Best iPad 2 apps
So you've got an iPad 2, and now you need to fill it with lovely iPad apps. But with 65,000 apps available just for the iPad what are the best ones to get and are there any that take advantage of the new features of the iPad 2.
We've scoured the massive collection of iPad apps available (mid March) on iTunes to see what's on offer and what you should download. We've tried, tested and reviewed all of the following free iPad apps ourselves, rather than just guessing whether they're good or not.
Let’s get it out of the way from the start. This is the most fully functioning music app out there giving you what the majority of individual apps offer, but only better and in one package.
You get to play piano, guitar, bass, drums, vocals, and if you’ve got the right dongle, even record your own guitar playing as well.
Broken down into a number of different areas or instrument groups, the idea is that you can play your favourite instruments, lay down a track, and then edit and manage them into a song before exporting said track into iTunes or your desktop; you can then share it with your friends.
The whole experience is incredibly easy, and depending on your musical skill rather than computer skills, you can create a track in minutes rather than hours.
Playing music is one thing, but you probably want to record it too, and here Apple makes it very easy. Press record, you’re counted in, and off you go.
Each instrument is laid down in individual tracks and there is an editing page that gives you the control to edit it all.
The interface is very much like GarageBand on the Mac and you can add more instruments, loops, delete tracks, expand and shrink, and basically anything else you need to create that next Number One.
Drawbacks? If you want to share the finished track you’ve got to plug in your iPad to a computer.
At £2.99 in the UK and $4.99 in the US, if you’re into music, this is a steal.
Read more: GarageBand for iPad (iPad)
With the inclusion of front- and rear-facing cameras on the iPad 2, it makes complete sense that Apple has chosen to introduce a tablet version of its own film editing application iMovie for the first time.
The video editing software, iMovie, which features as part of the iLife package for Macs, has been enhanced for use with the iPad's touchscreen. It also features the company's precision editing system, multitrack audio recording, new themes specific to this version, AirPlay support - to stream video to an Apple TV - and is universal, so can be used on iPhone 4 or the latest generation of the iPod touch too.
According to Apple's iMovie page, the new universal iMovie application for iOS will be compatible with the iPad 2, iPhone 4, and fourth-generation iPod touch, but not the original iPad.
iMovie and Garage Band for iPad will cost $4.99 in the US and £2.99 in the UK on the App Store
Real Racing 2 HD
It was a hit first time around and there’s no difference for the second version either. Real Racing 2 HD is a superb game in the world of accelerometer tipping driving titles. The only time you have to put your finger on the screen to block any of the rather pretty graphics is if you want to brake. Seeing as braking is only for sissies, then you never need to interrupt that view at all.
This take two of the game comes with 10 hours of gamepla,y with 30 cars to unlock from the likes of BMW and Chevrolet and a highly amusing multiplayer mode for up to 16 players at a time courtesy of the Apple Game Center. You’re never going to quite get that racing sim feel that a console can offer but as simplified mobile versions go, this is an entire grid better than anything else out there.
Arguably the best of the bunch is Infinity Blade on the iPad. It’s an action/RPG, but more than anything a one-on-one fighting game complete with special moves, magic attacks, combos and all weapon, skill and armour upgrades. The aim of the game is to take on and defeat the God-King who’s a bit tasty with a sword and likes to show that fact off again and again as he runs your through with it.
Each time the bugger does you, you come back as another member of your family blood line to test him again until you finally conquer him. Fortunately, it takes a while and there’s plenty of entertaining gameplay out of this purchase. Best of all, the graphics on Infinity Blade are as close to perfect as we've ever seen on the iPad. They wouldn’t look amiss on a full games console - all the more reason to play this on the iPad 2 with its brand new, suped up insides. Enjoy.
Dead Space for iPad
Survival horror fans need look no further than Dead Space if they’ve just picked themselves up a nice, powerful iPad 2. It’s a unique story unto itself, so you won’t be getting a rehash of whatever console version you might have played in the past. EA has optimized the game for the more powerful innards of the latest Apple tablet and it really shows when the blood starts flying and the nasties are right in your face.
