Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Fave iPad Apps, Part One

So Kit just bought an iPad2 and was asking for app recommendations. I started to fire back a quick email, but it seemed to morph into a longer document that I thought might be of use to other folks, so I figured I’d turn it into a rare blog post. So here are my favourite iPad apps, as of 6/21/11, and how I use them. We'll go through them screen by screen, folder by folder.

 This is my main screen. For the dock, I've chosen my most-used programs:

  • App Store - for checking on what's popular and what needs to be updated
  • Safari - for general web browsing, but mostly for checking email, as I prefer GMail's mobile client over the Mail app, which I've relegated to the last page.
  • Informant HD - a calendar program superior to the iPad's native calendar, and which I have synced to Google Calendar.
  • Osfoora HD - my favourite Twitter client.
  • Reeder - an RSS/Google Reader client which I ADORE!

As for the rest of screen one, we have:

  • Settings - for....settings.
  • YouTube - which I actually don't use much; maybe my iPad is just old, but videos don't load very swiftly in this app.
  • Videos - which I have populated with tutorials, morgue material for projects I'm working on, finished video projects to show off, and the occasional wrestling PPV, movie, or tv show.
  • Photos - I have folders set up to store morgue files for current projects, favourite iPad wallpapers, and all the past #comicpanels and CageMatch identity screens. I also have a smart folder set up in iPhoto so that I always have the last two weeks' photos stored on the iPad.
  • iPod - I don't use it that often, but I do have a small selection of music to listen to while working--my Hero playlist, the Don soundtrack, and all the Atomic Platters tunes.
  • skipping the folders for now, we have Guardian Eyewitness, which presents amazing daily pictures from the news, courtesy of the Guardian newspaper. Very nice.
  • Dropbox - Get it now. If you don't have it already, won't you please use this link to get it? (If you do, I get more storage space!) I could (and probably should) devote an entire post to Dropbox, and why it's so useful in my daily work and INVALUABLE on the iPad. Basically, it syncs files dropped into a Dropbox folder on your pc or Mac with every other computer you own and your smartphone and iPad. So it's a great way to always have access to your important files, and a great way to get things on and off the iPad. A number of iPad apps can read and write to Dropbox, so you can transfer work back and forth, get it off the iPad to print it, get it on the iPad to edit it, etc. Get it now.
  • Simplenote - Another favourite app. Basically it's Dropbox, but just for text. Think of it as a notepad that you can edit on any machine and have changes updated everywhere, I use it for quick scripts, thoughts, props lists, anything I need to work on really quickly. If you're offline when you edit the note, it'll update automatically when you have wifi.
  • 2Do - ONE of my "to do list" apps of choice. Informant HD (above) actually does to do lists, but the format doesn't gel with me. 2Do rocks, with a great interface and online syncing.
  • Bookman - After much searching, this is my comic book reader of choice. Love it. There's a free version that's excellent; I bought the paid version to support the developer. Makes reading CBRs and CBZs easy, fun, and comic-like. (and helps me with #comicpanels!)
  • Manage...Lists - Another great to do list manager. I use this one for quick day-to-day lists, 2Do for overarching project planning. I'll frequently have a project in 2Do, then break it down in Manage Lists so as to not clutter up 2Do.
  • Evernote - I'm a recent convert to Evernote, which everybody else on the planet already uses. Basically, you use it to store just about anything, pictures, text, urls, what have you. Tag them, and then you can find them later. I've been emailing myself things to remember about Marvin Artists or video editing or animation or what have you,and then never look at them because they get lost in my email stacks. Now I throw it into Evernote, and I know I can find it later. Get the desktop client too, so you can quickly save scraps when you're working there.
  • Penultimate - I just got this on the advice of the Prolost blog, who uses it for storyboarding. It's basically a little notebook program, but the key features here are that you can rearrange the pages in a thumbnail view (essential for storyboarding) AND you can make your own custom template papers. So you could make music notation paper, graph paper, storyboarding squares, or what have you. I have it on the front page to remind myself to explore the possibilities--maybe a blank superhero body to sketch costumes on? Cartoon panels for thumbnailing?
On to the folders! Firstly, Art!
These are the various art programs I use and/or are trying out currently. I'll go through them quickly now, and will try to flesh out this section with more critical description later. There's a lot here.
  • ArtStudio - Amazing program. So cheap, you think it can't possibly be worth buying because something that cheap must suck. But it doesn't. It rocks like thunder, and the developer is CONSTANTLY making it better and adding tools and features. A must buy.
  • SketchBook Pro - Generally regarded as the best drawing app on the iPad. I like it better for some things, ArtStudio for others, but SketchBook is definitely a fabulous program.
  • LiveSketch HD - I actually just deleted this program. Basically just a cute sketchy thing, but not very useful.
  • Adobe Ideas - Why is this free??? Basically, it's a paint program that translates strokes into scalable vectors that can be exported and edited in Illustrator. I've done some awesome-looking things tracing photographs with this. No reason to not get it.
  • iDraw - One of the vector drawing programs I'm evaluating.
  • iDesign - One of the vector drawing programs I'm evaluating.
  • Sketchpad Lite - One of the vector drawing programs I'm evaluating.
  • Moxier Collage - I haven't done much with this, but it's a cool little program that lets you collage and arrange different photos together to make new art.
  • Strip Design - One of two apps on the iPad that let you make comics. Draw the panels for you, word balloons, sound effects, etc. You can import photos from the Photos app to place in the panels. Make fun photocomics OR use a drawing program to make your own art, export it to the Photos app, then pull it into Strip Design!
  • PS Express - A very stripped-down Photoshop. I use it to rotate and crop comics for #comicpanels. It's real quick and easy.
  • ToonPaint - an iPhone app, but very cool. "Toonizes" your photos.
  • Photopad - sorta like PS Express.
  • Inkpad - One of the vector drawing programs I'm evaluating.
  • Learn To Draw - haven't tried it yet, but it's by Walter Foster!
  • Sculpting Free - 3D sculpting on the iPad? What!?
  • Dottedit - another iPhone app; pixel sprite editor. Whee!

  • Next we have "Research":
    • Wikipanion - There are lots of good Wikipedia clients on the iPad. This is one of them.
    • English - A dictionary.
    • IMDB - Quick way to access IMDB, nicely presented.
    • Dictonary - A dictionary.
    • Dictionary - A dictionary. (Why do I have so many dictionaries?)

    The iPad's great for quickly scanning the popular places to buy stuff.

    • eBay - It's eBay, but organized for fast access and less ad-crap.
    • Target - Very cute little app that lets you search the store or view the current circular. Try the shopping list feature!
    • Amazon.com - A good Amazon client.
    • WindowShop - A dangerous Amazon client, that lets you search and browse visually across categories by swiping north-south and east-west. You can discover new things this way.
    • CraigsEZPro - nice Craigslist client that lets you shop quickly and visually.
    "News and Weather"
    • BBC News - Headlines from the BBC
    • Fluent News - Aggregated headlines.
    • Weatherbug - fun weather app
    • Weather+ - a prettied-up weather app.
    • PWTorch - rasslin' news. A fair app at best.
    We'll move to page two of the iPad apps in a subsequent post!

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