10 iPad apps you should be using

Looking for apps for your iPad that you'll actually end up using? These 10 apps are a good place to start.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

10 iPad apps you should be using

Looking for apps for your iPad that you'll actually end up using? These 10 apps are a good place to start.

1. Nuzzel (see Image #1 above for screenshot)

This is an app that let's you tweak how you experience Twitter, with an attractive interface that makes using it a joy.

What makes Nuzzel so powerful is the ability to control what appears in the timeline. This can involve restricting the tweets pulled in by time, and also by pulling tweets from those you don't follow on Twitter. The "your friends' friends" setting is a good example. You don't have to follow them to see their tweets.

You can have Nuzzel build a timeline by topic, so you can keep up with particular news with a single tap.

Nuzzel is Twitter done right, and quickly becomes a favorite tool once you start using it.

Get Nuzzel for free.

2. Google News (see Image #2 above for screenshot)

This frontend for Google's news site presents everything you need to know with a nice layout. It brings local news and weather into the mix so you'll always know what's going on.

Using Google News becomes a flowing experience, as you tap from one news item to another. In addition to local and global headlines, the app grabs all of the topics of interest you have defined in the online version of Google News.

Google News on iOS has a widget that presents headlines on the iPad today screen. Breaking news is just a drop-down of the screen away.

Get Google News for free.

3. Zillow (see Image #3 above for screenshot)

Whether you're looking for a new home or want to know how the market is unfolding near you, Zillow can help. You can tailor the information to include only what matters to you.

The interface has a map on the left and a list of properties on the right. The list adjusts in real time, so zooming in and out on the map shows only available properties on screen in the list. You can even draw a shape on the map to restrict the list further.

You can set a number of criteria that meet your needs, from square footage to number of bedrooms. The design of the Zillow app makes it possible to see a list of only the properties that match all of your criteria. It has great touch operation, making it possible to get a comprehensive view of the area of interest in just a few seconds.

A great use of the Zillow app is for those thinking of selling their home. Input criteria to the app that closely match your home and restrict the map to the immediate area. The resultant list shows all similar homes for sale in your area and the asking prices for them. This makes it easy to get an idea of how much you can expect to get when selling your home.

Get Zillow for free.

4. Downcast (see Image #4 above for screenshot)

If you listen to podcasts you want to do it with Downcast. It handles every aspect of the process, and is a great way to work with podcasts.

Downcast makes is simple to search for podcasts of interest, and then subscribe to them. Future episodes will be automatically downloaded when available, waiting for you to listen when you wish.

When you get interrupted with real life while listening to podcasts the app has you covered. It bookmarks where you stop and can resume at that point in the recording.

A neat feature of Downcast is the ability to slightly speed up the playback without making podcast producers sound like the Chipmunks. This makes it possible to listen to long podcasts in just a fraction of the time.

Get Downcast for $2.99.

5. Pocket Informant (see Image #5 above for screenshot)

With a calendar, task list, contacts management, and sophisticated notes, Pocket Informant will help you keep on top of what's important to you. All of the integrated modules work together to help the busiest user take control of his/her day.

Pocket Informant is completely configurable through a dizzying array of settings that control every aspect of the app. Default settings work fine so it's easy to get started, with advanced configuration possible at any time down the road.

There are multiple views for each internal module that can be toggled with simple taps on the screen. Moving among the modules is accomplished the same way with a strip of icons always displayed.

The strength of Pocket Informant is the ability to sync with a number of popular online services. These include Google Calendar, Google Tasks, and Outlook. The notes section of the app can sync with Evernote, giving you access to your notes within the app.

Free on the app store (advanced features requires the premium version).

6. MyScript Calculator (see Image #6 above for screenshot)

This app lets you write math formulas with your finger and instantly returns the results. MyScript Calculator understands common math symbols and is very accurate in interpreting poor handwriting.

Simply write a math formula on the screen with your fingertip and watch the app present the answer to the equation. It understands quite a few symbols used in equations.

MyScript Calculator only does one thing but it does it well. It is a good solution for students and professionals who work with equations and need a quick way to get results.

Free in the app store.

7. Pixelmator (see Image #7 above for screenshot)

You take lots of photos, and not always of the highest quality. Pixelmator makes it a simple touch operation to turn them all into gems.

Pixelmator is basically Photoshop for non-techies. It presents a wide range of photo editing tools in a simple interface that makes it easy to change photos for the better. The app shows how an effect will look on the photo in real time, making it a breeze to get the best results with minimal effort.

There is a cropping tool to zoom in on the area of interest on a photo. You can apply an effect to the whole image at once, or zoom in and work on just the zone of interest.

Pixelmator retains the original photo by default, so after editing the raw photo is still there just in case.

Get Pixelmator for $9.99.

8. iTranslate (see Image #8 above for screenshot)

Whether you are traveling abroad or have friends who don't speak English, iTranslate lets two iPad owners converse with full translation. The ability to converse with someone who doesn't speak your language is a powerful communication tool.

The paid version of the app can translate quite a few languages (90+) while the free version is limited to just two. It can translate both ways between any two enabled languages, making it a useful tool for travelers.

The app offers multiple dialects in many languages, and with speech output it's easy to learn the proper pronunciation in any of them. There's also a dictionary function to explain what words and phrases mean in different languages.

Get iTranslate for free.

9. Wunderlist (see Image #9 above for screenshot)

You have things to do and need to focus where it matters. Wunderlist can do that and so much more by letting you make lists of anything.

Lists can be simple task lists, or more complicated. You can even use Wunderlist for project tracking if you feel ambitious.

From the developer:

Key Wunderlist features:

  • Create all the lists you need and access them from your phone, tablet and computer
  • Easily share lists and collaborate with family, friends and colleagues
  • Start conversations about your to-dos
  • Attach photos, PDFs, presentations and more
  • Share the work and delegate to-dos
  • Setting a Reminder ensures you never forget important deadlines (or birthday gifts) ever again
  • Organize your projects for home, work and everywhere in between with Folders

Get Wunderlist for free.

10. Duet Display (see Image #10 above)

Use your iPad as a second monitor for your Mac with Duel Display. Connect the tablet to the Mac and you instantly have another monitor on your system.

Duet Display can be used over Wi-Fi to connect the iPad wirelessly to the Mac, but this results in laggy performance. That's where using a wired connection shines, as the performance of the iPad as a second monitor works as well as an expensive "real" monitor.

Setting up Duet Display requires the iPad app, and installing an app on the Mac that will use the iPad as a monitor. Once both sides of the connection have the app, connection is as easy as plugging in the iPad and running the app.

For a detailed explanation of how Duet Display works, see my full review on ZDNet.

Get Duet Display for $15.99.

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