Posts Tagged ‘apps’

My Favorite iPad Apps – An Update

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Two weeks ago I published a list of my favorite iPad apps and several folks commented on my list and provided some of their own favorites.

Since then my opinion has changed a bit on what I wrote up based on new discoveries, and I also wanted to add a couple more to my favorites list.

First, the changes.

Documents To Go Premium was an application I highly recommended over Apple’s Pages because it was more connected to the world (and to Windows users). What I didn’t realize was that if you use Docs To Go with an external keyboard, you can’t use the arrow keys on the keyboard (and modifiers of those keys to skip words or even go to the start or end of a line) to move your cursor. Pffft! That’s a major drawback to using Docs To Go. The support web site for the product is full of complaints about this problem, and there are promises to fix it soon, but as of yesterday, no update had been issued (and they have been promised for several weeks).

While I still recommend Docs To Go as a good Microsoft Office document reader and generator, if you use a keyboard, then Pages may be the better option for now. The solution of exporting a file by e-mailing it to yourself is clunky, but it does work well in my experience.

The other issue I have encountered in the last two weeks is that the WordPress blogging app is seriously flawed in that it does not allow you to publish or even file draft blog entries to any privately hosted WordPress blog which resides in the root directory of the server. That means that while I can post with the app to this blog (http://blog.richterscale.org/wp – it is in the “wp” subdirectory), I cannot post to my A Foodie Moment blog (at http://www.foodiemoment.com – in the root directory). I filed a detailed bug report in the iOS WordPress forum, but so far no fix has been forthcoming. So this app is now off my list until this serious issue is resolved.

Added to my list are three apps that my readers recommended:

  • Dropbox (free). Dropbox is an on-line service which provides up to 2GB of free storage that you can upload file to for retrieval by a number of devices. For Windows machines, Dropbox offers a client program which creates a Dropbox folder that you can easily copy files into or from. On the iPad it provides a free app to upload/download files. I had already been using Dropbox when I wrote my initial review, but didn’t single out the Dropbox app because several of the programs I did recommend (like Docs To Go and PrintBureau) natively support Dropbox access. But for the sake of completeness, I’m including the iPad Dropbox app (which I also use, but more rarely).
  • Zinio (free app, content costs something). After Osman Kent recommended Zinio in a comment on my previous post I decided to check it out. I am now totally addicted. Zinio is a service which provides magazines – full color, page perfect, to computer users. The service works on PCs and Macs, but it shines on the iPad. I have now subscribed to about a half dozen magazines including Art.News, Saveur, Wine Enthusiast, National Geographic, Food Network Magazine, and American Photo. The quality is stunning, and the text on the virtual magazine pages very readable on the iPad (particularly in portrait mode). Some of the magazines also let you switch to a pure text mode from which you can copy and paste if you want to quote or cite something in the magazine. The only mildly negative things I can say about the Zinio app are that it takes a long time to download new magazines – which you have to do one at a time, and I wish I knew how many pages were in a magazine when I was reading it so I could see how far I had gotten. The price for subscriptions seems pretty reasonable, and typically a much better deal than buying single issues.
  • Instapaper (free). Instapaper provides a way to share web pages and web links between the iPad and any web-browser equipped computer. I’m still a little on the fence about Instapaper, but I like that I can clip page addresses directly from the Safari browser on the iPad for later retrieval on the PC. Seeing as the Safari browser doesn’t generally like to talk with other applications, the cool way Instapaper found to integrate clipping into the browser is pretty slick. Although, I will add that on my PCs, I prefer to use Evernote to clip web pages (which I can then see on the iPad).

Those of you who commented, thanks for the recommendations!

My Favorite iPad Apps

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

As promised, here’s a list of my favorite iPad applications so far. I’m up to eleven since I wrote my initial iPad post, though, so I guess this is a Top Eleven list.

1. Kindle (free). Allows me to read all the same books on the iPad that I have access to on my Kindle, plus, since the iPad has a backlit screen it’s great for reading books at night. The free Apple iBooks application is fine too, but I have hundreds of books on my Kindle account, and we have several Kindle’s in the family as well as a number of Kindle-enabled PCs and handheld devices. No brainer then to use the Kindle app on the iPad instead of iBooks.

