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Top 10 iPad apps of 2012

The odometer’s about to tick over on another year, and as sites like ours often do, we’re looking back at the most popular and useful apps released for Apple’s iDevices in the past year.  My last article was devoted to the top 10 iPhone apps of the year.  This time we’ll be looking at the top 10 iPad apps of 2012.  What’s most interesting about this year’s list is the number of games – just 3, versus 7 apps meant for productivity and communication.  Drum roll please – the top 10 iPad apps of 2012, split between the top of the paid and free charts:

Top Free iPad Apps:
1. Skype for iPad (Skype Communications S.a.r.l) – This app is a shining example of the future totally living up to its science fiction hype. We may not have flying cars, meal replacement pills or hover boards, but by golly do we have video phones! The current version of the app also uses cellular data, so users aren’t tied to just places with WiFi access.  If the future is calling, we’ll likely be answering it via Skype and waving to it through the FaceTime cameras on our iPads.

2. Temple Run (Imangi Studios, LLC) – Temple Run feels like an old school platformer, with a couple of changes.  The camera angle is top-down rather than side-scrolling and uses the player/avatar’s point of view, and there aren’t really “levels” to complete – just threshold numbers of coins to collect to unlock parts of the mural in the game.  Although the game is free to play, the app allows players to purchase upgrades to various items in the game’s “store”.

3. Facebook (Facebook, Inc.) – I’ll re-iterate here what I said about the iPhone version: “Here it is, the 800-lb gorilla of social media – an app for the site that everybody loves to hate, but can never give up on… It’s been updated this year, to be faster and leaner and it really does seem to be getting better as time goes on (even though the developers seem to be bent on changing it all as soon as everybody gets used to one layout).  Just about the only thing not available in the mobile app is the ability to play games, since the browser-based games are all dependent on Flash – and we all know what Steve thought about Flash!”  Also note that the iPad version of the app bears a positive resemblance to the website itself, and has the redeeming characteristic of making Timeline actually bearable.

4. Netflix (by Netflix, Inc.) – This app is just about the most entertaining way I can think of to completely max out a wireless data plan in the space of an afternoon!  In fact, a 2011 report cited Netflix as the largest source of North American web traffic, accounting for 33% of traffic during peak periods. That’s a lot of movies and TV shows streaming to iPads, kids! (In fact, at the highest bandwidth tier, it’s possible to stream just over 2GB/hour – best to stay close to the wireless router for this one…)

5. The Weather Channel for iPad (The Weather Channel) – When you absolutely, positively have to know whether to grab a jacket or an umbrella, accept no substitute. This is the mobile app presence from the venerable cable/satellite channel. The app features animated, customizable weather maps; radar maps and pollen information; tweets and user photos; as well as news coverage and storm footage.


Top Paid iPad Apps:
1. Angry Birds Space HD (Rovio Ent. Ltd) – Again, I’ll copy here what I said about this app in the “Top 10 iPhone apps of 2012” article, as well as mentioning that this game (like any other) benefits from the extra screen real estate offered on the iPad: “The number 1 mobile game of all time returns for a fourth installment, and this time it takes the physics off land and literally into outer space.  Each planet in the game has its own gravitational field, which all affect the birds that players can launch at the bad piggies. The game was debuted in March with a video presented by a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station. The NASA connection continued in August with the release of the first 20 levels of the Red Planet pack, which coincided with the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars.”

2. Where’s My Water? (Walt Disney) – This app is also a repeat from the iPhone app roundup: “This is a physics puzzler that involves water, pipes, cartoon alligators and rubber duckies. Players are required to fill Swampy the Alligator’s tub so that he can take a bath. In order to do that, they must dig through dirt and reroute the flowing water to Swampy’s tub.  They also have to avoid obstacles such as algae, poison mud and toxic mud. It has the distinction of being the 25 billionth app downloaded from the app store, by a user in China, and won an “Apple Design Award” at the 2012 WWDC.”

3. Pages (Apple Inc.) – This is the first of the top 10 iPad apps of 2012 that comes directly from Apple, instead of third-party developers. It’s more than just a mere word processing program.  Paired with iCloud and a Bluetooth keyboard, Pages transforms your iPad from just a way to consume data into a way to actually create amazing content of your own. And, using Mail and iTunes File Sharing, you can move your documents directly from the iPad to your Mac or PC.

4. Draw Something (OMGPOP, Inc.) – This is the last of the repeat apps from the iPhone list, and I’ll mention again that it benefits from the iPad’s larger screen. “This is the paid version of the app listed above in the top free iPhone apps, which means no ads in-app, as well as 2000 more words, 200 free coins and 5 free hints.”


5. Notability (Drive Sync Ginger Labs, Inc.) – This powerful note-taking app allows users to handwrite, type, record audio and add other media to the notes they’re saving. It also includes an auto-sync feature that allows users to save their notes and documents to cloud services such as DropBox and Google Drive. As an aside, I will also mention that my favorite culinary Mac user, Alton Brown (of Good Eats and Iron Chef America fame) has been tweeting with Post-It notes of late, and created the hashtag #MadeInNotability recently when he was tweeting from the road and ran out of physical sticky notes. Can’t get much cooler than that.

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