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iPad in-depth

The iPad is ideal for reading magazines, watching movies and many other activities. You can even tell the future or fly a plane. Photo by Stephen Shankland/CNET.

In my last column, I reviewed some of the many productivity and creativity apps available for the iPad. This time I'll continue my look at iPad pads, but this time I'll shift the focus to the less serious.

Maps and Directions

Thanks to its wifi and (in some models) wireless 3G connectivity, the iPad is location aware -- it knows where you are. And there are several apps that take advantage of this capability. Two of the best known are Google Earth and Maps apps, both free.

Google Earth is gorgeous on any computer, but on the iPad it achieves a tactile dimension as well. Being able to twirl the globe with your fingers, or pinch to zoom can make you feel like a god gazing down on his or her creation. 

Google Maps also translates well to the iPad. Its Street View feature, which gives you a photographic look at your mapped location, really comes into its own on the iPad - a tap is all you need to activate it, and adjusting your point of view is as easy as twirling your fingers. If Google Earth gives you a god's eye view, Street View makes you feel more like a human-scale voyeur. 

Weather

There are dozens of weather apps for the iPad, filling the device's generous screen space with detailed climate information and forecasts or gorgeous visuals. My preferred app is Weather Office ($0.99) because it gets its data from Environment Canada. If you prefer eye candy, try the free Weather HD -- it's short on detailed information beyond the basics (current conditions, immediate and long-range forecast) but I love the graphics. Serious climate enthusiasts should consider Weather Pro for iPad ($4.99).

Browsing

The iPad comes with a web browser built-in (Safari), but that hasn't stopped others from offering alternatives that bring features Safari lacks, such as anonymous browsing (Secret Browser, free), full-screen browsing (Snowbunny Web Browser, free) or tabbed browsing (iCab Mobile$1.99). And if you're worried about your kids being exposed to the naughtier side of the web on the iPad, check out Safe Browser ($4.99) which has a filtering engine to "provide a safe, secure and educational Internet for families and school-age children."

Photos

Despite its lack of a camera, the iPad has spawned lots of photo apps. Last time I looked at some of the apps available for editing images, but there are also apps to organize your images. The iPad has a Photos app built-in, of course, but it's limited to displaying photos, not organizing, adding or deleting them. Photo-Sort ($1.99) adds that functionality. Photo Share ($0.99) is one of many apps that can upload images to Flickr, Picassa and Facebook.

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