How I Use the iPad

The iPad easily eclipses my laptop, iPhone and iPod as my favorite device. With the impending release of the second generation iPad I'm sure that the question of which apps to take a look at will be coming more and more. The iPad is an inherently personal device and everyone I know seems to use theirs just a little bit differently. Without further ado, here's my list of apps that I recommend which I may update from time to time.

Daily Use

  1. Reeder is a wonderful RSS feed reader. I don’t do a lot of “surfing” anymore as I’ve identified a few websites which I tend to enjoy reading and getting the content delivered to me is great. Reeder leverages Google Reader for management of the feeds that are coming down. This is kind of a pain when you want to add something new, but it is what it is. I put RSS feeds at a relatively high nerd level, but a little bit of work to set things up goes a long way. Here’s a great video about how RSS feeds work if you’re not familiar.
  2. Instapaper is a close second and is where I head after cruising through news. You can send articles to Instapaper from Reeder, which is great. All the content that gets pulled down is available offline, making it great for the airplane.
  3. Omnifocus is how I manage all my tasks. I was so excited about the release of this program on the iPad that I actually bought it from iTunes when I was on that potentially frightening network at DEFCON. I use OF on my Macs and iPhone too, but I think there’s great potential to use as a standalone tool as well.
  4. The Apple Remote is where things really start blowing your mind. In it’s simplest form, you can control the music that’s coming out of your iTunes library. When you add an AirPort Express to your stereo or maybe an AppleTV1 to your home theatre you can push your entire iTunes library to any of your speakers and control it all from the iPad. This is so amazing during the summers when I’m cooking on the deck it nearly makes me speechless. We’ve come a long way since I used to plug an external drive with my music into a laptop tenuously plugged in with a wire to my stereo in law school.
  5. Netflix is kind of a no brainer if you have a subscription. I manage my DVD queue with the app, and usually pick what we want to watch on TV using this instead of the AppleTV interface. I’ve been slowly moving through the Ken Burns Civil War series and Cosmos too.
  6. TuneIn Radio is how I finish my day with a little Coast to Coast AM. It starts at 10:00 central time on WNIS out of Norfolk, VA.

Regular Use

  1. Epicurious is a very cool cooking app. It lets you build shopping lists that you can email or print which is really handy. What I really am looking forward to is Cooks Illustrated. They have an iPhone app, but the double pixel thing just isn’t that great.
  2. NPR is a great companion to Epicurious (when I’m not listening to music while I cook). I’ll bet you found that one pretty quickly.
  3. FlipBoard is pretty interesting for following high volume sites which I don’t want to add to my Reeder library like reddit or Hackernews.
  4. The Economist is pretty passable. As you’d expect, there aren’t too many bells and whistles but the content speaks for itself. I’m hoping for some attractive iPad only subscription pricing soon.

Honorable Mention

  1. The Financial Times was my favorite newspaper app when I got the iPad this spring. Once again, the subscription price is crazy high so I removed it after my free trial ran out. One of the biggest “whoa” moments came this summer when I was up late, moved to have a beverage outside and was reading the next mornings edition of the FT on my deck.
  2. TED. Speaks for itself. (no pun intended)
  3. Angry Birds. I’m not providing a link because I don’t like to directly contribute to the addition of others. Same goes for Snood.
  4. Wired has found a way to add value to the magazine. I normally pick up a single issue of this the night before I get on an airplane. The issues are BIG so leave plenty of time for them to load before leaving.
  5. Pocket Cloud is obviously great for remote desktop and is a must if you’re connecting to VMWare View.

I prefer to use the iBooks app for reading, although the selection is much better from the Kindle app. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that all your Kindle books and content got pushed to your iPad when you install it. That kind of platform independence is where Amazon has Apple beat dead to rights. Of course I read the New York Times, although that app seems to get slower and more buggy with each update.

I really wish that I could find a good podcast manager for the iPad or the iPhone. Downloading individual episodes through the iTunes store one at a time, then flipping back to the iPod app is all kinds of clunky. First world problem.

[^fn1]:
In the spring my parents ditched their Windows computers for an all Mac setup. My mom got an iPad for her birthday (she loves it more than her laptop) and I got them an AppleTV for Christmas. It’s the AppleTV that they talk about the most because of the music streaming and how they can put all their pictures from iPhoto on their TV when friends come over.  ↩