
  • FeedlerPro is an RSS reader that I use to access a number of news sites and blogs.
  • Evernote is the control center for a lot of both my working and personal life. The iPad app is not used much when I am near my PC, but comes into its own when I am traveling. I have written about this useful app/service before.
  • Facebook is the official app and seems to work really well.
  • Safari is the built in Web browser and I use it most of the time, but I have been trialing Chrome, which seems to work well and has the advantage of synchronized bookmarks. It is, however, impossible to set anything other than Safari as the default browser.
  • Mail is the built-in email app, which works fine. It is not possible to install an alternative [other than Web access, of course].
  • Words with Friends HD is a good game, with which I enjoy interacting with friends. I like playing Scrabble and this is similar, except games/moves may be spread over many days.
  • Rummikub is a game that I am trying to master, playing against the app.
  • Sonos app enables me to control my Sonos sound system around the house. The iPad version is an excellent UI for the system.

I have quite a lot of apps that I use periodically; here are the key ones:

  • Kindle app is very nicely implemented on iPad. I use my Kindle device for everyday reading, but put all ebooks on my iPad too as a backup and to read in low light.
  • GoodReader is an ideal tool to access numerous kinds of documents, providing a good filing system and external interfaces to transfer files in and out.
  • Photosmith is the app that I mostly use to view and sort photos on my iPad, which is very nice to do when travelling. Its integration with LightRoom on my PC is its key benefit.
  • Ancestry is the official app for Ancestry.com and is good for quick look ups and if I am doing any genealogical research away from my PC.
  • KAYAK and Booking.com are both useful for personal and, to some extent, business travel.
  • Skype is a good way to keep in touch, though I still have doubts whether video calls are worth the cost in bandwidth.
  • Spotify is great to access my favorite music away from home.
  • BBC iPlayer is the ideal way to catch up on TV and looks great on the retina display. 4oD does the same job for Channel 4.

I am always interested in what is new in the way of iPad apps, so I would be pleased to receive any recommendations by comment or email.

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About Colin Walls Follow on Twitter

Colin WallsI have over twenty-five years experience in the electronics industry, largely dedicated to embedded software. A frequent presenter at conferences and seminars and author of numerous technical articles and two books on embedded software, I am a member of the marketing team of the Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division, and am based in the UK. Away from work, I have a wide range of interests including photography and trying to point my two daughters in the right direction in life. Learn more about Colin, including his go-to karaoke song and the best parts of being British: http://go.mentor.com/3_acv Visit The Colin Walls Blog

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