Tuesday, March 15, 2011

iPad apps I use

I was pleasantly surprised at the interest in my recent reflections on my iPad as a tool for presbytery and General Assembly. It seems like there may be some usefulness to further reflections, so here's a look at the apps I use regularly (which will give some insight into how I use my iPad as well, I suppose). NB: the links will take you to the iTunes page where you can get the app, or read more about it.

Bible Tools
ESV Study Bible ($14.99). I have loved this app as a great way to access the Bible. It loads quickly, and is very easy to navigate. It also has all of the content (commentary, notes, maps, etc.) from the full ESV Study Bible, which makes it a real bargain. This is my first choice for Bible apps in my iPad, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Alternatively, you can get the ESV Bible without the study content, as a free app.
Accordance (free). I use Accordance as my primary Bible software on my Mac, and their iPad companion app is a super complement to it. I can open just about any module that I already have purchased/installed on my computer, so it is good for cross-referencing in original languages or in other translations (not to mention the other modules).It's also fast in loading, and the search/navigation is easy and quick. Because I already use it on my Mac, I can't offer any insight about which modules would be available to those who just want to use it on their iPad.
Others: I also have, and have used, the Logos app, which is a companion to the full Logos Bible software (much like Accordance in that way); it too is a good and usable app, and is free-- though again, I cannot comment on what modules/texts are available if you don't already own them in a desktop version. Those who want free access to just about any translation will appreciate the Bible HD app from LIfechurch.tv, but two limitations may frustrate: first, it loads somewhat slowly, and second, you must have a constant internet connection to access the texts.

"Presbyterian" Tools
Reformed Confessions. I have two apps for this, and they are both very good: iReformed Reference Library (99¢), and Christian Creeds & Reformed Confessions (free). Both have the same content, in somewhat different layouts-- the Westminster Standards (Confession + Larger and Shorter Catechisms), the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dort), and three creeds (Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian). I find the iReformed Reference Library slightly less-easy to navigate, especially because it requires a horizontal orientation. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with either.
Robert's Rules ($1.99). This is an app version of the book Robert's Rules of Order, and has a nice, hierarchical layout. If you're already pretty familiar with the content of Robert's Rules, this app will be quite useful; if you don't know your way around the book, though, you may have trouble finding what you seek. (The app needs a search feature to compensate for this.) Also, it is based on an older version of the text, so some of the wording may be slightly different from a current publication. An eBook version may be preferable to some/most.
GoodReader ($2.99). There are a LOT of PDF readers for iPad, and you certainly don't need to pay for one to read PDFs (Apple's iBooks reads PDFs quite well, and is free.) But I like GoodReader because it has some powerful options for making notes and adding bookmarks. I commented on these in my previous post, so I wont' re-hash it here.

Social Tools
Social. I use this as my main access for Facebook in my iPad-- I'm surprised, though, that I can't find it in the App Store any longer. It's either no longer available(!) or being updated.
Flipboard (free). I go back and forth with using this one-- sometimes I prefer it for regularly checking updates on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other sources. At other times, I ignore it for weeks. You might like this if you are primarily a consumer of social media, not an interactor; if you like to comment, respond, "like", etc., you might find Flipboard limiting. But if you want to take in a wide amount of social network information and process it quickly, Flipboard may be a good alternative to the standard options.
TweetDeck (free). I don't do a lot of Twitter on my iPad, mostly because it find it a more tedious interface for the way I use Twitter. On the occasions when I do want to read tweets, TweetDeck is a good solution for me: it allows me to have multiple accounts open in the same "window" at the same time, and check them quickly.
GoodReads (free). I use GoodReads on my iPad even less than Twitter, and I wish they would release an iPad app that was more full-featured. This is simply the iPhone app in a larger screen. Occasionally (maybe a couple of times a month, if that) I open this one up, and I'm glad to have it when I do.

