I have compiled a list of my favorite apps for the iPad. These are the apps I use daily for work, reading, and entertainment. Since I do not own my iPad, I’ve been loathe to purchase any apps for it, so freebies make up most of my list! I’ll be posting my list over time, 4 apps at a time, so let’s get to it:
1. Dropbox (download here)
Dropbox is a FREE web-based file hosting service. By saving your documents in a Dropbox account, you can access them from any computer or mobile device. It’s an example of cloud computing; no for USB drives – everything lives online. Any changes you make to a document in Dropbox is saved there as well, so no matter where or when you access a document, it should be synced up with your last edits. You can allow others to share your folders or specific documents too.
There are a lot of these cloud-based file hosting services out there right now, but I prefer Dropbox over the others I’ve tried. The interface on the desktop, iPad, and online are very easy to navigate. Dropbox has also been integrated with many mobile editing apps, so it’s a good choice for iPad/iPhone users. Plus you get 2GB of free storage per account, and there are various ways to increase your storage space, including paying a fee.
Pros: Easy to use, syncing is fast, integrated with most mobile editing apps
Cons: 2GB might not be enough for some people, no private key encryption
2. IM + (download here)
We do chat reference at my library, and this app lets me help out whoever is scheduled for reference that day, even if I’m away from the office. IM+ is an all-in-one messenger that works with MSN, Google, Twitter, Facebook, AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, and more! We subscribe to LibraryH3lp and use it with Pidgin for our chat reference. However, Pidgin does not yet make an app for iPad use. IM+ has been working great for me! I was easily able to get all of my personal and work accounts up and running in no time.
It’s not perfect. Opening the app can log you in automatically, which is not always helpful. Also, the interface is not labeled, and the icons are not particularly descriptive. It took me a little bit to remember what they all did! This app is FREE, but there is a pay version without ads and Skype integration.
Pros: Easy to set up quickly, works with most chat services, FREE
Cons: Ads, interface icons are not intuitive
3. Feeddler RSS (download here)
Feeddler is my favorite FREE RSS reader for the iPad. It syncs with Google Reader – so if you already have an account there, you’re all set to use the app. I really do not have a lot to say about this app – it works great, syncs quickly, and crashes a lot less frequently than most of the other free RSS readers out there. You can also get a pay version which adds some compatibility bells and whistles but overall seems unnecessary. If you want to pay for a premium RSS reader, go with NewsRack.
Pros: Free with unobtrusive ads; easy to navigate; plays nice with Google Reader; shows the full post (when possible)
Cons: Some updates were less reliable and crashed often, but that seems to have been corrected in the last update; basics functionality only (but it’s free, so that’s less of a con)
Note: I also use and love Flipboard but it can be annoying for reading blog posts. I like to be able to read the whole blog post right in the app, and with a Flipboard/GoogleReader combo, you have to go through a few clicks to read an entire post. I use Flipboard for getting my many science blog feeds in magazine format, since I can’t possibly read them all and would rather browse.
4. Desktop Connect by Antecea (download here)
Desktop Connect was the first premium ($10.99) app I purchased. This app allows you to quickly set up a VNC or remote desktop connection with almost any computer. Mac, Linux, Windows – it doesn’t matter. The app basically turns your iPad into a monitor, and you are viewing the desktop of whatever computer you wish! The connection is encrypted and secure. Plus, the app can find and connect to any of your computers by using your Google account!
Pros: Access everything on your home/work computer on the iPad; use flash
Cons: If you use the Google account connection, you must install the product Easy Connect on your other computer. This program crashes a lot, and if it does, you cannot access your computer remotely. However, if you set up the VPN yourself, it works like a charm!