Favorite iPhone/iPad Apps







It surprises people that, as a well-assimilated Apple fanboy, I didn’t buy the first generation iPhone. I was in the store on launch day, I had one in my hand, my credit card was burning a hole in my pocket… and I left without one. I used my Treo for nearly another year until the 2nd generation iPhone (confusingly named 3G) was released. I wasn’t waiting for the faster network connection or for the GPS chip, or cut-and-paste, although those were all nice. No, although I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, I was waiting for the App Store.

Remember, I was coming from years in the Palm ecosystem, where third-party apps were a key part of the experience. I was utterly reliant on a couple of them (in particular, an RPN calculator… having been converted to the RPN Way by HP calculators in my youth, I simply cannot use “normal” calculators without an Enter key!). So the first-gen iPhone had lots of promise, but it wasn’t ready for me yet. Web apps looked interesting, but until developers got hold of a native SDK, I kept my money in my pocket.

Once the App Store was announced, I knew I was hooked. In fact, I bought my first iPhone app on July 10, 2008, the night before the iPhone 3G was released… yes, I had that much faith in Apple (and James Thomson, author of PCalc) that I spent ten bucks on an app without hardware that I could run it on!

And, although I didn’t know it, I was participating in an interesting experiment in app pricing. In the early days, I bought several apps for $9.99 or even more. Soon, those apps found their prices cut to $6.99, $4.99… or they were abandoned entirely. A few apps hovered about the magic ten-buck point, but most were driven down by the competition from free and 99¢ apps.

Lots of people have blogged about the race to the bottom, and I have nothing useful to add there… except that I never hesitate to buy a paid app if it looks like it does something I need, or even want. I’ve spent more than the price of that first iPhone in the App Store at this point, and I don’t mind. Software developers gotta eat, and I don’t mine supporting them with a couple of bucks here and there.

Of course, sometimes the app turns out to be less polished than I hoped, or buggy, or just doesn’t get updated when needed. So I wind up buying a lot of apps, experimenting with them, and letting them languish in a rear page, or delete them from my devices entirely.

People are always asking me “So, what apps should I get for my iPhone/iPad?” That’s hard to answer, since I don’t know your needs or your budget. All I can do is give you a list of the apps that I use, many of them daily, and frequently after downloading and trying a lot of competitors. (I think I’ve bought six calendar applications, and I shudder to think how many Twitter apps. I’ve settled on what I think are the best.)

I’ve blogged about this before, but that was almost two years ago, and before the iPad… and things change.

So, in honor of Black Friday, here’s my list of my favorite iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch) applications. Click on any icon for a link to the official App Store description.

Productivity

 

$2.99 (free trial available) iPhone only
Calvetica Apple’s Calendar is gorgeous, but it’s a surprisingly clumsy user interface. (It’s only with the latest iOS release that you can actually change the category of an existing entry!) Since I juggle thirteen Google Calendars, I get frustrated with a “one size fits most” calendar. I’ve tried almost every replacement calendar in the App Store, and this is the only one that has earned a place in my iPhone Dock. No iPad version yet, but I’m optimistic…

Free Universal
Google Mobile Google may be occasionally evil these days, but their apps are darned good. I like the voice search and the Google Goggles. Free!

Free Universal
Zenbe Lists There are a zillion to-do list applications out there. This one keeps a position on my home screen for one fundamental reason: painless syncing from the cloud to multiple devices. The real-world use? My wife and I can share a single grocery list (and Home Depot list, etc.). If one of us goes shopping alone, we’re sure we have the most current version. I don’t understand Zenbe’s business model in giving this away, but I’d miss it if they stopped.

$4.99 (free trial available) iPhone only
Twittelator Pro I don’t know… is Twitter a “productivity” app, or an “anti-productivity” app? Probably a little of both. What’s definitely not productive is downloading and testing ten different Twitter clients. I’ve done that, so you don’t have to. Lots of them are good; some are very good. For my money, Twittelator Pro is the best of the bunch on the iPhone. There’s a free trial available if you don’t want to risk five bucks on my say-so.

