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Best Usable iPad Apps for 2012

Making The Cut…

For an iPad app to qualify for our LarryTalksTech “Best Usable iPad Apps for 2012” list, each winning app had to be:

  1. Used by us on a routine basis for more than 90 days
  2. Used more than any other app in its category
  3. User friendly – easy learning curve
  4. Either free or inexpensive
  5. History of trouble free operation

The Apps That Made The List Are…

Utilities

ActMonitor Usage Screen

ActMonitor Usage Screen

ActMonitor:  This app supplies critical system information.  It has 4 screens:

  1. Usage (pictured at the left)
  2. Battery
  3. Network
  4. Tech Specs

The app takes little memory to use.

From the Publisher:

Wi-Fi, Edge/3G/LTE and Bluetooth traffic.
Battery level, status and remainng life (estimated).
Memory status.
Disk free space information.
Processes list (To show system processes just pull list down).
Device identity (device name, os version, UDID (if available)) which can be sent by email
Other detail info about Apple devices.

Price:  $.99 at the App Store (Publisher:  Aeonika)

File Browser - Access files on remote computers

File Browser – Access files on remote computers

File Browser:  You can set up files on your iPad or access files on your network, i.e., docs, photos, or video.

From the Publisher:

 AT HOME: Stream movies and music over WiFi direct to your iPad/iPhone. View a slideshow of photos from your computer. No need to sync or copy to your iPad/iPhone. Access your NAS without needing to turn your computer on.

AT WORK: Browse file servers over the Internet using the iPad/iPhone’s built in VPN. Retrieve and view documents from company servers.  Edit and update files on the server (requires additional doc editing app such as Pages).   Choose where to keep your data and control how files are shared. Migrate to Cloud storage at a pace that suits you.

All browsing and file transfers are performed on the iPad/iPhone so you don’t need to sit at your computer to upload files to FileBrowser.

View every document type that iOS supports. Pass files to and from other apps – for example, store email attachments in FileBrowser for later use with an editor app.

FileBrowser requires no additional software on the target computer/network drive.

Connect to your servers over the Internet (3G or WiFi) with appropriate software/router configuration.  See support page on www.stratospherix.com

Price $4.99 at the App Store  (Publisher:  Stratospherix Ltd.)

Browsers

Chrome Browser

Chrome Browser

Chrome:  Far and away our Number 1 choice. Google’s browser is fast, and has a very intuitive layout.  In a class by itself.

Publisher’s description:

Search fast:  Search and navigate fast, directly from the same box. Choose from results that appear as you type.

Simple, intuitive experience: Open and quickly switch between an unlimited number of tabs. On your iPhone and iPod touch, flip through tabs the way you would fan a deck of cards. On iPad, swipe from edge to edge to switch tabs.

Sign in:  Sign in to Chrome to sync your open tabs, bookmarks, passwords, and omnibox data from your computer to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. Pick up right where you left off.  Send pages from Chrome on your computer to your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with one click and read them on the go, even if you’re offline.

Privacy:  Open a tab in Incognito to browse without saving your history.

Price:  Free at the App Store  (Publisher:  Google, Inc.)

Onion Browser for iPad

Onion Browser Start Up Page

Onion Browser:  Connect to Tor and browse the web with a high degree of anonymity.

From the Publisher:

Internet access tunneled over the Tor onion router network:

– Websites do not see your real IP address.
– Your connection is encrypted before it leaves your device, providing protection against snooping by ISPs or people who share a WiFi connection with you.
– Tunnel bypasses restrictive firewalls: you can access the entire Internet from behind ISPs or corporate connections, or when inside countries that practice online censorship.
– Access websites on the “dark net” of anonymous .onion web sites, only accessible in the Tor network.
• User-Agent spoofing: hides the fact that you are using an iPhone/iPad from websites you visit.
• Ability to block third party cookies or all cookies.
• Can change IP address and clear cookies/history/cache in one button.

Price $.99 at the App Store  (Publisher:  Mike Tigas)

Productivity

Evernote Notebook Screen

Evernote Notebook Screen

Evernote:  Organize the minutiae of your life:  medical, memos, web purchases, important documents, etc.

From the Publisher:

Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go.”

Key Features:

  1. Sync all of your notes across the computers and devices you use
  2. Create and edit text notes, to-dos and task lists
  3. Save, sync and share files
  4. Record voice and audio notes
  5. Search for text inside images
  6. Organize notes by notebooks and tags
  7. Email notes and save tweets to your Evernote account
  8. Connect Evernote to other apps and products you use
  9. Share notes with friends and colleagues via Facebook and Twitter

Price:  Free at the App Store  (Publisher:  Evernote)

WordPress for iOS "Posts" page

WordPress for iOS “Posts” page

WordPress for iOS: Manage a WordPress blog from your iPad using this Open Source app by Automattic.  We use this app a lot.

