The iPad mini is officially in the hands of people around the world, and if one is in your hands, you’ve come to the right place. We have crafted a list of the first apps to install on your iPad mini to truly take advantage of all that the 7.9″ device can do. These apps also apply to the brand new iPad 4, and really any iPad you have if you have missed out on any of these. Enjoy these app, and our first games to install list will come later today.
Apple Apps: Apple makes a number of apps that aren’t standard in iOS, but have to be installed separately. Do yourself a favor, and install iBooks, iTunes U, Podcasts, Find My Friends, AirPort Utility, iTunes Movie Trailers, Cards, Find My iPhone, and Remote to start off. Those apps are all free, and great resources to have on your new iPad mini, which really should come pre-installed. iBooks is the highlight as iBooks 3, as it’s geared towards the iPad mini with new continuous scrolling and greater iCloud sync.
Apple also offers the full iLife and iWork suite for the iPad mini, so if you want to edit your new 1080P movies, pick up iMovie. For photos, there’s iPhoto, and for music there’s GarageBand. These apps are $4.99 each. If you want to type everything and anything, then get Pages. For spreadsheets there’s Numbers, and for Presentations there’s Keynote. These apps are $9.99 each.
The Apple apps were obvious, but what’s next?
Evernote (Free, Universal) [Update]: Evernote is the definitive note taking app in the App Store that syncs your notes across every platform, and lets you add text, photo, location, and audio notes. Give Evernote a download right away, as the app is free, and one of the best there is.
Twitter (Free, Universal) [Update] / Facebook (Free, Universal) [Update]: In iOS 6 Facebook & Twitter are built in, so you can install the apps right from within settings, and there’s no reason not to. Also, you will now be able to tweet or share from Safari, Maps, Photos, and a number of apps.
Pinterest (Free, Universal) [Review], Google+ (Free, Universal) [Review], & Path (Free, Universal) [Review] are three other social apps for the iPad mini if you’re connected with any of them.
Pulse (Free, iPad /Free, iPhone) / Flipboard (Free, Universal) / Zite (Free, Universal) [Review]: Pulse, Flipboard, and Zite are the three best news apps in the App Store because they provide personalized stories with wonderful interfaces. If you ever like to read the news, Pulse, Flipboard, and Zite go hand in hand to deliver every angle. You can read the news from multiple sources and categories, and they’re all effortless to set up with news you care about.
Notability ($0.99, iPad) [Review]: The app has stormed ahead to become the leader of the pack for iPad note taking apps with the 4.0 update. It has everything you could want in a note taking app in an extremely well designed and easy to use package. Penultimate has been the standard for finger based handwriting, but Notability matches, and then adds typing, audio, and PDF import too. There are a few iPad note takers that excel at each individual feature, but none combine all of them into one seamless app. Notability is a must buy for the low price that is the go to app for taking notes on your iPad under any circumstances.
Skype (Free, Universal) [Review]: The iPad mini can act a bit like a big iPhone with Skype, as well as other VOIP apps. The Skype app works in the background just like phone app, and you can call friends or regular phone numbers with Skype credit that’s a lot cheaper than a monthly phone bill.
Weather HD 2 ($0.99, Universal) offers everything a weather app possibly could, and presents it all in a beautifully designed packaged. The app offers the best of both worlds by providing beautiful conditions as well as deluxe weather information in one app to become your go to weather resource on your iPad mini.
ABC Player [Review] / NBC [Review]: ABC and NBC offer up all of their shows to watch on the iPad mini for free. They’re the best ways to watch current TV shows on your brand new iPad mini, and appreciate how the iPad mini can be an on the go TV.
AirVideo: The app works with all of your videos no matter the type. You can convert video files live, and the video don’t need to be in special iTunes format. AirVideo also works with AirPlay to send full HD video to the Apple TV.
Netflix/Hulu Plus: We would be remised not to mention Netflix and Hulu Plus for subscribers of either service. Granted the streaming selection on both is limited with Netflix only offering select items to stream, and Hulu Plus restricted to certain shows.
HBO Go/Max Go/Watch ESPN/TNT/TBS: If you’re subscribed to any of these stations with just the right provider, then you can watch on your iPad mini. There is selective support, but if you have it, the iPad mini becomes a much better TV set on the go.
Day One ($4.99, Universal) [Review] is the best journal app in the App Store thanks to a beautiful interface that offers the ability to type, add photos, and import location, weather, Foursquare places, and links (including video). The highlight though, is the iCloud support so your journal entries are synced across iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and saved in case you delete the apps.
Mint.com (Free, universal) [Review]: Simply the best way to track expenses on the iPad mini. It’s a service everyone should use, as it lets you manage and understand where you money is going with one of the best interfaces around. All of the information is so valuable, and it’s even more valuable because it’s so readily available in a brilliantly designed package.
Splashtop Remote Desktop ($6.99, iPad / $2.99, iPhone) The app connects to your Mac or Windows computer on your iOS device from anywhere you have an internet connection. Now the big question is what makes this app different from all the rest, and the answer is speed. The best aspect is the price which is currently only $1.99, and just may be the best remote desktop available, and definitely is the best bang for your buck in the App Store. Splashtop Remote Desktop is a must buy for the price with a brilliant interface, and improves the capabilities of your iOS device without having to give up anything.