Although we felt slightly aggrieved at the brevity of the game - just 12 levels - there’s some real satisfaction in chainsawing the bad guys limb from limb before booting them to the floor. Fortunately, the gameplay is easy and natural enough to cope with frantic moves when the chips are down and you find yourself surrounded. There’s no virtual d-pad to worry about. Just swipe the screen anywhere for effect. Possibly best of all is something that most people might miss out on - the sound. You can play the thing on speakers but, for the full shock indulgence of the horror genre, make sure to use your headphones.
Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD
We’re not going to say that we enjoyed Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD quite as much as Real Racing 2 HD, largely because we didn’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good ‘un in its own right. It’s nice to be out on the streets in a Burnout-style gear jammer, and the 42 cars and bikes from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Ducati and Lamborghini are certainly enough to keep you at it until everything possible has been unlocked.
Possibly the most enjoyable part of the whole experience for petrol heads out there is taking a little tour of your 3D garage and tinkering with each of the vehicles until you’ve got them tuned to exactly how you drive. Also, do make sure you sift through the game control options until you find the one that suits you best or you won’t get the most out of what is a thoroughly enjoyable game.
The other use for the infamous photo booth was when having a crazy time with buddies or a special friend, where you'd bundle into a dreary box to have your pic done; it's this experience that the app tries to jump on the back of (although Pocket-lint didn't get a special friend until 30 years of age and so is not talking from first-hand experience).
In practise and the app does everything very well with a quality feel throughout; the makers, Synthetic Corp, of Hipstamatic fame, clearly know how to put together a polished camera-based app.
Once you have everyone you want in frame, hit the button and you'll get four shots with four different retro effects, whereby you can share one or all of the photos through the usual channels. Time, date and location are also included.
There's no word on whether you'll be able to import lenses and filters from the Hipstamatic range, but if you're into the whole analogue-fad-on-digital-device thing then for the money this is well worth a look.
It’s the official app for Twitter for the iPad and comes with a number of features that will make reading your latest tweets or tweeting them out really easy, including especially for the iPad 2 the ability to use the camera and video functions.
You’re allowed multiple accounts, the ability to set up notifications so you can be alerted when you get a new mention or direct message from anyone or just your friends, whilst the three panel view makes everything really simple.
We especially like new tweeting features like autocomplete on friends' names, hashtags and the ability to add your location to your tweet if that’s your thing.
If you’re into Twitter this is a must.
Skype for iPhone
If you're not too fussed about the Facetime from an Apple device to another apple device you can download Skype for iPhone and run it on the iPad 2. While you have to live with the doubled up icons and keyboard, you do get to do video calling still as the iPhone software is happy to tap into the iPad 2's camera regardless.
Now you can have Skype to Skype video calls from anywhere around the world including when you are on a 3G connection. However, be warned it will eat through your monthly data allowance fairly quickly.
For iPad and iPad 2 (but still worth downloading)
We'll waste no time in telling you that here at Pocket-lint we love Dropbox's simplicity, and thankfully it offers an iPad version to work within the eco system.
Once connected you can then share your files quickly from your desktop to your iPad. The app allows full access to your Dropbox folder, the chance to email out, and the chance to upload photos via the app too.
This really is the quickest way to get your documents on to your iPad for free.
Evernote is a simple but very effective idea. It's basically a cloud-cloud-based filing system for notes so you don't have to rummage around trying to find all the scraps of paper that you've made important notes on, only to lose them in a jacket pocket or in the bottom of a bag.
This enables you to take notes as pictures, written notes, audio notes or you can just upload a file. You give each one a title as you do so and you can even tag them as well. Once you’re done, you hit upload and off they go into the cloud for you you to look at later on.
It works well on a laptop, but it's particularly well-suited to the iPad as you're more likely to be carrying it around with you.
With so many ways of getting our fix of news, reviews and features from around the web you might find something you want to read, but just don't have the time to do so. That’s where Instapaper steps in. This handy app is a "read later" offering that lets you bookmark web pages to then read offline later at your convenience.
The iPad app syncs with a central account so you can save stuff on your desktop or iPhone and those "read later" requests are then automatically synced with your iPad app and vice versa.