$4.99 iPad only
Twittelator for iPad Unlike on the iPhone, the competition on the iPad isn’t even close (in my not-so-humble opinion). Twittelator for iPad is a complete rethinking of the user experience, and I like it a lot. Once Andrew adds “Open Web Pages in Safari” as a prefs item, it’ll be darn near perfect. (He had to wait for iOS 4.2 for that to make sense, so I expect it any day now.)

Free Universal
SimpleNote I can’t count the number of note-taking apps on the iOS platform. I love SimpleNote because it’s as simple as advertised. Doesn’t try to be all things to all people, but it’s a quick, easy, legible way of writing myself notes, and accessing them on other devices, including my desktop. And they’re a Y Combinator startup! I give them $12/year for “Premium” service, even though the free version meets all my needs.There are multiple desktop clients available to sync with SimpleNote’s server; I use JustNotes for the Mac, but others work as well.

$4.99 iPad only
iA Writer This one is iPad-only. Some of the design decisions in this app drive me crazy. But I love it for two reasons:

  1. The gorgeous custom font, Nitti Light, which is the most legible monospace typeface I’ve ever seen to on the iPad. And maybe it’s my teletype heritage, but I compose better in monospace.
  2. The expanded keyboard with cursor keys (yippee!) and other controls that may offend Steve Jobs, but which lighten my load every time I’m composing text.

SimpleNote works well by staying out of my way for a few sentences at a time. If I’m typing more than half a page on my iPad, I want to use iA Writer.


Free Universal
Evernote Theoretically, Evernote could replace both of the above apps. I find it too “heavy” to use for cranking out quick notes to myself, and the UI doesn’t match iA Writer for longer text. Where Evernote shines for me is in taking photographs (I’m particularly guilty of photographing the covers of books I want to buy) and OCRing them in the background so that they become searchable text. I suspect some low-wage English-speakers in India or China are chained to their workstations to type whatever they read in your photos, but I honestly don’t know. Synchronizes with an equally powerful client on your Mac or PC (or on the Web). There are paid options available if you turn out to be a heavy user.

$9.99 (free trial available) Universal
PCalc As I said earlier, I waited to buy an iPhone until PCalc was available. I use it every day on my Mac, and now I use it every day on my iPhone. Gorgeous implementation… not a slavish recreation of my beloved and still-operational HP-15C (although those recreations exist; I’ve bought them) but a rethinking of what’s necessary in an RPN calculator and what can be hidden. (Oh, yeah, there’s an algebraic mode, too, but I’ve never paid it any attention.) Multiple “skins” available to get the appearance you’re looking for. Comparatively expensive for an iPhone app, but worth it.

$4.99 Universal
PowerOne Financial If I run into a calculation that’s too complicated for PCalc but not complicated enough to open a spreadsheet, I usually reach for PowerOne. It’s a descendant of the RPN calculator I used to use on the Palm, but vastly more powerful with customizable worksheets (things like Time Value of Money where you can actually see all the variables, not just stuff them into the stack like an HP-12C). My only complaint is that the interface is ugly; I wish Infinity Softworks would implement custom skins like PCalc did.

$11.99 Both (single platform versions $7.99)
1Password Pro I use a new randomly-generated password for every Website that I visit. So I need a secure place to keep them. After using SplashID for years on the Palm OS, I paid for both 1Password and SplashID on the iPhone. After a long period of using them in parallel, I settled on 1Password. Frequent updates, and a great Mac client that syncs automatically over Wi-Fi and integrates with Safari or Firefox on your desktop.

$1.99 iPhone only
Favorites Simple speed-dialer that sits in my Dock and lets me dial or text my most frequent contacts with one touch. Does exactly what you’d want it to, and nothing that you wouldn’t want it to. Probably overpriced but, seriously, can’t you afford two bucks?

