By BOB TEDESCHI
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Most iPad owners will tell you that it can indeed inspire the kind of astonishment you might have felt while watching your first magic show — that is, if the device is properly loaded.
Here are my 10 favorite apps, plus a few extras to make the iPad magic happen:
IWORK ($30, or $10 each for Pages, Keynote or Numbers): Since you can’t type easily on an iPad, it may never replace your laptop. But with this software, which is made by Apple, you won’t need to rush to your other computers to edit Microsoft Office files. The Pages app is great for revising and exporting text files; the Numbers app is good (and getting better) with spreadsheets; and Keynote is a serviceable complement to PowerPoint.
FLIPBOARD (free): Twitter and Facebook rely on “new stuff on top” layouts, with links that send you elsewhere to see what people are fussing about. Flipboard rationalizes this editorial insanity. The app plops your Facebook feed into a magazine format, showing all the stories your friends recommended, with photos and updates. You can create other personalized magazines from Twitter feeds, on topics of your choice.
STAR WALK ($5): A jaw-dropping astronomy app. Hold the iPad toward the night sky and it labels everything. You can also preview the movement of tonight’s sky, or witness a particular night sky from centuries ago. Star Walk is billed as an educational app, but it’s as entertaining as anything on the market.
SKETCHBOOK PRO ($8): Experienced artists can create masterpieces with this program. Hobbyists and children can happily lose themselves for hours. The app is powerful, yet fairly intuitive.
NETFLIX (free, but requires a paid Netflix subscription): The iPad renders video beautifully, and Netflix streams a nearly limitless catalog of movies and TV shows to the device. Fast, easy, addicting.
FRUIT NINJA HD ($5): On the iPad’s big screen, this game will give you more of a jolt than Angry Birds. (But do yourself a favor and download that one too.) The task: swipe your finger to slice flying fruit. Hit a bomb and your ninja days are numbered. A recent update added online multi-player functionality.
INSTAPAPER ($5): Great articles typically appear when you have no time to read them. Instapaper quickly stores links, so you can read the full articles later, from within the app. Instapaper also remembers articles you’ve saved with the free online version. Some will find setting up the service on an iPad frustrating, but it is worth it.
PANDORA RADIO (free): Fans of the personalized radio service will appreciate the big-screen format, which is great for reading liner notes and browsing artists and songs. The music selections and ads (if you don’t pay for upgraded service) are the same as on the iPhone or online version.
EVERNOTE (free): Another bigger-is-better entry. Evernote stores notes, photos and voice memos, so you can retrieve them later on any Web-connected device. The service offers a fair amount of free storage, but you can skip the limit for $45 a year.
Reuters News Pro (free): Among the best news apps, it will cache articles for offline reading; Photoshop Express (free): Import your photos and crop, filter, rotate and change them to suit your tastes. Great for youngsters, too; Wikipanion (free): An iPad-centric approach to surfing Wikipedia pages; AirCoaster ($1): Design and ride 3-D roller coasters, with amazing graphics; Magic Piano ($2): Make music with whimsically elegant keyboards; Scrabble ($10): The wordsmith’s standby, nicely rendered for the iPad. (Use your iPhone or iPod Touch as tile racks).
Orbital HD ($3): A game that will engage your brain, test your reflexes and kill many hours of your time; Weather HD ($1): No matter the forecast, it’s a treat to read; Twitter for iPad (free): Twitter’s official app delivers an efficient, simple experience; Skype (free): Make free (or cheap) calls with your iPad; Epicurious (free): Professionally tested recipes, in big-screen glory; Real Racing HD ($10): Take the wheel and steer the iPad to victory; NPR (free): Catch up on the news and your favorite NPR programs, or read top articles; TextPlus (free): Free texting; The Elements ($14): Could make you want to take high school chemistry again; Dragon Dictation (free): Speak your mind, and the app delivers a text message or e-mail, ready for sending.
Source: New York Times, December 8, 2010