Snapseed ($4.99, iPad) is an amazing photo editing app, and just may be the best one in the App Store. The app is the closest thing to Aperture for iOS, and the touch based interface is outstanding. Whether you’re on iPhone or iPad there’s really nothing not to like, and you have all the photo editing tools you could ever need on the go. This isn’t quite a Photoshop replacement, but will fill most photo editing tasks you could ever need, and makes it possible through such a silky smooth design.
Readability (Free, Universal) [Review] / Pocket (Free, Universal) [Review]: Both apps provide the ability to save articles to read later for when you have some free time, or even with no internet connection. Both apps have superb user interfaces, and like the news apps above, there are now more words on screen at once.
Dropbox: If you ever want to transfer files between your devices then Dropbox is a great choice. Apple’s iCloud is Apple’s own valuable automatic cloud resource, but is mainly for use between iPhone, iPad, and Mac, so beyond those device Dropbox steps in beautifully.
Pandora: If you want to listen to tunes outside of your iTunes library, then look no further. Pandora is free, and has all the special abilities of the music app as it works in the background and with lock screen controls.
Spotify/Songza/Rdio/Mog/Slacker/iheartradio: All are various music streaming services, and most have a monthly subscription attached to them. Last.fm is free like Pandora, while the rest, including Spotify require the monthly subscription for the iPhone app. With Spotify, and others you can listen to anything you want in their entire music catalog at any time for just one monthly fee, and there’s optional offline access as well.
ESPN ScoreCenter: The best iPad sports app to keep you updated about all the sports including on demand SportsCenter highlights of the game you care about. There is also the official MLB and NBA apps, but blackout restrictions apply to prevent you from watching live video of your local team.
Echograph is one of the very best apps for the iPad by allowing your creativity to flow by merging still photos and video into one new medium. It’s a three step process as you pick video, choose a still frame, and then drag your finger over the section of the still frame that you want to be in motion.
Action Movie FX provides deluxe Hollywood style special effects for your iPad mini. The best part is that there’s so much potential to what you can film, and yet it’s effortless to incorporate the special effects. You simply pick the effect, shoot the video, edit the timing, and voilà you have your final result. It’s as easy as can be, and despite the simple interface, you still have such amazing results that are easy to share, and you can even save to your camera roll, and edit together in iMovie.
VidRhythm (Free, Universal) [Review]: An amazing experience regardless of platform, and one of the neatest tools I’ve ever used. Each and every result is a masterpiece that you didn’t know you were capable of. It truly shows the brilliance of the developers in how they made an app that does all the work, and makes it so simple for the end user. Not many apps bring a smile to your face each time you use it, but VidRhythm definitely does.VidRhythm is an absolute must buy that is one of the best apps in the App Store that every iOS owner should try. Even the most cynical person will enjoy the time spent with VidRhythm, and it’s simply amazing in every sense of the word.
The Civil War Today ($5.99, iPad) [Review]: The app will give you a whole new understanding of what occurred in the deadliest war in American History, as you can follow it blow by blow. There’s not one section in the app that you won’t want to learn more about each and every day. From the first time you read the daily paper, you’ll be hooked. The app counts as news, because you’re given four years worth of Civil War news, presented on a daily basis. The Civil War Today is one of the best pieces of software ever constructed on any platform. The app is simply extraordinary with an exceptional concept that is executed as well as can be.
Pyramids 3D ($13.99, iPad) is an absolutely amazing app that is unrivaled in the App Store. There’s no app experience like it which provides the next best thing to actually setting foot on the Giza plateau yourself. The combination of the photo realistic 3D walkthroughs with the detailed book information make Pyramids 3D a must buy that brings you so close to the pyramids that you might get a little sand in your shoes.
Planetary (Free, iPad) [Review]: It’s somehow free, which is just mind boggling, and should be downloaded by all iPad owners. In fact, Apple should just replace the stock iPad music player with Planetary. There’s not any better way to listen to music on the iPad than with Planetary, making it an absolute must for free.
Living Earth ($0.99, Universal) [Review]: One of the best iOS apps with such a beautiful and realistic earth living on your iOS device for only $1. There are computer applications that charge double digits and subscriptions to see live update cloud coverage. Living Earth is so well designed, that it is virtually flawless, and could easily pass as the default weather and clock app on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Living Earth is a must buy for the minimal price that you will love looking at daily.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore ($4.99, iPad) [Review]: A must buy that improves the iPad as a whole. The story itself is a great tale of the power of books, and the few words speak volumes about what stories are capable of. The app provides an experience you’ll want to share with others, and you’ll just love having on your iPad.
Alternatives To Apple Maps:
Waze (Free, iPhone) is another great choice if you’re looking for traffic info. Waze is built with crowed sourced traffic data so Waze users directly contribute to the traffic data on screen, so you can know the traffic situation from someone who’s actually in it.
Navigon USA ($39.99, Universal) is the best premium pick in the App Store, and there are various versions for different regions across the globe. Navigon has yet to steer me wrong with the voice guidance turn-by-turn navigation that includes a quick entry interface, lane assistance, 2D & 3D modes, and great worldwide support. The Navigon app is superior to many stand along GPS units, and has a very similar feature set. The best aspect may be offline support as Apple’s Maps, Google Maps, and the free options all require an internet connection. Navigon lets you store map data, so you can get route guidance with no internet connection, and the time you need guidance the most is when you’re in an area without cell service.