This past June, after owning my iPad for only a couple months, I wasn’t sure if it was really worth all the hype. I did an early review of my “magical” device on a Gettin’ Geeky show, saying it really was not going to keep me from toting my laptop around.  I mean it was really just an oversized iPod, and while it made it much easier on my eyes to find songs or tweet from the beautifully large screen, it didn’t fit in my back pocket or purse…well okay, it did fit in a couple of my humongoid bags.

But it has been 10 months of living with my “magical” device, and while the unicorns and cotton candy only come a few times a week, I have found that I rarely leave home without my iPad.

Why the change in heart? It’s all about the apps.  I have almost a hundred different apps loaded on my iPad and have had several others come and go after testing them. Keep in mind when purchasing an iPad that apps range from FREE to $30 so budget another $50-$100 for apps to really make the magic happen.   I have also learned a few things along the way, like we shouldn’t have been naïve to think we didn’t need the 3G service.  You don’t always have wifi available and too many of the “magical” features require connectivity.  (That new iPad is scheduled to come out early 2011!)  So here is a run down of my top 10 FAVORITE apps and why I think YOU need them:

  1. Flipboard has not only been MY favorite, but the favorite of millions (Apple named Flipboard app of the year).  Flipboard turns your social media favorites into a personalized magazine.   Pulling from Twitter, Facebook and even some specialty feeds from Flip such as FlipTech or FlipDesign.  I love “flipping” through the pages like reading a real magazine. (This app is FREE and I feel guilty since it is so wonderful!)
  2. Osfoora is the Twitter app that I have found to do everything I want it to do all while looking great.  ($3.99 but so good it’s worth it)
  3. Pandora is the must have music app to bring your custom radio stations with you anywhere. (FREE for the version with commercials or you can pay $36 per year for commercial-free higher quality audio)
  4. Instapaper is the app that saved my computers. I typically have 28 tabs open on my browser because there are so many links that I click on and want to read but don’t have time at that moment.  Now with Instapaper you can clip and save part or all of an article and it saves it in an online folder to read when you have time…from any device. ($4.99 instead of a new laptop…worth every penny)
  5. Evernote is the must have app for all projects you are juggling. Take some notes, load some photos, even record an audio file to throw into your Evernote project file.  (A wonderful app for FREE)
  6. SoundNote was an amazing discovery just as I was about to plunk down a hundred dollars for a Livescribe pen.  This great app lets you record audio as you type notes or write with a stylus.  Later you can simply play back the audio. ($4.99 and worth at least twice as much!)
  7. Night Stand is a great travel companion and all around great alarm clock.  Not only does it display some beautiful clocks, but you can wake to birds chirping, glass breaking, or a woman screaming…and who wouldn’t want to wake to that soothing sound?  (There is a FREE limited version or the full version for $1.99)
  8. WhiteNoisePro is a wonderful app for those who have a hard time falling asleep or just love the soothing white noise of waterfalls, crickets, chimes, or a selection of 40 other sounds that you customize to lull the stress away.  (Well worth the $2.99)
  9. Jibbigo is the perfect travel companion to help you translate what that cab driver just said or to tell the hotel concierge that you are wanting to visit the pickle museum that is down town.  You type or speak a statement and it will first translate in text and then in voice.  (Not a cheap app at $25)

  10. Epicurious is a wonderful online cookbook with special features that build your shopping list and save your favorite recipes for that repeat performance.  This app can get any geek cooking!  (FREE!  You can upgrade within the app for $1.99 which builds your recipe box in the cloud to access from any device)

I didn’t list any of the great games (Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Word Worm, and Doodle Jump have been some of the favorites in our house) or the fantastic photography and music apps.  I may have to just do a post on each genre to start to scratch the surface.

So what will 2011 bring for the iPad aside from competition in the tablet market? More great apps for sure.  If I left off your favorite, tell us about it here in the comments.  After all, I need a few more.  It’s been at least 24-hours since I downloaded a batch!

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Happy Geeky New Year!

~Gina