Entries in iPad app review (2)

Wednesday
Mar092011

The Recipe Box for iPad

Toss out your printouts, magazine clippings, and even cookbooks. The iPad finally has an app that gets recipe collection and presentation right. The Recipe Box turns your iPad into a great kitchen appliance, so you can find just the right recipe whenever you need it. And it's great while you're cooking, too.

Readable Text
Unlike a regular cookbook, The Recipe Box won't accidentally turn a page on you while you're in the middle of a complicated step. In fact, you can keep track of what step you're on just by tapping on it. What's more, you can keep track of steps in several recipes by tapping through your history. You can also use the app while gathering ingredients… tap them off after you've gathered them so you can focus on what's left. When you're done, rotate your iPad from landscape to portrait, and the ingredients tuck themselves away. Tap on the directions tab, and now all you see on your iPad are directions in large text that you can read across the kitchen. What a respite from cluttered screens of ads, ratings, reviews that bury directions an unreadable layout.

Cross-Referencing
Even if you're the most meticulous recipe collector, you can't put recipes in more than one physical file folder. Where do you put a risotto recipe? Under rice? Dinner? Italian? Comfort food? It really belongs in all categories, and The Recipe Box lets you do that. Don't like the ones that come with the app, or want to add more? You can do that. Say you have some green onions and mushrooms in your fridge and want to find something to make for dinner. Simply search for "green onion mushroom" and you'll get all your recipes with those in it. You can bookmark recipes to try later. And email yourself a list of ingredients from items in your shopping cart, or a nicely formatted recipe to share or print.

Enjoyable Data Entry
Of course, to get the full use, you have to enter recipes, which can be annoying in apps that force you to tap buttons for every ingredient. The Recipe Box makes it easy to cut and paste from an email or web site. If you save the web site in the source field, it's a clickable link in the About tab. Have a bunch of clippings or printouts? The special keyboard types common cooking terms for you, with shortcuts for hard to find keys like °, common measuring terms, as well as fractions. 

Gravy
Many cooking apps hit some of these features, but not all. And none of them have as gorgeous a presentation, as delightful to look at as the things you'll cook.

The Recipe Box for iPad is available for $6.99 from the App Store.

Monday
Jun212010

Review of iPad eReader Apps

The iPad is a very versatile ebook reader in that you can read books you download from many online books stores, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and Apple.

Each one of these ebook stores has a great selection of books - new releases, bestsellers and classics. And, each one requires you to use their iPad app to read the books you purchased from them. So, if the book you want to read is available from any of these stores, how do you decide which one to get it from?

Ultimately, it may come down to the reading experience offered by the iPad apps. Apple has iBooks. Amazon has their Kindle app. Barnes & Noble and Borders have their ebook readers, too. Each displays books wonderfully on the iPad screen. All of them provide a way to change the text size (bigger or smaller) and adjust the overall brightness of the screen. Read on to see what other features they offer.

Borders eReader
The eBook reader from Border is the most basic of the four iPad apps in this review. Choose to display text in one of four easy-to-read fonts. For text and page colors, Borders eReader offers black text on a white page or white text on a black page (using the Night Reading setting). You can select Page Transition Style: Page Flip, Page Fade (default), Page Curl or None. Borders eReader for iPad is the newest of the book store apps. We expect Borders will add more features in future updates.

Apple iBooks
iBooks lets you view pages in one of six fonts. Select one or more words and you can search the Dictionary for a definition or search the entire book for other references of the word or phrase. You can also Bookmark the selected text or add a note. Navigate quickly to other chapters in a book (if the ebook has chapters defined) or Bookmarks you've created. Perhaps the coolest feature of the iBooks app is the page turn effect. Apple did a marvelous job of making it look like you're really turning the page. You have to try it to really appreciate its elegance (and coolness).

Amazon Kindle
Choose to display pages with black text on white, sepia on beige or gray on black. Select to highlight text or to add a note. The Kindle app makes it easy to go to any note or highlighted text. Plus, you can go to popular highlights - what the Kindle community thinks are the most interesting passages in a book. Not related to the iPad app, per se: ebooks purchased from the Amazon store can be read on the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Kindle, Kindle DX, Mac and PC. Amazon's Whispersync technology transfers the last page read, bookmarks and other information to every device you read your books on. So, no matter where you choose to read your book, you can pick-up exactly where you had left-off.

B&N Nook for iPad
With the richest set of features, Barnes & Noble Nook for iPad gives you the most ways to customize your reading experience. Select one of eight available fonts. Change line spacing and margins for better readability. Choose any color - really, any color - for text, page, highlights and links and save it as a theme. Or, use one of the five pre-defined themes. Select text to highlight it or search the built-in dictionary, Google or Wikipedia. Easily Bookmark pages by tapping the lower right corner of the page to virtually fold it. Go to any chapter, note, bookmark or highlighted text in a book.

Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, B&N eReader and Borders eReader are all available free from the App Store.