Megabytes large.png

iPad in-depth

(Page 3 of 3)

All the News

The iPad's portability and tablet size makes it perfect for reading, whether books (I've already looked at some book apps) or news. There are two main types of iPad news apps -- apps that compile news from various sources and apps that draw news from one particular news provider. In the former category, i can recommend Flipboard (free), which combines your Facebook and Twitter feeds with other sources such as the Economist, New Scientist and Boing Boing; Pulse News ($3.99) which features more sources but with a less appealing look than Flipboard and the Early Edition ($4.99), which takes your Google Reader rss feed and delivers it to you formatted like a daily newspaper. In the latter category there's the Globe and Mail, New York Times Editor's Choice, ABC News, Huffington Post, Slate, Wired Magazine (free for the app, but $3.99 for each issue), Vanity Fair ($4.99), GQ ($4.99) and many more. By the way, the Globe and New York Times apps don't include the full contents of the print editions -- only selected stories. 

Social Media

Facebook hasn't released an iPad app yet. There are several third-party apps (ranging in price from $0.99 to $4.99) to fill the gap though. I haven't tried any of them since it's just as easy (and cheaper) to access Facebook on the iPad through a web browser. Twitter has just released its (free) official iPad app, and it's a well-crafted app designed from the ground up to take advantage of the iPad's unique affordances. Before it came along I was trying to decide whether I liked TweetDeck  or Twitterific the best. Now, it doesn't matter -- Twitter for iPad outclasses them both.

The Funny Papers

One of the things I miss in digital newspapers (can you call something a newspaper if it's not in paper form?) is the daily comics. But I get my funnies fix through an app called Comic Strips ($0.99). For less than a dollar, you get perpetual access to more than 300 comic strips from a variety of sources. You can save your favourites so you don't have to scroll to find the ones you like. 

I no longer read comic books, but for those who do, there are a number of iPad apps. Comics + (free) gives you access to titles from most of the major publishers. The app is free but downloading individual comics within the app will cost you (though some issues are free).

Listen to the Radio

The iPad has a built-in music player (called, confusingly, iPod) which plays music you sync from iTunes. Unfortunately, it doesn't include the radio streams that are available in iTunes, so various third-party apps have sprung up that either aggregate internet radio stations or stream from one particular station. Accuradio, Action Radio and Tunemark (all free) include many stations in different genres. NPR (free) not only streams different local National Public Radio stations, but also lets you listen to specific shows and read news items compiled by NPR journalists. The BBC has a similar app combining music streams, news and specific shows. (Sadly for Canadian nationalists, the CBC doesn't have an iPad app yet, though you can use the free iPhone app on the iPad.)

The only drawback to these apps is that you can't listen to them in the background while doing something else on your iPad because currently the iPad does not allow you to run more than one program at a time.

Techno Tarot

The iPad would seem to be a shining example of the triumph of rationalistic technology, but it has attracted a number of apps that claim that the world is less rational and more magical than it appears. Legacy of the Divine Tarot (8.99), I Ching Reader ($1.99), Divination Through Cartomancy ($1.99) and Astrologist Pro Free are just some of the future-telling apps available. There's even an Oija Board app called Spirit Board ($1.99) that claims to be "a digital connection to the Other Side".

Barely four months after its introduction, the iPad has already given birth to almost 10,000 apps of every description, frivolous, serious, playful and creative. What the future holds for Apple's tablet -- and the many competing products about to be released -- is unguessable. Maybe Spirit Board can tell us.

More in MegaBytes

Robot Vacuum and Desert Bus: Patience as a video-game virtue

What's the slowest video game you've ever played?

Russian meteor video: Why do so many Russian drivers have dashcams?

Meteor strike in Russia: still from Dashcam video (YouTube)

Tamagotchi is Back: Virtual pets for your Android phone

Tamagotchis invade your smartphone. 2013 is the new 1997.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.