Fresh Out Of The Box For iPad - Free Edition
So you have a new iPad. Congratulations and welcome. Not only have you gained entry into the wonderful world of apps, you've gained membership into a select community, which understands that the iPad is far more than a powerful electronic gadget. It can be educational, entertaining, or inspirational. It can be artistic, humorous, and social. The iPad is what you make it. It is versatile and it is personal. Of course, making the device your own can also be an intimidating proposition. You may wonder, "Where do I start?" That's where we come in. We are a community that is here for you. You've embarked on an exciting journey. Here are some suggested free apps to help you take your first steps.
Evernote is a great productivity tool which allows you to easily create notes and sync them across your devices. You can even attach photo and voice notes with a few simple taps. This is one of the quickest ways to capture and organize your thoughts on your iDevice. Many other apps also work with Evernote, further enhancing its usefulness. Although Evernote is free, it is better than many paid apps.
Apple made waves when they announced iWork would now be free to anyone getting a new iOS device. If you're unboxing some new shiny then you're going to want to get this. Pages is one of the most powerful word processors on the platform. Desktop-grade tools are at your fingertips for text manipulation and changing styles of text with just a few taps. Templates have always been Apple's specialty and Pages does not disappoint. Over sixty templates come with the app to let you make great documents. Of course iCloud sharing is front and center within Pages and you can share the document for realtime collaboration with another person. Just like in Google Docs, Pages will update your project as you both work to perfect it.
Having your files available anywhere is the beauty of the cloud. Dropbox is one of the best services out there with a 2GB offering just for signing up. Once you have this app on your iPad, all your files are there for viewing. If you have apps that can handle other formats (like .zip) you can download and then open it in the designated app. Audio and video play within Dropbox as well. A great hidden feature is transcoding by the app. An AVI video will play in Dropbox without any work on your part. Dropbox also offers Camera Upload to automatically back up your Camera Roll. It's a great way to ensure photos are safe, plus you get up to an additional 3GB of space added to your account for free.
Whether it be in the form of words, pictures, audio, or video, media consumption is a particular strength of the iPad. It follows that you'll want to download apps with media to consume. The iPad makes for a fantastic e-reader, and Apple's own iBooks app is one of the best book apps available. Some people may already be tied to Amazon or Barnes and Noble's ecosystem, in which case, the Kindle and Nook apps are also viable options. However, for those who want to quickly start reading, the easiest solution is to download this app, browse the iBookstore, get your books and read them.
If you'd like to create your own personalized radio station, check out the free and universal app Pandora. Set up a free account, and then type in the name of your favorite artist, genre, or song. Pandora will help you discover new music, tailored for your tastes.
Take music discovery to a whole new level. If you're looking for more than an automated radio service, Songza is tops. This app features a concierge service. Pick your mood or current activity. Songza will suggest categories and then present playlists. The app lets you rate songs and it will tweak what future playlists are suggested. The curation is amazing; I particularly enjoy the 90's One Hit Wonders selection. Songza will also customize its sound by the brand of headphones you use. That alone makes it head and shoulders better than the Music app.
A quiet update to iOS 6 was the removal of the dedicated YouTube app. This didn't phase many because videos play in Safari. Google moved to release their own app and it's great. Once you sign in you get a better experience than the web version. All of your subscriptions are present along with a 'What To Watch' area with suggestions. Full abilities to comment, vote up/down, and flag for later viewing are all present. Google recently upped their game by including gestures to pinch a video into the corner. It will continue to play while you move elsewhere within the app.
If you happen to be a Netflix subscriber, this free app is a no-brainer download. There's no better app to show off the iPad's potential for watching video. Holding an extensive video library within your hands is a powerful experience.
Crackle – Movies & TV
If you don't want to spend money on a Netflix subscription, you can download the Crackle app, which doesn't offer the selection or quality of Netflix, but still provides a good amount of popular programming that you can watch right away at no cost.
Movies by Flixster, with Rotten Tomatoes
Flixster allows you to find showtimes, watch trailers, and get critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes. It will help ensure that the precious time you spend away from your iPad will be time well-spent. When you get home, you can then use this app to rate the movie on Facebook.
Pocket (Formerly Read It Later)
There is a wealth of information online that we encounter every day. People constantly post links to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and everywhere else we look. There's not enough time to read everything, but now you can with Pocket. This app saves anything you put in for later reading. It syncs using iCloud so it's up to date when you add things via their website or another iOS device. Articles are shown in a stripped-down RSS view or can be viewed in their original format. Videos play in-app as well. Articles can be tagged and you can search anything you've saved. Pocket is one of those apps you never knew you needed until you have it.
Flipboard: Your Social News Magazine
One of the most talked-about apps is Flipboard. A killer app for the iPad, this alone is a reason to hand your money over for the tablet. Flipboard takes any website, news feed, or social network and then builds them into a magazine-styled layout. Flipboard makes discovery simple by maintaining fully-curated "channels" ranging from News, Business, Cool Curators, Photos & Design, and tons more. Companies that partner directly with Flipboard bring custom formatting to each story. You can add Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ as sources too.
Letterpress – Word Game
Sometimes the simplest game ideas turn out to be extremely addictive. Letterpress achieves this by turning a Boggle-like game and mixing it with the competitiveness of Othello. Letterpress provides a beautiful and simple looking game board of 25 randomly generated letters. Your goal is to form words while selecting letters your opponent has set as their color. By doing so, you steal them to your color. The score goes back and forth as letter tiles keep getting stolen. Strategy is key with Letterpress because once all letters have been used at least once, the game is instantly over. Timing the length of words and letter selections are vital to ensure the game doesn't end before you can achieve a lead and keep it. Letterpress utilizes iOS's Game Center to play against friends or auto-match random opponents. Better yet is the fact that Letterpress is free, but you'll most likely want to shell out the 99 cents to unlock the full version. That'll get you the ability to play multiple simultaneous games along with different color schemes.
Words With Friends HD Free
Words With Friends is like Scrabble, but you play against your friends (or random opponents) at your own pace. There is a paid version of this game, which removes ads. However, the ads really aren't that intrusive when the game is played on the iPad's screen. The free version is more than sufficient to enjoy this game, which is not only fun, but also social.
Mint.com Personal Finance
Unless you have a generous benefactor, your iPad likely cost you a pretty penny. Fortunately, the iPad can also save you money. This app from Mint.com helps you manage your personal expenses. With bank-level data security, Mint makes it easy to sync your accounts and track your spending habits. You can use the money you save to buy more apps or other great Apple products!