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Just over a year ago I bought my iPad, yes it’s still a version 1 model, but I love it, a lot actually. My whole family has embraced it as our main computer and entertainment device.

All in all my purchase history show over one hundred and seventy apps downloaded over the course of the year.
Going back through here is a retrospect and ‚”best of” on what I found useful, can’t live without and wish I could use more often.

A little disclaimer: This is not an exhaustive review of apps. I didn’t compare shop and download every Twitter client and compared. I downloaded the one I found had the best reviews, tried it out and if it didn’t work for me, I tried another one. But if it worked for the first time, I didn’t keep browsing to compare features. I left it at this and was happy, for most parts.

First of, here are my most used, everyday apps

Writer, By IA. Brilliant writing app, this app made me a writer.

Twitter, My favorite way to spend time on twitter and my favorite way to consume twitter of all platforms.

Facebook – finally. Well, after using the website and trying a couple 3rd party clients, FB finally released their official app, and it didn’t disappoint.

Wunderlist – task manager in the cloud by Berlin startup 6Wunderkinder, syncs with iPhone and Mac clients, brilliant.

WordPress – Gives me the ability to control my WordPress website with a handy app. Slimmed down version of the WordPress backend, but for quick posting vastly superior to logging in through Safari.

Reeder – beautiful RSS client for google reader. Made me an RSS user.

AOL TV – Surprisingly a very helpful app! You can see what’s playing on TV right in your Personalized TV guide. No need for channel surfing. Just get confirmation that there’s only crap on. And if something decent might be on, you’re laughing. No reason to turn the TV on. Especially as we are using the TV increasingly for music, this is a great app to have.
And it has the bonus feature that when you see a movie or show listed, you can check and see if it’s available on Netflix and of can add it to our instant queue. Smart!

All core apps, like Safari, Mail and Photos I use and don’t bother trying to find an alternative, but I didn’t mention this list.

The most impressive app must be

Square – brilliant way to receive payments. Wow, what a great designed app. Gave up my CC processing at my shop and am accepting payments now exclusively through Square. This is not just the app that’s brilliant, but the entire idea, ecosystem and infrastructure.

I love the idea of those apps

But they never actually found their way into my everyday use.

Flipboard is fascinating, but it never replaced my Twitter or Facebook feed. Perhaps, mainly because I am very active on both social networks and love to participate, not just read up on what my friends are doing.

Penultimate is like the Moleskine in your pocket but with nothing to write down, ever. It’s great to have it with you, but you never use it. Like that.

Genres of apps that still need improvement

Magazines. Man, I love magazines on the IPad. I want to go “out” and discover a new magazine every weekend.
But there are various ways where magazines still lack. None has it all for me. I mentioned throughout the past week a few magazines on LLL, so I won’t mention them individually here. But the idea of magazines on the iPad, is brilliant!

Apps that offer one great function for me

for that I open it, but I don’t really use it very often.

MailChimp, Dropbox, Analytics for iPad (connects to Google analytics, but is not made by Google)

Games

My favorite game for the iPad is by far:
Angry Birds Seasons. I have all three Angry Birds versions but like the seasons best. Love the seasonal tie-in. The obvious reason on why a new level is released. Enjoy coming back to it more so then then other two Angry Birds apps, although I did complete them both too.

TinyWings was for the longest time my favorite game, but I couldn’t make it past a certain point and I lost interest trying yet for one more (hundreds) time.
This is for me the true reason why Angry Birds is such a winner. Each level is just a few birds. You throw and reload. Messing up is not ‚Äúcostly‚Äù and doesn’t ruin 20 minutes of breathless game-play.

Apps for kids

My kids love playing on the iPad too, but rather then playing games, they love playing puzzles and use most often the Doodle Buddy for drawing and having fun with silly clip-art.

Entertainment apps

Google Catalogs and Coffee Table I just discovered and love the idea. I’ve always loved catalogues but didn’t like the paper wasted. Those apps offer a constantly updating list of catalogues by various mail-order companies. You can browse, clip, read more and get connected to the website to purchase. I think this will become in the future even more of an immersive experience. Shopping and browsing in this fashion on the iPad.

Sports

I want to love MLS Matchday, but the blackout regulations make the whole idea mute. I want MLS Matchday not for the entire league, but want to pay for a season for my team and in return receive every game. Every game. That would be worth it for me.

I keep up with the German Bundesliga via Bundesliga Livecast. Not a perfect app, but I like the notification of goals and results. That way when I get up in the mornings, I see the results and can decide if I want to read more about the game. Yah, I’m a weird fan like that.

Many media outlets have since released iPad apps that allow repurposing the content they create for this new platform. There is somewhat of a land grab, a goldfish mentality to try to define how content should be experienced on the iPad. Some publishers do it well. Some rushed into things and have released updates to their app that improved it over the months and some failed.

TV station that make their programming available are great.
PBS has a great channel, if you miss a show or want to see a preview, they have it there.

Tagesschau, the german news organization has a great app too. But I prefer watching their content on my Roku.

RoRemote – allows me to control my Roku box via the iPad. Works just like that.

My iPad has really turned into the great content device for me

The way the iPod transformed the way millions of people listen to music, the iPad is transforming reading for me.
Magazines, catalogues and books. My relationship to the written word and the designed magazine are fundamentally changed through the device.
I never read paper magazines anymore or browse catalogues. Rarely do I open a book and finish it. But I write more, read more blogs, spend time with content apps. I am closer connected to the medium then ever before.

And finally the overall winner

The app that of the year for me is Writer by iA.
It turned the iPad into a writing device for me. It doesn’t distract me with a bunch of layout, options and functions and lets me write while sitting on the couch, in bed or wherever the muse strikes. It is exactly what I needed to give me the kick to start writing.
Consistent updates over the year made the app better without bloating it. It’s amazing and it made me a writer and opened up a whole new career possibility for me.