It’s completely wrong to think of your iPad as just a device to browse a few internet sites and kill some evil green pigs using angry red birds. There is a whole array of fantastic utilities out there in the App Store that can turn your iPad into a powerful (though slightly cumbersome) Swiss Army knife.
Here are the top 10 utilities that I couldn’t do without!
As a Brit, the weather dictates pretty much everything I do. It dictates what I wear and what I do. Apple doesn’t include its default weather application with iOS on the iPad so you have to turn to the App Store to find out what’s brewing in the atmosphere.
AccuWeather gives you a detailed weather forecast for the next few days and even features a nifty hourly forecast (modelled on a clock face), which tells you the temperature, weather conditions, and humidity at any given hour. You can also use the lifestyle section, which lists a number of different activities (e.g. grass growing, arthritis risk, and star gazing) and the app rates whether it is worth undertaking these activities based on the forecast. AccuWeather also integrates video weather forecasts into the application (although these are only for the U.S.).
Price: Free / $0.99 (Platinum)
Box is similar to cloud-based storage systems such as Dropbox and iCloud, however, the major advantage of it is that the developers are currently running a promotion whereby if you have an iOS device, you can sign up for a new account which includes a whopping 50GB of storage (that’s 10 times more than iCloud and 25 times more than Dropbox offers).
Its functions are extremely similar to Dropbox and you can upload documents, pictures, music, and so on onto Box. If you’re going to get it then be quick, the 50GB promotion doesn’t last for much longer!
Price: Free (with 50 GB of storage)
If I got a pound for every time I thought to myself, “what’s 15 miles in kilometres?” Or, “how many kilograms is 18 lb?” Then I’d be a very rich man. Convert Units allows you to convert between a wide range of different units in a number of categories.
Convert Units probably has the best looking interface out of all the converter apps out there for the iPad, however, the enormous banner ad smack bang in the middle can be slightly off-putting. The app has just been released onto the App Store so here’s hoping for a paid, ad-free version sometime soon…
Like the weather application, Apple doesn’t include a calculator app for the iPad which can be (at least for me) extremely annoying if you want to tot up a few sums. However, the developers Shift have designed and come up with an absolutely fantastic, feature-rich calculator that looks great on the iPad’s big screen.
Digits has got plenty of built-in functions and is extremely customisable. Unlike other calculator applications, the app keeps track of the sums that you’ve done and tapping on it allows you to edit the figure, save it, or even save a comment to it. It really does make any other calculator app look outdated and inferior. For the minuscule price tag, it’s well worth it!
It doesn’t take long before Apple’s drab wallpapers that are included with iOS 5 start to grate and you are soon on the hunt for a new flashy wallpaper to jazz up your iPad. HD Wallpapers features an enormous gallery of wallpapers in all categories which are specially designed to fit and look amazing on your iPad.
If you find a great image then you can save it directly from the app into your Photo Album for future use. Each category includes a free sample of images and further packs (often containing around 150 pictures) can be purchased for around $0.99. Be warned before downloading over 3G, though: HD Wallpapers is around 300 MB in size so it’s best to use Wi-Fi to get this one.
Price: Free (for the application only); wallpaper packs cost around $0.99 each.
I am currently based in Germany and I am forever having to convert between British Pounds and Euros. iCurrency for iPad allows you to convert between all world currencies currently traded quickly and easily.
The application automatically updates itself when you open it, ensuring you’ve always got the latest exchange rate and you can also view currency charts, showing how the exchange rate has changed over time.
Seeing as I’ve got friends in a load of different time zones, I want to know what time is it over there before I ring them. There are plenty of world clocks out there on the App Store but I find that Living Earth HD is the most beautiful one of them all (and works really well on the iPad’s big screen).
Using Living Earth you can also view current weather conditions for your chosen location, and the current cloud cover (though why this would be useful I do not know – it looks nice though!). The app also features a built-in alarm with a choice of relaxing (and some not so) chimes.
Shazam is one of the most useful music-based utilities out there on the App Store, as it allows you to “tag” a song, after which the app tells you what the song is and who it’s by. Shazam puts an end to frustrated searches on YouTube and Spotify, or endless trawling through lyrics sites trying to find that song you heard on that TV program.
Once Shazam has identified the song (and it’s pretty accurate in most cases) you get the option to relive the song again by listening to the video on YouTube and search for similar artists. All your tagged songs are saved so if you don’t want to download the song immediately, you can always find what you previously tagged.
OK, so it’s not a utility in the strictest sense of the word, but Tune-In Radio is one of the apps I use most often on my iPad. The app allows you to listen to radio stations from all round the world and stream them to your iPad for free.
Tune-In Radio allows you to search for radio stations via location, category, and language and you can even bookmark your favourite stations and record songs off the radio directly via the app. Be careful if you are listening to radio over 3G, however, seeing as the streaming eats up a lot of data.
Seeing as I only have a Wi-Fi iPad, when I’m out and about it’s extremely useful to know where the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot is. Wi-Fi Finder’s database includes over 650,000 hotspots in 144 countries and automatically brings up all the hotspots around you based on your current location.
Clicking on a hotspot brings up more detailed information about it, such as the actual address, the hotspot provider and, most importantly, whether the hotspot is free or paid. The database is being continuously updated so you can rest assured that the data provided is accurate.
Share Your Thoughts!
Why not go ahead and tell us about your favourite iPad utility? Have I missed out an important one? Is there a new one which is worth knowing about? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!