2. Documents to Go Premium ($14.99). Provides a great way to create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, as well as move them to and from the iPad. Remote storage tools include a PC client for Documents to Go as well as Dropbox, a free on-line file repository. As a paid app, this is probably the single best productivity application I have found for the iPad (and I went through several).

3. Evernote (free). I use Evernote extensively on my PCs to keep track of the plethora of data I need to keep my hands on, including to-do lists, material for my writing, and copies of interesting web pages and other data. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Evernote was one of the main reasons I bought the iPad. The Evernote app has a few problems with things like adding extra lines to my text-based notes, but the folks at Evernote have assured me they are working on fixing things.

4. WordPress Client (free). Allows me to more easily blog to my many WordPress-based blogs (like this one). The iPad version of the WordPress app also makes it easy to work on multiple blogs (I have about a half-dozen). The only thing lacking at present is any sort of formatting ability. You have to hand code HTML to apply formats to your posts. What’s also nice is you can maintain local drafts, or move a draft up to your blog for later editing on a PC.

5. PrintBureau ($12.99). Gives me the ability to print from the iPad. Works best with a free print server program from Eurosmartz, the same company which makes PrintBureau. As I happen to use a netbook as a 24/7 utility computer to run backups, weather station updates, and other scheduled tasks in my home office, setting it up to be a print server for my iPad was a natural. However, you can still print entirely without a print server as long as you have network-enabled printers. Getting things into the application for printing can be a bit cumbersome at times as a result of current iPad limitations (see yesterday’s post on iPad Annoyances), so PrintBureau also includes a simple e-mail client as well as its own web browser, both of which can be used as the source of material to be printed.

6. FlightTrack Pro ($9.99 plus $3.99 for airport info add-on). If only I were traveling as much as I did last year, because this application is just so cool. You enter your flight itinerary (or that of someone you want to track), and this application will give you a near-real-time update on each flight’s status – at gate, taxiing, in flight (with altitude and flight speed, even), landing, delayed, etc. And as a bonus, the flight is shown on a global map. I used it to track my daughter’s movement from Shanghai to Hong Kong to Los Angeles to Newark to Manchester, New Hampshire. Way cool. But for now, I’ll have to use FlightTrack Pro vicariously, because I have no travel plans off of my island home of Bonaire for the foreseeable future.

7. iSSH ($9.99). I need to manage several Linux servers for my businesses which provide web-hosting services, and in order to do that securely, I need encrypted access, which the SSH protocol provides. iSSH is a simple to use SSH terminal client that meets all my SSH needs. It also include VCP support, handy if you use VCP on your server for access and control.

8. Dictionary.com (free). Some of the books I’ve been reading lately deal with molecular biology and gastronomy, and this dictionary has been very helpful in learning the meaning of words like adsorb (not a typo of absorb as I first thought), lipids, casein, and ester.

9. FileBrowser ($2.99). FileBrowser gives me the ability to access files on my office file servers via my iPad, as well as store files there. Incredibly handy and simple to use.

10. Photogene ($3.99). Before trying Photogene I used PhotoPad (free), but ultimately I found Photogene a bit more intuitive and useful. Combine this with the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit ($29.00), and you can do some pretty reasonable photo work on the iPad. The problem after that, of course, is getting your images off the iPad onto a photo web site. Flickr, Photobucket, and Shutterfly all offer apps for that purpose though.

11. WeatherBug Elite for iPad (free). Really nice weather application with animated weather data maps and weather forecasts. But most of the animations seem to only work in the U.S., not internationally, which is kind of a bummer here on Bonaire.

I downloaded several dozen other applications before gravitating to the ones above. Some of the apps I previously downloaded were free, some cost real money, but none of those were as useful as the ones I have outlined above. And a number of the above applications superseded the ones I previously bought (like GoodReader, which Docs To Go trumps rather nicely).

However, I will add that unless you are a Mac user using iWork, or plug your iPad into your iTunes PC regularly, stay away from Apple’s Pages application (or any of the other applications in the iPad iWork suite). Pages is not capable of sharing documents with other iPad applications, and if you don’t have an iWork.com account for storing and sharing files or use an iTunes-equipped PC much, then your only option is to e-mail your documents to yourself, which is more than a bit lame. Docs To Go Premium is so much more versatile, and only a few dollars more.

I’m sure there will be other cool and useful applications on the iPad that I will stumble over at some point, but for now, the above eleven apps are tops in my book.