iPad apps

Our favourite apps

Summer hasn’t been much fun so far, but we still found time to play with our iPads and, to justify the time we’ve wasted, we’ve decided to share our favourite apps.
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Check out the free <i>FinanceAsia</i> iPad app
<div style="text-align: left;"> Check out the free <i>FinanceAsia</i> iPad app </div>

Since FinanceAsia launched its iPad app back in June, we’ve been busy playing around with the device and figured we’d share a few of our favourite apps.

Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, is a sleek and powerful platform, and we like apps that take full advantage of this, incorporating gestures and screen rotation in a sensible and convenient way, and getting the most out of the iPad’s large display. We also like apps that do their job well, obviously. We’re focusing on iOS here, but most of the apps below are also available on other platforms.

Almost every news provider has an app out these days. Bloomberg Mobile does a neat job of looking and feeling like its screens and produces great charts. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have both clearly invested a lot of time and effort in their apps, but, as with many news providers, their websites already offer a perfectly good experience — with the added benefit of the iPad’s built-in browser, Safari, which means you can share or save stories using whichever service you prefer, instead of the limited options offered in most news apps.

Having said that, there is one news app we particularly like: Flipboard, which isn’t strictly a news app but a kind of do-it-yourself magazine that is perfectly designed for tablet PCs. It gathers news from all your favourite providers and lays out the stories in an attractive, easy-to-read format. The app installs with default sections, such as News and Lifestyle, which you can customise to your taste, and Twitter fans can set it up to see the links being shared in their timeline. It can also follow RSS feeds and lets you bust out of the app to view stories in a browser if you prefer.

One of the functions we get most use out of is the ability to save stories to read for later. In particular, we like Instapaper. Using a bookmarklet saved to your browser, Instapaper makes it easy to effortlessly save stories with a single tap and find them later. Indeed, it’s a service that can work across all your devices and computers, and even has built-in support within Flipboard. Dedicated Mac users can achieve something close to this by using Safari on all their gadgets and computers to simply bookmark web pages, but adding stories to Instapaper takes just a single click and offers much more flexibility, better integration with other apps and browsers, and doesn’t clutter your bookmarks.

Social media
Make no mistake, there’s a lot of talk about Justin Bieber on Twitter, but this social media phenomenon is about much more than teeny crushes and celeb gossip. It’s a great tool for keeping track of up-to-the-minute news and can prove invaluable when big stories are breaking. During the chaos of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, for example, Twitter users provided unique insight into the unfolding tragedy and its aftermath.

Even so, Twitter’s standalone app is a bit limiting for people who also like to share stories and links through other social media services such as LinkedIn and Facebook. For such sociable types, Hootsuite is the perfect tool, allowing you to simultaneously share whatever nonsense you like (follow me to get an idea: @nickfergusonhk) across all your favourite social media sites.

There are of course countless other great apps. Apple has a good suite of Office-like products for word-processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and we love the way Scrabble for the iPad can integrate iPhones as tile racks.

Feel free to let us know of any others you come across.

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