$4.99 iPad only
ReaddleDocs for iPad I’ve said before that ReaddleDocs for the iPad is reason enough to own an iPad, and I still believe that. The ability to carry thousands of documents in a slim searchable slab has changed my life. Rather than having folders upon folders of paper printouts, I just forward any attachment (PDF or Microsoft Office… probably others, but those are the ones I care about) to my Readdle email address, and sync just before walking into a meeting.I’ve sold several iPads with this app. Good Reader has similar functionality, but until someone comes up with a better user interface (which, honestly, wouldn’t be difficult) or better customer service (which would be hard!), I love Readdle and use it every day.

$4.99 iPhone only
ReaddleDocs Readdle Docs for the iPhone synchronizes to the same cloud storage space as Readdle Docs for the iPad. It’s a less compelling experience just because of the inevitable limitations of the smaller screen. Where I’m likely to open a spreadsheet on my iPad and pass it around a conference table, I’m not going to do the same with my iPhone. Nevertheless, it’s nice to occasionally have access to documents when I don’t have my iPad with me, and Readdle serves that niche nicely. You have to buy them separately, which is an odd choice on the company’s part; I wish they sold a Universal version for 2/3rds the price of the two apps sold separately. Maybe someday.

$4.99 iPad only
ToDo for iPad How many to-do applications are available for iOS? Certainly dozens, probably hundreds. Most of them are pretty interchangeable. ToDo by Appigo is different. First, it’s gorgeous… someone really sweated the details on the UI, and it shows. Next, it integrates well between iPhone, iPad, Web (via Toodle-Do), and other services (like Jott). Finally, the developers seem to pay attention to how people actually work, rather than trying to shoehorn us into “Getting Things Done” or any other system. I like it.

$4.99 (free trial available) iPhone only
ToDo Bought as a companion to the gorgeous iPad version above, but really good enough to be bought just for the iPhone. Nicely done.

$4.99 (free trial available) Universal
Instapaper What Readdle Docs does for attached files, Instapaper does for Web pages. Ever get into “tl;dr” (Too Long, Didn’t Read) mode when reading the Web? Instapaper solves the problem. Install a bookmarklet in your browser (desktop or iOS device) and, whenever you get to a page that’s too long, click “Read Later.” Instapaper magically figures out the part of the page you want to read (meaning, not the ads and the blogroll and the other cruft) and sucks it into the cloud. Sync your iPad, and all those articles wind up in local storage, so you can read them at leisure when waiting for a haircut or whatever… no network connection required. Beautifully crafted, obsessively supported. You need this app.

$4.99 Universal
Consistency This app is for repetitive tasks that need to be tracked, but that you don’t need to schedule on your calendar. Example: I need to oil my bicycle chain once a month, but if I’m a week early or a week late, it’s no big deal. Consistency is brilliant for things like that.I used to use the desktop version of this app and I like the idea a lot. I was pleased to find it available for the iPhone, so I bought it without doing my research.I’m mildly astonished to find that it doesn’t use iPhone notifications (badges, dialogs, sounds). And I’m disappointed that there’s not a “cloud” option to sync lists between my iPhone and iPad. I’d pay a modest amount for that.

Considering it hasn’t been updated in over a year (Yoo-hoo, Sciral! There’s this thing called iOS 4; you might have read about it!), I guess we have to treat this app as abandonware. A shame, really, since I don’t know of anything else that works precisely this way.


Free Universal
WordPress I don’t blog a lot away from my keyboard, but it’s nice to be able to fix a typo or approve a comment while on the go. After a rocky start, the WordPress app has matured to a solid client on both iPhone and iPad. If you have a WordPress blog (self-hosted or on WordPress.com), you need to check this out.

Free Universal
Skype I don’t use Skype a lot, but it’s nice to have for that occasional international phone call. And it’s a nice multiplatform chat interface that most people will either have, or be willing to install. The iPhone client works well, and it’s free.

