Holiday Gift Guide: iPad apps for the home
Welcome to TUAW's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide! We're here to help you choose the best gifts this holiday season, and once you've received your gifts we'll tell you what apps and accessories we think are best for your new Apple gear. Stay tuned every weekday from now until the end of the year for our picks and helpful guides and check our Gift Guide hub to see our guides as they become available. For even more holiday fun, check out sister site Engadget's gift guide.
My iPad spends most of its time at home. I don't travel very often, and the 9.7-inch tablet is too large to throw in my bag while I run a quick errand. That's OK; the iPad may not trip the light fantastic, but it is my faithful companion at home. I, like many others, use the iPad while I'm cooking, watching television, or sitting on the couch. If you are gifting an iPad or want one for your coffee table, then you should check out my list of favorite iPad apps for the home.
Good Player is a jack of all trades when it comes to video. It's a movie player, downloader and streaming media player which supports AVI, Xvid, Divx, DAT, VOB, FLV, WMV, MKV, MP4, RM, RMVB, AC3, HTTP, FTP, RTSP, MMS, SMB, MMSH, MMST, RTP, UPnP and UDP. I use it to stream media from my ReadyNAS, and it works exceptionally well.
IMDB, the Internet Movie Database, is an excellent app for movie buffs. I use it all the time to look up actor information, cast lists, plot information and more. It covers old movies, current flicks and upcoming films.
iBooks is an app from Apple that'll let you download and read eBooks from the iBookstore. It's perfect for reading on multiple devices as your bookmarks, notes, and last read page are synced wirelessly between all your iOS devices.
Netflix (Free; service costs $8 per month)
The Netflix app will let you stream movies and TV shows from Netflix's vast catalog. The UI was just redone, and the updated app looks even better than before. The app also tracks what you have watched and syncs this information between devices. I have an Otterbox case with a built-in stand and use Netflix all the time.
Flipboard is a magazine-style reader app that pulls content from your social networks and RSS feeds. It has a beautiful interface and is terrific for catching up on the news while sitting on the couch.
Epicurious is a cooking app that pulls its recipes from professional chefs and well-known cookbooks. The app has 30,000 recipes from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Self, and other professional chefs and cookbooks. The app lets you save recipes to a favorites list and then add the ingredients to a shopping list when you're ready to get cooking. The app also has social media support so you can share your favorite recipes with Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
Allrecipes (Free; $4.99 for the Pro version)
Allrecipes is an online website that's filled with user-submitted and user-reviewed recipes. The iPad app taps into those recipes by letting you search for recipes by course, cooking method, or prep time. You can then filter the results by rating. If you're an Allrecipes member, you can buy the $5 pro version and sync your online recipes box to the iPad. It's an excellent, all-around app for finding new recipes.
The Professional Chef is a reference guide for anyone with a passion for cooking. The app provides information on ingredients and how to buy the best quality when shopping. There's also cooking guides and video tutorials that'll show the best way to prepare and cook your ingredients. The photographs are stunning and the videos are professionally made, which makes its high price justifiable.
Bento is a free-form database app that'll help you keep track of anything and everything. You can use Bento to create a home inventory, keep a list of books, track the progress of home improvement projects and more. The possibilities are endless.
Shopping apps (Free)
Many people use the iPad to shop from the comfort of their couch and retailers are noticing. Major retailers like Walmart and Target have iPad apps; even smaller online shops like Newegg have joined the iPad revolution.
Houzz Interior Design Ideas (Free)
Houzz is an Interior Design app that'll help you remodel your house. It has over 200,000 high resolution photos that are organized by style, room and location. You browser the photos and choose the styles that you like. When you're done, you can show your ideas to an interior designer and bring them to life.
Zillow's for the homeowner who's looking to buy or sell a house. The iPad app lets you search for a region and browse all the houses and land that are on sale. You can view the listing details including the price, taxes, number of bedrooms, number of baths and so on. It's an excellent resource for anyone in the market for a new home.
The Landscaper's Companion for iPad - Gardening Reference Guide is the definitive guide to plants, tress, shrubs and bushes. The plant guide contains sun requirements, water usage, and growth characteristics for over 8500 plants. There's also 9,000 pictures, so you can see what the plant will look like when it's fully grown.
Photo Measures ($4.99)
Photo Measures is an app that'll help you keep track of measurements around the house. It lets you take a picture of your house and mark it up with measurements. If you need a new curtain, just snap a photo of the window, write in the measurements and save the doc for future use. It's perfect for your own work around the house, and is handy for creating plans to bring to a contractor.
Best Baby Monitor ($3.99)
Best Baby Monitor lets you use two iOS devices as a video baby monitor. You can connect the two devices using WiFi or Bluetooth. One device stays in the room with the baby, and the other (most likely the iPad) is with you. You can listen to audio and watch full screen video of your child's room. If it's night, you can turn on the flash to get a better view of your child.