Information Tools
The Weather Channel (free). I check this app (either on my iPhone or iPad) every morning, and sometimes during the day. The iPad version is awesome-- it gives easy access to several different displays simultaneously, making it really easy to get a sense of the weather now, over the next few hours, and in the coming days. This is a great addition to any iPad, in my opinion.
ESPN Scorecenter XL (free). I use the iPhone version for a long time, but didn't install this one until they made it a free app for iPad. Still, I've found it to be useful to check scores and standings. I wish they would work out an ESPN3 solution for iPad, and I assume that they are trying to figure that out. Meanwhile, this is a great way to keep tabs on teams that aren't of great interest locally.
Articles (99¢). This is a more recent addition, but I've found it to be a very approachable interface for accessing Wikipedia articles quickly, and marking those that are of interest.
Star Walk ($4.99). We got this last summer when there was a meteor shower coming, and we found ourselves in the backyard watching the sky a good bit. This is a really cool app, and a great guide to which stars are which. We'll get more use of it again when the weather is better, I'm sure.
iBird Explorer ($9.99). This is the iPhone version, but I have it in my iPad too. Think of a digital, interactive version of the green Audubon guides, and you've got a sense of what this app offers. We like it for identifying backyard birds, but I got the "South" version so that when we travel we can use it elsewhere. Lots of fun. I wish it had capacity for a list of which birds we have seen.

Reading Tools
InstaPaper ($4.99). Without a doubt, this is my most-used iPad app. I follow a lot of blogs and news sites by RSS, which I either scan, read quickly (if the article is short), or send to InstaPaper. Then I can read them offline on my iPad (or iPhone) whenever/wherever I want. One of my favorite apps.
Kindle (free). For reading eBooks, I spend most of my time in this app-- mostly because the selection is the largest. It's a very usable app, and easy to read in; I've probably read a dozen eBooks in my Kindle app on iPad.
iBooks (free). While Kindle may be my most-used eReader, iBooks is my preferred one. I like the interface better, and it loads faster. If I have the option, I'll buy eBooks in ePub format and drop them in iBooks rather than buy them in Kindle-- but I don't always have that option, or the price is often higher.
Others: I use some other reading tools on my iPad, as well: for news, I like The Daily (free + subscription), an iPad-only national daily newspaper, and Slate (free). I also like MacWorld's reader app. For eBooks, Stanza (free) offers a good reading environment and great selections that are harder to find (or get into an eReader) elsewhere. I have a couple of magazine subscriptions via Zinio (free + purchase/subscription), which is a great e-magazine option. There are also lots of great comic books available via iPad app, too!

Productivity Tools
DevonThink To Go ($14.99). I use DevonThink all the time, every day, on my Mac; it warehouses 75% or more of my digital information. So it's great to have an option to sync some/all of that information to my iPad and take it with me. This app has some maturing to do, but I have great hopes and expectations for it.
Bento ($4.99). A good bit of what I can't organize in DevonThink is managed by Bento. Here again, I like being able to sync them and take it with me.
MacGourmet ($4.99). Since I do most of the cooking in our home, I frequently collect and use recipes. MacGourmet is my desktop Mac solution for collecting recipes, and when I use them in the kitchen I usually do it via iPad. This is the iPhone version, which syncs great and works just fine on the iPad.
Pages ($9.99). I use the iWork suite all the time on my Mac; I really only need to work with Pages on my iPad, and even then not very often. This is a good app, though, and a solid solution when I do need to edit a document.
Parcel (free). I do just enough shipping to be grateful for an app that will help me track packages quickly. This one works well, and the interface is easy to use.
Calculator Pro (free/$1.99). I was surprised that the iPad didn't come with the great calculator app included on the iPhone. When I need a calculator, I'm perfectly satisfied with the free version of this app; additional features are available in the paid version.

Entertainment Tools
Netflix (free). This is a well-built app, and offers a lot of tools. I use it mostly to manage our Netflix queue, and I haven't watched any streaming video with it-- but I LOVE that streaming is available with it!
TED Talks (free). The folks with TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) regularly offer some of the most thoughtful and innovative ideas around, and the presentations are excellent. I love this app for the occasional dip into thought-provoking videos and new ideas.
Amazon (free). I manage all book recommendations, as well as other items of interest, through a collection of "Wish Lists" on Amazon-- so this app, which makes it a piece of cake to find and add books and other items to these lists, is a gem.
YouTube (free/included with iPad). There is plenty of time-wasting possible with YouTube, but it also has genuine usefulness, and I think the YouTube app on iPad is as ideal an environment for YouTube-looking as it gets.

That is the core list. I have another 5-6 apps that I use occasionally, plus about a dozen games that are regularly played-- but I won't go into details on those, other than to say that the iPad is a fantastic gaming platform.

What apps are YOU using?

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