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Seeking way cool ipad apps
April 22, 2010 6:30 PM   Subscribe

What cool iPad apps should I buy for my brother?

My brother has an iPad 3G scheduled to arrive next Wednesday. Before it shows up I'd like to gift him a bunch of apps so he'll be ready to play as soon as he unboxes the unit. I'm setting myself a budget of $100.

While useful is nice, I'm also looking for things that will make him laugh, surprise him, impress him, blow his mind which what's possible on this new platform. Innovative or unexpected user interface design is a plus. He's a long-time Mac and iPhone fanboi and he travels a lot.

Any suggestions? I've googled around a bit, but I'm still looking for more stuff.
posted by alms to Technology (32 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have one but this post might be helpful: iPad killer apps
posted by sharkfu at 6:33 PM on April 22, 2010


Scrabble is my favorite app so far.

I've also purchased ArtStudio but haven't had the time to work with it yet (need to synch up). Fantastic reviews. And ArtStudio is amazingly cheap!

He will get the iBook reader free with the iPad, so maybe some ebooks? What kind of books does he like?
posted by misha at 6:36 PM on April 22, 2010


I want an iPad just so I can play with the Elements app, and I'm not even that into science.
posted by fantine at 6:41 PM on April 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You should tell us his interests - there are tons of cool apps. What does he plan to do with his iPad?
posted by Brent Parker at 6:43 PM on April 22, 2010


Penultimate is my new favorite. It's kind of allowing me to write in a virtual Moleskine.

I want the Scrabble app, but I mostly play Scrabble like friends with people all over the world so I opted for Words with Friends HD

Star Walk is also a favorite and with the 3G I imagine it's even more useful.

I've shocked myself by becoming amused and almost addicted to We Rule.

Magic Piano is often spoken of as a must have and I do find it entertaining, but even though the iPad is much better than I could have imagined for a piano simulation it's still really hard for me to play on.

I use IM+ for multi-client chat.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:04 PM on April 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just a heads up that the Elements app, which looks beautiful, is also 1.74 GB, so if your brother got a 16 GB iPad you may want to hold off on the $13.99 purchase until he approves the space use.
posted by sharkfu at 7:14 PM on April 22, 2010


You should tell us his interests

My brother travels a lot. He spends time on airplanes and hotels. He gives presentations. He takes a lot of photos. He's an amateur botanist and flower breeder, and judges plant breeding competitions. He's gay. He's a Mac/iPhone fanboi. He loves the technology and loves customizing it and doing fun unexpected things with it. He like crossword puzzles, but beyond that he's not particularly a gamer.

I expect many of the apps I give him will only be run once. But if he gets a kick out of them that one time, that's enough, and if there are a few apps that he comes back to or shows off to other people, that's success.

I'm really just trying to give him an extended unboxing experience, and let him have some fun seeing what this new device can do.
posted by alms at 7:15 PM on April 22, 2010


Just a heads up that the Elements app, which looks beautiful, is also 1.74 GB, so if your brother got a 16 GB iPad you may want to hold off on the $13.99 purchase until he approves the space use.

No worries. He's getting a 64GB model. Thanks for the heads up, though. Elements is on my list.
posted by alms at 7:19 PM on April 22, 2010


How about Brushes versus Sketchbook Pro?
posted by alms at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2010


A recent episode of the podcast Diggnation the two hosts (Kevin & Alex) each listed their top 5 apps:

Top 5 Apps (Alex)
IMDB
Netflix
USAToday
Pandora
TweetDeck

Top 5 Apps (Kevin)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert
TweetDeck
Bloomberg
GodFinger
iBooks

Some of those are free and obviously iBooks is included with the iPad.
posted by sharkfu at 7:29 PM on April 22, 2010


iFish Pond HD might be good for your brother since he's a nature lover.
posted by sharkfu at 7:30 PM on April 22, 2010


Has anyone gotten their hands on Dungeon Hunter HD? Any good?

tell me no tell me no i'm totally not going out tonight for a 32GB wifi iPad
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:41 PM on April 22, 2010


Sorry if I'm derailing here, but how is he getting his hands on a 3G iPad next Wednesday? Pre-oreders aren't scheduled to be delivered until Friday. Not saying that you're wrong, just curious -- I'm waiting patiently for mine too.
posted by ASM at 7:49 PM on April 22, 2010


fairytale of los angeles: "Has anyone gotten their hands on Dungeon Hunter HD? Any good?

tell me no tell me no i'm totally not going out tonight for a 32GB wifi iPad
"

Felicia Day tweeted that she loved it.
posted by sharkfu at 7:51 PM on April 22, 2010


How about Brushes versus Sketchbook Pro?

I prefer Sketchbook Pro. I wanted several really specific things from a drawing program and Sketchbook was the only one that had all (but one) of them:

-- movable, resizable layers.
Both apps have layers, but you can't move or resize the ones in Brushes. This doesn't work for me, because I have a bad habit of starting my drawings too far to the left or right. So I need to be able to center them before I start coloring them.

-- an eyedropper tool.

-- a flood-fill tool.
The only thing I wish is that Sketchbook's flood-fill tool could use all layers as its fill boundaries. Alas, it can only use the layer that it's filling. That sucks, because I like to keep all my dark lines on one layer and my colors on another. But thought Sketchbook's fill tool can't help me with this, I don't think any other drawing app on the iPad can either.

Sketchbook has a lot of cool brushes and a really well-thought-out interface. It can export in various formats, including as a layered Photoshop file.

