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Feb 01, 2011


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16 Free Must-have iPad Apps

I finally got myself an iPad.

Yeah, I know… I shouldn’t have waited so long because I only now understand what I have been missing. After playing with the iPad for a week or so I already found apps that I can recommend and that will stay on my iPad for a long time, simply because I found that I both need and enjoy them. This post may be old news for some of iPad’s savvy users, but I suggest that you’d take a quick look below anyway. Some of my treasured apps might be new to you too.

A lot has been said about Flipboard, and from my perspective there’s some good and bad points to be discussed. Sure, I loved the navigation – The UI and UX are definitely ones to take account of and I’m sure we’ll see more and more applications using the same reading navigation. The problem that I have is really related to the content. I found that I mostly read the content with pictures or videos and hardly look at the smaller individual updates. Unlike Twitter for example, where you read everything in line, here it is really annoying to see. Ultimately,here I read or see only the articles that are featured with pictures or videos. Good or bad? For me, it is still an amazing experience and I even felt that 10 pages are not enough to satisfy…

I’ve been using Waze for almost 2 years now and I appreciate the fact that eventually I got to where I wanted to be, and that this amazing application is still free. I was so proud upon seeing a taxi driver using this app one day – I knew that if he thought it’s good enough to use during his hectic workday, then it is good enough for everyone to use.

If you have an iPad, then you probably care about Apple news as well, so the Macworld app may be a good place to stay up to date on top of everything that is related to the company and its devices. The reading experience is no way near Flipboard, but it is silky smooth and divided into categories so you can easily browse through what interests you the most.

ZumoDrive lets you put any amount of media from your Macs or PCs on your phone, so you’ll never again have to choose what to take with you. Browse through and play your whole music library. View your entire updated photo archive as it grows. Read all your files including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF at any time. ZumoDrive is not a stand-alone app, it works with the free PC, Mac, and Linux app that you can download from

Boxcar is a must if you want to get push notifications from services that don’t provide it. The original Twitter app for example, enables notifications, but if I choose to use Hootsuite instead of the Twitter app, I’d need boxcar to push updates to my iPad. It’s very easy to use, just install and add services that you would like to get updates from such as blogs, social networks, news sites, etc. Unlike the regular notifications by Apple, you can login to boxcar and see all the notifications you’ve missed.

One of the first apps that I needed was one for Gtalk. But all of the promising looking apps failed to deliver. I was pretty sure that good old Meebo had released something for the iPad a while ago, but no, nothing from their side. Finally, I tried the IMO instant messenger and found it is by far the best free choice out there.

If you have an iPhone, iPod or an iPad then you know how hard it is to track the tons of applications the appstore suggests. With Pandorabox you simply get a clear view on what is new, what is on sale, what is free, and moreover, via a clean layout. Very useful and easy to adjust to.

I was so impressed by this one! Aweditorium is a music discovery app provided by thesixtyone. The browsing experience catches you right from the beginning – so smooth and playful. You can navigate through artists and discover new music – comment on tracks, share with friends on Twitter or Facebook and favor the songs you like the most. You can close the app and it will keep playing songs like if it was a radio player. I always liked discovery music apps, but some people like to choose their own playlists. If you are one of those people – then this app is definitely not for you.

If you use one of the many check-in apps around (i.e., Gowalla, Foursquare, etc.,) then this sharing behavior is not new to you. So why not share what are you watching right now with your Facebook friends? it seems only logical and a good idea for getting recommendations on the best TV shows and movies to watch. You don’t need any remote control app to be able to do it either. You just pick the name of the show or movie from the Miso database and share it with friends. What I’d like to see coming next is maybe the ability to add location, country, and maybe the channel, so that other people will know if they can watch it now if they are in the same area as yours, making the information more relevant. Another feature that is totally missing is a short description on each show/movie.

So why Hootsuite and not the regular Twitter app from Twitter? Well, simply because it offers more features and overall, gives a bigger view of your Twittersphere. The one thing that Hootsuite is missing is push notifications, but you can overcome this oversight with the Boxcar app. Among the Twitter free apps, I found Hootsuite to offers the most.

Simplenote is indeed a simple note management tool where you can write ideas or document anything easily. It is very similar to Gmail’s look & feel, but here you can tag each note to help you find it via search or to organize your notes. You can also share a note via email or publish it as a web page (currently, no printing option offered which is sometimes much needed- how else are you going to post in on the fridge?)

Free Translator
For me, a translation app is a must and not just because I usually speak Hebrew, or travel quite a bit, it’s for all the various languages people use around me on a given day (updates in Facebook, tweets, comments, etc.) – This translator app is just a simple, user-friendly one that lets you translate whatever text needed, then share it via email, twitter, Facebook, and more, or just copy to clipboard.

Pottery HD
I know it is silly, but this is the most awesome application I’ve tried so far. It’s not about the game, but the experience. The people who made this application created an almost realistic way to make pottery online, and as I said, the experience blew me away. Most of the games that you download for free annoy you with ads or don’t give you too many options while playing. But this one feels like a premium game even when it’s the light version. Verdict: Clean, fun, and relaxing.

Adobe Ideas
If you need a board to sketch your design idea, or quick mockups, etc, use the Adobe Ideas app. Unlike other sketch apps, when you draw something it smooths the lines so your sketch won’t look terrible – the sketches made with this app look more professional and therefore are more appropriate to share amongst co-workers and colleagues.

Jumbo Calculator
For some unimaginable reason, the iPad does not come with a built-in calculator. There are however lots of calculator apps to choose from. The problem with the free ones are the annoying ads that tag along. Not with this app though: Jumbo – A simple, huge, clean, clear, calculator with basic functions and nothing more.

Best of French Cuisine
I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve looked into many foodie and recipes apps, but this one stands out above the rest, and although my focus here has been free apps, I’m sure this is also one of the best food apps around in the appstore in general too. Best of French Cuisine includes 50 recipes only (the full version is $4.99), but you get an amazing visual experience. The app is designed as a book shelf where you can choose what you like to read, or watch, there are menu ideas, a glossary, tip videos, and of course, recipes. Everything is of the highest quality and that is enough to make you want to cook or to eat. The app is a bit heavy, but you can browse all of the content in offline mode as well. Highly recommended, best and delicious app I’ve seen yet.

Honestly, I thought I would be over the moon with my new iPad but overall I feel it misses a lot of work functionality. Perhaps, I bought into the hype but I think it is more of a gaming device more than anything else (all the really good apps costs money). I can’t see myself working for hours on it either, but for reading emails and doing other fun stuff, like some of the apps mentioned above, it is pretty cool.

Bottom line: surprisingly (or perhaps not) it’s just a giant iPhone with a bigger screen.

  • Orli Yakuel

    Blog Founder