Over the past couple months, I’ve had the absolute pleasure of discussing the iPad and Professionals here on AppStorm. I’ve chatted about photographers/artists, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, medical professionals, stock analysts, and business owners. Today, I want to say I feel like we covered the gamut. This is the final post in AppStorm’s feature series on the iPad and Professionals. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for going on this journey with me and the rest of the AppStorm team.
Today’s post is going to go in a different direction than you might expect. We’re not talking about another professional category. Instead, we’re going to talk about the best ways to unwind after a long day. But because I care about yours and my well-being, I’m not recommending Angry Birds. I want your mind to be stimulated, even while you’re enjoying some time away from work. Here’s some of what I’m looking forward to after clocking out tonight.
There’s a lot of different options as far as reading goes on an iPad — actually, far more than you’re likely to ever use. Of course, I’ve got my favourites. I use Instapaper to read articles later. If you’ve never heard of Instapaper, it allows you to save any text from webpages to read later. Instapaper downloads all articles so you can read them without an Internet connection. Other contenders in the market at Pocket and Readability, but Instapaper is my favourite.
You might be interested as well in Pinboard, a service that allows you to privately save and organize Internet bookmarks with tags. The third-party Pinboard apps for iPad often allow you to treat Pinboard like a Read Later service. My personal favourite is Pincase, but Pushpin is also very popular amongst my colleagues. If you’re willing to pay $15/year for a Read Later service, Paperback is the best service I’ve yet encountered. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Paperback app for iPad yet, but you can log in on Safari and read there, where it’s still a better experience than anything else on the iPad for reading webpages later.
If you need to discover content on the Web, I love Reeder for RSS feeds and Longform for discovering longer weekend reads I might have otherwise missed. Flipboard is also a great place to send a little bit of time in a pinch. Newsstand is a good place to get started as well. The Magazine is an amazing biweekly variety publication, and AppStorm’s own Matthew Guay even has his own magazine app called Techinch Magazine.
For books, I’m still a Kindle user. I like iBooks, but I’ve also got a Kindle Paperwhite and prefer the cross-platform nature of Kindle. The Kindle app for iPad has greatly improved in the past couple months and is a lovely experience on iPad — significantly better now than it has been in the past.
If you like comic books, you’re in luck: My colleague and former editor, Kevin Whipps, recently wrote a fantastic piece on the state of comics on the iPad. I don’t read as many comics as I used to in university, but Kevin knows where it’s at.
I’ve reviewed a lot of games on iPad, but there’s admittedly a ton of games that aren’t intellectually stimulating. I prefer to keep my mind sharp, even when I’m away from work, and have resorted to a few choice games to help me out with that.
The first choice, maybe a little obviously, is Letterpress. It’s a word game that mixes Scrabble with Risk, and it has to be played to be understood. It’s free and well worth checking out. Thanks to its integration with Game Centre, it’s also really easy to set up games against your friends. Or sister. Or mother. (Shout out to my Mom: You’re going down.)
Circles is another great brain tease, but it works on improving your memory. The game trains you with repetitive patterns, and also has a great multiplayer mode. If you’re absolutely wiped after a long day, I wouldn’t expect to do very well, but some folks might find it a great way to keep their brain active.
Finally, I’m a big fan of Hundreds. It’s also a game based on circles, but instead of building your memory, you’re working on problem-solving skills and reaction times. The goal of the game is to increase the size of bubbles without ever allowing them to touch other objects on the screen. It’s an addictive challenge, and one that I highly recommend.
That being said, I know there are nights when some lighthearted arcade games are completely necessary. For nights like that, my favourite games are Badland, Limbo, Rayman: Jungle Run, and the occasional arcade racer like Asphalt 8 or Real Racing 3. (Infinity Blade III is also a current guilty pleasure.)
Big Entertainment On the Little Screen
Finally, we get to television. Netflix is the obvious contender here. I’ve been arguing for a little while now that $8 a month for unlimited streaming of television and movies is the best deal of the century. For anybody who’s considered cutting the cord, Netflix is a must.
For those of us who want to invest in more particular entertainment choices, though, I’ve got to suggest TED. The app is a great way to watch some of the most interesting TED Talks available, and if you’ve got an Apple TV, you can stream the video via Airplay.
For music, I know some people are fans of Pandora or Spotify, but I’m all over Rdio. $10 a month buys you unlimited on-demand streaming of twenty million songs, and it’s got a beautifully-designed app to boot. I can never recommend the service highly enough.
These are just the things I look forward to at the end of the day. I know I can’t possibly have rhymed them all off. I haven’t spent any time talking about social networking. I didn’t mention Day One, by far the best diary app available for the private chronicling of day-to-day life (but you really need to get it). I didn’t talk about podcast apps because they’re not part of my daily routine, but I understand why so many people love them.
At the end of the day, though, I’m hoping this post has inspired you the same way it inspired me. I’ve been really thinking about the work-life balance. And while having some time to recharge our batteries is incredibly important, there’s also great value in finding ways to keep ourselves mentally nimble while we do. I think the iPad provides tremendous power because it has the ability to do just that. Lend me your thoughts in the comments!