Everyone knows that the iPad's screen is bigger, but does size necessarily give you better apps? We take a look at 20 popular cross-device apps to show you how they differ.
A few weeks back we put together some screenshots of games on the iPhone vs. their iPad iterations. It was a resounding hit, so we're giving it another go. But this time we're taking a look at some popular non-game applications.
You'll find that not all of the apps on this list are necessarily better than their pocket counterparts. In fact, in a few cases they look or function a little worse. There are, however, quite a few which offer
a dramatically different experience than what's available for smaller
screens. Read on to see what we dug up.
Editor's note: The photos in this slideshow have been resized to fit in our viewer. If you'd like to see full-size copies, you can find them all on one page.
4. Soundhound (free,
Midomi's Soundhound (formerly known simply as "music identifier") is an app that can identify whatever music is playing in just a few seconds. Fortunately, it has made a graceful transition to a larger screen.
Just like the iPhone and iPod Touch version of the app, it can be set to start listening to a song right when you launch it. The big difference is that the app automatically begins showing you the most popular songs that have been tagged on the service, as well as tagged items that aren't getting radio air time. Both of these lists can be expanded, and sit on top of a ticker of the most recently tagged songs by users.
8. Wolfram Alpha ($1.99,
Wolfram Alpha is now a much more affordable app than when it first came on the market. Those with an elephant's memory will remember that when it first became available on the App Store, it cost $49.99. It was later dropped to $19.99, then returned back to $49.99 At the beginning of April, the company dropped the price down to $1.99 for good, as well as giving everyone who bought it a refund.
On the iPad, the Wolfram Alpha app shines. This is the case not only for the results, which often contain large, colorful charts but also for the enormous, three-story keyboard that stretches out like a cat waking up from a nap. On the iPhone you need to scroll through three different sub menus to view all the keys, whereas on the iPad it's all there for you--all at once.
13. Tweetdeck (free: iPad
Tweetdeck is popular Twitter browsing and posting software. This is one of the few apps on this list that's actually more desirable on the iPhone for reasons of performance. In our testing, we were able to get new tweets and search results to load faster on the iPhone version of TweetDeck, long before they loaded up on the iPad.
The one obvious benefit of the iPad is that you can turn it sideways and get three columns in view at once. The only bummer there is that the iPad's optional dock accessory puts the device in portrait mode, so you wouldn't be able to leave it in this position on your desk without propping it up some other way.
14. Twitterrific (free: iPad
Twitterrific is another application for Twitter. Its iPad version is simply super-size and adds a very large and simple options panel that drops down from the top of the screen, or sits in sight when your device is in landscape mode.
The really odd thing about Twitterrific for the iPad is that it doesn't end up giving you that many more tweets to see, even though you've got extra pixels for days. This certainly makes tweets easier to read from a few feet away, but it involves what feels like quite a bit more scrolling on your part to work your way down the timeline. It's also missing any way to change the size of the text in tweets, which is something you can do on the pocket-sized version.
15. USA Today (free: iPad
USA Today has always had a very good looking iPhone app, and the publication's iPad app follows suit. What's really neat about the iPad version is that it goes out of its way to emulate the look of a real newspaper, complete with a feathered edge on top of the screen and a textured page grip on the side of the page. These, along with the zooming animations of articles opening up, go a long way to make the experience feel more organic.
One of the areas where USA Today's iPad app really shines is in its "day in pictures" feature, which is a compilation of news photography. On the iPhone, this feature works well enough, but on the iPad you can read captions without them overlapping onto the photos, as well as scroll your finger through a timeline viewer at the bottom of the screen to change photos.
16. New York Times (free: iPad
First things first, it's probably a little unfair to compare the two different iPhone and iPad apps from The New York Times, but we're going to do it anyway. The main reason not to, is that the one on the iPhone is the full version of the publication, whereas the current iPad iteration is a selection of articles that have been picked by NYT editors. Still, a quick comparison to the front page section of both apps is filled with the same stories.
On the iPad version you get a very similar experience to what can be found in USA Today's, with an off-white background and aesthetically pleasing column widths. The one area where the iPhone version actually outshines the iPad version is in how you can then share an article you're reading. On the iPad you've got e-mail, whereas on the iPhone version you can send it to Twitter and Facebook, or to someone's phone by text message (even if you're on an iPod Touch).
17. LogMeIn Ignition ($29.99,
LogMeIn Ignition for the iPad easily tops our list as the most dramatically better experience than what can be had on the iPhone or iPod Touch. Don't get us wrong, accessing your computer's desktop while out and about on an iPhone is just awesome, but it doesn't come close to using it on a display that's four times larger.
As far as functionality goes, using it on the two devices is the same (it is, after all a "universal" application), though we noticed that it was easier to mouse around the page and not cover up what you were trying to click on when using the iPad. And on the iPad version, it's a bit easier to "throw" the mouse in any given direction using a quick swipe. This makes it easy to get around if you're connecting to a machine with a considerably large resolution.
18. Zagat To Go ($9.99,
Zagat's food, drink, hotel, and shopping ratings app has made a very slick transition to the larger screen. The most obvious way to show this off is to head to the map view, which is given more than two-thirds of the screen. The use of the map in the iPad version more closely resembles Google Maps, so instead of clicking the back and forth button like you do on the iPhone, you can simply click on a Zagat pin to see what restaurant it is. Here again, the app makes use of the extra screen real estate and will give you a quick breakdown of what it is without leaving the map mode.
One really nice thing about the iPhone and iPod Touch version (which the iPad version does not yet have) is a way to download Zagat's ratings database for offline use. This stores a locally cached version of the ratings onto the device, so you don't have to worry about tracking down a data signal when you want to do a search. Since Zagat's app requires an Internet connection to pull up results, it's more likely to be useful with users who pick up the version of the iPad with the 3G hardware on board. We've been told the offline functionality will be brought to the iPad in the next big update.
19. Epicurious Recipes and Shopping List (free,
You probably shouldn't put an iPad near a pot of boiling water, but people have been doing it with their laptops and cell phones for years. Epicurious' universal app seems like it was meant to be used on the iPad, and between the two screens to the left, you'll probably agree.
The one edge the app has when being used on a smaller device is that it fits more easily in your pocket, which can be useful when taking advantage of the app's shopping list feature. But if you're in the kitchen and cooking something, using this app in landscape mode (not pictured) puts the ingredients side-by-side with the instructions--something that makes a recipe easy to hop back to if you prop up the iPad on something.
20. Weather Channel (free: iPad
Apple did not include its pretty, Yahoo-powered weather app on the iPad, which means you've got to go elsewhere to find out whether to bring an umbrella or a pair of sunglasses when leaving the house. The difference between the two apps is remarkable. While the iPhone version takes a tabbed approach, you can quite clearly see the current weather, a 36-hour forecast, six days of a 10-day forecast, and live radar all on one screen. The iPad version is even animated.
The iPad version is also packing something the iPhone and iPod Touch version isn't, which is a list of official Twitter feeds from the Weather Channel and its anchors, which you can view right within the app. You could quite easily create your own list like this and do it in a Twitter app like the aforementioned TweetDeck or Twitterrific, but it's a nice thing to have in this case.