January 2010 brought us one of the most eagerly awaited pieces of tech: the Apple tablet. With only a few months for developers to code their big-display apps and no devices for testing, the year has left us some remarkable examples. Struggling with the critics' conception that the iPad is only a device for media consumption, I have found great creation tools too. Compiling a list with the best apps of the year is the same as listing the best apps ever for the device.
In the past year we learned the new term Universal app, software capable of running in iPhone's and iPad's resolution natively. This meant that most of the most popular apps and games went back to the drawing board and adapted their versions with different luck, eventually creating two AppStores for the same apps. From my last post with my favourite iPhone apps of the year, I must highlight Skyfire, iBooks and Dropbox as good examples of dual platform apps. While Skyfire's promise of Flash on the iPad did not manage to live up to its hype due to its form factor, Dropbox and iBooks are definitely above average and you should seriously consider installing them on your iPad. They are also free! Get your iTunes account and password handy to start the trip through the best of 2010.
Flipboard by Flipboard Inc (Free)
The lack of a proper native solution for your time-wasting iPad activities on Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and Flickr led Flipboard to be named one of the innovations of the year, according to TIME magazine. The concept couldn't have been easier, but the trick here was to spot it first and then implement it in the sci-fi live magazine we all dreamed of. While missing some key customization options, this app makes the newspapers in Harry Potter look so 90s.
Pulse News Reader by Alphonso Labs Inc (Free)
Praised by Steve Jobs himself at WWDC and then pulled from the AppStore for a claim from The New York Times, Pulse is a news reader that your grandma could use without a problem. While it now has Google Reader integration, Pulse's key feature is the capability to create your personal dashboard with RSS from the website you love without even knowing what RSS means. It does take a leap forward towards iPad UI moving away from the standard Apple bars and menus, but if you can deal with horizontal scrolling, you are going to like this one.
Reeder for iPad by Silvio Rizzi (Paid)
Capitalising on happy customers and the iPad's basic needs are not the only things that Silvio Rizzi has done this year. When Apple sells a WiFi vs a 3G iPad version, capturing online content for offline reading becomes paramount: following the success of the iPhone app, Reeder builds on it using Apple's design elements to maximize our RSS experience. Despite the disappointment that Reeder doesn't come as an Universal app, beware of copycats and stick to the originals.
Twitter by Twitter Inc (Free)
When Loren Brichter created the original Tweetie, he truly reinvented iPhone apps with an innovative and unusual design that people use every day without complaining much. His outstanding work with Tweetie 2 convinced Twitter to acquire the app and work with him to make an iPad version. The result has its shortcomings but has become the most pleasing way to use the micro-blogging service. The app introduces innovative interface elements such as the sliding panels to allow you to view links, profiles and media on the same screen. Oops, Loren's done it again! Style and functionality married in an eye-catching way.
OmniFocus for iPad by The Omni Group (Paid)
There are to-do list apps and then there is OmniFocus. Despite its high price-point, specially if you consider using the app on your iPhone and your Mac, it has convinced me from day one for its smart approach. OmniFocus is for those who are serious about productivity, where your workflow comes before shiny details. Its ability to group tasks into folders, review and forecast projects have made a difference for me… without missing my deadlines.
iA Writer by Information Architects (Paid)
When I read that the prestigious iA was stepping on iPad development with a writing app I couldn't help to try it on its launch day despite its Spartan looks. Used to type on a MacBook keyboard, the iPad screen is not a huge compromise for me, specially because Writer ensures that I don't get distracted by other windows floating around. Writer is simplicity to the extreme and makes you focus on the paragraph you are writing and nothing else. It's enhanced keyboard is product of assessing user's problem's and can only be a blessing for the iPad. Like most of decent writing apps, it also does Dropbox.
London Tube Deluxe Pro by Malcolm Barclay (Paid)
(Not really useful for everyone, but I'll take it as a wild-card choice). Every wise Londoner checks Transport for London's Journey Planner before venturing into the capital's transport system. The lack of a good alternative has made London Tube Deluxe Pro one of the most used iPad apps this year. Looking for stations can be tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes an indispensable tool to check departure boards and avoid closures or reduced services before leaving home.