Apple iWork Suite

 

$9.99 each iPad only

Keynote
Pages
Numbers
These three get special treatment. Keynote, Pages, and Numbers together form Apple’s iWork suite… originally for the desktop, and redesigned to launch with the iPad.I have my issues with these three apps, but they’re still worth the money. First off, they ought to be named “Keynote Light,” “Pages Light,” and “Numbers Light”… Apple did a good job of focusing on the 80% of features that everyone really needs, but sometimes one of the 20% they eliminated will really bite your project in the butt. In particular, I keep running into limitations with Keynote (master slides, complex animations, fonts, and complex groups) that badly break certain of my slide presentations.Next, the process for getting documents from the desktop version of iWorks applications into and out of the iPad Apps is just hostile. It takes about ten steps, none of which intuitively leads to the next. This is very “un-Apple” and I have to believe that Apple has a major cloud-based solution to this (maybe making Mobile Me worth the cost?) but it’s just not ready yet. I hope so. But, for now, if you think that having iWork on your desktop and on your iPad means you can edit the same document in both places… you’re wrong. You can create a document on your desktop, export it to your iPad, and (most) things will work… but if you make changes on your iPad, you need to export it back to your Mac as a new document. No synchronization, no audit trail, no acknowledgement of cloud-based workflow at all. Ick.

All that being said, it’s really cool to walk into a room carrying just your iPad and a VGA dongle, and running the whole presentation from your touchscreen. Major ego boost.


E-Books

 

Free Universal
Kindle I’m one of those weird people who bought a Kindle after buying an iPad. Different screen technologies, different use cases. I love them both. We’ve bought a lot of books on Kindle, and it’s great to have them with me wherever I go… including the surprisingly-capable screen on the iPhone 4. Synchronization is painless, and the feature set is more than adequate.

Free Universal
Stanza Oddly, the best e-book reader on the iPhone or iPad is made by Amazon, but it’s not Kindle. It’s Stanza. Formerly a standalone company (Lexcycle), Amazon bought the developer in early 2009, and I was terrified that it meant the death of this superb application. But they released an iPad update more or less on schedule, and have clearly not abandoned the product.It’s a better reading experience than Kindle, with a more mature set of interface options (it’s been around longer!), and it integrates into a wide variety of paid and free e-book sources. I tend to want to buy everything that Toni Weisskopf at Baen Books publishes, and Stanza makes that painless. Maybe too painless. Hook it up to Calibre on your desktop, and you can easily see how I have over 200 books on my iPad.

News/Information

 

Free iPhone only
The Weather Channel Another of those ecological niches where I’ve downloaded at least six free and paid apps. The Weather Channel isn’t just the hometown team here in Atlanta; I think they’ve built the best app. (There’s a paid upgrade, but I haven’t felt the need to buy it.)

Free iPad only
WSJ I gave up on my dead tree subscription to the Wall Street Journal years ago, but I missed it. Now I don’t miss it anymore. The first release of this app for the iPad was absolutely terrible, but they’ve iterated rapidly, and the current version is great. Everything you need so that you’re no longer sitting there looking stupid when someone asks “Did you see the article on such-and-so in the Wall Street Journaltoday?”Now, if they’d just get rid of their obsession with fully-justified typography. Hint: Ragged-right looks better on narrow columns!

Free (for now) iPad (iPhone version also available)
NYTimes The New York Times has experimented with various pay and free models, so I don’t know where they’ll wind up. For now, the gorgeous iPad app has the entire content, every day. The Grey Lady’s business model is probably doomed, but it’s hard to beat having the entire paper on your iPad every day.

Free (with paid print subscription) iPad (iPhone version also available)
The Economist I used to be addicted to print magazines… at one point, I was receiving over 50 per month. (I read fast. Really, really fast.) The Internet killed that little habit, and now I enjoy letting print subscriptions lapse, but one that I never hesitate to renew is The Economist. The iPad version is gorgeous and, if you have a paid print subscription, you get the entire magazine online every week. It downloads to local storage so you can read it on the plane without Wi-Fi. Perfect!

