iPad Apps: the Big Questions Answered

Tuesday, Apr 6, 2010  |  Updated 4:15 PM PDT
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Photos: Jobs Introduces Apple's iPhone 4

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NEW YORK - APRIL 03: An early customer at the Apple store on Fifth Avenue tries Apple Inc's new iPad on April 3, 2010 in New York City. Hundreds lined up in front of the technology company's flagship New York store to be among the first in the world to acquire the device. The much heralded iPad looks to be a bridge between a laptop and smartphone. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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It's tempting to think of the iPad as a giant iPhone or iPod Touch. Everything you whipped out your iPhone to do, you'll now want to pull out your iPad for.

But that's not the way it works. iPad is not a giant iPhone or iPod Touch. For one thing, an iPad is a little bulky and fragile to casually whip out for a quick check of the time. You use your iPhone for quick, discrete actions — a phone call, a quick location-based search such as for a restaurant or movie time, a quick sports score. You'll use iPad for more time-filling functions — book or newspaper reading, movie watching, Web research.

That said, it follows that you're going to want all sorts of different apps for your iPad. How many are there, and how much are they going to cost?

Will all my iPhone apps run on my iPad?

We have yet to hear of any iPhone app that won't work on an iPad, although with nearly 200,000 apps, there must be some stubborn bastards that won't port. But as discussed, it won't be a matter of which work and which won't, but which ones are appropriate for porting to your iPad.

Also less important than if they work is how they work. iPhone apps appear actual size floating in the middle of the iPad screen. You blow-up an iPhone app to nearly full frame via a "2x" touch button on the lower right hand corner of the iPad screen.

In most cases, text looks slightly pixelated but still readable. Headlines on most news apps such as The New York Times iPhone app look jagged, but articles are largely unaffected, just not as crisp as an iPad-native app; same with DVICE's iPhone app (you didn't know DVICE had an iPhone app? Now you do. Now go get it.)


What about games?

Most iPhone games we've played with on the iPad work fine, but game developers are especially rushing iPad-optimized games to the market. Games are big time-fillers so are perfect for the way we'll use iPad, plus the expanded screen real estate gives developers a lot more opportunity to flesh out their titles, adding not only more and fuller content but added controls and features. I know I looked like an idiot "driving" (i.e. waving it around to steer) a souped-up virtual Volkswagen in EA's Need For Speed Shift iPad-specific racing game, but I didn't care.


How many apps are there specific for the iPad?

We've heard around 2,500, but have only been able to identify around 500-600.
Except Apple hasn't done a great job segregating the iPad apps on iTunes. The iPad section of the App Store lists only around 40 iPad apps. We had a do a search for "HD" and "XL," the designations many developers use to distinguish their iPad versions, to find the bulk of them. iPad's App Store app doesn't do a much better job, although Apple does use a "+" sign to indicate a title can be used for either device. But in many cases, there's no indication if an app is upgraded for iPad.

The best way to determine if an app is upgraded or new for iPad is the release date. iPad apps didn't start popping up until the last few days of March. Any app with a release date after, say, March 31, is likely optimized or written for iPad.

Why is there no e-books section in the iTunes Store?

For some reason, you can't buy e-books for Apple's iBook app through iTunes, at least not as of this writing. You can only buy books on the iPad through the iBook app. Or, you can do a search for "free" and find the 30,000 or so public domain Google Book titles the iBook store has available for download. I'm reading "The Wizard of Oz" for the first time. Did you know the ruby slippers are actually silver shoes in the book?


Will iPad apps be more expensive?

Yes and no. We did a quick and completely unscientific survey and found some big-name developers such as EA and ESPN raising their rates. The iPhone version of the aforementioned EA Shift is $6.99; for iPad: $14.99. ESPN Sports Center app for iPhone is free. The jazzed-up (and much maligned) iPad version is $4.99.

There are no clear pricing trends yet. Many of the developers we spoke to say they haven't made up their pricing minds yet. They're waiting for other developers to set a pricing bar and to see what the market will bear.

But there are still plenty of totally free, free lite and free trial iPad-specific apps available. Several developers we spoke to indicated they may try the free trial strategy to try and rope you in into paying a bit more for a premium version.

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