These apps are created specifically for the iPad, usually because what they do wouldn’t easily fit on the smaller screen of the iPhone.
iPhone only apps
These apps are built specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch. They will run on the iPad, but only in a reduced sized “window” (which can be made horribly twice as large), making the experience so bad that it usually isn’t worth doing. Unlike the iPad-only apps, the reason for these applications being iPhone-only is usually boils down to one of the following:
- The developer is too lazy to make a universal app properly.
- The developer lacks access to an iPad for testing.
- The app offers a custom interface to a web site, and the developer thinks iPad users would be better off just
using the web site directly.
- The app specifically requires features of a phone.
- The app was written before the iPad existed, and hasn’t been updated since.
None of these are particularly good reasons, but that seems to be how it works. I miss some of these apps on the iPad more than others.
$1. Tracks fuel consumption and cost for multiple vehicles. Having used this app for a long time, it is possible that competitors have since surpassed it, but at the time I started using it, it was the best of the bunch.
$1. If you have a pathological need for a detailed periodic table of elements on every smartphone you have ever owned (and who doesn’t), this is the app for you. Simple, fast, good-looking and full of information. There is also a free version without as much data.
$1. A companion app to the Netflix application. This one allows you to manage your queue, search for new movies and so on. It will also launch the netflix app to stream a selection from your queue. Could use some work (it doesn’t handle steaming of TV series correctly, for example), but servicable.
$5. Life Balance is an unusual task manager which syncs via wifi to its desktop counterpart. On the surface, the app looks like a ToDo manager, which it is, but it has mechanisms that help you spread your efforts across tasks and preventing things from getting lost in the shuffle. Takes some getting used to. Their web site explains it better.
Lock ’N’ Roll 2 Pro
$1. This dice matching game improves on the already pretty good original. Fairly easy to learn (once you read the help section), easy to play, holds your attention for quite a lot longer than a lot of more expensive games.
Free. A client for the Producteev cloud-based to-do management service. By sharing a single account, my wife and I use this service for things like shopping lists, where either of us can update a list and the other immediately sees it.
Free. Using your phone’s camera, you can take pictures of bar codes and this app will look up the code and find pricing information about the product. It can also scan the funky square bar codes you see popping up everywhere now.
$2. Provides 42 different solitaire card games in one slick little package. Demon, Colorado and Eight Off are my favorites. If this was a universal app, it’d be perfect. It could also avoid dealing impossible games better, though this is easier to detect in some games than others.
$2. A simple, slick-looking weight tracking application. This was the best of the lot when I first bought it several years ago. It’s possible the state of the art has advanced since (the more expensive A+ Weight Tracker is universal, for example).
$2. This application replicates (on an endless or timed loop) sounds with high noise characteristics, like rain on a car rooftop, an oscillating fan, waves on the beach, and so on. It can also generate the various “colors” of noise (pink noise, brown noise, etc.) in addition to white noise. Originally purchased to help me relax at night, this turned out to be a key ingredient for getting my newborn son to go to sleep (the dish washer setting, in particular). Once, in a Manhattan restaurant, this app brought him from fussy and crying to asleep in about 20 seconds.
Some of the applications recommended above work with on-line services of one kind or another. You don’t need to use any of these services, but your iOS device becomes a lot more capable if you do.
Since it runs on consumer devices, iOS shows an interface a lot simpler than you’d see on a desktop or laptop. In particular, you don’t have to worry about files and directories and an such on iOS devices. The problem with that is that sometimes you really want to worry about files, at least a little bit, on your device. For example, want to read that PDF from work? How about that eBook you found on the net? Or maybe a movie from a DVD you own? If you ever need to do this, you will quickly find out that transferring files to your device, while possible, is painful. For many of the types of files you might want to put on the device, using a service called Dropbox eliminates (much of) this pain. If you have more than one computer at home, you may already be using Dropbox (and if not, look into it). Dropbox is a vaunted “cloud service” that synchronizes files between your computers. Unlike most such services, it is extremely easy to use. Once you set it up, you’ll barely notice that it is running. The videos on their site to a better job of explaining what it is and how it works, so check those out. Several of the applications below are included specifically because they can access Dropbox, so keep an eye out for them. (Note: all the links to Dropbox in this post are referral links which will provide me with additional space if you follow them to sign up for Dropbox, essentially giving me a reward for advertising for them. If this bothers you, you should enter the site using this more standard link.)
Apple, of course, also offers a “cloud service” than can sync between devices: iCloud. You have probably had to deal with it already, so I will not say a whole lot about it. It is more tightly integrated with your iOS device than Dropbox is, but also much more specifically targeted (e.g. address book and calendar syncing). I used several other methods for keeping address books and calendars synchronized before iCloud was released. They were all horrible, often losing data like birthdays or duplicating records ad nauseum. So far, iCloud syncing for this kind of data has worked pretty well for me. You can also store and sync files in iCloud. There may come a time where enough apps support this that Dropbox becomes unnecessary, but that doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon. By the way, iCloud offers a web interface, which can sometimes be useful.
Connecting your iOS device to the internet involves some choices that can be slightly confusing, because there is no one “best” answer. It depends on your device, your needs and the quality of the options in your area. The iOS supports two different method of data communication. One method—wifi—uses hardware built into every iOS device. The second method—usually referred to as 3G—makes use of cellular phone technology that may be in your device (all iPhones have it and you can get it as on option on an iPad). If you have a cellular connection, you can likely connect to the net almost anywhere, and the main question you have is probably “what carrier to I use?” Seems like the most important factor in making this choice is “how good is the coverage in your area”. Since this varies, I have no single recommendation. If you don’t have a cellular connection (and even if you do), you may also be wondering about where you can find wifi “hotspots” so you can use your device while out and about. You might have more options than you realize. For example, if you get cable, does your cable company offer free wifi to its subscribers in well-traveled spots? (Cablevision does this, for example.)