Free Universal
AJC Select Sadly, the local paper has seen better days… a 50% drop in print subscribers will do that to you. And now that it’s moved to Dunwoody, the Atlanta Journal Constitution seems to be becoming the “North of I-285 Journal Constitution.” But there’s no substitute for the AJC when you want to find out about a local city council meeting, or the schedule for the Peachtree Road Race. (And their Twitter accounts are great!)

Free iPad only
Flipboard Flipboard is a Twitter client, but it’s also a lot more. It scrapes multiple services (your choice) and reformats stories into a customized online magazine. Beautiful UI; this is the simplest way I know to kill time while feeding my brain, as long as I have a Wi-Fi connection available.

$2.99 (free trial available) Universal
Regator Premium Another hometown team (Decatur, Georgia), but with a national reputation. Regator hand-selects blog feeds from your topics of interest and presents them in a constantly-curated collection. This is where you’ll find those stories that’ll never make the New York Times… or, occasionally, where you’ll find big stories before they make the New York Times.

Free iPad (iPhone version also available)
TED TED has been called “the new Harvard.” I don’t know if I believe that, but the TED talks are extraordinary. Their self-description: “Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. TED presents talks from some of the world’s most fascinating people: education radicals, tech geniuses, medical mavericks, business gurus and music legends.” I don’t usually have the patience for videos or podcasts, and I wish TED had a text transcription but these are good enough to be worth an exception.

Photography

 

$1.99 Universal
AutoStitch Panorama Can’t get everything you want into the camera frame? Take multiple photographs and stitch them together into a (vertical or horizontal) panorama. Better UI than Photoshop on your desktop, and it runs on your phone! We really are living in the future. (I’ve listed this as a Universal app, and it indeed runs on the iPad, but it makes most sense on the iPhone where you have a camera.)

Free iPad only
SmugMug I have set up picture-sharing free accounts on Flickr, Picasa, Shutterfly, Ofoto, and probably others. But I cheerfully pay for a SmugMug account because it’s just better. My only complaint is that not enough other apps integrate with it, I guess because of the smaller user base… but those users are vociferous fans, and include many professional photographers who use SmugMug galleries in their day job! The iPad app is a delightful way to browse through your photos and show them off to others.

$3.99 iPad (iPhone version also available)
Photogene It’s not Photoshop, but it’s amazing. The range of photo manipulations you can perform on a handheld device would have been dismissed as impossible only a few years ago. I’ve downloaded lots of photo utilities, but this one lives on my iPad’s home page.

$0.99 Universal
ColorSplash A one-trick pony, but what a cool trick! Convert your photos to black-and-white, then “paint” the color back into place for selected regions. Great user interface, and you wind up with striking photos to save or share. Yeah, you can do this in Photoshop, but not as easily, and not nearly as enjoyably! Spend the buck.

$0.99 (free trial available) iPhone only
JotNot Scanner Pro Another one-trick pony. Take photos of documents (receipts, business cards, or full-size sheets of paper) and JotNot will square them up and crank up the contrast to make them surprisingly legible. I’ve emailed people photographs of documents rather than finding a fax machine, and it worked beautifully.

Navigation

 

Free Universal
MotionX GPSLite A surprisingly good free navigation program. All sorts of downloadable maps, with waypoints, tracks, and more.There’s an HD version available for the iPad that’s even prettier.

$39.99 Universal
TomTom USA I have a standalone Garmin GPS that I like, but I can’t imagine buying another one. TomTom works without a network connection (important in rural Georgia!) to give you turn-by-turn navigation based on an internal database. (Which is enormous, by the way… you need more than a gigabyte free on your device to install this app.) Good user interface, with all the bells and whistles you’d expect, and a few you might not.

$5.99 Universal
GoSkyWatch Go outside at night. Look up. What the heck is that star? With GoSkyWatch, you have a planetarium inside your iPhone. Point it at the sky, and you can instantly figure out “Oh, that’s Vega! Cool!” Uses the accelerometer

$0.99 Universal
Star Walk Both StarWalk and GoSkyWatch are now universal applications, running on iPhone and iPad. Maybe it’s just my personal experience with the apps, but I tend to default to using GoSkyWatch on my iPhone, and StarWalk on my iPad. StarWalk is utterly gorgeous… a few missing features, but you won’t care. Usually three bucks, on sale today for a buck. Buy it.

