Archive | January, 2011

10 of my favourite iPad apps

Flipboard – Lots has been written about this app and it was launched to much excitement.  It was justified.  It’s a superb app that actually sold me on the iPad.  Yes I got the iPad shortly after I saw a demo of this app from my boss @btazzi.  It presents your Twitter and Facebook streams and other feeds that you choose into a magazine type format that you can flick through.  You can share, comment, retweet all from within the application.  You could spend hours here browsing the different feeds and consume a vast amount of information almost effortlessly.

 

BBC News –  This is usually my first port of call for news.  You can select the news feeds to be displayed and place them in the order that you wish.  It’s easy to browse through the stories and it’s very easy to share them. 

 

TheJournal.ie – I like this app a lot and am using it more and more as it’s Irish based so local stories get more focus while also covering international. It’s a nice clean interface with simple facility to switch between news, business or sport.   Again its easy to post a comment or share the stories.

 

Focus Magazine – This is science and technology reading that is suitable for all.  I have been buying the print edition for years.  Have always really enjoyed it and love that I can now buy it on my iPad.  It’s not simply a copy of the static magazine but it’s created for the iPad with video, sounds and interactive articles which makes for a richer experience all round. Want to learn how things work and what new tech is coming? Then this is the app and magazine for you!

  

Kindle – So everyone has heard of the Kindle?  Download your books and read them on your Kindle (In this case the Kindle on your iPad).   They should try to simplify the buying process a little instead of bringing you out to the web page but once you get used to that its all good.  Download the book and then click on it to start reading.  Set the brightness, page colour, text size all to your own preference.  Yes some people complain they miss the feel and the comfort in holding a book and seeing the pages stack as you work your way through it.  Still an excellent app and a superb way to bring a few books when travelling.

 

Google Earth – Explore the whole world from your iPad.  As well as all the maps there are lots of excellent pictures and wiki information pieces on many places around the world.  All with a simple touch. Hours of browsing your possible holiday destinations await you.

 

Star Walk –  There are other similar apps out there but this is the best.  Great for star-gazers when you want to know just what you are looking at in the night sky.  Hold it up and move it around and the night sky image moves with you.  It shows stars, satellites, deep space objects, the solar system and highlights the constellations if you wish as you move around.  Really lovely app and a great demonstration as to what the iPad can do. 

 

F1 Timing App – So this is a little self-indulgent as I am a huge F1 fan but this app is one of the best demonstrations of the iPad and its capabilities.  Open this app at the start or during  a race and it shows the cars positions on the track in real-time. You can actually ‘see’ the racing.  See pic below.  You get a bird’s eye view of the whole track and where every driver is on that track in a continuous stream. I can see track positions at pit stop time and get insights into the race not possible from the race camera views.  It’s a 3D type view and a lot more colourful when the race circuit is not in the middle of a desert as the below demo is – Bahrain.  You can zoom in on areas of the track, rotate the track around, tilt it, follow a driver, replay and get detailed info and news on teams, drivers and races. At €23 its the most expensive app I have bought but honestly worth it for all F1 fans.

 

Twitterific – Yes I am a twitter fan.  This app is free and the best currently available in my view.  I’d like to be able to put more tweets in a screen as there is a lot of wasted space but it’s still the better of the twitter apps available.

 

TED – This is a non-profit that is about sharing ideas.  Technology, Entertainment and Design.  All recorded from the TED sessions given around the world.  Some very interesting and insightful pieces and a great way to pass some time easily while being educated and enlightened.

So that is it.  My top 10.  Noticeable absentee is a Facebook app.  That is because I can’t really say I have a favourite.  I usually end up back in Safari to do what I need due to the Facebook apps limitations.  I also didn’t include any games of which there are plenty but if you did want to look at what the iPad can offer in gaming I think Infinity Blade and NOVA 2 are good examples.  Also if you wish to pass hours then there is Angry Birds and for kids Talking Tom.  Although Tom is not a game more of an interactive app but kids love it.  And that is it.  Really enjoy the iPad and a great tool for research and keeping up to date on any topic of interest. Currently my favourite toy!

So am I missing something ground shaking in the app world? Dont hesitate to let me know.

So just what is this Apple TV thing….

Only one of the best pieces of tech I have seen in ages.  Apple TV has been around for a little while and this is its second version but I had assumed like Netflix or other such services(devices) that this probably wouldn’t work or be available in Ireland.  However I got a demo on their latest release from my ‘little’ brother who had his home over Christmas.  I was very impressed.  As soon as I got home I ordered one online – €119.00 (OK so it was on the Visa but I treated myself which then caused a conversation or 2 with my better half on budgeting but that was all good and as usual she was right :-) )

Its fast, easy to use, links up to iPhones, iPads, computers.  We can play our music on it from any of our iTunes accounts using the home sharing facility in iTunes.

We can watch\browse YouTube or Flickr.  We can rent movies on it. They stream to the device via the internet and are immediately(within 30 secs!) available to play.  No more driving the 5 km to Xtravision and back for us.  Movie rentals on it are cheaper than DVD or Blu-Ray rentals.  It’ll save us money in the long-term as we normally rent at least 1 movie every week.

I can buy movies or series on iTunes and watch on the TV easily.

Its HD. It’s very small (roughly 10cm x 10cm x 2.5cm – see pic). Its wireless. I can control it from my iPhone or iPad (Yes there’s an app for that!) but it also has its own remote so iPhone\iPad not needed. I can stream content from my apple devices to the Apple TV via Airplay e.g. On my iPhone I recorded the kids playing. I play it on my iPhone and hit the Airplay button and it appears on my TV.  Simple. It’s very very easy to use. Rumored that more features such as Safari are coming with later software releases. And did I say its easy to use?

For me its the missing link with the whole Apple personal devices\ home entertainment piece.  It brings them all together seamlessly. It’s the best piece of home tech and value for money from 2010.  Honest!

Note: OK so I spouted off on its wonders.  Yes there are some things that could be better(maybe they will come in the future here?).  We dont have the same options as in the states such as Netflix so we need an iTunes account and if they could add the RTE and TV3 (and BBC!) online players it would really enhance it and make it appealing for this market and even the must have home entertainment device.

Also if you don’t have any other Apple devices and prefer to buy your movies as opposed to rent them this is probably not for you.  You also need a decent home internet connection for it to be effective and if you have kids or others  playing games online or streaming media in other rooms you may want to kick them off to ensure you have full bandwidth for movie duration or wait a little bit for your movie to be ready but this will be a ‘suck and see’ as your internet may be good enough to allow all to happen together. The range of movies\programs is nowhere near what is available in the US but I am sure this will improve over time.  Still the best piece of tech last year in my view.  Yes the iPad is wonderful but the cheapest iPad is four times the cost of this………this is cheap for what it offers.  It is small, easy to set up, simple to use and most importantly just works.  This is how all tech should be!)