Friday, December 14, 2012

My Top iPad Apps: Part 1

Apple’s Pages app. Image courtesy of

In a previous post, I wrote about my experiences travelling across America with my iPad 2. Today, I thought I would write about my top iPad apps. That is, the apps I used most during my trip.

What is a vacation without photographs to remember it by? I must say while I was quite happy with the quality of the video footage obtainable via the iPad’s built-in camera, as a stand alone device for taking photographs it is basic to the point of useless.

In the end I alternated between using my digital camera and the iPad for shooting video, but used my digital camera for photographs. While I agree that neither a digital camera or the iPad are ideal for shooting video, I had no intention of carrying yet more weight across America in the shape of a digital camcorder. After all, I am not a documentary film maker! I just wanted to be able to record some scenes and vistas that would complement my photographs and memory.

Both Pages and Numbers are two more very useful Apple apps that enabled me to maintain a daily trip journal (on Pages), and spreadsheets (using Numbers) to keep track of my expenses and ongoing costs. This was essential since I was travelling on a limited budget of around AU$1,000 per week. Documents in Pages (see image at the top of this post) can include photographs, videos and many other elements. Of course, you can email, or export both Pages and Numbers files to any email address or online backup service for retrieval later. Both apps cost AU$10.49 each.

Once I had taken my photographs and video footage, I wanted to edit and enhance both before uploading the finished work to either Facebook or YouTube. I downloaded both of Apple’s excellent iPhoto and iMovie apps (AU$5.49 each), and within minutes I was able to edit and put together several short films and upload them to YouTube. The following clip was filmed and edited using only the iPad and iMovie. The footage shows scenes from the National September 11 Memorial.

Goodreader, AU$5.49 in the app store, is described as a “…super-robust PDF reader for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.” Further; “With GoodReader on your iPad/iPhone, you can read virtually anything, anywhere: books, movies, maps, pictures.” And so it proved. I had a number of PDFs and Word docs on my laptop which I wanted to be able to make use of during my trip, and Goodreader imported them without issue and made them available with a couple of quick taps and swipes.

An important factor in my decision to buy the iPad was the ability to download and read books on the device. Currently, I have over two hundred books available through the iBooks app (included with all iPads), most of which I have downloaded for free from that great repository of public domain books, Gutenberg.Org. I don’t know if I will ever get to read everything I have downloaded, but no matter, I love having these books, and those that I have bought via the Apple store at my fingertips.

Where would we be without the modern web browser? Both these apps are indispensable. Safari is preinstalled on the iPad, and the Google app is available free from the Apple app store. ‘Nuff said.

That will do for now. In a follow up post I will write about a number of other apps (Maps, TripAdvisor, Choice Hotels, Facebook, Skype, and World Clock), which also proved to be invaluable during my trip.

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