BOOK REVIEW: Best iPad Apps for Discriminating Downloaders

I’ve realized the iPad makes it very easy to download a crazy number of apps: so many apps are free are extremely cheap—making the “freemium” an art form—and the biggest hurdle to downloading apps is maybe the download’s wait time. The result can be an iPad choked with tens if not a hundred apps or more. I have over 60 and could download a lot more if I didn’t exercise some self-control.

Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders by Peter Meyers attempts to be a survey of the best iOS apps for a large variety of needs. The book is well-written, with a not-too-dry style that’s still informative. Peter is the first tech author I’ve reviewed who has a master’s degree from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and I’m based in Iowa, so I naturally liked him right away.

A book that surveys the “best” of a changing application landscape is naturally going to have flaws, not only from others’ differences of opinion but also from the daily addition of new apps to the iOS ecosystem. Best iPad Apps picks no obvious clunkers as far as I can tell, and Peter has picked a lot of apps for a lot of potential activities so it’s thorough too, but it can’t cover everything. There’s a best game “for killing pigs with birds,” which is so obvious it borders on stupid, but there’s not a best first person shooter game or a best console game franchise port (Dead Space HD might be my pick for that one). Productivity and work apps are well-represented but the one app I’ve yearned for—a replacement for Apple’s lousy Mail app—is not represented. Other articles online suggest there are no native iPad email apps—perhaps disallowed by Apple—but online email like Yahoo! and Gmail offer several features Apple Mail does not, and it’s accessible on the iPad with Safari.

If you ignore the inevitable shortcomings, Best iPad Apps becomes simply a great guide to some of the best apps out there. If you have a bit of time on your hands one weekend, I recommend sitting down with your iPad and Best iPad Apps and downloading a bunch of these apps to try out. There’s a variety of free, cheap and expensive apps so you don’t have to spend money to get the best—snatch up as many free ones as you like and try the expensive ones if they seem really useful. This tactic makes Best iPad Apps a great buy for a new iPad user who has no idea what apps to buy first—and with so many to choose from, and a less-than-ideal search experience in the App Store, I think a guide like this is useful and timely.

Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders
Peter Meyers
Published by O’Reilly
US $21.99
Rating: 8/10