Once synced you can then read the articles offline without an internet connection.
What if there was a magazine that was personal to you, that was customised with your own personal and social interests? Well, there is and it’s called Flipboard. As well as gathering news from a number of prominent sources, it also scours your Facebook and Twitter data and presents that info as well.
What you end up with is a personalised magazine where the pages are made up of articles, videos and pictures already fetched from you from any links that appear in your social media streams, and there’s even a unique front cover, just for you.
Your magazine is presented with headlines, pictures and text, and if you click an article you get it in full screen. What’s more, you can share and reply from within the app (including Facebook thumbs ups) and, as the magazine is always evolving - newer material is always found on the first few pages - so it never gets old.
We've all been there. That moment where you are watching a movie and you see an actor that you recognise but just can't place. Here IMdb turns your iPad into a massive movie database so you can quickly search a movie and solve the riddle at the press of a button.
While the app will give you wealth of features like latest on what's coming to the cinema and the top 250 movies of all time. It's most helpful when its giving you the biography of actors that you are trying to place.
Find the movie, find the actor and then you get their page detailing their life story, with pictures, trailers, and links to buy any of their movies from Amazon if you're that way inclined.
Never again will you have the pain of knowing you've seen them, but for the life of you not remembering where.
Okay so not actually an iPad app, but it still gives you all the functionality of the iPhone app here on the iPad. If you're a Spotify user already, then you'll have no problems using the app as it's as straight forward as the desktop version. Your account is synchronised across all your Spotify platforms (with sync-on-the-fly) so if you create playlists on your PC, they are copied over to your iPhone and vice-versa. Also, all of your account details are automatically copied as well.
As well as your playlists, you can search for artists, albums and tracks as per the desktop version, and play tunes straight away, with streaming over Wi-Fi and 3G possible. The Wi-Fi streaming is obviously a lot more reliable than streaming via your phone network, but we found that 3G streaming (on the Three network) was more or less spot on, with just the odd stutter. Better still you can sync tracks offline to listen when you're on a long journey without the worry of eating up your bandwidth for the month.
To use the app, you’ll need to sign up to Spotify’s Premium service (£9.99 per month).
The concept of BBC iPlayer for iPad is that you get the excellent iPlayer features in one app, so you don’t have to mess around with the iPad browser and the BBC website. Fire up the app and you’re presented with a colourful tiled screen of the hot stuff on the BBC that you should watch.
All you need to do is select the programme of your choice and then press play on the following page. Seconds later (on a good Wi-Fi connection) and the show will play with the option to have it in Standard or HQ (essentially high definition) quality.
If you like the sound of a programme, but haven’t got time to watch it right at that moment you can mark it as favourite to watch later. However, what you can’t do is mark it as a favourite to watch later when you are not on a Wi-Fi network, like on the aeroplane or a train.
Sky News for iPad
This handy app lets you get the most out of the 24 hour news channel when you’re away from a TV. There are three main ways of accessing content - Timeline, Top Stories, or Live. Timeline, as it suggests, will give you a timeline of the channels news content over the last 24 hours allowing you to scroll left to see what you might have missed since you last checked-in.
Next is Top Stories. This is Sky News editorial telling you what’s big or hot on the channel right now. Videos are arranged in size of importance and you can scroll down the page to reveal more. It’s not an endless list, but when we played with the app there were still plenty to watch.
Live is as you would expect - a live stream of the Sky News channel - although it’s buffered so you can rewind back around a minute before you started watching and up to 1.5-hours if you’ve been watching for a while, or pause the action; again handy if you’ve just missed the beginning of a news segment or need to go back to a story you’ve seen. The live stream is a simulcast so you get the adverts and all. You also get ticker tape flash messages for breaking news at the bottom of the screen, regardless of where you are in the app.
Specifically designed for the iPad, Sky+ Remote basically transforms your Apple tablet into an interactive digital TV guide. You can select programmes to record without having to pick up your traditional remote, in the same way as you use the Sky+ iPhone app. The iPad app takes this a step further by highlighting shows and films that you may want to record.
