The iPad ships with essential apps such as Safari, Mail and Photo for getting started, but to really unleash the potential of Apple's tablet computer, users will have to head over to the App Store and download more.
Here are a few suggestions for apps that have broad appeal and have a good chance of seeing daily use. The best part is most of them are free.
The iPad excels as a reading/content consumption device, so it is only natural news reading would be part of the mix. There are several free apps that do a great job of rounding up the day’s news.
NPR – This layout of this app is really well thought out, allowing the user to swipe through the lists of stories quickly and easily. Along with articles, a user can listen to the NPR broadcast or save it for later listening. Price: Free
New York Times Editors’ Choice – Just like with the iPhone, the New York Times was one of the first news organizations to offer an application. The iPad version does not disappoint, offering a smooth interface that stays true to the New York Times style. The only downside here is that just as the title implies it’s not the full contents of the newspaper. However, the Timesâ web site displays quite well in Safari . Price: Free
AP – This is another great news app with a totally revamped interface for the iPad. It does not suffer any of the slowness or performance issues which plagued the iPhone version. A user can choose a story from the ones grouped on the page or flip through them one at a time. Price: Free
The iPad is a giant screen, so of course it’s perfect for watching videos . There are several options here, including some that are free. A word of caution, though: many video apps appear to still be buggy, with frequent reports of freeze-ups that require a manual shut down to fix.
ABC Player – At the top of the free list is the popular ABC Player, which streams free episodes of the network’s top shows, such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives.” There is also a schedule of upcoming programming and a viewing history. Price: Free
Netflix –Fans of this popular service will appreciate the ability to stream movies directly to their iPad. The only catch is a subscription is required to participate. But the Netflix app is a good way to access movies without eating up the iPad’s limited storage or the need to sync content by plugging into iTunes. Price: Free
Evernote – This app is without equal for productivity due to its excellent syncing ability. Begin typing a note on Evernote, and it automatically syncs to your iPhone, Mac, or PC. Then a user can take that same note and make changes or additions, and sync it back again. If content does not need to be created or shared in an office suite format (like .doc) then Evernote is the best way to create and easily share information. Price: Free
Pages – Apple completely rebuilt a version of its desktop word processor for the iPad. It turns out to be very impressive and smooth to use. If you plan to do any writing on the iPad beyond emails, Pages is a smart purchase. There are other iWork options rebuilt for the iPad as well: Numbers (spreadsheets) and Keynote (presentations). Price: $9.99 each
iBooks - Apple’s iBooks is a great way to download and read eBooks . The first time a user fires up the App Store on a new iPad they will be offered it as a free download. From inside iBooks there is a virtual store that contains about 60,000 books for purchase. Once a book is purchased it flies on to a virtual bookshelf for reading. There are plenty of bells and whistles that make reading in iBooks a great experience: users can tap and hold on a word, and view a dictionary definition or highlight it. Page-turning has a slick and realistic animation. Price: Free
Kindle – Amazon did a great job with its own eReader app for the iPad , although there is not as much functionality or polish as can be found in iBooks. However, its strength is the much larger title selection available through the Kindle Store and the ability to sync your place in a book across different devices. If you wish, you can read a page on your iPad and pick up again at the same place on your iPhone, Mac, PC, or iPhone. Price: Free
The list above is just a start, and as the App Store’s iPad offerings mature there will be plenty other apps that will make the device more functional. The best advice is to check the App Store frequently and be willing to give new apps a trial run.