10 iPad apps that I recommend you buy (and several to avoid)

I‘m not going to waste your time going over any of the free iPad apps you should grab, as they’re free and you’ll probably be better served to just download them and give them a whirl; however, as I’ve been using my iPad for a solid month now and I’ve purchased multiple apps, some good, many duds, and a few shining examples of must-have iPad apps, I thought I’d share my experiences.

  1. GoodReader $0.99 GoodReader (large PDF viewer) - read big PDF files with reflow

    GoodReader is a veritable swiss-army knife of file management that everyone who owns an iPad should buy. The name makes you think it’s just another ebook reader or that it is just an application for reading PDFs, but that is hardly the case. Yes, it is an excellent PDF reader, but you can also use it to view images, videos, text files, Word Documents, Excel files, and many more. Also, you can organize the files into folders, you can password-protect any sensitive information, you can email files to others from within the app, you can actually edit text files and create new text files from scratch (yes, it’s also a basic text editor), you can open files in GoodReader in other applications that support the iPhone OS’s document sharing features, you can share your files over your WiFi network from the iPad to your desktop computer or a colleague’s iPad, and last but not least, GoodReader has an integrated web browser, unzipping, and downloading functionality, so that if Safari refuses to download a zipped file, you can copy the address of the file, select Enter URL under Web Downloads, download the file into GoodReader, unzip the file in GoodReader and then either view the file directly in GoodReader or send it to another application on your iPad (or email it to a friend or share it over a local WiFi connection with a colleague). All that for a dollar. Go buy it now.

  2. Atomic Web $0.99 Atomic Web Browser - FullScreen Browser w/ Desktop Tabs & Ad Block

    Atomic Web is the web browser that you wish your iPad had come with. No, it doesn’t play flash, but it does support multiple tabs, can be set to relaunch tabs from previous sessions, can be set to spoof a variety of different web browsers, has a nice fullscreen mode, has a private mode, has per site font settings capabilities, has integrated ad block, and can even upload bookmark files from your Mac or PC. Get it now. It’s universal iPad and iPhone.

  3. IM+ $9.99 IM+

    IM+ is a chat client with push notifications that you can run on your iPad while using other apps to do other tasks. You get a push notification that someone pinged you in chat and you can jump over to IM+, reply, then jump back into whatever you were working on before. iPhone OS 4 isn’t here yet with its multitasking capabilities, but IM+ helps one simulate multitasking via this workflow. It also has a crazy speech to text add on bit of functionality that you can purchase for $0.99 per month that will let you dictate your chat conversations. I have not tried it yet. IM+ supports AIM, Yahoo, Google Chat, Facebook chat, Twitter, and a slew of other protocols (and it will run on both your iPad and your iPhone). If you ever use instant messaging, then you should buy this app.

  4. NewsRack $4.99 NewsRack

    NewsRack is a powerful little feed reader that is able to sync with Google Reader, handle my over 600 feeds (which is no small feat, I assure you; NetNewsWire on my Mac always chokes and dies on that many feeds), and has integrated sharing features that will let you save any article to your Instapaper account for reading later, allow you to post any article to Facebook, or tweet from within the app. I absolutely LOVE this last feature, as it does not require you to share the link of the article you are currently reading when you tweet from within the application. This is great if you are reading something and think of something to tweet that is unrelated and don’t want to lose your place in your daily feed reading. Again, it’s another application that helps alleviate the lack of multitasking on the iPad. If you read RSS feeds, get it. NewsRack is another universal app that will run on both your iPhone and your iPad.

  5. Instapaper Pro $4.99 Instapaper Pro

    Instapaper is a great way to keep track of things you want to read, but don’t have time to read right away. Try out the free version, then after you see what I mean, buy the pro version, because every great developer who lets you store all these articles on his servers deserves some money. This also is a universal app that will run on both your iPad and iPhone.

  6. LogMeIn Ignition $29.99 LogMeIn Ignition

    LogMeIn is the most expensive app on this list and there are less expensive VNC alternatives for those of you who are willing to spend some time and technical energy setting them up on your iPad and your computer; however, if you want a great way to connect to multiple computers from your iPad (and/or iPhone; it is universal!) and access those computers from anywhere, this app is easy to set up, easy to use, and a great overall experience. I regularly use it to access my desktop computer when I’m in another room, and on a recent trip to LA, I used LogMeIn to jump into my iMac at home to get work done while I was in flight from LAX to JFK, then I used it when I was on location to jump into my laptop running in the other room as I ran around assisting a client out on the floor of their offices. You can navigate your full computer, launch your home computer’s browser, email yourself a file you left at home, or even log in to Eclipse or your IDE of choice and do some coding from your iPad. This app makes the iPad as fully functional as any laptop (albeit with a lot of pinch and zooming and mousing around the screen and with no audio playback from the remote computer).

  7. Pinball HD $1.99

    Pinball HD combines three of my favorite iPhone pinball games, The Deep, Wild West Pinball, and Jungle Style Pinball into one amazing game that plays so much better on the iPad. You can play it in portrait and follow along with the ball, or play it in landscape and get a full on view of the pinball table, nicely angled as if you were actually standing at a machine. Also, if you go to the settings, you can enable a 3-D mode (!!!).

  8. ArtStudio $0.99

    ArtStudio is the best drawing app with the most functionality available on the iPad (I know this because I’ve tried them all) and at a price that absolutely kills SketchBook Pro ($9.99) and Brushes ($9.99). Avoid Layers ($9.99) like the plague, as it draws very imprecisely.

  9. Pages $9.99

    Pages is the best of the 3 iWork apps and the best word processor available for the iPad and it can export documents in either Pages format, PDF, or as a Word .doc file, and it does an adequate job of importing various other document formats. Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to import older Pages documents, which is somewhat ridiculous considering I haven’t found a Word document that it couldn’t handle yet. If you do lots of presentations, then you might want to get Keynote ($9.99) as well, although for some reason neither it nor Numbers support exporting files into the file format of their Microsoft counterparts (Powerpoint and Excel, respectively) as Pages does, though both apps can import these file formats (and, like Pages, cannot import older Keynote and Numbers files). I wouldn’t bother buying Numbers. The inability to export into anything other than the newest version of Numbers or a PDF made this app immediately useless to me as I can add all kinds of data into it, but I can’t do anything with it on any other device I own.

  10. Tweetings $2.99

    Tweetings is the best Twitter app that I’ve used on the iPad. Both Twitteriffic and TweetDeck tend to be slow and crash if left open for any amount of time. Tweetings runs fast, can handle multiple accounts, has integrated Push notifications (so you can see replies to your tweets while you are in other apps), and can dual-post to Facebook. It also has integrated Instapaper support for sending things in your tweet stream to be read later on Instapaper. It also has the pull down to refresh the tweets feature that I loved so much in Tweetie. I’m sure once Twitter for iPad is released it may very well replace Tweetings in my list, but for now, Tweetings is the closest thing to the Tweetie experience; It is great. Get it.

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below.

About C.K. Sample III

I am a father, a husband, a blogger, a parrot owner, a pug owner, and the Chief Product Officer for YouEarnedIt. This site has no comments. If you want to talk to me, send me an @cksample on Twitter. If you like this post, feel free to buy me something off of my wishlist.
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