Interesting iPad apps worth checking out
| by Jamshed Avari
Still occupying a very large portion of the tablet space, be it globally or on our own turf, the iPad has something to offer all kinds of users. Here are a few interesting applications we've selected from the Apple App Store that we thought you should try. They range from games to camera based applications; take a closer look.
The premise of building odd-shaped bridges across gaps has been used in games before, but it's still fun to try new permutations and combinations in a new graphical setting. In this game, you lead a merry band of pirates from their ship to an island and from there on to various adventures. Your only task is to build bridges using a limited supply of sticks and barrels. The barrels can be used to weigh the sticks down or support them from below.
Bridge the gap is quite entertaining
The game's mechanics are amateurish and a bit frustrating, and don't take advantage of an iPad's big screen. The 29 puzzles are fun though. You'll have to make some innovative structures and pay close attention to how natural surroundings, such as rock formations, can be used to support your wooden sticks. Once things are built, you have to wait an age for the pirates to move across. Even the speed-up button is of little help.
BIGFlix is now targeting its streaming service at iPad users. The BIGFlix app is free but the main attraction will require a paid subscription to the service, which starts from Rs.250 per month. Without a subscription, it's still possible to watch movie trailers and music videos. These are of surprisingly low quality. The poor encoding allows clips to load relatively quickly, but many of them are also squashed into the wrong aspect ratio. You can rate videos, share via Facebook or Twitter and create a playlist of your favorites. On the paid side, there are a fair number of recent movies but the content is certainly not HD quality.
BIGFLIX HD is great for your daily Bollywood dose
The selection of movies is heavily skewed towards Hindi and regional languages, with only two barely-known English titles available. The app sporadically refused to play movies even though we were signed in with a paid account. A pay-per view option rather than monthly subscriptions would help this service gain more traction.
The world-famous Khan Academy videos now come to the iPad in a friendly, browsable format. You'll have access to hundreds of videos that teach topics ranging from basic mathematics to art history, politics, and even IIT JEE preparation. The videos aren't very professionally made, but that actually helps make the instructions more friendly and approachable. Subtitles scroll along for quick reference to unfamiliar terms. The most notable feature of this app is the ability to download any or all of the videos for offline viewing. It's a great way to brush up on long forgotten theories or expand on subjects left behind after school.
The iPad Khan Academy app is easy to navigate
The potential for this app is amazing, especially considering how many young people are arming themselves with tablets these days. Khan Academy regularly adds new videos and improves some of the old ones, so there's absolutely nothing one could find fault with in this app.
Paper is one of those gorgeous apps that will keep you pottering away for hours on your iPad. It's a lot like other sketching apps but anything you draw is automatically smoothened and adjusted to look very slick. The limited palette and arty covers for your blank books give it quite a premium, stylish feel. The massive downside is that you have only one tool, the ink pen, available to you for free. The pencil, marker, writing pen and coloring brush will cost you $1.99 each, which is, frankly, outrageous. Nevertheless, you'll be quite tempted to pay as the demo book shows off some incredible looking sketches.
Paper by FiftyThree for the designer in you
Water colors look lush and nuanced; sketches are sharp, and even the interface is a lot of fun to use. The developers suggest you use the app to mock up designs and diagrams, scribble notes, sketch your thoughts, or simply doodle in your spare time. Anything you make looks surprisingly good, so give at least the free version a try.
Mixala has an interesting premise but flawed execution. You can arrange "stickers" in kaleidoscopic patterns around a photograph. However, the app is slow; even on the new third generation iPad, the app runs slowly. Manipulating each ring of stickers is far more difficult than it should be and it isn't immediately apparent that you can double-tap to reveal more options. The app chokes if you happen to rotate your iPad while working, but the strangest limitations are those in the app itself. You can take a new photo but can't choose an existing one from your library.
Mixala to help jazz up your images a bit
You can create six images but can't export them back to the library or do anything apart from view them in the app itself. You get a spring-themed collection of flowers and butterflies for free, and for US$0.99 each you can buy packs with puppies, kittens, farm animals, marine creatures and sports motifs. Mixala is of dubious utility. It's useful for keeping children amused for a while, but not much else.
iPad users, please feel free to list out other apps for the tablet that you might find interesting as well. Some of the applications are also available for the iPhone and iPod Touch but be sure to check the compatibility first. Stay tuned to tech2 for more interesting apps for your mobile devices.