Free Universal
Google Earth Possibly the greatest toy ever. If you’ve used it on your desktop, you’re still not prepared for how utterly magical (hat tip to Steve Jobs) it is on an iPad. It’s free. Why haven’t you downloaded it?

Utilities

 

$0.99 iPhone 4
Flashlight I have no clue how many flashlight programs there are for the iPhone. The earliest zillion of them just turned the whole screen white. This was the first of a new generation that lights up the (incredibly bright) LED of the iPhone 4 camera flash. Sucks up your battery if you leave it on too long, but it’s brighter than those keychain flashlights, and you always have it with you. There are free ones out there, but this one is nicely done and well worth a buck.

$12.99 Universal
PrintBureau Perhaps the most misnamed app in the iTunes Store. Yes, it manages printing… I can print directly from my iPhone or iPad to my wireless inkjet printer. (Which Apple promised as a feature of iOS 4.2, then crippled at the last minute. It’ll probably come back someday, but PrintBureau works now.) But it also handles cloud storage, and acts as a Wi-Fi hard drive, and has an email client, and probably makes julienne fries. I can’t keep track of everything this app does, but it’s a heck of a lot more than printing.(To print, it runs a helper app in the background on your Mac or PC, which is irritating, but it doesn’t take too many resources and has never crashed my Mac.)

Free Universal
Dropbox Apple, will you just buy Dropbox and put iDisk out of its overpriced misery? As far as I can tell, Dropbox has become not only the default cloud-storage service for iOS devices, but is darned near the file system that iOS tries to hide from you. Integrates seamlessly with your desktop (at least on the Mac; Windows and Linux versions exist, but I’ve never used them). A great way to move files back and forth, to make backups from your portable device, to share files with other people, whatever. I feel guilty for using the free version so heavily and probably ought to buy more storage space, but 2 gigs has proven to be enough for what I do.

Free Universal
JungleDisk I back up all of my Macs to JungleDisk, all the time. My files live safely on Amazon’s S3 servers. If someome steals all my computers, I’ll be angry, but I won’t be out of business. (Yeah, I have the ridiculously-long S3 keys printed out in my fireproof safe.) The iOS app lets me browse and manage those files… including occasionally pulling down a new version of a presentation that I forgot to move to Keynote for the iPad. Amazon S3 isn’t free, but the JungleDisk app is.

Fun and Games

 

Free Universal
Pandora Radio What’s there left to say about Pandora? All the music in the world, streamed to your device, free, and in (to my ears) great quality. The only drawback was that you couldn’t run it in the background, but that’s been fixed by iOS 4.2. This ought to be burned into the ROM of every iDevice in the world.

Free Universal
Netflix At first, it was just cool to manage my Netflix queue from my iPhone without firing up a Web browser. Then they implemented streaming, and changed the world. Watch thousands of movies and TV shows on your phone or iPad, connect it to an external TV set, pause and pick it up later… yep, this is exactly the way it’s supposed to work. No wonder Blockbuster is in Chapter 11. Or that we disconnected our cable TV service, and don’t miss it.

Free Universal
SoundHound Whenever you’re out somewhere and hear a song and wonder what it is… run SoundHound and give it a try. If there’s not too much background noise, it’s amazingly accurate at identifying prerecorded music, and will instantly show you lyrics and a link to buy the song in iTunes. They claim to be able to identify songs that you hum or sing into the mike, but I’ve had pretty poor luck with that. There’s a paid version if you use it frequently, but the free version seems adequate for most needs.

