You've just dropped a small fortune on iPad minis as gifts for friends and family and now your discretionary spending account is as bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboard. While getting a mini is enough to get a squeal of delight even from Aunt Prudence, you'd like to do something more. After all, without great apps, even the iPads mini isn't much fun after the novelty of its size and technical gorgeousness has worn off.
What to do?
Obviously the more technically inclined mini receiver will have already loaded a bunch of apps and has squirreled himself or herself away in a corner with a box of TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets and a double latte. Those new to the tablet fold and Apple's ecosystem, however, will likely be wondering what else the magic slate can do beside surf the Web and open email in about an hour after opening the box.
Wouldn't it be cool if you could somehow preload a group of apps that have been carefully selected for each mini receiver?
Alas, Apple will allow no such shenanigans. What apps appear on a device is controlled by the owner, as it should be, so unless you want to own everyone's iPad, you'll have to find a new way to give apps.
This is Apple we're talking about, so of course there is a way to give people specific content even if you can't preload it yourself. Since this is a Free on iTunes article then, of course, the apps we're talking about "giving" are all free and as such, you don't give the app, you alert others of the app's existence. iTunes lets you do this via email, Instant Message, Twitter, Facebook, or you can just copy the link create a nice list of freebies for your new mini owners to download and enjoy.
Ahh, but what to put on that list?
Don't worry, I got you covered. Here's my list of five apps no iPad mini should be without.
Editions by AOL
I know! It's AOL, right? But look pass the stodgy AOL image and you'll find an app that's actually well thought out and fun to use. Editions creates a personalized daily news magazine that can be scheduled for delivery and customized to suit the reader's personal tastes. But that's not all. Editions can integrate with Facebook and your calendar so when you open it with your morning coffee you not only see top news stories that are of interest to you, you also get a list of events, appointments, and Facebook updates. How nice is that?
As with any e-zine, Editions lets you control font sizes, and other features. The only real downside is that Editions requires Internet access.
Still, if you want personalized articles presented to you every morning, it's hard to beat Editions by AOL.
The Weather Channel
All iOS devices come with a very basic weather app. What's nice about it is that it's simple. You get a 5-day and hourly forecast that you can check in several locations, and that's about it. Another plus is that there are no ads. What's not so nice is that there are no maps, not severe weather alerts, and no extended forecasts. Pretty much every feature any weather app worth having should have.
Not to worry because there is The Weather Channel app.
All those features I mentioned before The Weather Channel app has, and you get animated precipitation maps, seasonal forecasts including hurricane tracking (On iPhone only. Why?), videos, more. Not bad for a freebie. There are ads, but they are not obnoxious.
Everyone needs to be able to write something on their iPad, and while the built-in Notes app is ok for quick jots, it certainly isn't something you'd want to use for longer missives. That's where PlainText comes in.
Think of PlainText and your Notepad app on your Mac or PC. Its no frills interface is actually a design feature because it minimizes distractions. That doesn't mean the app is bereft of features. Nah-ah!
You get folder organization, cap-lock titles, and even word count (tap as if to paste). It is ad supported, which kinda defeats the purpose of its minimalistic, non-disruptive intent, but it is free.
Make sure you pick up Dropbox too. It's free as well. With Dropbox, you can move files to and from your iPad mini easily, and even keep those files synced with your Mac, PC, Android device, and every other platform supported by Dropbox.
New York World's Fair
If they just wanted to read books on a tablet device the you could have saved yourself US$300.00 and given them a Nook Simple Touch. You gave them an iPad mini, it deserves an app that will make them go, "OOOoooooooOOOOOO!" Point them to New York Public Library Biblion: New York World's Fair and Frankenstein.
Both apps are amazing in how much detailed information they contain, in the amount of multimedia content, and the gorgeous interface, which invites them to explore the seemingly endless nuances contained within. See my full look at these apps here and here.
If the NYPL Biblion apps didn't get them smiling, then Air Wings definitely will.
In Air Wings you pilot a paper airplane and use spitballs, rubber bands, even pencil missiles in dogfights with other players online.
Let me make sure you understand what I just said: realtime dogfights with other people from around the world via the iPad!!! It's gaming nirvana.
The controls are simple, the graphics are fun, and the sound is excellent. You'll wonder why it's free.
Well, there are ads, but they don't detract from the game.
Virtual aerial spitball fights!! Fun! Fun! Fun!
So, There you have it. Good free stuff for the new mini owner. I've put all the links in a convenient list below. Copy it and send it to the lucky duck you're giving the iPad mini too, just do it after Christmas.
That's a wrap. I wish you all a very merry of Christmas.
Make sure you grab the sizable Free App of the week Avengers Initiative.