Tech Soup  

Got iPad? Get these apps.

Christmas is 23 days away. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either a scary thought or no big deal. Those who need to have their holiday chores done weeks in advance are probably going with the former, whereas the last minute shoppers are taking on the attitude of the latter.

Regardless, the thought of only having just over three weeks to get all your shopping done is freaking me out.

Last year the hottest tech gift was, hands down, the iPad - and this year is no exception. But in 2011, the iPad is being embraced by demographic groups that it probably wasn’t seeing in 2010. Apple’s magic tablet, while initially appealing to those in the 20-50 age bracket, is now making its way into homes of kids and seniors as well.

It’s amazing how many parents I’ve spoken with who are buying the iPad as a learning tool for their children, and how many seniors who view the iPad as the catalyst to experience cutting edge technology for the first time in their lives.

Whether you already have one, are thinking of getting one, or are just in the process of writing your letter to Santa begging him for one, you’ll want to check out my list of apps that you absolutely must have and that I cannot do without.

In no particular order:


It was a long time coming, but we finally got an official iPad app from Mark Zuckerberg and company in October. If you haven’t experienced Facebook on the iPad, you haven’t experienced Facebook.

Well, not really, but it sounds good.

Free. Privacy not included.


Of all the apps listed here, this is the one that gets the most use on our iPad.

While there are many other e-book reading apps available (Apple’s own iBooks, Kobo, Nook), the Kindle app is far and away the best and deserves a spot on your tablet’s main app screen. Like it or not, e-books are here to stay, and you can’t beat the price point. e-book prices are rising slightly, but they’ll never get as high as their hardcover cousins.

Kindle app is free.


Much has been made about the magazine industry being on life support, but the iPad has allowed many publications to reinvent themselves as eye-popping apps. Flipboard magically transforms news sites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and more into gorgeous, flippable, magazine-style pages.

It's the perfect kind of app that justifies the iPad's very existence, as it makes for fun, fast, easy, and efficient method to devour Web content.

Best part? Flipboard is absolutely free, without so much as a single ad obstructing the user interface.


Haven’t heard about Evernote yet? I promise you: once you start using Evernote you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

The best part of Evernote is its ability to organize your life across multiple platforms. Evernote also runs on Mac, Windows, Android tablets and phones, the iPhone, Blackberry, Windows Phone, and Palm. But where it really shines is on the iPad.


Scrabble/Words With Friends/Boggle

So many games, so little time. Angry Birds is awesome on the iPad, but once you’ve beaten it there’s little reason to go back and purchase the latest iteration.

One game that has stood the test of time is Scrabble, and boy does it ever flourish on the iPad. Scrabble is even cooler if the players own an iPhone or iPod Touch. You can download the Scrabble Tile Rack app for your phone/touch and literally flip the tiles from your phone on to the iPad Scrabble board. It’s totally geeky, but wicked fun.

At $9.99, Scrabble isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the download. If playing a great word game doesn’t warrant parting with a ten-spot, Words With Friends HD provides a similar experience for free.

I realize Boggle is a different type of word game, but it deserves a mention here as word lovers won’t be able to pry themselves away from their tablets. Fantastic iteration of the dice-based game.

Boggle is only 99 cents.

Global, CTV, City, CBC TV apps

I’ve lumped these free Canadian TV network apps together, because collectively they provide a great platform for Canadians to get their fix of many favorite US TV shows. Here in Canada we’re limited in our selection (Hulu, NBC and other US network apps aren’t available here), but with the addition of the CTV app a few weeks ago at least we’re catching up somewhat.

All free.

Pinball HD

Another game with mass appeal is Pinball HD. I was skeptical at first, but after a minute or two I was blown away at the level of realism this app achieves in recreating the experience.

Back in the day, a game would cost you a quarter per play, but you can play all you want for 99 cents and be your own pinball wizard.

Elton John not included.

As far as the world of apps go, I know I’ve only scratched the surface here. You’re sure to find many more essential apps as you go, but hopefully this list will give you a good start.

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Each week, Tech Soup will be written by a member of the Okanagan's burgeoning first-rate technology community. We already have a few regular contributors, but if you're interested in writing a tech piece for this weekly column, send us an email to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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