iPad

All of the apps that we have reviewed that have iPad support and are available to use natively on the iPad. If an app is in this index, you won’t have the 2x iPhone app interface.

Noteshelf

The 2 Best Digital Ink Apps for the iPad



As somebody who used to be hooked on my Palm PDA because of all the time management stuff it could do, my migration to iOS (iPad and iPhone) is far more focused on productivity apps than games. For instance, I’ve bought most of the digital ink, note-taking apps available for the iPad and I’ve recently picked a favorite. Noteshelf.

Main Level of my Noteshelf (above)

In reviewing all of the features of the various digital ink apps available, the single most important thing is how well it translates what you think you’re writing into pixels on the screen. You often hear mentions of the “inking algorithm” and what people are trying to describe is how well the motions of your stylus (or finger) are accurately tracked and saved as digital ink pixels. And when you’re scribbling quickly, if the app can capture your strokes accurately, the algorithm is better. NOTE: Just to be clear, these programs do NOT convert writing into typed characters. (I haven’t found a single OCR for writing that saves more time than it wastes.)

One of the explanation pages from the Noteshelf User Guide (above)

Besides Great Inking…

While I have yet to find a “perfect” digital ink program that always captures exactly what I scribble, there are a half dozen or so that are quite good and on par with one another. So then you start looking at other features which make one inking program better than its competitors. Big features that matter are things like:

  • Does it include an option for typing?
  • Is it easy to find and organize various pages/notes/collections, etc.?
  • Is editing type and ink easy and intuitive?
  • Does it have a “zoom mode” for more accurate writing?
  • Does it have a ‘wrist guard’ so you can rest your hand on the tablet as you write?
  • Can you snap or import photos and then crop, scale, and annotate them?
  • Can you password protect notes?
  • Can notes be shared and printed easily?

With respect to all of these points, Noteshelf is at least as good as the best in class competitors, with one notable exception… It is absolutely the best, most intuitively organized app for taking notes, bar none!

As the name suggests, it uses a bookshelf analogy for visual organization of notebooks. It gives you the option to put as many notebooks as you like on the main shelf, or you can group collections of notebooks together and tapping on the group, opens a 2nd level shelf with as many notebooks as you want. For instance, I have a group of all my notes for work. In that group I have a couple dozen notebooks, each representing a topic. It’s that simple.

Besides great organization, Noteshelf is also the only app I know of, that lets you design and import your own papers, and you can even mix papers within any given notebook. I have several forms we use all the time at my office and I’ve added them as pages to various notebooks. Now I can fill out an ‘official’ form from the office, digitally sign it, and email it as a PDF, all from within  Noteshelf. It also has custom cover options, but that’s just cool and makes the visual organization even nicer. It’s not really a make or break feature.

 The missing big feature

Speaking of big features that you might be looking for, audio recording is not a part of this app. Now, that’s okay with me because I’m rarely in an environment where I can record decent audio while I’m taking notes. I suppose if I were still in college, I would want that function. If that’s you, go for my 2nd favorite note taking app Notability. It does ink and typing as well as anything in Noteshelf and it adds recording audio. – My big problem with Notability is the comparatively difficult organizational structure. My other big problem is that, while the program is very robust, the instructions and tutorials to use it are not. I learned a little from a built in ‘Welcome’ note, some from built in help, some from videos at the developer’s web site, yet I still had unanswered questions about functionality, saving and sharing files, etc.

Notability comparison of how notes are organized (above)

Again, Noteshelf outshines Notability with their very comprehensive getting started note (User Guide). It’s 17 pages and will take 10 or 15 minutes to digest, but if you do, you’ll know everything about the app without any blanks. Then again, because the app is so intuitive, you’re welcome to jump right in and you’ll probably get it.

Noteshelf and Notability are both great digital ink, typing, note taking apps for the iPad, and you’ll love either one. But if intuitive visual organization is important to you, pick Noteshelf. If you need audio recording, pick Notability, and spend some time learning how to keep your notes organized and categorized.

