After having a few weeks to get to know and enjoy my iPad2, I’m pleased that it has turned out to be a useful tool in even more ways than I expected. I spent the first week exploring some apps, especially games. (Hurray for old-fashioned mine sweeper on a touch screen!) I installed Bluefire Reader early on so I could use it to read the digital galleys I get from netGalley for book reviews. I never liked reading these eBooks on my MacBook pro. The iPad, as I’d hoped, is much better for this task being lighter, more portable and easier on my eyes.
The next major task for which I wanted the iPad2 was reading all of the articles for my courses. I hate printing out pages and pages of readings It feels so wasteful. But, as with the digital galleys, I dislike reading them on the laptop. The contrast is too harsh and gives me headaches. I have a hard time staying focused and the laptop is not something you curl up with in a comfortable chair. Again, the iPad2 solves those problems. After a bit of research, I chose iAnnotate as a PDF reader and markup tool. There are several good apps available for this, but iAnnotate will allow me to fill out those pesky PDF forms. It also imports documents in Word and PowerPoint formats, converting them into PDFs. Most of my lectures are in one of those format and are easily loaded into the same app as the readings. Everything is together and I’m enjoying the readability and portability of the iPad. iAnnotate makes it easy to highlight or make notes on the readings.
One of my favorite apps, Zite, came as a bit of a surprise. I never expected to like it as much as I do. It is a news compiler that allows me to customize my feed based on categories of news. I can follow top news stories, technology trends, arts and culture, and many other topics. I can easily see trends and follow public reactions. I just joined the ipl2 newsletter and blog team, and Zite will be very helpful for finding topical, interesting subject ideas for my contributions. It will also force me to finally set up a social bookmarking account. Since the iPad doesn’t support multitasking, I can’t bookmark Zite articles in my internet browser. But there are convenient buttons to share links via the usual suspects – Facebook, Twitter, Diigo, etc. I’ve already found several articles I wanted to return to or share. So now I’ll finally stop procrastinating and set up that Diigo account.
The next killer app I can’t wait to download? Atari’s Greatest Hits, including Pong, which is free. I’ll probably end up purchasing some other games I remember fondly from high school. Asteroids or Centipede anyone? I do think I’ll pass on the iCade enclosure.