Great OFFLINE iPad apps for old farts?
December 9, 2012 6:29 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite iPad apps ... that will operate and run without an Internet connection?

My grandparents live in the middle of nowhere ... there is no cell coverage at their house, and the only option for Internet service is satellite, which they won't pay for, as they're happy doing what they do. My uncle recently bought them an iPad, and loaded it up with videos of family pictures, some genealogy info, a bunch of free eBooks, Angry Birds, etc, which is really cool. However, my Grandfather is a highly-inquisitive nonagenarian and knows he could be doing more things with it.
So, when I'm there at Christmas, I'd like to kidnap it for a couple of hours, and take it into town and use McDonalds' free wifi to load some apps up ... But I'm not sure what apps will work well without a network connection.
Apps based around science, technology, and learning would be optimal - both of my Grandparents are classic geeks - they order science lectures on DVD and watch them in their free time. Grandfather is an engineer, Grandmother is a gardener and horticulturist, and loves to cook. Any awesome suggestions?
I've seen previous questions along these lines, but they mostly seem to be focused around games.
posted by jferg to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It isn't an app, but how about downloading a bunch of podcasts like "How Things Work" to listen to later?
posted by HeyAllie at 7:18 AM on December 9, 2012

Kindle app with selection of books in their interest area.
posted by zeikka at 7:27 AM on December 9, 2012

Kindle; lots of great free books from Project Gutenberg. Cached Wikipedia; both Wiki Offline and AllOfWiki are good (one time giant download). MapsWithMe is a great offline map viewer. For stargazing, GoSkyWatch and Star Walk are amazing planetariums that use the compass, etc to show what stars you're looking at.

If your grandpa can go to McDonalds himself sometimes, Instapaper and Google Reeder are both great for downloading a bunch of articles to read later. You could fill the queues on those accounts for him.

BTW, depending on the middle of nowhere they are in they may have the option to get Internet via a relatively new class of service: fixed wireless or a "WISP". It's basically a line of site link from the house to another ground station. It's about the same cost as satellite but significantly faster and lower latency.
posted by Nelson at 7:51 AM on December 9, 2012

Solar Walk is amazing...even if you're not a space nut, you can spend hours just tooling around watching orbits, learning about moons and marveling at the universe. Really a top notch app.
posted by victoriab at 7:58 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

This site has some good app suggestions and it looks like most have content that can be downloaded and enjoyed when you're offline. It will mean your grandparents will have to go to town periodically to download new stuff but they sound like they'd really enjoy the Khan academy and other reference sites.
posted by victoriab at 8:02 AM on December 9, 2012

I don't know if McDonald's does but more than a few free WiFi spots block the app store. You might want to check.
posted by dstopps at 8:52 AM on December 9, 2012

Instapaper and Pocket will both let you download content from the web for later reading.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:55 AM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

If they like puzzles, my mother who is older enjoys Bookworm and Aki Mahjong on the ipad.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 8:59 AM on December 9, 2012

Your mother might like the Leafsnap app (depending on where they live) or Audubon Field Guides.
Maybe something like the CameraTime app - make some time lapse videos of flowers blooming, stormy skys, etc. Or set up a bird feeder near a window and get the Motion Detector app and identify birds.
If your father is a maker type, maybe Pepakura (not cheap last time I looked), Blender/Autodesk 123d Make, or even Lego Digital Design.
Crayon Physics for fun.
posted by LiverOdor at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2012

Sorry- Pepakura, Blender and Lego Digital Design are desktop apps, not iPad apps. I can't keep all my gadgets straight.
posted by LiverOdor at 10:33 AM on December 9, 2012

The Night Sky works w/o a connection -- a guide to the heavens.
But that would require minor adjustments to data every day, and I don't know how much data it keeps offline. Worth a look.
posted by LonnieK at 1:11 PM on December 9, 2012

If you take or store any photos on your iPad, Snapseed is a great app for enhancing them. I gladly paid for it, but as of last week it is a free app now.

I think the developers really "get" the iPad user interface and have used it optimally.
posted by imjustsaying at 1:31 PM on December 9, 2012

The best, most responsive drawing/painting app is Procreate.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:05 PM on December 9, 2012

I haven't done this, so it needs to be researched for feasibility.

Get the ipad camera memory card reader dongle from apple - and then you can mail memory cards with videos and audio books and podcasts.
posted by zippy at 2:31 PM on December 9, 2012

TED lets you download content for offline viewing. Pick them up a few talks and I bet they will want to spring for internet soon!
posted by Iteki at 3:16 PM on December 9, 2012

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