Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Which Apps Do You Choose To Demo The Power of the iPad?

I'm sure that people get a bit tired of hearing iPad owners whiffling on about how great the devices are. If so, move on now... nothing to see here.

However, iPad owners also get a bit tired of hearing people telling them that 'it's just a big iPod Touch'.

That phrase is the equivalent of Twitter-users being told by non-Twitter-users that it's for people telling each other what they've had for breakfast.

I'll often be called upon to demonstrate just why I think the iPad is a great device and often surprise people when I tell them that I use it as much for work as I do for leisure.  Depending who I'm talking to, I'll select two or three apps which I think capture the essence and power of the iPad, passing it across to let them have a go for themselves.

My selection of apps varies, but there are a few which I tend to return to time and time again.

I asked my iPad-owning Twitter followers which apps they tended to demo when called upon to do so and got some interesting results.

First of all, here are my choices.

Evernote - this app syncs across numerous devices and websites, enabling you to save almost anything for retrieval at a later date.  Whether it's web-pages, audio, photographs or text, this portable, cloud-based memory-system just keeps getting better.

Noteshelf - this app is the best I've seen for enabling you to capture handwriting via a stylus on the iPad screen.  Other apps do this, but results tend to look like children's scrawl, with only a few very large words legible on the screen.  Noteshelf introduces a 'zoom' view which lets you write comfortably whilst it reduces the size of your handwriting to fit neatly on the lined page.  There are several notebook styles to choose from and it's an attractive experience even if you're a big Moleskine fan like me.  If I owned Moleskine, I'd buy Noteshelf and rebrand it as the office Moleskine iPad app.

The Heart & The Bottle - this is an interactive children's story book which captures the attention of parents and educators alike.  You can choose to read each page, or be read to.  There are also interaction opportunities hidden in each page for young fingers to explore.  You can even take on the role of the little girl from the story and sketch a picture on her paper, only to see your efforts framed and displayed on the wall in the next page of the story.  A charming app and a sensitive implementation too.

Time Crisis HD - This is an old-school, rip-roaring, arcade shoot-em-up from Namco, surpassed by many games for your serious game-players... but it's great fun and looks terrific on-screen... It's an eye- catching demo for anyone who needs convincing of the iPad's suitability for this kind of gaming.

DJay - I am DJ Dad!  Normally I DJ using a couple of pre-loaded iPods and a Numark mixer hooked up to my amp/PA.  Now, I can DJ straight from the iPad!!  This app also 'gives good demo'.  I can mix, beat-match, scratch, change pitch, cue... in fact anything that can be achieved via a normal DJ mixer.  It can even run as a minimised app, gently mixing your tunes together automatically from pre-selected iTunes playlists... good for parties or for just chilling out to whilst catching up with other stuff on the iPad.

LogMeIn Ignition - This app gives you remote access to your PC at home whilst you're out and about.  In fact it lets you access any number of remote machines.  I'd recommend this to anyone who regularly gets called upon to sort out minor bugs and glitches on their parents' or other family/friends' PCs, as you can quickly get on the machine, take control of the desktop and delete/install or fix whatever needs to be tackled...  it's a nifty way of getting Flash on the iPad too!

ReBirth - For those with a smattering of musical ability or a passion for retro-beats, this a great iPad recreation of the Propellerheads tool for PC/Mac which replicates the 1980s sequencing and beats machines created by Roland - the TB-303 Bass synth and the TR-808 and 909 drum machines. Set the thing going and go Acieeed-mad showing off your squidgy-beats.

WiReD - The early benchmark for all iPad magazines and still the best.  It's a magazine that's been waiting for years for the iPad to come along as its preferred delivery-mechanism.  Now they just need to sort out the pricing conflicts between the digital and paper subscription models.

Keynote -  This is Apple's version of Powerpoint and there's an iPad specific release which is a joy to use.  Along with Pages and Numbers, which counter Word and Excel from the MSOffice suite, it's amazing just how much actual work I can achieve on the iPad without ever having to bail out and head for the lap-top.  Plus, if you get the adaptor which connects this straight to a projector or monitor, it's a breeze delivering your presentations straight from the iPad.

Here are the suggestions I received from friends on Twitter when asked which apps they tend to choose to demo their iPads to the unconvinced. Thanks to @jonthebeef, @kellyjs and @paulsmith7 for sharing their thoughts.

Dropbox - easy cloud-based file-sharing across multiple devices.

Angry Birds - acclaimed and addictive - wildly successful on iPhone... even more fun on iPad

Alice for the iPad - Over-engineered, but alluring re-imagination for the iPad of the CS Lewis tale - Alice In Wonderland - to me it seems designed more to enable people to show off their iPads, rather than enjoy the story itself.

BBC News - A nice looking news app from Auntie.  It's robust and clear but, for me, frustratingly limited in portrait mode.

FT - Another nicely delivered news app - requires a subscription though!

iPlayer - a web app, rather than an iTunes app, but one that has been fine-tuned for the iPad user.  It would be hard to live without iPlayer

Aweditorium - nicely designed music sharing app, pre-populated with hundreds of songs from hip artistes from around the globe... additional YouTube content is a click away and sharing tools are built-in.  A bit ostentatious and everyone needs a good wash.

World of Goo - Another handsomely crafted game which makes the absolute utmost of what the iPad can offer to the casual gamer.  I've hardly begun to explore this yet and feel some pressure to set aside some serious time.  Like that's gonna happen.

Marvel Comics - there are many, similarly-constructed comic-apps for the iPad, but the Marvel one was one of the first and certainly one of the best.  Whether you choose to flip through the comic, page by page, or let the app swoop and glide you through the story, frame by frame, you'll quickly realise that the iPad is a fantastic medium for reading and purchasing comics.

Dragon Dictation - these dictation tools have been around for years on the PC, but now there's an app for the iPad.  I thought the best way to demonstrate its effectiveness would be to read out this paragraph and then cut and paste the results, errors-and-all in to this blog post, so that you can judge for yourself.

Here are the results:

Dragon dictation these dictation tools have been around for years on the PC but now there's an app for the iPod I thought the best way to demonstrate its effectiveness would be to read out this paragraph and then cut and pasted it was and all into this blog post so that you can judge for yourself

Flipboard - plenty has been written about Apple's iPad app of the year for 2010. Get Flipboard.  It's a hugely enjoyable way of reading and sharing news from a variety of customisable sources... you can now use it as your Google Reader client too.

Twitter - when the official Twitter app first launched, I described it as a 'car-crash' after about half an hour struggling with it.  By the end of day one I was addicted and very few other Twitter apps for iPad are as much fun to use.  If in doubt, use this as your default Twitter app on the iPad.

iA Writer - this is a rudimentary word processor and deliberately so.  No bells, no whistles, just you and the words, enabling you to unitask and focus on whatever it is you are writing.  A minimalist design-classic.

Loops of Zen HD - this a maddeningly addictive puzzle game which calls on you to rotate the ever-increasing number of puzzle-pieces on the board until all of the lines and nodes connect, leaving no ends exposed.  The sense of achievement after completing a level is only offset by the sense of dismay at looking at your reward... the next level!!

To sum up, I'm not sure that any single app would convince someone to purchase an iPad, I think it's the personal choices and almost limitless combinations of apps and functionality which drives the popularity of the device and passions of it owners.  I'm also sure that there are hundreds of other apps  which people choose to demo the power of the iPad.  

What do you think about the selections covered here?

What are your go-to apps when someone asks for a demo?

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the post.. just ordered my ipad so thought i had better get an idea of what i am going to be using it for!