Most Innovative iPad Apps

The iPad arrived this year and changed the computer business forever. But it's the thousands of apps that truly bring this tablet computer to life. The catchphrase "there's an app for that" speaks to just how many different types of apps there are. Yet most are simply reproducing the functionality of a desktop computer in some way, while only a handful offer truly breakthrough experiences or functionality. We've trawled through the App Store for this year's cleverest and chosen seven of the best for your download consideration.

Best eBook: Alice

This inspiring take on the classic Alice in Wonderland tale -- coupled with iconic imagery that is both animated and made dynamic -- added to the narrative rather than subsuming it, and defined a whole new class of rich-media texts that surpass anything offered by e-readers like the Kindle.

It's not quite a fully immersive movies-sounds-and-games interactive experience, but Alice is full of tiny detailed illustration tricks that add to the read, particularly if you're sharing it with a child. There are pages with images that react when you shake the iPad, flying playing cards and the like; a Cheshire cat that materializes in trees; Alice growing and shrinking; and many other surprises--including an animated Queen of Hearts.

$8.99 available here, or as a free Lite version.

Best News Reader: Flipboard

Flipboard's slick, simple graphics are a big draw. But it's the way it combines news articles with social media feeds from your online acquaintances that turns the app into a kind of living magazine. It's half news-supplying, half casual web-browsing. And it's Apple's iPad App of The Year.

Free, available here.

Best Utility: Air Display

There are a number of remote screen-viewing apps for the iPad, but Air Display is the most simple and elegant: It extends your Mac or PC's screen onto the iPad's touchscreen real estate. It's an effort multiplier, giving you convenient extra desktop space, and it gives the iPad a purpose during the times when it's docked next to a bigger, traditional desktop or laptop computer.

$9.99 available here.

Best in Art: Auryn Ink

There are painting apps for the iPad, and then there's Auryn Ink -- an app that brings watercolor painting simulation to the touchscreen. It even uses brushes that "evolve" as you paint, with the same sort of edge-color-bleeding that you get with some styles of watercolor painting, and the paint reacts to the kind of digital canvas you use.

With artists of the caliber of David Hockney promoting art on the iPad and iPhone, Auryn Ink seems to have a handle on all of the best parts of watercolor painting composition--with fewer of the side effects (since it comes with an "undo"!)

Free, available here.

Best for Students: Sound Note

One big criticism of the iPad is that it's a device made for content consumption rather than creation. Those critics obviously haven't used Sound Note. It's an app aimed at students, to replace pen, paper and laptop. As well as letting you take notes, you can doodle diagrams and images onto its "pages" (perfect for physics students, among others). And most useful of all, you can make an audio recording of a lecture -- with sound clips synchronized to where you made a note.

$4.99, available here.

Best Word Processor: iA Writer

Word processing for the iPad is ably accommodated by Apple's own Pages app. But Information Architects' app iA Writer has out-innovated Apple. Writer is actively designed to help you write, because, as iA contends, what you really need to create written content is focus. To do this it dims-down the contrast on everything you've written other than the three most recent lines of text--this draws your eye to what you've just crafted, and helps you keep track of your line of thought. Neat. It's also got a custom "extended" touch-keyboard which adds a row of handy controls on the top of the normal QWERTY view, aiding creation and navigation.

$4.99, available here.

Best Game: Infinity Blade

Infinity Blade was revealed earlier this year by an app called Epic Citadel, a small game so deliciously pretty that Apple used it as PR. Then the full Infinity Blade arrived in December, as possibly the most impressive game on the entire iPad App Store. It's a fighting action game, like many others, but it has clever touch controls to make the most of the iPad's screen. And it has graphics (courtesy of the Unreal Engine 3 that makers Epic have hacked for iOS) that blow away the competition. It's visually stunning, even on the iPad's low-power CPU -- so we're excited to imagine what Epic may do with the iPad 2's rumored dual-core chip.

$5.99, available here.

The 7 Most Innovative iPad Apps of 2010

The catchphrase "there's an app for that" speaks to just how many different types of apps there are. Yet most are simply reproducing the functionality of a desktop computer in some way, while only a handful offer truly breakthrough experiences or functionality. We've trawled through the App Store for this year's cleverest and chosen seven of the best for your download consideration.

Add New Comment

0 Comments