$4.99 Universal
Myst It’s back! The game that sold a lot of color Macintoshes (yes, kiddies, Macs used to be black and white) migrated to the iPhone in fine form. The same puzzles, the same music, and the same backstory that we obsessed over back in 1993. (I basically spent a week over Christmas that year solving Myst.)It’s arguably even better with a touch interface. There’s not a separate iPad version, but the graphics look fine in 2X mode. (Warning: the app is huge, so make sure you have a gigabyte free before purchasing it.)

$1.99 Both (enhanced iPad version available)
Romi If you’ve ever played Rummikub, you instantly understand Romi. If you’ve ever played a rummy card game, you’ll understand in about thirty seconds. Nice interface (needs custom skins, though) and intelligent gameplay. Excellent execution for two bucks. The iPad version is identical except for higher-rez graphics.

$1.99 (free trial available) Universal
Word with Friends I was so excited when Electronic Arts released Scrabble for the iPad! I bought it immediately, and it played exactly like the cardboard version. Exactly. There was a cool feature where you could “flick” tiles from your iPhone/iPod Touch to the main iPad screen, but basically, you needed to be sitting around a table with the other players. So, for four players, you’d be using $1300 worth of electronics to replace a ten-dollar board game. EA (and Hasbro/Milton Bradley) managed to miss a technological revolution named “the Internet.”Newtoy — a tiny company in McKinney, Texas — did it right. They published a modified version of the Scrabble board (to avoid copyright issues, I’m sure) and connected it to the Internet. Now you could play a Scrabble-like game with friends or strangers anywhere in the world… and asynchronously, so you didn’t have to try to coordinate schedules. If you’re both online, you might complete a turn within seconds; if not, the next turn might be hours or days later.Absolutely brilliant, absolutely addictive, and an absolutely wonderful way to spend time. There’s a free version with on-screen ads, but send NewToy two bucks. They deserve it.

$1.99 (free trial available) iPad only
Words with Friends HD Same feature set as the basic version, but even more beautiful (and easier to play) on the big screen. Again, a free ad-supported version is available but, if you play as often as I do, it’s worth two bucks. (My screen name is ‘stephenfleming’; feel free to challenge me. I will crush you.)

$19.99 iPad only
Acid Solitaire I bought this set of three solitaire card games during a brief promotional sale for five bucks. I know $20 is a lot for an iPad game, but it’s beautifully done. I’ve experimented with a few other solitaire games from other developers, but I’m glad I have this one to play.(My wife developed carpal tunnel syndrome from AcidSolitaire… you have been warned!)

$0.99 (free trial available) Both (enhanced iPad version available)
Angry Birds Saving the best for last! This is the most expensive dollar I ever spent… I’ve spent over thirty hours playing this game, which, at my loaded labor rate, it…. (mumble, mumble, mumble) a lotof money.You know the drill… you use a slingshot to fire various kinds of birds at fantastically-unlikely “forts” protecting evil pigs. Silly. Instantly accessible. Difficult to master. I’ve gotten three stars on all 165 levels, and all 17 golden eggs, but I tend to get compulsive. (Which is why I usually don’t playcomputer games!The iPad version has better graphics and it easier to play, but accomplishments on the iPhone don’t unlock higher levels on the iPad (or vice versa). Similarly, Apple’s GameCenter treats it as a completely different game, so achievements on one platform won’t translate to the other. I bought both, but found myself playing more on the iPhone just because I always had it with me. I hope the developer fixes this, once they finish wallowing in their Scrooge McDuck money room!

This turned into an absurdly long blog post (over 9,000 words), but I hope it’s useful to someone. Avoid “tl;dr” and try it in Instapaper!

Comments

  1. Anne Fuller says:

    Thanks Steve! Great list. I’m going to add some more apps now! Just got the Ipad for Christmas and still figuring if it can replace a laptop or not…

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  3. […] Two years ago, I wrote “Apple, will you just buy Dropbox and put iDisk out of its overpriced misery?” Well, iCloud has killed iDisk, but Dropbox is doing just fine after turning down Steve Jobs’ offer. As far as I can tell, Dropbox has become not only the default cloud-storage service for iOS devices, but is darned near the file system that iOS tries to hide from you. […]