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Mobile Accessories

Five killer apps for your docked iPad

Put that glorious 10-inch screen to good use while your iPad's just sitting around.

Magic Window turns your iPad into, well, a magic window, allowing you to look out on over a dozen dazzling animated scenes. Jetson Creative LLC

Does your iPad pull a lot of desk duty? Does it adorn your kitchen counter or even your nightstand? Do you routinely leave it on a dock or charger? If so, you should put that sucker to good use--even when you're not using it. After all, a big, beautiful screen is a terrible thing to waste.

As you learned yesterday, the iPad already knows how to function as a photo frame--and a damn fine one at that. But not everyone wants to look at photos all day. Maybe you'd prefer stock updates? Tweets? How about fish? Here are five apps to keep a docked iPad interesting:

Bloomberg: Want to keep tabs on the stock market? It's hard to imagine a lovelier window on Wall Street than Bloomberg for iPad. It delivers news, equity indices, a personalized stock portfolio, currency exchange rates, and plenty more, all wrapped in a gorgeous interface--and updated at regular intervals. Best of all, it's a freebie!

Tweets have never looked bigger or better than on Chirp Frame. Alexandru Bejan
Chirp Frame: Twitter addicts, this one's for you. The app serves up tweets as they arrive, effectively turning your iPad into a big, beautiful Twitter frame. You can choose from one of three slick backgrounds, swiping as desired to read earlier tweets. Of course, when you're feeling the need to send out your own status update, all it takes is a tap of the screen to tweet (or reply). Chirp Frame costs 99 cents.

iQuarium HD: Real fish are kind of a pain, don't you think? You have to feed them, clean the tank, yell at people to stop tapping the glass, and all that. iQuarium provides all the joys of fish-tank ownership with none of the hassles (or expense--it's a mere $1.99). Actually, the app is as much a Tamagotchi-style game as it is a virtual fish tank, as you have to feed your fish daily--eventually earning "fish points" to decorate your tank with accessories, backgrounds, more fish, etc. If you want more instant gratification, check out Marine Aquarium (also $1.99).

Magic Window--Living Pictures: An absolutely dazzling alternative to family photos, Magic Window serves up 15 gorgeous animated nature scenes--everything from sunrises to mountain valleys to tropical oceans at dusk. Actually, they're time-lapse photos, but they look animated, especially if you adjust the time slider so the action moves slowly. Magic Window is by far one of my favorite apps for a docked iPad. It's currently on sale for $3.99 (normally $4.99).

My Frame: Like the iPad's own Picture Frame on steroids, My Frame lets you view photo slideshows--but with your choice of information overlaid on top of them. You can add a clock, a weather forecast, a Twitter feed, birthday/anniversary reminders, sticky notes, and even iPod controls. Not bad for a $1.99 app.

Have you found any other interesting apps to run on your iPad while it's docked or charging? If so, tell us about them in the comments!

My Frame turns your iPad into not only a photo frame, but also an information station. Groundhog Software