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5 iPhone apps that will rock on a tablet

Until we're holding our Apple tablets in our hands, we can only speculate as to what the next wondergadget will do. Still, it's safe to assume that the tablet will offer more than web browsing from the bathroom. With that in mind, let's have a little fun. Here are five iPhone apps that would be a joy to use on a large, touch-screen device.

Panelfly

My favorite comic app [iTunes link] is just begging for a larger format. When first launched, Panelfly presents four options across two layouts. In portrait mode, it lists your library of comics, bookmarks, news and finally the Panelfly store. In landscape, you can flick through your library and tap any title to begin reading.

Reading a comic is a pleasure. Simply tap the right-hand side of the screen to move from element to element (like bits of dialogue or important parts of the image). This "narrative navigation" leads you through the story as opposed to just moving through the pages. You can flick pages back and forth, of course, but the built-in navigation is the best way to go, and all you need to do is tap the page.

Adding a bookmark or bringing up additional information is just as easy. Simply tap the middle of a page to bring up three options: add a bookmark, more info on a given issue or an overview of all pages.

While in the store, you can browse featured comics, top tens, genres and publishers. Most cost about a dollar and there are even some freebies. Every issue can be downloaded with a tap and is ready for reading in seconds.

Panelfly is nice on the iPhone and would be stellar on something the size of a legal pad of paper. With its beautiful and intuitive UI, clever navigation and inexpensive, access-anywhere store, it's just the kind of thing a comic fan would use during a commute or a lazy afternoon. And what artist wouldn't rather have his or her art on a nice, big screen? Count me in for Panelfly for the tablet.




Musee Du Louvre

Visiting a museum as enormous as the Louvre is overwhelming. There's so much to see over such a huge area that a successful visit takes planning and a map at the least -- a guide book or, better yet, a human guide is ideal. When Apple Store Carrousel du Louvre opened in November, the official app [iTunes link] was also released, and it'd be a great companion on a tablet.

The app offers an overview of some of the museum's most popular attractions, like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, as well as a history of the palace itself and visitor information like hours, admission fees, etc.

Each item is accompanied by a few lines of descriptive text, gorgeous detailed photos, a map of its location and a brief video. Imagine having your RFID-aware Apple tablet in the museum. It notices which gallery you're in and plays the appropriate video, detailing the highlights. Or, better yet, it notices that you're in front of the Mona Lisa and offers some history and interesting facts. Plus, a location-aware map would make it very easy to travel from the Mona Lisa to the Winged Victory of Samothrace (believe me, getting lost in the Louve is easier than saying, "Oui!").


Geocaching

This one may have limited appeal, but bear with me. Geocaching is a high-tech version of hide-and-seek enjoyed by geeks the world over. A small cache of items is crammed into a Tupperware container and stashed in an interesting location, like the woods, a beach, etc. The longitude and latitude coordinates are posted on a website and anyone with a GPS receiver and a free afternoon (or a gaggle of noisy kids to occupy) is encouraged to go and find it. The official iPhone app, simply called Geocaching [iTunes link], is nice, but suffers from problems that a larger format would eliminate.

First, to view a cache's location on an external map like Google Maps, you've got to exit the app. Hopping back and forth is a nuisance that a side-by-side view would take care of. In fact, you never want to navigate away from a map, either the app's own or an external one, but you often must to view a description, hint or other pertinent bit of information.

Geocaching on a tablet would be wonderful; imagine GPS tracking with all of the information you want on the screen at once. Track your progress, leave a note or photo, refer to the description and so on... I'd love to use this app on a tablet.


At Bat

My all-time favorite iPhone application, At Bat [iTunes link] is the official iPhone app of Major League Baseball. Introduced during the 2008 season, it's gotten significantly better with each update, and now offers live streaming of games (both video and audio) in-app purchases, live play-by-play stats, recap videos and so much more.

When I think of At Bat on the tablet, I think of this demo video of a tablet-based Sports Illustrated magazine. Imagine, in addition to the features above, live stats of the player at the plate, chat with other fans (no more annoying hash tags on Twitter) and additional scores from around the league.

Watching the game with your buddies? Pass it around to play mini-games as you coach from your armchair: Who will score next? What will the next play be?

Streaming video would be gorgeous. Away on business and can't get your favorite team's home broadcast? No problem. Order it up on your tablet, prop it up in the dock and it's just like you're at home. I'd do that in a second.

CNN Mobile

Here's a great app [iTunes link] that doesn't get its due. Regardless of your opinion of the Cable News Network, you must admit that the app is well done. Use the horizontal menu to move from category to category (world news, U.S., entertainment, etc.) and a flick to move through stories vertically. At the bottom of the screen, choose from headlines, a customizable "My CNN," video and what they call iReport.

The iReport feature lets users upload stories from whereever they happen to be. Most are photos of severe weather, etc. Typing a news story to submit would be much easier with a full-sized touch keyboard, and encourage more than the quick snapshots we get from contributors now.

As with At Bat, the larger display would make video much more pleasant.


There you have it -- five iPhone apps that would rock on a tablet-sized device. The thing about Apple is that they don't release products that have never been done before. Instead, they release hardware that performs tasks in a novel way. Namely, the right way. The iPod wasn't the first digital music player and the iPhone wasn't the first mobile phone. Yet each one, upon being introduced, performed its core function differently than any previously-released, similar device had. In addition, even the pundits' best guesses were light-years outside of what came to be.

To expect the Apple tablet to behave or even resemble existing tablet PCs is a mistake. Once it's finally in our hands, we'll all be left saying, "I didn't see that coming." We can't wait.

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