Selecting one of the "picks of the week" will fire up a screen giving you more information on the show, like how long it is and whether it’s in HD. As long as you’ve pre-activated your account, pressing record will send the command directly to the Sky box under your TV.
The whole premise of the app is to let you schedule your television viewing at the start of the week, whether you are sitting on the train coming home or actually on the sofa in front of the television. If you’ve got Sky+ then this app is pretty much essential.
This app has been designed specifically for the iPad, with a user-friendly GUI and multi-touch support. The idea is to make it a bit easier to find what you're after, and therefore get you spending more of your hard earned pennies with the e-retailer.
The idea is that you can search, browse and buy from Amazon UK (and thousands of Marketplace sellers) using a picture-led interface. It’s basically the same as using Amazon online, but with an interface that’s been designed for the iPad’s zippy touchscreen.
If you shop at Amazon and you’ve got an iPad then this app is an absolute must-have.
A browser you say? Why yes, but this browser has one killer feature over the iPad's Safari. Private browsing.
If private browsing wasn't enough to sway you - ideal if your iPad is being left for the whole family to use (think birthday's not porn), then Atomic Lite also brings tabbed browsing to the mix as well. Quick and simple, this is a good alternative to Safari.
You didn't think that Amazon would let Apple have all the fun with book purchases on the iPad did you?
Here you get Amazon's very good Kindle application that has been designed and formatted to benefit the bigger screen.
The free app lets you access some 450,000 titles both free and paid for from the company's electronic book store.
Signing up for the free service is incredibly easy and you can sync your books with other devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry or your computer; so you can pick up where you left off regardless of what device you've got with you.
As with iBooks (only available in the US at the moment) you'll be able to buy books on the fly, which is handy if you're in the airport and about to get on a long flight.
Within the iPad version you can bookmark pages to return to later as well as change the font size and select whether or not the page is shown on a white, black or sepia background (something the iBook offering can't do).
Realising that a screen shining in your face when you're reading in bed might not be the greatest of ideas, you can also adjust the brightness of that screen to virtual darkness within the app.
Portrait and landscape modes are offered, although frustratingly landscape offers only a single column of text rather than two pages, making the line length rather long and at times difficult to read.
Fonts can't be changed, and unlike iBooks you're only able to note or highlight a word rather than access the dictionary or search for it on Google.
With more books on offer than the Apple iBook store, as well as UK availability, this is one to check out if you are planning on reading on your iPad.
By popular request, here are a few more. Thanks for the suggestions and keep them coming.
Reeder for iPad
As the name suggests, Reeder for iPad is a Google Reader client and, as it happens, a particularly smooth way repackaging it all into a nice iPad friendly format. You can browse by either feed or folder as well as fully manage and share your account too. What’s more, it’ll also cache the heavier parts of the articles rather than leave them devoid of the nice pretty pictures when you’re reading offline.
Reeder for iPad might not be as sexy as something like Flipboard but its more traditional presentation in newspaper/book format is somehow quite comforting. Best of all though, it just works really nicely and is one of those apps that makes you want to keep swiping your finger across that touchscreen display.
It can be a bit of a pain getting content on and off the iPad 2. You don’t always want to do everything via iTunes and you’ll often find that a video format isn’t supported once you go to play it on your tablet anyway. Air Video offers a nice way round all this by letting you stream your clips over the air, whether at home or away. What’s more, it can convert you files on the fly as it does so. So, just because DivX and Flash aren’t Apple’s cup of tea, that doesn’t mean that you can’t watch them on your device.
The app does require you having a piece of free software installed on the computer where you’ve got your videos stored and, for conversion on the fly, you will need a reasonably modern machine but other than that, it’s all plain sailing. Check out the free version before you go full fat to see that it works with your set up but you should be very pleased with the results.
If you’d rather not fart around with desktop software or even bother streaming things from A to B, then CineXPlayer offers probably the most consistent non-Apple supported video experience for the iPad and iPad 2 - since the VLC app was pulled, anyway. As the name suggests, it’s largely about the Xvid video codec library which seems to be the format of choice for TV and film torrents and other downloads in this day and age.