You can get Noteshelf for $5.99 here from the iTunes

You can get Notability for $0.99 here from the iTunes

 

A word about iPhone compatibility

Unfortunately none of these digital inking apps has an iPhone version available. However, I have found that I can save all my notes (or just selected ones) from Noteshelf or Notability into my free Dropbox account as PDFs and that way I can get to them from my IPhone, even if I can’t edit them.

markup-icon

Markup Brings Website Coding To The iPad

Markup for iPad

Even though I use my iPad less for work and more for enjoyment, it is nice to have apps on it that are capable of doing work too. As a web designer, it feels good to be able to pull up and make changes to a client website directly from my iPad should that need occur. That being said, I don’t have any plans to start doing website work just on the iPad.

 

Last year I reviewed Textastic, another web editor for the iPad. I have been perfectly happy with it, until I saw one feature of Markup that drew my attention to it. I can save “sites” in it. Being able to save a site with its FTP configuration and working with its files separately from another site is an incredible experience, if not a must.

The editor is clean and simple but very functional. Just pull up a file remotely, no need to store in locally, and start working on it. While this does need an internet connection, it is the best way to work on sites that are now online that you need to edit. If you just want an app to code in locally, this is not the one for you.

Markup for iPad

In summary, Markup offers you a good value for the price it cost, giving you a nice site editor on the iPad that you know will do its job well. If you work with websites regularly, I think this is a good buy.

Get Markup for iPad from the Markup for iPad - Soroush Khanlou

KayakPro

Kayak Pro for All Your Travel Booking Needs

I travel for a living. I also do quite a bit of travel for pleasure too. I have the benefit of using a corporate travel agent when booking travel for work. However, when I travel for pleasure I'm on my own. Sure I've used travel sites like Travelocity and Orbitz. I've used Hotels.com and direct booking booking with airlines and hotel sites. Many of these travel sites have Apps and I've used those too. However, I haven't found an App that can handle all types of booking and one stop shopping like Kayak Pro can. While there are some good Apps out there, Kayak Pro has the best UI that I've seen to date and can take you all the way through the process of not only searching for deals but booking them too. You can book your Flight, Hotel and Rental Car all from within the App. It searches multiple carriers and deals and even lets you make the ultimate choice of which site you book it through.

 

It's all about the UI

Kayak Pro impresses me most by having a very clean and easy to use user interface. Tap the appropriate form of transportation such as a plane, bed or car and then you're presented with a screen asking for the location you want to travel to/from as well as the dates. Once you hit go, your results will be listed by order of Cheapest first. You can change the sort order to something like "Shortest duration", which would give you non-stop flights first over connecting flights. You can then just tap the deal you want to proceed with the booking. Since Kayak Pro searches the deals of the other travel sites such as Orbitz, CheapTickets.com, etc. it truly is one-stop-shopping. 

 

Auto-Fill Rocks

Since Kayak Pro can offer booking on any one of a number of sites, it would be tedious having to enter your information in every time you want to do a booking. Therefore, Kayak Pro offers an optional "Auto-Fill" feature where you key in your information such as name, address, phone number etc. once in the App and then it can auto-fill this information for any bookings you make within the App. I used it to book a hotel and every screen that came up within the App asking for my info was already filled in with the exception of the Credit Card info, which the App doesn't offer.

 

It's Great, but it Could Be Better

The App works great at booking your Flight, Hotel and Car Rentals, but what about trains? There are no rail options. Also it would be nice to have it search for Flights, Hotels and Car Rentals all at the same time as an option as well as booking the whole trip at once.

 

The Bottom Line

The Kayak Pro App is now my default App for searching for and booking travel deals for my personal trips. While I do use FlightTrack Pro and TripIt, it does have both a flight tracker and "My Trips" function as well to monitor the trips that you book.

 

It's a Universal App for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch

You can get Kayak Pro for $0.99 here from the iTunes

You can get the FREE Kayak version that has Ads here from the iTunes

Tweetbot_for_iPad

Tweetbot for iPad Has It All!

 

There are LOTS of Twitter clients out there for iOS and I must admit that I switch up on a regular basis. It's not that I'm that picky, it's just that I usually can't find a single client that does everything I want the way I want it to. So I end up going back and forth between the official Twitter Client, the native iOS Twitter support and Echofon Pro on my iPad. Although I have Tweetbot on my iPhone, I never really saw enough of an advantage in it to make it my default Twitter client and therefore I rarely used it. Lately I've been using Twitter on my iPhone and Echofon Pro on my iPad. That changed yesterday when Tapbots released Tweetbot for iPad. They seemed to have nailed it! I went through it looking for all the features that I like:

