Find My iPhone (Free): iPads are two things: easy to carry and coveted by thieves. Even if you don’t think your iPad will ever be swiped, it’s better to have a backup plan than be stuck shelling out another $500 for a new one. Find My iPhone is a free app from Apple that pinpoints your iPad’s (and any other iOS device’s) location on a map. As long as the tablet is on, you can send a ping and a message to it from your computer or iPhone, alerting whoever took it (or found it) that you want it back. You can also wipe it clean of all your data in case it can’t be recovered. A free Find My iPhone account is required to use the app.
Soulver ($5.99): You can find a lot of calculator apps on the App Store, but there’s only one Soulver. Soulver is a text-based calculator that understands plain language. For example, you can type “Bought a beer for $4.00 + a plate of wings for $6.99” and in the next column, Soulver will display the total as “$10.99”. The app even keeps a running tally of your entries so you can go back and see what you bought or where your money went this month.
Night Stand HD ($1.99): Your iPad’s screen is capable of displaying a lot of information at one time. Why not out that big display to work with the Night Stand HD alarm clock app? The application gives you a beautiful fullscreen clock in a variety of formats, like digital, wall clock and “around the world” news station-esque clocks. Built-in iPod integration let’s you wake up to your favorite tracks and you can also see the day of the week and current weather information. Just find yourself a sturdy stand and you’ve found yourself a great use for your iPad after dark.
Mobile Mouse ($2.99): Mobile Mouse turns your iPad into an external trackpad for your Mac. Access your Mac’s dock, the trackpad, left- and right-click buttons and even iTunes controls over Bluetooth PAN. If you’re one of the very rare folks who prefers the iPad’s horizontal keyboard to your Mac’s hardware one, the iPad can serve as an external keyboard for any of your Macs while Mobile Mouse is running. I mean, heck, if the thing is sitting on your desk, you might as well put it to work.
Mercury Web Browser Pro ($.99): Until iOS 5 drops with its updated tabbed Safari browser, you’ll probably want something a little more substantial than the current iteration. Enter Mercury Web Browser Pro. Mercury comes with an astounding number of features, including private browsing, tabs, fullscreen orientation and the ability to download files into any compatible apps, like Dropbox and Goodreader. You can configure your own dashboard to launch your favorite sites in a single tap, or search for words and phrases within any page. This is as close to a desktop browsing experience as you’ll get on the iPad.
GarageBand ($4.99): When friends ask you, “Why should I buy an iPad?” just show them GarageBand and watch them go from “Meh” to “Holy crap!” in about ten seconds. GarageBand features built-in multitouch instruments, like the Smart Keyboard and drum kit, as well as nine amp simulators and 10 stompbox effects to sound like your favorite guitarists.
Most importantly, GarageBand is able to record up to eight tracks at once using multitouch instruments, loops and audio recordings. You can then trim and edit your tracks with the app’s integrated mixer and audio effects. This does not seem like a regular tablet app – GarageBand is like a desktop app ported beautifully to the iPad.
Google Earth (Free): It’s the Earth! On the iPad! Swipe, pan and zoom around the globe and take in the sites thanks to eerily clear satellite imagery. Zip to your current location using the iPad’s Location Services, or search for nearby businesses with the built-in Google Local Search. And the Panoramio layer allows you to peruse thousands of geo-located photos from around the world. Good luck getting this out of your head now: “He’s got the whole world in his hands, he’s got…”
Weather+ ($.99): The same way Night Stand HD provides you with a fullscreen alarm clock at night, Weather+ provides you with a fullscreen weather station during the day. Designed to be displayed when your iPad is docked at your desk, Weather+ displays a 5-day forecast with all the trimmings: wind speed and direction, humidity, precipitation, as well as current condition and temperature. While Weather Doodle (below) is meant for quick glances at the current situation, Weather+ is meant as a dashboard to keep you informed at all times.
Bing for iPad (Free): Bing doesn’t get a whole lot of love when compared to its multicolored competitor, but the Bing app for iPad is well worth a look. It uses your location and other info to build a hub for stock quotes, weather conditions, local news stories and nearby movie times – and, of course, there’s search functionality built right in. Browse Bing Images, Bing Maps and Bing Videos with the app’s magazine-like interface, never having to pop out to a browser to see anything. Yeah – this is from Bing.
Weather Doodle ($.99): There are a lot of pretty weather apps on the iPad, but instead of realistic weather effects or a clean dashboard interface, Weather Doodle shows current meteorilogical conditions using animations and graphics that look like they were cut out of construction paper. Watch adorable lightning bolts pop in and out of clouds on stormy days and the sun’s rays pulsate when no clouds are in sight. It’s only a buck and it’s a really nice looking weather app if all you need is a basic 5-day forecast.