It's definitely one of my favorite apps.
posted by grumblebee at 8:05 PM on April 22, 2010


how is he getting his hands on a 3G iPad next Wednesday?

I may be misremembering. It may be Friday.
posted by alms at 8:41 PM on April 22, 2010


FYI, also on my list so far:

Air Hockey, just for retro hack value.

Star Walk, because if it really does what the commenters say it does, it will be jaw dropping amazing.

Kayak, because my brother travels a lot, and this is said to have a great UI.
posted by alms at 9:06 PM on April 22, 2010


It's probably Friday, alms, if he ordered his the first weekend like my husband did.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 9:15 PM on April 22, 2010


Xplane is pretty incredible. Flight simulator.
posted by icebourg at 9:26 PM on April 22, 2010


Flight Control HD. Rocks.
posted by donovan at 9:34 PM on April 22, 2010


I love Swankolab for great photo effects (and an awesome interface), and the generative music app by Brian Eno, Bloom. (Air, by the same software designer who collaborated with Eno on Bloom, is great, too.) WunderRadio is super as well. Each of these apps makes iPhone/iPad into a whole new device for me. Hope he enjoys his new hardware!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 10:24 PM on April 22, 2010


"I'm also looking for things that will make him laugh...
He's an amateur botanist and flower breeder"


Popcap’s great tower attack game Plants vs. Zombies ($9.99).
posted by blueberry at 1:16 AM on April 23, 2010


Flight track?
posted by dhruva at 5:20 AM on April 23, 2010


Give him an iTunes gift cert so he can pick himself. Prepare a bunch of apps that you think are awesome and either show them to him in person or send him a list. Let him make the final decision.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:12 AM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


He spends time on airplanes and hotels.

If he likes to read articles on the web or via RSS feeds, he should check out Instapaper Pro.

He gives presentations.
Keynote, IMHO, is a big disappointment. Especially since you say he's used to giving presentations, he'll be frustrated by the limitations. I know I am as a desktop Keynote junkie.

I expect many of the apps I give him will only be run once. But if he gets a kick out of them that one time, that's enough, and if there are a few apps that he comes back to or shows off to other people, that's success.

* Godfinger is kind of fun (and free). I don't 'get' what Farmville on FB is all about, but I got the hang of Godfinger immediately. Even if you just use it a couple of times, it's easy to

* I'm looking forward to Simcity for iPad. I don't really like the iPhone version because it's really too tiny, but I think an iPad version could rock.

* Flight Control HD is as fun on iPad as it is on the phone.

* Digits is a great calculator.

* If he's stuck on conf calls and webcasts a lot, WebEx (free) can really save the day.
posted by lodev at 7:05 AM on April 23, 2010


app that gets the most use on my iPad is "Air Video", which streams video from a computer somewhere else (you run a lightweight server on it) and it transcodes any format in real time. So if he has a hard drive full of tv shows, movies etc you can just watch them on the iPad. It's really perfect.
posted by neustile at 7:35 AM on April 23, 2010


Jampad - a keyboard, drum machine, and guitar, all playable at the same time.


GoodReader - read many document formats, including pdf.

Beatwave - 90% of the time, I show off this app without even turning on the sound, people just find it so fascinating to watch the pad react.


if you do decide to get him some games,

DoodleBlast HD - 'hand-drawn' tank game. One life, as many guns as you can stack on top of your tank, and infinite enemies. It's fun, it's silly, it's well done.

n'thing airhockey.

Tetris of course

Geometry Wars: Touch - controls are quirky, but the visuals are very pretty.
posted by nomisxid at 7:58 AM on April 23, 2010


Maybe HoloToy 3D?
posted by sharkfu at 10:47 AM on April 23, 2010


Full disclosure alert - my husband designed a note-taking app with an infinite canvas, specifically to take full advantage of the possibilities of the iPad, so though it's awfully close to self-linkage I'll mention it here because you asked about things that explore what's possible on the new platform. It's called Infinote.
posted by lhall at 2:28 PM on April 23, 2010


app that gets the most use on my iPad is "Air Video", which streams video from a computer somewhere else (you run a lightweight server on it) and it transcodes any format in real time. So if he has a hard drive full of tv shows, movies etc you can just watch them on the iPad. It's really perfect.

Seconded. This is the killer app for me that made my iPad purchase 100% worth it.

He's an amateur botanist and flower breeder, and judges plant breeding competitions.
Definitely seconding Plants vs. Zombies, then. I don't have it for the iPad, but I have the iPhone version and it is super addictive and fun. Even if he's not really a gamer, it involves planting!

He's a Mac/iPhone fanboi. He loves the technology and loves customizing it and doing fun unexpected things with it.
LogMeIn Ignition is pricy ($30), but getting great reviews--it lets you remotely access your home computer.

I bought the latest issue of Interview Magazine (it's only $0.99); it's not perfect, but it's cool for showing people what the iPad could really do for magazines.

In that vein, I'd also consider gifting him a magazine subscription from Zinio--the app itself is free, and they offer a ton of photography and travel magazines, which he can then also read on his computer or iPhone.
posted by cosmic osmo at 4:01 PM on April 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know if your brother will dig it, but I've absolutely loved Plants vs. Zombies on the iPad. The game is a good fit for the device.
posted by rockstar at 8:29 PM on April 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for all these suggestions! This is exactly what I was looking for. First batch of apps has been gifted. More on the way soon.
posted by alms at 6:01 AM on April 24, 2010


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