projectz

Tech, Gadgets, Photography, Social Media and Poor Spelling

Alternatives to Apples iPad Apps.

Apple’s iPad is a great device and despite a few hiccups IOS6 will be a great IOS release. the device comes with a great selection of software however a few hours of the App Store will prove that there are alternatives to the default apps, and rather than having to spend that time hopefully this post can point you to some alternatives to those default apps.

While each of Apples own Apps has nothing wrong with them and do the job and because of the way the IOS works they are and will be the default app which will open, that in many cases shouldn’t stop you looking around.

Photos

When you save an image, take a photo on the iPad it goes into Photos, this in turn links in with Apples iCloud service should you so wish. The issue I have here is it’s an IOS only service and not cross platform and over in the real world people don’t all use the sam device to see your photos.

for cross platform viewing and generally a good way to save your photos off the device i’d recommend Adobe Revel. In a great example of cross application data sharing Any photos saved to your Camera Roll in Photos will automatically import into Revel and upload into Adobe’s servers should you so wish. then you can share the pictures using a web link and group them, favorite them etc.

Camera

The stock IOS photo app is ok on the iPad, it doesn’t support many of the features the iPhone camera does specifically i’m going to cite Panoramic photos here. However a few seconds on the App store and you can get a camera for everything. Slow Motion, Black and White, Panoramic and many other specialist cameras exist as do many generic camera apps.

I’ve replaced the stick camera app with Camera Awesome by Smugmug (yup the web gallery people)  a recent update made it work as an iPad app and as well as the touch to focus, gridlines and spirit level horizon finder guides the sharing to Camera Roll, Facebook etc is done really well. As its a Smugmug App it does share directly to the site however there is a great one touch share feature which automatically posts the photo you just took to Facebook, Twitter or other social sites from a single touch of the finger.

Calendar

Apple’s Calendar is another example of an App which will launch no matter what when you have a Calerndar update in a mail or on another app. However Again we have a good App which automatically feeds from this data when working its own Magic.

Informant Pro is a fully fledged organiser using a design which resembles a filofax but not too much so, as well as using the default IOS Calendar data you can sync the App with Google’s Calendar and Todo list. This App is more an organiser than just a calendar with the ability to setup many different types and styles of reminders todo lists including a nice feature where you can set an event to happen if you appear near an area on a map.

Podcasts

Apple recently sat up and took notice of Podcasts spinning them out of the Music app into their own App Store App. In true IOS style the App is designed to look like some form of 80’s recording studio and i’m not sure why. The good thing is because Apple took so long to get to the party there are some really good iPad Podcast players out there.

for my money Downcast feels the best of the lot, all of the better podcast apps will link you into a huge library of material as does downcast, or you can add your own RSS feed for the podcast. The Playback of both audio and video is good and you can carry on playing when your iPad has gone into “sleep” mode or the smart cover is in use. The App download snew podcasts when opened and can play partially downloaded podcasts and will stream whatever is needed to finish it seamlessly great if you are in a hurry for the train in the morning.

Facetime

When facetime was launched there was rumour of a Skype tie in and I would suggest that is never going to happen as Microsoft bought Skype. Facetime like icloud ties you into Apples ecosystem which is great if all your hipster buddies are iPhone users. Facetime in IOS6 welcomed on some networks at least communication while on 3G which Skype has had for ages.

Yes, i’d recommend Skype as the Facetime replacement, with more people using it, being able to use it on more platforms, working better streaming video over 3G than Facetime in every  corner its a better environment including the Skype numbers which means people with good old fashioned land lines can call you. Conf Calling is the other great facility Skype has just introduced. While Microsoft might own this product other than a few tiles on the Skype Webpage there seems to be a hands off business approach which has allowed Skype to grow and maintain a well deserved platform agnostic system.

Maps

Get over it, Apple’s maps is not that bad, and will improve, don’t like it head over to Safari and open Google Maps.

Music

Apple own the music industry, simple, iTunes and Music on IOS have created a dominant infrastructure which have in turn sold a lot of IOS devices. Then there is iTunes Match where you can put all that music on your PC up into Apple’s Cloud and they will match it and provide in most cases a better copy of the track. you can then stream your music content down to your iPad.

No problem with that, I have a substantial music collection however i can do the same for £4.99 a month AND stream other tracks and I can do this because I use Spotify. As soon as Spotify got its act together and bought out an iPad app i was hooked, i’ve been using it on my Desktop for years I love hunting new sounds for listening to while travelling around and I absolutely cannot survive on the London Underground without the Offline playlists. I’ve yet to find a band who don’t have music on the service and love the recommendations on the App.

Videos

And then we come to Video’s another “default app” in so much as you click elsewhere on a video and this app will launch. However its very basic and IOS centric in a world where again we have media all over the place. I’ve been using Plex to provide me access to both the files on the iPad and my Media on my home network.

I love the Client server approach and it works great over 3G as well if i’m not at home. I’ve a longer review here.

http://blog.projectz.me/2012/10/11/plex-for-local-and-online-media/

Web Browser

I’m not going to cover much about this, i need an IOS6 Jailbreak for my iPad 3 because i miss browser chooser. Safaria i terrible it renders poorly and has a lack of features which far better alternatives on the App store do provide.

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned a lot here about Apple’s infrastructure centric apps and that is not a criticism  it’s a great idea I however live in a world where i use IOS, Android, Ubuntu, OSX, Windows and other systems so I need more cross compatible Apps.  If i did have a criticism of Apple it would be the insistance that thier app should be the default app on IOS. I’d suggest had Microsoft or Google done this the courst would have been involved and this would have stopped but hey it’s Apple..

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