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On the Zeroth Day of iPad…

I realize I’m not the typical iPhone and iPad consumer; I’m perfectly happy to pay a nominal amount for a piece of software. Being a developer, I guess that’s kind of the Golden Rule. But it’s something I’ve felt for a long time: Pay the band a decent price for the music you enjoy and they can make more; pay a developer a decent price and they can afford the time to keep improving it. (That said, I’m perfectly happy to accept promo codes for your apps, even though I don’t have an app of my own right now to return in kind.)

I attended WWDC08 (the First iPhone WWDC) with the intent of avoiding iPhone topics because I have desktop ideas. I still have those desktop ideas, but since then the iPhone work has been more available, and I’ve become more intrigued by the possibilities. I worked as a (small) part of a team on an iPad app that’s on the store today—if you aren’t averse to paying money for an app, there’s a good chance I may have a bit of code on your iPad. (The app is intentionally not in the list of apps that follow.) I am currently working on another contract for an updated iPhone version and and iPad adaptation. It’s been fascinating to watch what Apple has done with the software, as well as how others are interpreting the platform without having hardware to test. For me, apps aren’t just about whether they’re functional; they’re a way to see what the popular interface designs are, as well as how developers took things in a different direction.

I just bought a bunch of applications for my iPad, and I haven’t even touched the device yet. I held off a whole day after the iPad App Store opened—yesterday I only downloaded free apps (in case they started charging for them later) and added items to my Want List while browsing through the list. Then I realized I’m going to want to dive right into syncing and running them when I rip apart the packaging tomorrow. Then I thought it might be worthwhile to make note of why I bought them before even trying them out.

First, credit to apps I already have (paid and free) that now have Universal versions:

Updated Apps

Now Playing

One of the first apps I had on my iPhone, and it’s still my go-to for finding movie times and reviews. The Netflix integration was nice, although I felt it added a lot of data download time to it (perhaps the new official Netflix app will convince me to use only it). I don’t anticipate my iPad will replace the iPhone as my “out and about” device, so we’ll see how much I use this.


I’m a movie info dork; finally having the IMDb app on the iPhone was a welcome relief from using the site in Mobile Safari. We’ll see how much the iPad space adds.

Instapaper Pro

The latest NetNewsWire for iPhone finally switched me from reading everything right at the moment to using Instapaper as my “tab equivalent” (my desktop NetNewsWire constantly has plenty of tabs I “need” to get around to reading). Being an app developer without many graphics editor skills, Marco Arment’s designs are an inspiration for seemingly minimal standard interfaces with lots of thought behind them, and the iPad screenshots look so much more engrossing than the iPhone version does. I would have paid again for an iPad version, but will happily accept that Marco decided against that.


With the iPad’s screen, I may actually be enticed to write with it instead of MarsEdit on the desktop. Maybe.

Reiner Knizia’s Money

I’m a big fan of boardgames, but while I love complex boardgames, I don’t get into big involved videogames (a fact that confounds many of my friends, especially those in the videogame industry). I’m really excited about some of the possibilities the iPad brings to boardgaming.

Money is a card game I played once then hunted down a German copy of before it was reprinted recently. Unfortunately, it’s a bit quirky to get your head around on first play, so I haven’t found a willing group to play. Luckily, Shannon Appelcline has done an excellent job of fitting it into the iPhone, and I’m looking forward to it having breathing room on the iPad.

is an intriguing trick-taking card game that I haven’t quite been able to figure out the rules from the insert, so I downloaded the app primarily as a tutor. I haven’t had time to actually play it yet, but I’m looking forward to it still.

Paid Apps


Duh. I don’t really use the iWork desktop apps much (in order, probably Keynote, Pages, then Numbers) but these are obviously the standard bearers of iPad apps. As a developer of iPad and iPhone apps, it would be criminal to not pick these over for ideas and de facto standards.


I expect there will be some grumbling over this app’s somewhat erratic pricing history, having released a free (ad supported) and premium ($4.99 to remove ads) iPhone version, and now $9.99 to have it on the iPad. Doesn’t matter to me; NetNewsWire has been my RSS reader of choice since before NewsGator acquired them, and this is probably the most beautiful version yet without being cute and clever.


Another app I can’t live without. Autogenerating strong unique passwords so I don’t have to remember them, syncing them to all my devices and computers, all while being stylish. There was no hesitation in paying for this on a new platform.

[Update: Just after I post this, I read that I would have gotten 1Password Pro as a free Universal update. Oh well, such is the price of trying to do things sight unseen. I believe in learning from other people’s mistakes—learn from mine and go grab 1Password Pro now if you want to run it on iPhone and iPad.]


$49.95 for the desktop app; $9.99 for the iPhone version; now another $19.99 to have it on the iPad? Yup, not a moment’s hesitation there. In my opinion, the whole point of a task list is to have it with you everywhere. Things does that with Apple Design Award-winning style and the iPad version looks like even more design inspiration. I know I don’t use this nearly as hard as others do, but I still feel it’s been worth every penny.


I thought the recently released iPhone version of this was indeed very elegant, but i didn’t see that I needed that elegance on my iPhone the few times I need it for Wikipedia. I’m perfectly happy with Wikipanion for that. But with the space of an iPad, Articles looks like exactly the kind of elegance I would welcome when losing myself down the Wikipedia hole.


Acacia Tree’s desktop app has been sitting back in my subconscious since it was released. I love the idea of a recipes (and more!) app, but didn’t see it fitting into our household flow. (It doesn’t hurt that my wife has a handful of recipes we love enough to cycle through each week.) But somehow, I can see the iPad changing that with its portability. At $8, it’s pretty easy to take a shot at it.


