Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.
Last week Microsoft released Bing for iPad, and the reviews and App Store Customer Reviews are generally ecstatic. It's important to realize that this isn't just a search app. It's a portal that offers news, weather, trending topics, movie listings, trending topics, maps, traffic updates, and more. And of course it offers searching, including local search and speech recognition. All of this is presented in an attractive format that makes very effective use of swiping to let you quickly browse through a lot of content.
The iPhone camera engendered a huge range of apps that used it for many things other than as a camera: from bar code readers to a heart rate monitor to an aid for those who are color blind. I suspect that the iPad will broaden that range even further. This demo video shows how a developer is using the front-facing camera for head tracking to create a cool 3-D effect.
I've written about Movie Vault in a previous post. It's an app that gives you access to over 1,000 classic movies. The app costs money but the movies are free. The developer recently lowered the price to $1.99 for the iPhone version and $2.99 for the iPad.
I now pretty much stick to buying ebooks and reading them on my iPad. Mostly it's a better reading experience, with the exception that I can't quickly backscan or forward scan. The biggest impetus, though, is that my house is already overloaded with books. I love being able to buy books but not having to warehouse them. Macworld has a great tip on how you can download free ebooks to your iPad from Project Gutenberg, which has 33,000 titles.
The Star Walk app has long been a favorite of iPhone users. You can point your phone at the sky, see a live image, and have information about what you're seeing superimposed on the live image. And now Star Walk for iPad is available until April 12 for $0.99 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first man in space. (The regular price for the iPad is $4.99.)
If you have a new iPad 2, you'll definitely want to download the free iPad 2 Starter Guide, published by Macworld. To get the ebook, simply go to the iBooks app, access the iBooks Store, and search for the title. The book begins with the basics, and helps you become familiar with all the hardware features. It walks you through such things as setting up a data plan.
Monica (free) is a fun personal assistant that not only gives you voice control but also speaks. You can ask Monica to read aloud your email, news articles, horoscope, or Google Docs, or to access Facebook. You can also ask Monica questions, but you do have to enter text. Monica will, however, read the answer to you. A nice feature is that you don’t need to tap any buttons or anything; you get Monica’s attention by simply saying, “Monica,” and then Monica responds by giving you menu of options, from which you speak your choice.
I enjoy using my iPad to read the latest news, and I'm excited about the free app Hitpad, which I just learned about. It has a gorgeous interface and, as the press release says, It distills the news about the most important topics of the day. Very similar to Google News, it presents trending topics and aggregates a wide assortment of content related to them: news, videos, tweets, web, and photos. It has trending topics in these categories: Top Stories, Entertainment, Business, Sports, Technology, and U.S. New.
The Week is a weekly print news magazine as well as a popular news destination online that offers a digest of news and commentary from magazines, newspapers, and websites. The publisher says that the magazine is the "fastest growing news and opinion magazine in America." Now there's a free iPhone app, The Week U.S., that gives you access to their content. I love news apps, especially when they're free.
I've been looking at the wide range of speech recognition apps for an article I'm working on for the magazine. Bing (free) is one that I haven't yet mentioned. As you likely know, Bing is Microsoft's powerful search engine. Microsoft calls it a “decision engine” that you can use to find information, restaurants and other businesses, images, show times, travel deals, flight information, weather forecasts, and walking or driving directions.