From the Publisher:

“With WordPress for iOS, you can moderate comments, create or edit posts and pages, view stats, and add images or videos with ease. All you need is a WordPress.com blog or a self-hosted WordPress.org site running 3.1 or higher.”

Price:  Free from the App Store (Publisher:  Automattic)

Navigation

Google Maps for iOS

Google Maps for iOS

Google Maps:  The apps anticipated return to iOS does not disappoint.  It’s like finding an old friend…

From the Publisher:

Get comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-use maps with built-in Google local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, public transit directions, Street View and more. Use Google Maps to discover great places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and reviews from people you trust. Sign in to save your favorite places and quickly access all your past searches and directions from your computer, right on your phone.

Search

  • Find addresses, places and businesses around the world with Google local search.
  • Discover places to eat, drink, shop and play, with ratings and local reviews.
  • Sign in to sync your searches, directions, and favorite places between your computer and your phone.

Directions

  • Get voice guided, turn-by-turn driving directions.
  • Find your way by train, bus, subway or walking directions.
  • Access live traffic information in cities across the world.

Street View and imagery

  • View 360-degree panoramas of places around the globe with Street View.
  • See inside more than 100,000 businesses worldwide.
  • View high resolution satellite imagery of locations around the world.

Simple and easy to use

  • An entirely new Google Maps experience on your iPhone.
  • Newly designed and streamlined interface for even easier navigation of your world.
  • Use gestures to explore the map and browse results.

Price:  Free  (Publisher:  Google, Inc.)

Waze Map Interface

Waze Map Interface

Waze:  Social media comes to navigation.  We liked this map so well that we did an entire review on it. You can find it by clicking:  Waze

From the Publisher:  Waze is a fun, community-based traffic & navigation app, 30 million strong. Join forces with other drivers nearby to outsmart traffic, save time & gas money, and improve everyone’s daily commute.

With community-generated real-time traffic, you’ll always get the best route to your destination. By simply driving around with Waze open, you’re already contributing tons real-time traffic & road info to your local driving community. You can also actively report accidents, hazards, police and other events you see on the road, and get road alerts coming up on your route too. Find the cheapest gas station along your route with community-shared gas prices.

Now Waze makes it fun and simple to meet up and coordinate with friends on the road. Easily meet up, pick up friends, share your drive and ETA, and see who’s headed to your destination too!

It’s all about contributing to, and benefiting from, the ‘common good’ out there on the road, so hop on board, and get involved in your local driving community today!

✓ Live routing based on community-generated real-time traffic and road info
✓ Community-contributed road alerts including accidents, hazards, police traps, and more.
✓ Complete voice-guided navigation.
✓ Automatic re-routing as conditions on the road change.
✓ Learns your frequent destinations, commuting hours and preferred routes.
✓ Find the cheapest gas station on your route.
✓ Share your drive with anyone! Send a link to a live web map showing your real-time location and ETA.
✓ Join or create groups to share info about your commute.
✓ Earn points and move up the ranks in your community as you contribute road info.
✓ Live maps, constantly updated by Waze community map editors.

Drive safe! Waze is hands-free and voice-operated.

Price:  Free on App Store  (Publisher:  Waze, Inc.)

Media

IMDb Movies & TV

IMDb Movies & TV Start Up Screen

IMDb Movies & TV:  We love movies, and this Internet Movie Data Base is on every Mac in the house.  Old Movies or New, it is probably in this data base.

From the Publisher:

IMDb is the world’s largest collection of movie, TV and celebrity info. We aim to list every detail about every movie and TV show ever made, including who was in it, who made it, the plot, user ratings, trailers, photos, reviews, quotes, goofs, trivia and much more.

– Works on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad
– Over 2 million movie and TV titles
– Over 4 million celebrities, actors, actresses, directors and crew members

Look up:
– Movie showtimes at theaters near you
– TV listings for your timezone
– Recaps of TV shows from last night
– Upcoming movies
– Latest entertainment news from hundreds of media outlets
– Latest DVD releases
– Popular movies

Explore Popular Charts:
– Best Picture award winners
– Top-rated movies of all time
– Most popular movies of the day
– Most popular celebrities of the day
– Lowest-rated movies of all time
– Most popular movies by genre
– Most popular TV shows
– US box office results
– Celebrity birthdays

View:
– Movie trailers
– User reviews for movies and TV shows
– Critic reviews for movies and TV shows
– Quotes, trivia and goofs about movies, TV shows and celebrities
– Your browse and search history on IMDb

Price:  Free  (Publisher:  IMBd)

In Conclusion…

The iPad is truly a unique device.  For this writer, it is rarely more than an arm’s length away from me from the moment I get up till the moment I go to bed.  For the iPad to be useful though, it has to be more than hardware.  There has to be some very useful software to drive it.  The apps listed here exceeded both our needs and expectations, and are but a small example of the well engineered and purposely focused apps available today for your iPad.

 

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