The iPad App store holds about 300,000 apps for sale. The Apps are divided into several categories, including social, travel, news, sports, education, games, entertainment and business. Whatever you want to do with your original iPad, iPad 2 or the new iPad 3, you can do it through purchasing apps on the App store. Here you will find the top 20 best free iPad Apps of 2012 to choose from.
Facebook remains the king of social networks, and while the app is occasionally laggy and buggy it still beats using the website. You get access to sets of high-res photos you can flip through, navigation is simple, and there's support for iPads with a Retina display.
2. Air Video Free (universal)
Despite naysayers whining about the iPad screen's 4:3 aspect ratio, it's a decent device for watching video, although it lacks storage for housing large video collections. Air Video enables you to stream video (converting it on-the-fly, if necessary) from your Mac or PC. The main limitation of the free version is that it only shows a few items (randomly selected) from each folder or playlist.
3. AccuWeather for iPad
Annoyingly, some free iPad weather apps refuse to believe that the UK has any weather (or that the country exists), so AccuWeather gets props for merely working. Happily, AccuWeather also proves to be a decent – if quirky – weather app. The interface is odd (but fun) and there's a 'lifestyle' page that determines how your current local conditions might affect over 20 activities, including dog-walking and stargazing.
4. Dropbox (universal)
Dropbox is a great service for syncing documents across multiple devices. The iPad client works like the iPhone one (hardly surprising, since this is a universal app), enabling you to preview many file types and store those marked as favorites locally.
Going head-to-head with Kindle, iBooks is a decent ebook reader, backed by the iBookstore. As you'd expect from Apple, the interface is polished and usable, with handy cross-device bookmark syncing, highlighting, and various display options. It's also a capable PDF reader, for your digital magazine collection.
6. IM+ (universal)
Although the iPad enables a certain amount of basic multi-tasking, anyone who constantly juggles a number of instant messaging services will soon be tired of leaping between apps. IM+ is a good solution, enabling you to run a number of IM services in a single app, and there's also a built-in web browser for checking out links.
7. Kindle (universal)
Amazon's Kindle iPad app for reading myriad books available at the Kindle Store is a little workmanlike, and doesn't match the coherence of iBooks (you buy titles in Safari and 'sync' purchases via Kindle). However, Kindle's fine for reading, and you get options to optimize your experience (including the ability to kill the naff page-turn animation and amend the page background to a pleasant sepia tone).
8. PCalc Lite (universal)
PCalc Lite's existence means the lack of a built-in iPad calculator doesn't bother us (in fact, we'd love to replace the iPhone Calculator app with PCalc Lite as well). This app is usable and feature-rich – and if you end up wanting more, in-app purchases enable you to bolt on extras from the full PCalc.
9. Twitterrific for Twitter (universal)
The iPad version of Twitterrific marked a new beginning for the app, which the developers decided had become too complicated. On iPad, it was reworked into a simpler form, and this has resulted in Twitterrific becoming a simple, good-looking and usable Twitter client. Multiple-account functionality is available via IAP.
10. Google Earth (universal)
It's not the smoothest app in the world, and it lacks some elements from the desktop, but Google Earth is nonetheless a joy on the iPad. Touch gestures are an intuitive means of swooping around the planet, and the optional layers enable you to display as much or as little ancillary information as you wish.
11. Explore Flickr (universal)
Explore Flickr provides an engaging way to discover new photography. On launch, your iPad screen fills with a grid of thumbnails, drawn from Flickr.com's top daily images. Tap one to view (and, if rights permit, download to your device), or just leave the app lazily updating (every now and again, a thumbnail spins to reveal a new image) while your iPad charges in its dock.
12. BBC News (universal)
Although the BBC News website works nicely on the iPad, BBC News is still worth downloading. Rather than trying to provide all of the news, it instead concentrates on the latest stories, with inline video. Categories can be rearranged, stories can be shared and the app's layout adjusts to portrait and landscape orientations.
13. Epicurious (universal)
Tens of thousands of recipes at your fingertips (as long as you have a web connection) ensure Epicurious is worth a download for the culinary-inclined. The app even composes a shopping list for recipes; it's just a pity it doesn't include measurements for those of us who use that new-fangled metric system.
14. TV Guide for iPad
From simple beginnings, TV Guide for iPad has grown into a robust and useful app for TV addicts. It would be worth downloading for the smart-looking listings alone, but you can also flag favourites, search listings, set alerts, share to social networks, and get info on a programme from IMDb or Wikipedia. And if you own a Sky or Virgin system, you can even remote-record from the app.
15. Find my iPhone
Find my iPhone would perhaps be better named 'Find my Apple stuff', because it's not just for figuring out where a missing iPhone is—it can also track iPads, iPods and Macs. The app is simple, elegant and, generally speaking, provides an accurate location for devices. It also enables you to remote-lock or wipe a device.
16. Find My Friends (universal)
While perhaps less practical than on the iPhone, Find My Friends on the iPad nonetheless works well, enabling you to track any pals that are happy with you digitally stalking them. The iPad's large display improves the app's usability, simultaneously displaying your friend list and a map.
TED describes itself as "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world". The app pretty much does as you'd expect – you get quick access to dozens of inspiring videos. However, it goes the extra mile in enabling you to save any talk for offline viewing, and also for providing hints on what to watch next if you've enjoyed a particular talk.
18. BBC iPlayer
Although not quite as satisfying as the desktop version, BBC iPlayer is a must-have download for iPad users. The slick interface makes it easy to browse/watch recent shows and current broadcasts. You can also choose from two quality settings and toggle subtitles, and there's AirPlay support for an Apple TV.
Although pretty basic on the iPhone, Remote on the iPad is akin to a stripped-down iTunes when it comes to accessing network libraries and playing music. It's also indispensable if you have an Apple TV and want to control it with something other than the hateful metal chewing-gum stick that ships with the device.
20. Netflix (universal)
Netflix has been described by some in the UK as the perfect way to experience everything a DVD bargain bin has to offer. We do agree there's a lack of content compared to the US library, but Netflix is cheap and fine for catching up on older shows. And the iPad app includes AirPlay support and a resume function, so you can pick up where you left off on another device.
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