Yesterday, I was finally able to pick up my iPad 2. This is my first iPad since I decided to hold out on the first generation model. Upon bringing it home, I found myself oddly excited and nervous.
You see, I've wanted an iPad since Steve Jobs first introduced this magical and revolutionary device to the world, but like many, I've struggled to justify its place in my digital life -- between my iPhone and my Mac. It is, after all, a fair amount of money to spend on what some would call just a gadget. Therefore, I've wanted to be sure that my iPad is going to be more than just a glorified "cool" way to browse the Web, when I could simply grab my MacBook Pro (and power supply because the battery's dead) from upstairs.
After months of scrimping, saving and debating with my conscience and wife (I've now realized they are one and the same), I took the plunge. After many nights of hitting Apple's iPad 2 online reserve page, I (somehow) managed to snag a reserve to collect the next day from Apple's Regent Street Store in London. That was two days ago. Yesterday, I picket up my 16 GB black iPad 2.
Which brings me to today. Now that I have my iPad, how do I feel? Well, I love it of course, but...there's a quiet, persistent voice in the back of my mind saying, "iPad 2, now that I have you, you need to earn your keep or you will be returned."
Therefore, I've spent most of this morning scouting for the features and installing the apps that are going to make my iPad 2 worth its keep. After the break are what I've come up with: my top five apps (and a few more just to be sure) to show off to this voice in my head, and hopefully, once and for all, still it.
First up, but in no particular order, is the Kindle App. Yes, there's the iBook app and many other great e-book reader apps, but I've gravitated towards the Kindle app (maybe it's because I don't like the bookshelf theme in iBooks). But regardless of your e-reader preference, reading on the iPad 2 is great! I read many books while commuting (or at least I like to think I do). Since my eyesight isn't exactly 20/20, I like to customize my reading experience. I have been doing this on my iPhone 4 (isn't the Retina Display fantastic?), while the iPad 2 offers so much more with that huge screen (although I do wish the iPad 2 had a Retina Display!).
Now, you could do all of that on a Kindle device or even the iPad 1, I hear you say, but on a Kindle device, that's where it ends. And for some of what's coming up next, to an extent, it also ends there on the iPad 1. This leads me to my next app, Rage HD.
Since playing Rage HD on my iPhone 4, I've been itching to play it on an iPad. And now that the iPad 2 has some seriously enhanced graphics power, I couldn't wait to play it on my iPad 2. Was it worth the wait? Yes, indeed -- shooting heads off zombie mutants has never been so thrilling! The iPad 2's gyroscope enhances the fun; you're literally moving the iPad around like a virtual window into another reality. You can do this on the iPhone 4, but boy, it's loads more fun on the iPad 2. And this is just one of some incredible games out there for the iPad 2. Try Infinity Blade or even Jenga HD, to name a few.
Next up, GarageBand. As a musician, I'm always looking for new ways to inspire creativity as well as take down simple demos and ideas to explore without having to have my full DAW setup in front of me. In this case, GarageBand has set the bar extremely high. Not only does it provide a genuinely productive environment to draft and hone ideas, it's actually loads of fun, too. Sure, you could do loads more with your computer, but when you're out and about or just sitting on the couch downstairs, on the iPad, GarageBand is the best place to start. At this point I could go on about iMovie -- which, in normal circumstances, you need an iPad 2 for -- as well as other Apple apps for the iPad, like Pages and Numbers, but I'll let you explore those a little further and let them speak for themselves.
However, there is one Apple app that I do want to add to my list, and that is the Remote app. And because it's not an iPad 2 specific app, this one feels like a bit of an unnecessary indulgence, but if you have an Apple TV and a few iTunes libraries under your roof, the Remote app presents an incredible way to explore your media to the fullest. Therefore, I just couldn't resist giving it a mention (remember, this is my first iPad!). Again, this app is available for the iPhone as well, but the iPad's larger screen makes it a joy to behold, especially when used with Home Sharing. Simply put, streaming music and video with AirPlay is a wonder. Other apps worth checking out that take advantage of Airplay are Guitar World Lick of the Day and the BBC iPlayer, to name a few. Getting audio and video onto the best screen and speakers in the house is now made very simple. (In case you haven't noticed, I'm really going all out to tell that voice in my head to shut up!)
Finally, I don't want to mention one single app, but actually the collection of apps that arrive on the iPad: FaceTime, iPod, Mail and Safari. These are all fantastic apps that really make the iPad shine, and in essence, they are what the iPad is about for me.
If you've taken the plunge and bought yourself an iPad 2, what apps and features are making it worth it for you? Let us know in the comments.