Music & Video
Gimmicky? Maybe, but Musyc is a lot of fun. With Musyc you can draw and arrange shapes to make tunes. The physics-based world that you draw on your iPad translates to music. It sounds strange, and it definitely takes some getting used to (you’ll certainly want to work through the tutorials), but there are 64 instruments and a host of audio options, so you can seriously use this app to create new tracks. Try it out for free; it will cost you $4 to unlock the full version.
Amazon Instant Video (Free)
It is Wi-Fi only and it doesn’t support AirPlay, but anyone with an Amazon Prime membership will want this app because you get access to thousands of titles for free. Anyone can rent or buy the 140,000 videos on offer, though purchasing is disabled on the iPad app, so you’ll have to use Amazon.com. There’s a pretty decent selection of the latest episodes of popular TV shows and a mixture of recent and classic movies.
From CSI to The Late Show with David Letterman, you’ll find lots of the latest episodes from the CBS network available through this app. You can check the schedule to see what’s on; you can set up your own favorite shows filter; and you can chat about the latest episodes with other fans. It doesn’t have every show and it doesn’t support AirPlay, but it is completely free.
If you want to catch up with The Voice or The Office on your iPad then you can do it with the NBC iPad app. It’s completely free and it provides access to over 100 episodes of popular NBC shows. You’ll also find trivia, games, and behind-the-scenes clips and previews to enjoy. The app includes a full schedule for NBC shows, so you’ll never miss your favorites again.
Kids and big fans of Nickelodeon can get all the SpongeBob or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action they can handle with this free app. There’s a wealth of interactive jokes, games, and videos to enjoy. If you sign in via your TV provider, you can get full episodes of your favorite cartoons as well. Even without the sign-in there’s enough content here to keep your kids happy for short bursts.
You can create mash-ups on your iPad with ease using vjay. It plugs into your existing collection of music and video and allows you to edit together audio tracks and video tracks via a simple interface. You’ll find a good range of video and audio effects to get the look and sound you want. You can record live straight into the app if you want to. When you have created your masterpiece, it can be uploaded directly to YouTube or Facebook, or you can plug your iPad in and watch on the big screen (it supports AirPlay too).
You can transform your iPad into a recording studio with GarageBand, but unlike many other music making apps, it won’t intimidate novice musicians with a huge mixing desk style interface. You can choose from a staggering array of instruments with various styles of pianos, organs, guitars, drums, and basses all playable with multi-touch gestures. There are hundreds of auto-play loops, you can customize chords, arrange and mix up to eight tracks, and you can even jam with friends via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. For just $5, this app has a lot to offer.
Reactable mobile ($10)
You can convert your iPad into a versatile synthesizer with the Reactable mobile app. It has been one of the top music creation apps around for a while now and a lively community, including some well-known musicians, has helped it evolve further. You can record and process your own sound samples, access more than 20 virtual objects, and even use it as part of a live performance. The community is sure to inspire you and you can share own creations and get feedback as well.
If you watch a lot of videos on YouTube then this client is worth checking out. It has a nice, simple interface with a couple of customization options, but the real draw is the ability to play audio in the background while you use other apps, which is great for listening to music videos. It can also remember your place in long videos. Other useful features include playlist management support, parental controls, filters, and AirPlay support. It’s a good replacement for the official YouTube app which is far from great.
Discovr Music ($2)
How do you find new bands and music? There’s so much to choose from out there that a music discovery tool can be very handy. Discovr Music is a clever, interactive map of the music world that links together acts you should check out based on your likes. You can tell it which bands or artists you listen to and it will throw out suggestions for similar options. It includes song clips, videos, biographies, reviews, and social media mentions for your chosen artists. The interface works beautifully on the iPad.
Sometimes mobile and tablet apps feel like a bit of an afterthought, but Spotify took the time to get things right. Though you’ll need a paid Spotify account to access the iPad version (desktop is free), we recommend it. Unlike the phone app, you can fully edit and create playlists on the iPad version, and its fully customized for the third-generation iPad’s Retina display. Much like the Twitter app, and many newer apps, Spotify uses three panels that slide in and out to display different information. All songs available on Spotify can be streamed on the app. Unfortunately, extensions haven’t yet been added, so you can’t connect up to SongKick or other apps.
Hulu Plus (Free)
If you want to watch new TV shows on your iPad, you’re going to need Hulu Plus. Like other versions of the service, it offers a good portion of Hulu’s streaming content on your iPad. That is, if you have an $8 per month subscription. We do still have issues with Hulu. While a Plus subscription unlocks a lot of shows and extra content, some shows, like 30 Rock, are only available on Hulu if you stream from the Web on a PC. Sound stupid? We agree. Even with the restrictions though, Hulu Plus is the best way to watch most major TV shows as they arrive.
The iPad’s gorgeous, vibrant screen and portable form factor may well make it the world’s greatest handheld television, but downloading movies and TV shows individually from iTunes can also turn it into the world’s most expensive-to-watch television. Netflix acts like 21-century cable, throwing open the door to an enormous and constantly growing universe of content for a flat fee. The app allows you to browse the extensive library of on-demand video available through Netflix, and play it in a matter of seconds. Of course, you’ll need an $8.99 monthly subscription to access it, but a few episodes of King of the Hill, The Office and South Park and it will pay for itself.
This app is no Netflix, but if you are looking to watch shows and movies on your iPad without paying a price, Crackle offers a large library of older and second-rate shows and movies to watch instantly. You won’t find the same selection as subscription services, but for free you can watch classics like Ghostbusters and The Patriot or newer films like Big Fish and Reign Over Me, as well as episodes of Seinfeld, Doctor Who, and Nurse Jackie.
HBO Go (Free)
The ‘free’ label on this stellar app is a bit deceptive. The HBO Go app is indeed free to download, but it won’t work unless you are already an HBO subscriber through your cable TV service. This makes the app useless for many, but invaluable for those who are already subscribers. HBO viewers can instantly watch a huge selection of movies as well as HBO original shows like True Blood, Entourage, The Sopranos, and The Wire. The app has an easy-to-use layout and is separated into intuitive categories to ensure that you can always find something to watch.
ABC Player (Free)
For those still cursing Apple for its lack of Flash support and all the Hulu content they’ll be missing as a result, ABC Player is the next best thing for the moment. As the name would suggest, it grants access to many of ABC’s latest shows, including Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, and Modern Family, for free with commercials.
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