You’re in the old world, you’ve got your new iPad and after the first rush of excitement you might be feeling a little deflated, especially if you’re an iPhone user. A bigger screen, yes, but… um… web sites and apps… all rather familiar… where’s the rush of the new?
The answer may well be quite subtle: the iPad is revolutionising our stale old 1960s computer-user interface. With a touch screen, you interact directly with the content under your fingers. For instance, WIRED magazine lets you scroll horizontally across articles’ opening pages and then down into their further pages; the FT lets you touch companies’ names for a profile and then pinch-zoom their stock charts; and many apps switch between a functional interface in landscape mode and a pure reading pane in portrait.
Here are some early apps that make the most of this new world:
- WIRED magazine – the first magazine formatted for the iPad, a triumph even in this early form and the best demonstration of how revolutionary the tablet interface will be.
- Alice for the iPad – the first book formatted for the iPad, with parts of the illustrations responding to the iPad’s movements in a way that begs for a Monty Python app. Nice, but this genre will improve.
- Financial Times – the selection of articles is limited but you can search for all. The way you drill down through text to data is elegant and bodes well for data-rich content. Downloads articles for offline reading.
- Brushes – paint onscreen and send the results to your friends. As used by David Hockney.
- Epicurious – with its prop-up cover and glass screen the iPad is a perfect substitute for a cookbook.
- iBooks – it’s free from Apple but you have to install it; includes a selection of free Gutenberg classics as well as some heavyweights such as Wolf Hall.
And some other iPad essentials:
- WeatherBug – there’s no iPad weather app so add this – you get a map with clear overlays of temperature, pressure, humidity and more.
- Instapaper – lets you bookmark pages (on any computer) for reading later on your iPad. Great for reading when you’re offline.
- TweetDeck (no Twitter/Tweetie app yet).
- Wikipanion Plus – lets you save pages for offline reading.
- A MobileMe account to sync your Safari web bookmarks between your computers, iPad and iPhone.
- BBC iPlayer – iPads need to use the ‘bigscreen’ version
- (The BBC News app is not yet available in the UK due to the fear and ineptitude of the BBC’s UK competitors.)
- Air Video – use you iPad to watch videos stored on your computer.
- Jaadu VNC for remote access to a Mac computer; Mocha Remote Desktop for Windows.
- Apple’s iPad case – essential for propping it up.