  • Auto refresh
  • Retweet with comment
  • Bit.ly Pro support
  • Instapaper Support
  • Images in-line
  • Good "List" support
  • Translate Tweets
  • Easy Conversation Viewing
  • Multiple Twitter Account Support
  • Choose your favorite Video and Pic service
  • and most importantly a GREAT UI that makes it easy to access the features above without too many taps

It's that last bullet point that will probably keep me using Tweetbot on my iPad. Sure the other clients have the above features (with the exception of Twitter now only supporting their own URL shortening!), but it's the UI (user interface) that's going to ultimately decide my favorite Twitter client.  What I really like about Tweetbot is the gestures. For example a Triple tap gives you reply choices. Swipe to the left to see the conversation. A single tap reveals the most common options for a selected tweet. Tap and hold on an Avatar to see options for that Twitter user. Tap and hold on the tweet to Send the Tweet to Instapaper (or the service you choose), Copy it, email it and yes TRANSLATE IT!

They even got the startup experience right! The first time I launched the App it offered to bring in the Twitter accounts that I already had setup in iOS 5. Yeah! Also they show you some helpful tips to get you going on the App.

Granted I've only been using this App for a day, but I can't think of anything they missed. Well I do have to ding them on one thing. It would have been nice to see this as a Universal App instead of charging both iPhone and iPad users separately. Also even though these things aren't important to me, they may be to you: I don't see support for the newly designed Twitter interface that offers "Discover" and "Connect'. You can of course see your Mentions and New Followers, but not in the same window. I could care less about this, but it is something that the official Twitter client offers. Otherwise if you're looking for a new great Twitter client for iPad, this is it.

P.S. Hey Tapbots, will ConvertBot ever see some iPad love? Also I really wish you guys could do what you did for Twitter, for Google+ too!

Follow me on Twitter!

You can get Tweetbot for iPad for $2.99 here from the iTunes

One more thing… Yes the iPhone/iPod touch version got updated to 2.0 with many of the features that kept me away from using it in the past and the ones that make me love the iPad version. It may be a win-win for me here using the same UI on both platforms!

You can get Tweetbot for iPhone/iPod touch for $2.99 here from the iTunes

blogsy

Blogsy lets me blog from my iPad

In addition to writing App reviews here, I blog on my Tech Blog and for my Mac User's Group Blog. Most of the time I blog from my MacBook Pro, but I'm finding that I can do more and more with just using my iPad. All of my blogs use the WordPress engine and while I've used the official WordPress App, I find it lacking in several areas for formatting my posts the way I like. I'm especially picky when it comes image placement. Until now my favorite iPad blogging App had been BlogPress and while BlogPress is a GREAT APP, I'm actually blown away by the capabilities of Blogsy. Blogsy offers a slew of editing and formatting features that make me feel as if I'm editing using the native WordPress interface. While this could just as easily be achieved in the Safari browser, where Blogsy becomes the clear winner is when it comes to inserting media such as images and videos. As you would expect you can import media from your iPad Camera Roll or Albums. All of the blogging apps do this. However, Blogsy takes it up several notches by letting you drag and drop images and videos from your online sharing sites such as Flickr, Picasa, and even YouTube. Yes you can drag and drop YouTube videos into your posts! Sweet!

HTML Editing and more

While Blogsy offers a nice graphical user interface (UI) for editing your blog posts, if there there is ever anything you need to insert into the HTML directly you can access it with the tap of a button. If you need to look something up or grab a link for you post, there's no need to leave the App as it has a web browser built-in. Blogsy supports WordPress, Blogger, Posterous, TypePad, MovableType, Drupal and Joomla. It also includes TextExpander support. 

 

The Bottom Line

While Blogsy does offer very impressive editing and image handling features there is one thing keeping me from being able to use this App 100% of the time. I haven't been able to find a way to use the custom fields and other features of my WordPress template while in Blogsy. For example, I would have been able to write this post in Blogsy and bring in the images, but I would have still needed to complete the post in a browser in order to add things like the Featured image and to fill out the details panel at the bottom of this post. These are custom fields in my WordPress template that don't show up in Blogsy (or at least I haven't found them). Even with that being the case I could use Blogsy to do the bulk of the work while on the go and finish the few little details that Blogsy couldn't do either on my computer or in Safari on the iPad. 

You can get Blogsy for iPad for $4.99 here from the iTunes

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