Thursday, March 15, 2012

iPad 2 — A Year Later

With an imminent arrival of iPad 3 tomorrow (barring any FedEx screw ups) I decided to write down some of my thoughts on the past year of my “relationship” with iPad 2.

My iPad home screen.The most important thing that stands out is the fact that there really haven’t been a single day (with very rare exceptions) when I have not used it. I use it at work, I use it at home and I use it for travel. This last vacation was the first in 10 years when I finally felt brave enough to leave my laptop at home.

At this point I can state without any hesitation that it was money well spent and the only thing that can and did make me give this device up is the arrival of the new model of the same very thing. And I did stop using iPhone at home for anything but phone calls because it feels so tiny in comparison, but it still is the best on the go.

Software


Obviously iPad is nothing without its software. Good, quality software is what makes this device so addictively useful. Below is a list of my favorite and most used applications.

Reeder for iPad.Reeder is my by far the most used application. I do a lot of reading on my iPad and most of it happens inside this app. Reeder is a great RSS client which actually made me love and use RSS. Beautiful and simple design makes it a pleasure to use. This is the best Google Reader client out there.

New York Times for iPad.New York Times is my favorite news source on iPad. I read it every morning before going to work. After their subscription wall went into effect the app has been very limited, but I’m happy to report that I have subscribed to a print version of the paper which comes with all digital access — much more economical way to go than their actual digital plans. As of today I have full access to all the sections.

Tweetbot for iPad.Tweetbot is my Twitter client of choice for both iPad and iPhone. I’m not a heavy Twitter user, but after the iPhone version of Tweetbot came out I just could no longer stand using the official app — it’s been getting progressively worse since it has been aquired by Twitter. I liked Tweetbot so much that I started using the iPhone version on my iPad. Needless to say I was very happy to learn that Tapbots came out with an iPad version of their Twitter client a couple of weeks ago. Beautiful UI and UX. Has everything that I want from a client and more.

Instapaper.Instapaper is another one of my favorite reading apps. I don’t often have need for it as I’m always on Wi-Fi, but for those times when I do not have Wi-Fi — planes, vacations — it’s amazing. Just find a bunch of articles that you’d like to read, hit Instapaper bookmarklet, sync Instapaper and go. Now you can read all those in a nice streamlined and cleaned up format offline.

Portfolio for iPad.Portfolio is the way to showcase one’s photography work. When I was buying an iPad having my photographic portfolio on it was one of the reasons. The app could use some polish around the corners, but it has a lot of functionality — it lets me create as many albums as I want, give those albums a cover and arrange the photos in any order I want among other things. Photos can be loaded from numerous sources — Dropbox being my preferred one. And then it just lets you let anybody browse your portfolio with photos showing up in full screen.

iA Writer.iA Writer is one of many minimalistic writing apps available for iPad, but iA Writer is an especially beautiful one. I do not use it very often, but it’s really nice to write in when on vacation. It also has Dropbox and iCloud support and it works especially well with a wireless Bluetooth keyboard which I plan to carry with me when I travel.

1Password Pro.1Password is an app that I bought to replace SplashData — an app I used to use during Palm days. Initially I was quite unimpressed with 1Password because at that point they just came out with an iPad version and it was full of bugs. It all got sorted out by now and I keep all my data that needs to be secured inside of it now. I also use an iPhone companion app with it. SplashData has been long retired — good riddance.

Calcbot.Calcbot is another beautifully designed app from Tapbots. Since iPad comes with no built-in calculator app I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Calcbot for iPhone that I already had turned out to be a universal app. It is convenient to do “math” on a large screen of iPad.

Prompt.Prompt is a really nice SSH client. I tried a good number of them and when Prompt came out I couldn’t resist. At first it had a few issues, but they all had been worked out a long time ago and rather quickly by Prompt’s creators. This one also works very well with a Bluetooth keyboard and some actual coding can be done pretty comfortably in Vim or Emacs. By now I have deleted all the rest of SSH clients I had and Prompt is my client of choice.

The apps that I didn’t list and still use pretty often are — Zagat, Dropbox, IMDb, Articles, OffMaps 2, Facebook, Skype, BeejiveIM, Magical Weather, 500px and many others.

I also have a couple of magazine subscriptions that I read primarily or only on iPad — Popular Photography, The New Yorker, Time Magazine and The Economist. I’ll probably add a couple more in a near future. But some of these guys have to figure out a better format for serving their content or the files will get extremely huge for retina display of iPad 3. And I wish they would all update their apps to support Newsstand too.

Some of my iPad games.I also play some games on my iPad sometimes. I actually have a whole bunch of them installed on it — taking up 2 full folders, but I usually get bored with them quickly and rarely revisit. They are just sitting there for the most part.

Well, there you have it. An amazing device and an amazing set of apps. Hopefully somebody will find this useful and discover a new good app or two for themselves. I certainly am a big fan of all of the apps featured above and am thankful to those developers for making iPad so useful and pleasant to use.
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