No, this isn’t link bait or one of those “earn pennies by typing Google fodder blogs for me”-type articles. I’ve had use of an iPad for about 5 months now and have collected and used quite a few apps in that time, both free and paid, good and bad.
Yes, there are some good, if not excellent free apps available on the iPad. In some cases, I’ve even regretted a paid app purchase after coming across a free app that was just as good. In part, I put together this list in order to save you this torture along with a couple of bucks.
All the apps in this list are available in the U.S. iTunes store. No jailbreaking and Cydia AppStore needed. The free iPad apps listed are in no particular order, either.
Oh, and before you ask: Why top eleven? Because eleven is louder.
#1 Adobe Photoshop Express – Remember back when every digital P&S camera you purchased came with a free copy of Photoshop Elements to get you started down the road of post-processing (which Adobe hoped would end in a purchase of a copy of Photoshop)? Well, a few years back the moved Elements into the cloud and renamed it Photoshop Express, providing basic photo-editing via any platform, any browser. Well, any platform & browser except Safari on the IOS. But that’s okay, because they’ve put together a standalone app for iDevices that is just as good as the cloud-only version in features but better overall as it doesn’t require an active Internet connection to use. You can still post your finished image to Photoshop.com, if you want. Facebook, too. Like other image-editing apps for the iPad, it suffers from the same resolution limit I discussed in this article.
#2 Evernote – If you’re already an Evernote user, then I don’t need to convince you to install this right now. If you’re not…well, it’s like Microsoft OneNote except that there are versions available for virtually every platform that you can think of. Write a note, save a webpage, paste a photo on your Mac at home then edit & view it on-the-fly on your iPad. When you get to work, open it on your PC and continue. The best thing about the the iPad version and what makes it superior (IMHO) to versions on other platforms is the UI. Like most things on the iPad, it is very intuitive and pretty. Think: iPhoto for notes.
#3 CineXPlayer – Play DivX files on your iPad. Enough said.
#4 Dictionary.com – The same dictionary that you would find at the website, but in a standalone app that doesn’t require web-access. Oh, and it includes a full Thesaurus, too. And a word-of-the-day function. And a speech function. What more could you ask for the low, low price of zero?
#5 AppShopper – This is probably the best way to find new free apps or apps that go on sale in the iTunes store. You can create wish lists to track individual apps that you’re after, or browse through lists that fit a series of criteria that you define. My favorite search, and one that I perform daily, is for iPad apps that have had a price drop to free. Some publishers will re-price their apps to $0 for a short period in order to stimulate ‘sales’ and get a coveted space on the main app page and AppShopper is a good way to find them.
#6 NASA HD – This is a ‘must have’ for my fellow astronomy geeks out there. Not only does it let you view information and images from bodies in our solar system, but ties NASA TV and all of their social feeds into a single point. Next time they launch a satellite, watch it live on your iPad.
#7 Epicurious – If you are a geek in the kitchen, then I’m guessing that you are familiar with Epicurious magazine. This app isn’t the magazine, but a recipe book…a recipe book containing the thousands of recipes (including images, comments, and ratings) in the Epicurious library. Not only can you search and view all the data, but when you find what you want to make it will generate a shopping list and email it to you.
#8 Dropbox– I think most people are already familiar with this free online storage service. Their iPad app not only let’s you see what files you have stored in the cloud, but allows you to manage those files (delete/move/upload/download) as well as open and edit them in the related application. If you haven’t already, you should sign up on their website and download the various components for whatever other systems you have (PC, MAC, Android, etc…).
#9 Zumocast – Have you discovered yet how large movie files can be? I mean, a 2-hour movie in HD can hit 4GB! Add in your music library and apps and now that 32GB iPad isn’t looking so big, is it? That’s where Zumocast comes in. By installing a small servlet on your desktop (PC & Mac versions available) and the app on your iPad, you can stream media from a computer over your network to your device. As with Dropbox, you need to register at the website, but also like Dropbox this will give you streaming access to your media from any computer via a browser.
#10 Wikihood – There are plenty of free Wikipedia-based apps in the iTunes store and you probably have a couple loaded up on your device already. What makes Wikihood different then the other flavors out there is how it uses the information. Basically, when you enter new area start Wikihood and you are presented with Wikipedia articles about points of interest in your immediate vicinity. This makes it a great tool for travelers and especially for travel bloggers.
#11 ComiXology – So, yeah, I’m a comic geek, too. And yes, there are a few free comic reader apps in the iTunes store, including dedicated DC and Marvel apps. What makes this one better? Well, if you’re a Marvel comics fan then the answer is ‘nothing’. Download the Marvel reader ’cause Marvel comics are only available on the Marvel reader app. For everyone else, get this. I’m a big fan of DC (Batman, mostly) and Image (Hellboy & The Walking Dead) comic titles, both of whose libraries are available in the ComiXology app. Other publisher titles are also available. In addition, there is a desktop version of the app for reading on your ‘real’ computers.
What are your favorite free iPad apps? Why? Comment below!