Read on for 10 free iPad apps that you shouldn’t miss, from Amazon’s Kindle reader and Flipboard’s customizable “social” digital magazine to Skype video chat and Google’s Office-friendly cloud storage utility.
Note: Yes, there are actually more than 10 apps on my top-10 list, but I figured you wouldn’t mind a few extra.
1. Kindle / iBooks / Google Play Books
Curl up with your iPad and dive into a great book from Amazon’s Kindle store, Google Play Books, or Apple’s own iBookstore with these easy-on-the-eyes e-reading apps.
Each one lets you flip pages with a swipe, choose your favorite font, sync bookmarks, and download any previously purchased volumes.
2. Netflix / Amazon Instant Video / Hulu
Cinephiles and couch potatoes, rejoice. You can press “play” on tens of thousands of movies and TV shows from Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu with these streaming video apps for the iPad.
The apps themselves are free, but you’ll need to be a paying subscriber ($8/month for Netflix and Hulu, or $79/year for Amazon’s “Prime” service) before you can start watching.
3. ABC Player / The CW Network / NBC
Not a Netflix/Amazon/Hulu subscriber? No problem. You can still watch scores of free network TV shows on your iPad from the likes of ABC, A&E, The CW, NBC, and more.
The catch? Unskippable (and relatively frequent) advertisements.
4. Skype for iPad
Sure, the iPad already comes with Apple’s FaceTime video-chat app, but it won’t do you much good if you’re hoping to say hello to someone who isn’t using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac.
The free Skype app for iPad, however, will let you chat face-to-face with any Skype users, even those with a PC or an Android phone.
Download: Skype for iPad
5. Google Catalogs / Catalogue / Catalog Spree
Do a little shopping and save a tree while you’re at it with these catalog-shopping apps for the iPad, each of which lets you flip through virtual, iPad-sized versions of catalogs from such big-name retailers as J. Crew, Crate & Barrel, L.L. Bean, and more.
6. Pinterest for iPad
Wish you could “pin” your favorite fashions, products, and other online goodies to your Pinterest boards on the iPad’s jumbo screen?
Well, you could try the laborious process of adding a “Pin It” button to the iPad’s Safari browser, or you could just install Pinterest for iPad, which boasts its own “Pin It”-equipped (but otherwise bare-bones) browser plus a gorgeous, touch-friendly interface for browsing the latest pins from fellow Pinterest users.
Download: Pinterest for iPad
One of the most innovative apps yet for the iPad, Flipboard turns your Twitter and Facebook news feeds into a beautifully formatted virtual magazine, complete with bold headlines and vivid images.
You can also add hand-picked web collections from Flipboard editors or add your own favorite blogs.
8. Dropbox / Google Drive
Both Dropbox and Google Drive will let you sync files and folders from your PC or Mac to your iPad, although Google Drive comes with a nifty bonus: the ability to edit, create, and share Word- and Excel-compatible documents.
9. Facebook / Twitter
Feeling social? Browse your Facebook and Twitter feeds from your iPad, complete with jumbo-size photo galleries, “push” notifications when your friends post updates or replies, and easy photo posting from your iPad’s camera roll.
Diving into the YouTube rabbit hole is all too easy on the iPad, and Google’s new YouTube app for iPad makes it even easier to sign into your YouTube account, add videos to your “Watch Later” list, subscribe to new channels, create playlists, and wade through an endless number of related clips.
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