iPad Software Part 2: The Apps

Ipad Software: The Apps

I'll start with my favorites and try to work my way through all the ones I have used enough to be able to write a review about.  I begin with my favorite, Amazon Kindle...


Ok now we get to the part I've been waiting to get to.  The "killer app" that convinced me to buy an iPod touch was Amazon Kindle.  I wanted to be able to read books on my 'touch.  Once I got the 'touch, I also got ereader.  Ereader has a lot nicer interface than Kindle, but I like Amazon's book selection and pricing a lot better.  So when the iPad was announced,  I decided to do some more reading on the iPod Touch to see just how far I could take this.  My plan was to start Lord of the Rings on the iPod Touch and finish it on the iPad.  I read too fast.  I read LOTR most of the way through, my iPod Touch died, I then read a bit on paper then on my Mac, then finished on my replacement iPod Touch before the iPad arrived.  Now what was I going to do?  Well I picked up The Hobbit and started reading it.  I was able to read the Hobbit on the iPod Touch and on the iPad.  Once I read it on the iPad, I never wanted to go back to the tiny screen except out of necessity.  I don't have my iPad with me 24x7 but I do have my iPod Touch along most of the time.  The nice thing about Kindle software is it lets you sync across devices.  As long as there is wifi wherever I'm reading, if I put down one device and pick up another, the new device knows where I left off on the old one.  Amazon Kindle requires you (on the iPod Touch) to go out to Amazon.com in Safari to buy books.  They then get loaded wirelessly.  Very slick, but once I got iBooks I realized the Kindle store integration is not as slick as iBooks.  Still, I stick with KIndle for purchased titles because I'm not tied to one device to read my stuff.  

The Kindle software takes advantage of the large screen.  It comes with page flipping animations like iBooks but they are turned off by default.  Kindle has fewer font settings than iBooks, but it has a night mode that is easily accesible and better than iBooks' night mode (inverse video).  I've taken some screen shots comparing Kindle and iBooks and I will upload them as I get time.

While you are reading on an iPod Touch, you see your position but have no idea how far along you are.  On the increased screen real estate of the iPad, you get a progress status bar that lets you know exactly how far along you are.  This would have saved me from finishing LOTR too soon on the iPod Touch and I would have had enough "left over" to effectively evaluate iPad.

I purchased LOTR on Kindle for $12.99.  It would have cost $20 on eReader. 


I'm breaking my own rule here.  I planned to review all the Apple apps on the OS page but I think the Kindle and iBooks reviews belong together on one page.  I've talked about ways Kindle is better than iBooks and they mostly boil down to book pricing, book selection and not being tied to iThings forever to read your books.  With the announcement of OS 4, you are only tied to iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.  Perhaps Apple will make provisions for people to read their iBooks on OS X and Windows, too.  Time will tell.  Until they do, Kindle beats iBooks by a hair.  Still, I should review iBooks because it is the flagship "Kindle (hardware) killer" app.  Illustrations look a lot better in iBooks than in Kindle.  In landscape mode, you get two pages side by side while Kindle reflows text.  iBooks has "pages" which are more likely to have a correlation to physical book pages than Kindle's baffling "position" numbers.

I downloaded a sample of LOTR on iBooks.  It would have cost $14.99 which is quite a bit more than Kindle charges.  The better illustrations aren't enough to sway me to iBooks but the lack of backup reading capability is enough to convince me not to buy an "iPad only" version of a title.  At least not yet.

iBooks has a lot nicer font settings than Kindle.  There are plenty of fonts and sizes, however there is only one color scheme.  If you want reverse video, you have to set up the triple click shortcut for the home button to toggle it on and off (or go out to Settings whenever you want to toggle it).  You are then left with a bright white glaring status bar that is as bright as the sum of all the text you are reading.  Hopefully Apple will fix this soon. 


What's the most important app to review after iBooks?  Goodreader.  The OS doesn't come with a way to download pdf files for later viewing.  You have to have an active internet connection and you download them every time.  Goodreader is able to download them to a "directory" which is really somewhere in its own application space because no other apps can see them, only Goodreader.  But here's the thing.  Goodreader can launch other apps for different kind of files.  Oh, and Goodreader can browse web, ftp and webdav sites to download files. Sorry, it can't get file shares on SMB (Windows) or AFP (Apple) network drives and time capsules, but it's very useful just the same.  Another feature of Goodreader is it runs a little web server on your iPad that you can surf to from your PC to send files to your iPad or receive them. Again, the only files Goodreader can see are files in it's own "directory".  Another feature is that when you receive an email with an attachment, you can choose to "open in Goodreader".  This is what you should always do.  Never "Open in Pages" or Numbers because those apps end up hiding the file in their "application space" and you can't see it except with the app you sent it to.  If you send it to Goodreader, you always have a copy of the file as you downloaded in Goodreader's space for as long as you want it.


Pcalc is available as a free version.  Go ahead and get it and use it.  When (you notice I didn't say if?) you decide you love it, go ahead and register it.  Pcalc is an excellent calculator and owning it on your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone gives you a copy on your Mac as well.  Sorry windows users, no Pcalc for you.  Pcalc supports RPN or arithmetic calculations.

Magic Piano

I now have 4 music generation apps on my iPad, but my favorite is Magic Piano. Don't think your iPad is a musical instrument? Check  out the following youtube video...

Flight of the Bumblebee is one of the prerecorded songs available in Magic Piano.  Each tap on the screen plays one note.  I just tried it on my iPad and sure I could get the notes right but not the timing.


more later...updates are ongoing but not quite daily...