Must Have iPad Apps

As my friends, colleagues, and random strangers have learned, I love apps. I have tested, played, installed/uninstalled a metric ton of apps of various sorts.

With the release of the iPad, several folks have asked me lately for my suggestions of must-have iPad apps. Without further ado, here’s my list of iPad apps I can’t do without.

  • Harbor Master – a lot of press has been given to Flight Control HD, another line drawing style game. But for my money, Harbor Master is absolutely the more fun of any iPad game, line draw style or otherwise. I’ve been addicted to this game since it was first released on the iPhone. Even non-gamer types seem to love this one.
  • Early Edition – This RSS reader turns a random selection of your feeds into a newspaper style daily read. If you have an insane number of RSS feeds in google reader like I do, this is a great way to keep up. Right now the selection of items shown is random, but hopefully in the future they start to add intelligence about article popularity.
  • Netflix – It’s amazing to see this app in person. From selection of a video to watching said video is a matter of seconds. In HD quality. Via 3G or WiFi. Truly amazing. If you don’t have a Netflix account, this app is a reason to get one.
  • ABC Player & Hulu Plus – Ditto the Netflix awesome. ABC only shows ABC shows, of course. The selection is incredibly limited, but it’s great to catch up if you miss an episode. And Hulu Plus is a subscription service that’s invite only right now, but you can tour it for now. When it opens up, I’m absolutely going to be spending the $9.99 per month.
  • Instapaper – This app (and the associated Web service) is fantastic if you find more to read online than you have time for. When you’re surfing in your browser, you can click a bookmarklet to save the page/article/post to Instapaper’s database. Then you can read it on your iPhone or iPad with the app. This is one of those apps that takes a bit of getting used to, but one you get the hang of it, you’ll never live without it.
  • Flickpad – This app is pretty straightforward… it shows you the stream of photos posted by your Facebook friends. The unique part is that it visually allows you “flick” through photos, arranging them on screen or flicking them out of the way. It’s a truly revolutionary way to think about content browsing. They’ve claimed Flickr support and I’m counting the days for that.
  • Comics (by Comixology) – If you’re a fan of comics, this app is a great way to purchase and consume comics. The days of physical comic collections is largely dead, so these days it’s all about the stories. There are some truly interesting and unique stories in comic (i.e. graphic novel form). Even if you think you wouldn’t like “comic books”, check this out. I’ll bet there’s some stories that will change your mind. Comics these days aren’t quite a movie and they’re not quite a book… they’re something in between and there is some truly great literature out there.
  • Photo Transfer – Transfer your iPad (or iPhone) photos to your computer (if your computer and iPad/iPhone are on the same WiFi network) without having to go through iTunes/iPhoto. It’s a one trick pony that’s insanely helpful.
  • iThoughtsHD – A mind mapping app that is very well built. I’ve played with mind mapping before, but this app has proven I need to use it a lot more.
  • Penultimate – A great hand writing app for capturing hand written notes. I use the Pogo stylus for writing notes in meetings. I’ve tested a number of other handwriting capture apps and this was my favorite. (That said, it should be noted that handwriting, both the stylus and the apps are not at all to the point where you can consider them “solid”. I’m sure it’ll come soon enough, we’re just not there yet.)
  • Twittelator – I tried to get excited about TweetDeck on the iPad, but there’s something very smooth about Twittelator’s approach that works right. Just like you’d expect things to work.
  • Wired – They’re expanding the app already and there’s been promises of being able to go back into the archives and download them. The extra content, and more interactive browsing is a lot of fun. And this is the Wired team… I’m sure they’ll continue pushing the limits of what the “virtual magazine” means and what it can do.

And a few other apps that I couldn’t live without but that sync with your desktop computer.

  • Dropbox – A great backup tool, integrated into the Finder. I’ve created a series of folders that Dropbox monitors for me. Every time anything goes in those folders, it’s backed up to the cloud. Then via the Web, my iPhone, or my iPad, I have access to those files. And when you rebuild your machine, just install Dropbox, login, and wait for the files to backup in a flash. (No not Adobe Flash, the kind of flash that’s awesome and doesn’t crash your Mac every 30 seconds)
  • Evernote – A great deal of ink (virtual and otherwise) has been spilled about how great Evernote is. It’s all true. It’s a great way to collect everything from images to notes to data like frequent flier numbers. They have a client for just about every platform you can imagine, including PC, Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
  • Things – My all-time favorite to-do list tracker. I use it religiously. It’s a Mac only desktop app, but you can get the app for iPhone and iPad, and can sync amongst all three.

And a few apps to watch as the devs grow them:

  • Reeder – Another RSS reader, but with a very interesting way to navigate.
  • Sling Player – If you own a Slingbox, the iPad version of this app will be very cool when they release it.
  • SpringPad – Install this on your iPhone, snap pics or scan UPC codes when you’re shopping and see something you want to research later. Then pull up the list of saved items on your iPad. Very cool.

And you? What iPad apps do you love?