“£89,” was all that flashed before your eyes and, like rising from some murky hangover, you’ve woken up this morning lying next to an HP TouchPad tablet PC. It’s ok. This is a good thing. And don’t let the relatively small HP App Catalogue and impending lack of support convince you otherwise. (That wasn’t supposed to sound as sarcastic as it did.)
Firstly, there’s all the legendary homebrew support from the webOS fanatics out there plus a rather strong user base; along with plenty of others who’d happily get in on this cheap, and yet premium, pad PC action. However, until then, and to get yourself going as you pull your new toy out of its box, here are 10 excellent HP TouchPad apps to get started with.
While there might not be a tidal wave of competition as far as apps go for the TouchPad, the only decent weather one available is still a cracker. WeatherBug takes information from a massive network of weather stations in North America and, mercifully, most other places over the globe as well.
The tools that come along, include a weather radar so that you know where it’s looking better, maps, forecasts and severe weather alerts. Probably the nicest touch of all though is the virtual weather window that gives you an artist’s impression of what the weather outside is like because, as we all know in the UK, there’s rain and then there’s rain.
With official app support likely to dry up at some point in the future, one of the key things to keep your device useful is going to be content, and no other piece of software is going to deliver that to you quite in the same numbers as Kindle for webOS.
As with all Amazon Kindle apps, it offers access to the 1 million or so-strong eBook catalogue complete with a pile of freebies and the Whispernet syncing technology, which means that all your reads are at the same page as you left them no matter which device you’re viewing them upon. Truly essential.
Spaz has been a favourite Twitter client on webOS for a while now and it’s excellent news that it’s available in HD tablet size. As ever, the layout is good but there’s also a handful of added features to enjoy for the TouchPad version.
The highlights have to be support for multiple accounts as well as not getting stuck into using the same image and URL shortening services all the time. It also works for the open source microblogging service that is StatusNet.
For those looking to wedge their cut price tablet PC onto the front of one kitchen unit or other, Epicurious is the app to most please. The software links into the award-winning food site offering over 30,000 recipes to browse through.
As well as leading you through how to make each one, you can also use them to create a shopping list. On top of that, there’s, of course, the social angle to enjoy where you can read reviews and improvements on each recipe as well as share your favourites with your buddies.
With no current official Dropbox client available for the TouchPad, one way, not so much around but more to the side, is to try a different cloud storage service altogether. In from the wings steps Box.net offering a free deal that brings you 50GB of vault to play with.
There’s is a rather complex system limiting maximum file size to contend with, which might be a problem if you’re thinking about using it mainly for video, but otherwise it’s a very good egg indeed.
A little dry? We’re not going to argue with you, but for every molecule of missing pizazz, Quickoffice makes up for in usefulness as you’ll most certainly find out once you start using documents on your TouchPad.
This app lets you work with Excel, Word and Powerpoint, and PDFs too and, as one that comes pre-loaded on the device, there’s plenty of decent app integration as well. With the TouchPad aware of your Google Docs credentials, you'll actually be able to open up all your online bits and pieces within Quickoffice app.
AuctionMate Pro is the name to type in when you’re looking for an eBay app. It might not be everything you dreamed of but you can browse eBay, check in with your account pages, watch items, bid and buy, and also pick up the relevant notifications so that you don’t forget to grab your rare item of Lord Nelson Gaytime enamelware before the deadline.
It's not quite as pretty as eBay, once you zoom into the cards, and the full featured version does cost a couple of quid but it certainly does the job.
With the Beats by Dr Dre technology lurking inside, the HP TouchPad makes a decent music machine. While you’ll likely have plenty of your own music, without the presence of an official Spotify app, one of the best ways of streaming tunes to your pad is with Tunein Radio.
The app harnesses the power of over 50,000 internet radio stations with everything from music and talk to weather and birdsong, and it'll even allow you to pause live streams while you nip off to wherever it is you need to nip off to for a couple of minutes.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
NFS is the top game for the TouchPad and with very good reason. It’s a tablet turner racing game where you get to play either the cops or the racers, burning around real world courses with an array of weapons and a tricky host of manoeuvres at your command.
The police tools include stinger spikes, road blocks and even an EMP weapon to halt your prey while those on the run get to use oil slicks, signal jammers and overdrive power. All of that can get stuck on around 20 cars for each side and, all in all, equals some classic entertainment.
There is no official Google Reader app on the TouchPad, so for those who can’t get enough of their RSS collection, the best option is Mosaic Reader. The aim of the game for the developers was to create a reader that was both functional and good to look at and what they’ve come up with pretty much fits the bill perfectly.
As well as syncing with Reader you can also sync between machines using Mosaic and share your best finds with friends on Twitter and a few other places too. Sadly the free version will only allow you to track up to 24 sites but, naturally, it goes unlimited once you cough up.
Probably the first port of call for just about any app-carrying device is Facebook and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be exactly the same for you and your new TouchPad. The Facebook app is a made to measure tablet-sized affair so you get a full screen, full res place to scan your news feed, your FB messages, the profiles of all your stalkees and any photos that pop up in your social circle.
As it's built by HP itself, there comes with the app an advantage and a disadvantage. On the plus side, the UI and experience fit the TouchPad perfectly. The downer is that the connection and functionality between the device and Facebook proper isn't always bang on. Still a must, of course.
Let us know your favourites and any homebrew tips in the comments below.