Another app that’s been sitting in the “possible” column for quite a while. I was going to hold off again—there’s just too much SQL geek in me to not resist the “return to FileMaker” stigma. I know there are things Bento could knock out quicker than I could without it, but I ended up rationalizing the “whopping” $5 price tag by thinking its presence might be beneficial for things my wife might want to do—and will probably end up teaching me a thing or two about it.

Flight Control HD

I came very late to the Flight Control party, but that didn’t stop it from hooking me for a while. I’m willing to become engrossed in it again.

Orbital HD

This game completely hooked me with its beautiful retro simplicity. I was going to have to have the iPhone app on the iPad anyway, so $3 is dirt cheap to not have it resolution doubled.

Plants vs Zombies

Oh, I tried to resist. I had downloaded the Mac trial and lost an afternoon to it. Somehow I managed to look away from the light, and count myself thankful. But at $3, I am weak.

Civilization Revolution

This one is for my wife; she loves civilization building games. When SimCity comes out for iPad, mine will probably “disappear” for a few weeks. I know very little about this game, but it looks right up her alley and she typed “drool” when I pointed it out to her in chat, so I’m crossing my fingers.

My First Tangrams HD

For my 4-(“and a half!”)-year-old daughter. This may be a bit young for her, but she loves these kinds of puzzle activities and it’s just a buck.

Wooly Willy

Every time my daughter rediscovers the physical version of this, I think “I’m going to buy that iPhone app,” and then forget the name and can’t find it. It came up while perusing the list, so I’m dropping the big dollar on it finally.


Yeah, I heard about this from Daring Fireball. But I was wanting a free-form drawing app for my daughter. I had been thinking Brushes might be over her head and this looks like a perfect fit.

Free Apps


I’m really excited about this. I’ve been mulling over an e-reader for a long time. I surprisingly liked my Palm Tungsten T3 for e-reading, and have read a number of EPUB books (primarily from Pragmatic Programmers) on my iPhone using Stanza. But the size of the iPad screen will make that so much more comfortable—I may even be able to read text while looking at an illustration!

I had hoped that it would also integrate PDF documents and books, but that does not seem to be. I have some password-protected PDF books from Apress that are not near as comfortable to read on the iPhone, so I will be exploring PDF reading apps in the near future.

I also plan to pick up design inspiration from iBooks for any document viewing applications I may be working on.

Harbor Master HD

In the depth of my Flight Control addiction, I tried Harbor Master. It took Flight Control and added more complexity and stress points—instant addiction. I’m a bit nervous that this (currently) a free app and I find no mention of whether In-App Purchasing is expected to make it full-featured. But for free, I guess I’ll be able to get my money’s worth anyway.

AP News

I’m not really a headline news junkie. I knew someone who worked on the early versions of AP Mobile, so it was one of the first apps I put on my phone. It started out nice, then got overloaded and shrunk the important content away and I took it off my phone. This new AP app looks much more useful thanks to more screen space to fit in so much functionality—it also benefits from almost two years of iPhone design expertise that AP Mobile did not have at the time. I don’t know that it will make me into a news junkie, but it’s worth checking out.


Thankfully, I don’t have to use GoToMeeting that often. But I was shocked to see this app available, and it kind of split my head right open to think of “videoconferencing” like this on my iPad. I may have to find a meeting just to try it out.


As stated before, I am a bit of a movie junkie, and a Netflix member since November 1999. I didn’t really expect something like this to come out—especially the streaming aspect. I made the mistake of telling my wife about this, and now she’s lobbying hard to take our sole pre-ordered iPad out of town for 3 to 4 weeks of training she’s going to be attending.

ABC Player

We’re still a TiVo family, not a Hulu or other online video family. (Our Netflix streaming is via TiVo.) I expect this will be less used than the Netflix app, but worth giving a try—who knows, it may be another tipping point for us.


I like Twitterrific; I own paid versions on the iPhone and desktop. But Tweetie rapidly became the Twitter app I use—the best I can describe it is that it just “fits” me better. I actually don’t foresee myself tweeting much from the iPad—there’s something about the idea of a full-screen Twitter client that makes it seem so much “heavier” than an iPhone or small window on the desktop. Just from a developer’s point of view, though, every version of Twitterrific is worth looking at for design cues.

Apps I’m Keeping an Eye On


Oh, I’ll bet this one will raise a stink with its price. Meanwhile, Omni Group will remain one of the top-grossing sellers as they gather users who don’t complain about quality—they pay for it.

I love OmniGraffle; I have it on my desktop. I just don’t use it frequently there, and don’t imagine that frequency increasing on my iPad. When I reach the conclusion that I want to draw on my iPad and transfer the documents to my desktop, I’m definitely paying the $50.


This app is so cool, but just like OmniGraffle I don’t foresee it getting much use. On the other hand, it’s not completely out of the price range of buying to show off cool technology (every time I look at it, I think of the Graphing Calculator, Next Generation). I will also rationalize it as a great place for design inspiration.

Small World

And we’ll end it on a boardgame. Small World is one of my least favorite games from Days of Wonder, but as I said before there seems to be lots of potential in the iPad/boardgame intersection; in this case, you can get a $50 MSRP boardgame for $5 in digital form. Days of Wonder makes great games; if they start to release more of their games for the iPad—especially if those games are integrated with their existing online play system—my productivity is doomed, and my wife might just disappear after she gets an iPad of her own.