Movie management is good, playback is high quality and the whole shebang is put together rather well. Perhaps the only downside is that it’s not absolutely 100 per cent bullet proof which the developers happily admit. So, unfortunately, we would have to recommend that you check your transfered files actually play before getting on the plane to find out all you’ve got to keep you occupied on your trans-atlantic flight is Angry Birds.
One of the best tests of the iPad 2 is that graphics processing power and Rage HD is another good game to put your device through its paces. It’s a first person rail shooter set in a post-apocalyptic game show and it’s your job as the guy who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time to blast your way out of a mutant-infested hell hole. Tick, tick, tick, all very fun.
That said, there are a few slight niggles with the game that need to be read before you get disappointed. It’s a rail shooter, so on the one hand that’s good because you don’t have to faff around with virtual d-pads. On the other, the game does tend to take away your aim sometimes as it auto-swings your around toward another destination. On top of that there’s only three weapons and a handful of levels. Still, for £1.19, it’s really good value for what you get
Once blasting nasties has got to you, you might want to try something a little more high brow in terms of your iPad 2 video testing. The institution that is TED has all of its talks online in the form of an app for anyone to watch and become enlightened for bupkis. Just a shame TED doesn’t run university courses.
The UI on the app itself is certainly pleasant enough and before you ask, yes, you can save talks to watch offline as well as streaming the video over your network. The only downside to all of this is that not all of the talks are quite as mind blowing as SixthSense and after a while you might want to get back to killing those mutants again.
100 Cameras in 1 for iPad
To really enjoy that iPad 2 experience you want to be rubbing people’s noses in it by using the camera as much as possible and one app that lets you do that is 100 Cameras in 1 recently released especially for the Apple tablet. There’s something fairly familiar about this filter-based post-production set up but a considerable amount of the dullness is removed by the idea of the 100 (we didn’t actually count) presets, each with its unique and rather pretentious name.
You can flick through them with that satisfying swipe of a finger until you find something you rather like the look of and then play with the sliders at the bottom to fine tune it to perfection as something you want to keep or just upload direct to whatever social platform you choose. Until we get to muck around with Aperture or Lightroom, this is as good as it’s going to be.
A lot of people will tell you that Shazam is the way to go for this kind of music recognition and playback app on the iPad 2 and they might be right. But what SoundHound offers that the competition doesn’t is a system that’ll work out and tag what you’re trying to hum and sing as well.
Thankfully, there’s more than just this gimmick to the app which does for the colour orange what Shazam does for blue. You can use it to look up artists, their discography and other information on them as well as pull in YouTube video performances plus song lyrics for you to sing along to. Naturally, there’s also a link to the iTunes Store to donate more money to Apple just in case you haven’t parted with enough Jobs-bound cash as it is. The app is free but there’s also a paid version that comes without the small ad banner.
If you’re going to use your iPad as the post-PC business machine as well as tablet of fun and games, then you’ll find an app like SoftSign of serious use. While the world is attempting to go paper-free, the fact remains that all your contracts and legals still require the old John Hancock in order for approval and, unless you usually carry a printer and scanner under each arm, it’s not a very digital-friendly process for e-mailing such a document over to someone.
Fortunately, this is where SoftSign comes in. It’s a PDF reader for the iPad plus a little bit more. The app lets you annotate the text in freehand or print and includes special fields for signing contracts with a swish of your finger. The security aspect comes in by the use of a special passcode which you can set to ensure that your kids don’t start signing your life away while you’re not looking.
Documents To Go Premium
You could waste both your time and your money downloading the three separate Apple apps for office documents that are Pages, Numbers and Keynote or you can just pick up Documents To Go Premium Office Suite for £8 less. That smart piece of economics will allow you to create, view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files from the latest MS Office packs as well as the iWork bits and pieces if you want to.
On top of that, it’s also a PDF reader, it’ll sync two ways with you desktop and it comes with support for Dropbox, Sugarsync, Google Docs, Box.net and iDisk as well. Not bad at all.
Are there any other essentials that you think should be on the list? Let us know in the comments below.
Additional reporting by Dan Sung and Libby Plummer.