My Favorite Things: iPad Apps for News & Reference

Those who know me (and both of you are probably reading this) know that I’m a facts & figures kind of guy.  News and reference sources are my staple, and the iPad does a great job of affording people like me with a multitude of apps that make information gathering easier.  As I’m frequent to point out, the value of the iPad is very centered around consumption and not creation as these apps demonstrate.

 

NYTimes for iPad [Free until 2011].

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For a traditional newspaper company, the NY Times really did a good job of capturing the essence of what their readers want in this 2nd edition of the iPad application. The first, called Editor’s Choice, gave access to a smattering of stories, and I found myself going to NYTimes.com instead.  Now, taking a page from WSJ, they’ve created an app that mimics the content of the daily rag.  The fact that it will be a paid app next year isn’t cause for alarm (though I don’t know the price yet) because I think it will probably be worth it.

 

Bloomberg for iPad [Free]. 

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Ever want to watch your 401k and other investments ride the roller coaster of today’s economic flatulence?  Well there’s an app for that!  The Bloomberg app is not just information, but it’s a beautiful app to view and show as a demonstration of what’s capable on the devices.  Not only do you get indices from the major markets and updates on your personal investments, it aggregates financial and related news within a user interface that is very intuitive and very quick.

FlightTrack Pro [$9.99].

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As a frequent flyer, I dutifully fill my calendar with all of the requisite information I need.  But then there’s the flight changes, gate information, etc. that I want to keep track of.  What FlightTrack does is give you up-to-the-minute information on the flights you enter, along with the route overlayed on Google Earth.  And, because it works with TripIt, you can literally email you itinerary to your TripIt account and automatically have everything you need available on your iPad.

ScoreCenterXL for iPad by ESPN [Free].

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Similar to Bloomberg for iPad, ESPN has delivered a solid app for the sports junkie that wants to keep on top of virtually any sport around the globe.  Not only do you get ESPN.com content but latest scores, data and video are crisply displayed and can be customized to give priority to the teams and sports you want to track more closely.

kayak HD [Free].

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After 100s of thousands of miles, countless hotels and airports, I still am stressed when it comes to planning trips.  I want things to be a consistent as possible and know as much about every aspect of the trip so that I can prepare myself.  Such is the life of an agoraphobic.  What Kayak HD does is enable me to plan out every aspect of my travels in an easy-to-use application that focuses less on selling me something and more on aggregating all of the options available.  A new feature that they’ve added is for those with wanderlust.  Called Kayak Explorer, you give it the When, What, Flight type and price range, it visually displays all of the locations you should consider.  It’s a nice way to daydream about that vacation to get away from it all.

The Weather Channel Max for iPad [Free]. 

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This was one of the first apps I downloaded, and is a good demonstration of how to take a rich web experience and turn it up a notch in an app.  It’s not just the local weather and 10-day forecasts, it’s the integration of video from TWC, the ability to track weather patterns develop and even follow weather-related tweets – a novel way of getting perspective on the conditions.

One of the great things about the iPad is the fact that I’m not limited to apps.  There are many more websites I have “appified”, like Huffington Post, TechCrunch and Chicago Tribune.  They may have apps, but they don’t provide the same level of information or are designed for the iPhone/iPod Touch instead.

What about WSJ?  What about it?  I’m all for newspapers getting paid, and I do subscribe to the WSJ myself.  But the pay wall they’ve put up to limit virtually any of their content being available is stupid and short-sighted.  So, I iPad Screenshot 1turn to the Financial Times iPad Edition and NYTimes for iPad apps instead.  Let’s see who comes out the victor from this impasse.

 

And last and certainly least is a dishonorable mention for the app I desperately want to love, but find it so craptastic it singlehandedly would cause me to throw my iPad in the trash and return to newsprint were it not for other choices.  What’s that app you ask?  USA TODAY for iPad.  When I think about what would be the result of 10,000 monkeys banging away at a MacBook Pro with a copy of USA TODAY in front of them, I really believe this would be the resulting application.  In theory, it should be a splendid experience – the UI is clean and easy to learn, and they do a good job of integrating social networking.  But.  But.  It crashes all the time.  ALL THE TIME.  It’s the equivalent of holding the paper in front of you as you read, and someone coming up and smacking it.  You get so immersed, and then BANG it’s gone.  Anyways, no pictures of the app here, because it’s not worth it.  I’ve contacted them, tweeted about it, but whoever is developing this app for them needs to find another occupation because this ain’t their calling.

Next up, I think I’ll share the media apps I use.  Cheers!