HowStuffWorks for iPad (Free) by HowStuffWorks.com brings their website's seemingly endless font of knowledge to the iPad.
Marshall Brain (yes, that is his real name) founded HowStuffWorks as an edutainment website in partnership with the Discovery Channel in 1998. Now Brain and his team of experts are available through the iPad app, as well as the iPhone app, which was released in June, 2011.
HowStuffWorks brings the website's many facets to life, while taking advantage of the iPad's strengths. The application includes video podcasts, articles, quizzes, and lists, which are nestled into an easy-to-use UI that just may wrestle a user's attention away from Angry Birds or Tiny Tower long enough for them to learn something.
The application's home screen shows a selection of everything that is available within HowStuffWorks, without regard to media type. Although the aforementioned video podcasts and articles make up the bulk of the selections, there are a few audio podcasts and the occasional quote thrown in for good measure. Sample quote: "Men have become the tools of their tools" -- Henry David Thoreau. Who knew Thoreau was so prescient?
It's worth perusing the home screen, but it is also possible to sift through HowStuffWorks by subject. Press the book-shaped icon at the upper right to categorize the app's offerings by topic and subtopic. For example, under the topic Culture, and then subtopic People, there is a wide range of reading material. An article entitled "Is there a scientific formula for funny?" sits abreast "How Do Corsets Work."
The app includes all of the website's video podcast favorites (Tech Stuff, Stuff Mom Never Told You) as well as a new addition, Stuff From the Future. Be sure to adjust the settings so the application will update your favorite video podcasts automatically.
Want to see if you've learned anything? HowStuffWorks comes with a set of quizzes that test you on the material it contains. Any user who needs a competitive fix can sign into Game Center and track their performance.
HowStuffWorks encourages the user to access additional content on a topic by selecting the Related Stuff icon in an article or podcast. Any content can also be marked as a favorite, shared on Twitter or Facebook, or sent by email.
The curious generalist will be in heaven using HowStuffWorks. It would take days for a user to get through all of the material in the application.
The app should appeal to men and women as well as to a wide range of ages. Although the application is rated 4+ by Apple, some of the material may not be suitable for younger children.