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Seven essential apps for your iPad

Like every modern mobile device, the iPad is only as good as the apps you have running on it. Sure, Apple's entry into the tablet market comes packing a decent Web browser, mail client, and photo viewer, but with apps at your side, the iPad can be transformed from an expensive couch-browser into a truly useful tool. So, for those of you who've just bagged yourself a shiny new iPad, or if you're just looking for some decent apps, I've got a few gems to pass your way.


Whether you've got an iPad 3G or not, there's one save-it-for-later app that everyone should have on their iPad and that's Instapaper. Brought to you by Marco Arment (one of the guys behind Tumblr until recently), it's been a staple of many an iPhone and iPod touch. Being a universal app, Instapaper will work on any iOS device that you happen to have, but it truly comes into its own on the iPad. Using an interface that simply gets out the way of the content and a presentation style that makes reading an absolute pleasure, Instapaper is a real gem of an app. As an added bonus, you'll also find that Instapaper is widely integrated into many other apps on iOS and the desktop, including Reeder and the official Twitter apps, making saving content for later a breeze.

Instapaper (Universal) - $4.99 [iTunes]


While there are a lot of good RSS readers for iOS, there's one that's particularly well adapted for the iPad and that's Reeder. We've covered the excellent iPhone app before, but using the added screen real-estate, the iPad app kicks things up a notch. From the excellent positioning of UI buttons, which are easily accessible from where you would naturally hold the iPad, to the intuitive swipe navigation, everything feels right for the iPad. Reeder hooks into Google Reader for feeds, and it allows you to export interesting links to a number of services including Instapaper and Twitter. My only gripe is that the iPhone and iPad Reeder apps come as separate purchases rather than one universal app, meaning you'll have to buy both if you want it on your iPhone as well.

Reeder for iPad - $4.99 [iTunes]


As an avid Twitter user, a decent Twitter app for every platform that I use is an absolute must. You have a few different choices for the iPad; there aren't nearly as many choices as are available for the iPhone, but there are several good ones nonetheless. However, if you're after a highly customized Twitter iPad experience, there's one standout choice: Twitter's official app. It's true that many people have hated on it, and yes it does take some getting used to, but once you've adapted to it, the app itself is a pleasure to use and truly makes the best of the iPad's abilities. It's fast, free, and functional, so there's no excuse not to try it out.

Twitter (Universal) - Free [iTunes]


OK, so Dropbox is everywhere these days. From the desktop to your smartphone and the Web, Dropbox has most device categories covered, including the iPad. The beauty of Dropbox for the iPad is its ability to open files from your cloud storage in other programs. Simply viewing files in Dropbox is a great feature to have, but when you can export that PDF to a reader of choice, edit Word documents in your word processor of choice, or even listen to audio files stored in the cloud, a "nice to have" service becomes an invaluable tool. More and more apps have Dropbox support built-in, so you could say that it's not necessary to have the Dropbox app itself installed on your iPad, but since it's free and useful, I mark it as essential if you use the service.

Dropbox (Universal) - Free [iTunes]


You've had the ability to access the pretty comprehensive from your smartphone or tablet of choice for a while, but the movie information service really comes into its own with its official iPad app. Similar in operation to its iPhone app, IMDb on the iPad takes full advantage of the extra screen real-estate that the slate affords. Finding out who that actor is in the film that your watching has never been as fast and enjoyable as it is with IMDb for iPad. It's free, and if you ever watch movies, it's a must have. [But when will an app use the camera and facial recognition to do it for you?! -Ed]

IMDb (Universal) - Free [iTunes]

Adobe Ideas

Have you ever looked at a photo and thought, I want to annotate this? Have you ever had a genius idea and wanted to sketch it out free hand, but you were lacking that essential back of a napkin? Armed with an iPad, Adobe Ideas is the answer. Simply put, you can draw on the screen in any color or thickness of pen, and save or email the result. Doodles, annotations, amendments, and even document signing are all possible with this nifty free app.

Adobe Ideas for iPad - Free [iTunes]

Documents To Go

So, you might have heard that Google Docs editing is coming to the iPad, but if you've ever wanted to edit Word, Excel, or PowerPoint documents offline and on the move, Documents To Go has arguably been the best application for the job since the Palm OS days. As a universal app, one purchase gives you a decent iOS office suite for both your iPhone and iPad, all for the price of one of Apple's iWork apps. OK, office apps might not be essential for everyone, but there have been many times where document editing and creation have come in handy for me on the iPad. Two versions are available, with the more expensive "Premium" version featuring cloud storage support and direct to Dropbox and Google Docs syncing.

Documents To Go (Universal) - $9.99 [iTunes]
Documents To Go Premium (Universal) - $16.99 [iTunes]

That's your lot for now, but if you know of an absolutely must have iPad app that we've missed, help out your fellow 'Squadders and sound off in the comments.

Tags: adobe, documents to go, DocumentsToGo, DropBox, imdb,, instapaper, ipad, ipad app, IpadApp, reeder, rss, twitter