iPad Advice and My Most-Frequently Used iPad Apps

I was asked to present this week at a special lunch session of the Toronto Association of Law Libraries as one of several speakers to discuss tablets and their apps. In my case, I will discuss the new iPad (or iPad3, as it is sometimes called).

If interested, set out below are my general comments on iPads along with a list of apps I most frequently use.

General iPad advice

1) Buy the iPad extended warranty, including the idiot’s “drop”insurance. Within the first few days of getting the new iPad, I dropped it, smashing the screen and rendering it unusable. Fortunately, I had this insurance and I received my replacement unit via courier within 24 hours after paying the deductible of what I think was $45 stated in US dollars.

2) Cases / covers. I have yet to be happy with a good iPad cover. For my iPad 1, I liked the black Apple-brand “cloth” cover since it gave you something to easily grip while walking with it. Although the “smart cover” that works for the new models is “cool,” I find it hard to grip the device when walking. I made the mistake of also buying a third-party leather cover that since turned out to be faux leather and which is now “stretched,” thereby being slightly baggy and coming apart at the seams.

3) Keyboards: There were fewer external keyboard options for iPad 1, so I bought a Bluetooth Logitech keyboard whose sleeve also becomes a stand. With newer iPads, you can get keyboards where the iPad actually “clicks into” the keyboard or that is embedded in the cover/case, something that I think would be desirable. I highy recommend some sort of external keyboard.

4) Stylus pens. I find using a stylus on an iPad a bit gimmicky for writing or note-taking (with NoteTakerHD being perhaps the best app for handwriting notes). However, some of the drawing or art apps are quite fun. For serius note-taking, I would recommend an external keyboard over a stylus.

5) App sales for iTunes. There are generally good apps sales in iTunes whenever there is a US long weekend. Among other software vendors, Electronic Arts usually puts many of its game apps on sale for 99 cents during these events. I also recommend the free app called AppAdvice which contains a daily post called Apps Gone Free where you can sometimes find good free apps.


Most of the ebooks I have purchased have come from Amazon for their free Kindle app for the iPad since I find they have a better selection, cheaper prices and better searching/filtering. However, for the last 2 books I purchased, I found they were cheaper from the iBook store.

I have also started to use the iBook reader for reading PDF documents, especially those that I have annotated using PDFReaderPro.

I have also started borrowing eBooks using Overdrive and my Toronto Public Library card (a maximum of 10 books at a time, for 21 day loan periods).

There have been previous SLAW posts on the various law-related ebooks in Canada from LexisNexis Canada, Westlaw Canada, and Irwin Law, along with the various law-related content available by subscription from the HeinOnline app. In the last week, the Law Society of Upper Canada has added the Ontario Reports app.

Note-taking / Writing

For note-taking in meetings, I use the online virtual keyboard or my external keyboard using the native Notes app. I like that app since it automatically date stamps your notes and it is easy to email youself the notes after the meeting.

While the Apple app called Pages has more features for formatting text, I find that the iPad is yet to be a complete laptop replacement for serious writing involving footnotes, block quotations, and tables.

For virtual keyboards, I really like the iA Writer app, which is the keyboard I wish the app had as is native virtual keyboard since it has the “forward” and back” arrows to move your cursor using the keyboard (since I find it hard to use your finger on the screen to precisely move the cursor to the desired point). The Dragon Dictation app is impressive but I have to admit not using it much (but wanting to).

Entertainment apps

Flixster is by far the best move schedule app (since it also includes Rotten Tomatoes reviews). For Cineplex movies, download the free TimePlay app to play what I used to think was that annoying game after the “pre show” at your movie screening. I say it used to be annoying since for the last 3 movies I have watched, I placed first at two movies and fourth at another, earning for each instance 100 Scene points, a free movie download and discounted drinks.

For TV watching, you can do quite well with the CTV, CBC, CityTV and GlobalTV apps. I find it in fact better to watch The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart) on the CTV app since there are fewer commercials.

I recently resubscribed to Netflix and find I am getting good value (they now have all 3 seasons of Arrested Development). There is also the entire Season 1 of a new mafia drama/comedy called Lilyhammer that I highly recommend. I also try to watch at least 2 or 3 TED talks every week.

Music apps

Garageband is of course amazing but I find the novelty wore off after trying it for awhile and I have been too busy to go back to it. The CBC Music app is highly recommended for “ad free” classical and jazz music.

News apps

There are a large number of free news apps Although I have tried a number of newspaper subscriptions using the “first 14 days free” option, I have yet to subscribe to any. For free news apps, the ones I consult the most are:

Google News (using the “Save to Home Screen bookmark)
CBC News
CTV News
The Globe and Mail
Toronto Star
National Post
Flipboard (using various RSS feeds)
Huffington Post


I have experimented with most of the well known GTD planning apps and have yet to be entirely satisfied. I purchased the expensive OmniFocus but found I stopped using it in favour of a simpler tool such as Next Things. Priority Matrix is visually pleasing and easily allows 4-qudrant planning.

Cloud Storage

I use Dropbox as my primary cloud storage device.

Travel apps

There are any number of travel apps. I of course use the AirCanada app, with Weathereye HD as being the best weather app.

Skype is of course great. I am also very impressed with the accuracy of iTranslate for translation.

I use both NextTTC and Rocket Radar to monitor the arrival or departure of Toronto buses or streetcars.

Game Apps – Most Heavily Used / Best Value

I usually play the following apps at least once daily:

New York Times Daily Crossword (a daily addiction)
Astraware Solitaire
Temple Run

Fun Game Apps but where the novelty wears off

Bejeweled 2
Color Bandits HD
Family Guy
FC Rocket
FlightControl HD
Infinity Blade (and Infinity Blade 2)
Jetpack Joyride
Lara Croft HD
Papertoss HD
Pinball HD
Rainbow Six HD
Robokill (and Robokill 2)
Robot Unicorn Attack HD
Simpsons Arcade
Slayer HD Pinball
War Pinball HD (with voice overs from Chuck Norris)
World of Goo
Yahtzee HD

Zombie Games

I have most of the zombie games. Plants versus Zombies is of course a classic but I found once I completd it I no longer play it.

Call of Duty Zombies HD is amazing but I have not had much time to get into Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies. Zombie Gunship is fun as is Zombie Highway and Zombie Infection.

Other Games

The jury is still out on Scribblenauts and I just got Mass Effect Infiltrator but have yet to try it out.

The best car racing game is Real Racing 2 HD.

I highly recommend Machinarium.


  1. Thanks for these applications. Great post!

    In professional note taking app, Id like to recommend a great one which integrated an interesting concept; saving time from your notes. This app, Beesy, generates automatically ToDo lists from a smart note taking. Also, the advantage is you can easily generate professional minutes from your notes and send them by email. Besides, you can browse your ToDo by actions,projects or people. You save a lot of time at meetings.
    I strongly recommend Beesy for people which often have meetings and want to appreciate them again.