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Five apps I love on my iPad, and three that need more work

We've had the iPad available for the better part of a week now; here are a few apps that have risen to the top, along with a few more that have sunk to the bottom.
1. GoodReader. Despite Air Sharing going iPad (I had the iPhone version) and MobileStudio providing a nifty universal binary (so the app upscales nicely), I decided to give GoodReader a try. It now sits in my dock.

MobileStudio requires FTP, and I wasn't in the mood to drop more cash on AirSharing Pro as I've already spent way too much on apps. I also tried MyPDFs and iPDF but felt they were too limited and rushed to be useful to me. GoodReader, however, hits the spot as a wonderful and capable PDF reader. Plus, it'll read text, image, audio and video files and anything that can be opened by Safari. I'm using GoodReader to manage some big PDF files, upwards of 200MB each, and it handles everything brilliantly. It also plays .mov files.

Granted, this performance is thanks in part to the powerful processor in the iPad, but the speed boost in working with PDFs is a welcome change to my now-cramped iPhone readers. There are a few UI tweaks that could be made when managing files, it's true. Still, adding folders, moving things around, and so on, are all there like a little mini-Finder. Piling a bunch of data into your iPad is easy and will look good.



2. WeatherBug Elite. The WeatherBug Elite app for iPhone quickly made it to my iPhone's home screen because of its smooth scrolling. The iPad version is bigger and better and faster. Plus, right now it is free. This isn't designed to go on your wall like Weather HD (which I also kinda like), but it is a fast, useful weather tool. In my testing the maps in WeatherBug Elite zoomed and panned faster and more accurately than any other weather app, including the Weather Channel Max app.

3. Mirror's Edge. So far the most expensive app I've purchased, Electronic Arts' iPad version of Mirror's Edge exemplifies everything that is right about making an iPad game: make it big, bold and use every pixel on the screen. Mirror's Edge is a game of simple rules, but gorgeous variations. You play a runner, running and jumping like Canabalt, but in 3D and with baddies you can attack. Beautiful graphics and music and game balance make this a true standout of games so far. Runners up: Real Racing HD and JellyCar 2.

4. SketchBook Pro. The iPhone version was quite usable on the iPad, but given the higher resolution I had to buy the bigger edition. I've used quite a few drawing apps on the iPhone, but SketchBook Pro, from Autodesk (which knows a thing or two about digital imaging), is the closest thing to Painter on the iPad that I've found so far. The key? Responsiveness. The iPhone version was really responsive, and the iPad version is just as fast. This is nice, because you can really sketch with the darn thing instead of laboriously brushing slowly to build up effects. It is very, very natural and gets better with a stylus like the one from Pogo.

5. Twitterrific. This is probably the best iteration of Twitterrific on any platform. I quit using the Mac app as it distracted me and took up menu bar space. I got hooked on Tweetie 2 for the iPhone. But Twitterrific seems completely at home on the iPad. The placement of lists and trends reduces my clicking and spares me a trip to the site -- I love it.

Now we come to the three apps that haven't worked out so well:

1. Game Table. Despite an update immediately after the iPad launch, Game Table still refuses to rotate 360 degrees, preventing it from being in a "normal" position when the Apple case is flipped around to act as an angled base. This is unacceptable. Also, while I realize this is merely a table, not a functional "game," and things like chess won't help you with rules, the app should still prevent you from making a mess of your game. Right now, flicking your chess pieces will play a very frictiony game of bowling with the pieces. That's a bit silly and unproductive, isn't it? Perhaps if the pieces would simply snap into a square that would be useful. Since starting this post the developers have added the ability of pieces to snap into place. It works well!

2. Colorful Aquarium. Yeah, I get that there will be lots of aquarium apps on the store. But this one is nothing more than some 2D sprites flitting about the screen. Bad graphics and mediocre UI make for something I'm deleting right now. This was obviously an attempt to sell an aquarium app on day one.

3. SketchPad HD. Clunky UI, can't move the text on the page (the app description and screenshots are therefore misleading) and a limited app by iPhone standards, this one needs to grow up fast even at $.99.

I'm sure there are other examples of good or bad apps out there. If you feel strongly about an app, why not apply to review them for us?

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iPad

We've had the iPad available for the better part of a week now; here are a few apps that have risen to the top, along with a few more that...