Posted by: mirfaan on Oct 24, 2011
The biggest hesitation when deciding to get an iPad or not is understanding the limitations of the device, and what you'll be able to do without shelling out cash and iTunes gift cards for apps. This guide broadly covers what you can do for free (though there's tons of other stuff) on your iPad - all that's really required is an internet connection. All apps mentioned in this post are or were available for free.
Listening to music
It's an iPad. Duh.
Email, calendars, and browsing the internet
The iPad handles all these things pretty well with its native apps, which, with iOS5 includes a nifty to-do list app.
Watching movies & series: flex:player
iPads only have native support for .mp4 movies, which is a pain if your series and movie content is the traditional .avi content the rest of the world uses. Previously watching these required a jailbreak and VLC, but hurrah's for flex:player, a straightforward and easy to use.
Videos are added through iTunes (easy to follow instructions available when you open the app).
The iPad has pretty great support for YouTube and Vimeo videos, but flash videos are going to leave you feeling disappointed
There are also meta-apps like HootSuite which condense all your media streams and multiple twitter accounts into one place.
Both apps require books to be loaded via their respective apps in iTunes.
Reading comics: ARCreader
If you're a comic book fan there are a couple of comic book readers which support .cbz .cbr PDF's and zip files. ARCreader is my favourite with its easily hideable layout.
Viewing Google Reader: Mobile RSS HD Free
Definitely my favourite of the RSS apps, Mobile RSS has a great display, silky flick-through gestures, and pretty great sharing options (including Twitter and Tumblr).
Internet content: Flipboard
By far my favourite app on the iPad, Flipboard turns your social media streams, RSS feeds and a bunch of curated content it knows is cool into fantastically silky and browse-able magazine-like content. Fantastic sharing, and the ability to search and add any RSS feed (including Twitter streams) is simple and intuitive.
What this app can achieve is little short of remarkable. Flipboard is the ambassador of what content on the iPad should be.
Taking notes (typing): Evernote and Simplenote
Simplenote is a remarkably simple and effective notetaker, giving you a minimalist environment to type what you need to, with syncing to other devices and your desktop. Evernote's offering is a little stronger, offering the capture and viewing of richer content, and with pretty kick ass integration which includes tweet-to-note and capturing audio and images, slightly out-muscles Simplenote
Taking notes (scribbling): iNotes for iPad (lite) and Smart Doc Lite
Note taking apps are difficult to compare, because the purpose for needing or using one differs vastly from person to person. iNotes offers an organically intuitive notebook to scribble in, while Smart Doc has more sophisticated and less agricultural drawing and shape creation.
There are other apps that do things better suited to you, but these cover the basics.
Other apps worth noting:
Read it Later (free) - lets your clip long articles from the web for reading later
Photoshop - basic image manipulation
Dropbox - syncing files between devices
AdultSwim - watch free cartoons (including Robot Chicken!)
Atomic web browser - more sophisticated and feature rich browser than Safari
Remote - lets you control content playing from iTunes
WordPress - managing and posting to your WordPress blog