Now that you have an iPad 2, you can be excused for wanting to share it with (read: rub it in the face of) those that don’t. But how best to show off the iPad 2’s specific advantages, especially at this early stage in the game? There are a few apps that should do the trick nicely.
FaceTime and Photo Booth
Let’s look first at the apps that come pre-installed on the iPad itself. FaceTime and Photo Booth are both new to the iPad, and Photo Booth is new to iOS altogether. Both take advantage of one of the most notable changes to the iPad in this hardware revision: the addition of a camera. Both also show off two major reasons why people want an iPad in the first place: for fun and for communication.
Neither app is particularly amazing from a technical standpoint (although it is cool to see nine simultaneous live feeds being displayed on the iPad screen at once with no visible stutter or slowdown in Photo Booth), but both demonstrate key reasons Apple is doing so well in the tablet market. They provide simple, clean user interfaces that are easy for anyone to pick up and use right away, and do so with a minimum of visual distraction. And regardless of how often you use FaceTime in real life, there’s no denying that video calling has that distinctive “the future is now” vibe.
Apple at this point has a huge head start on developers in terms of making apps for the iPad 2, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that many of these apps are put out by the company itself. iMovie is especially a stand-out for the iPad 2 since it’s exclusive to that device, and again shows off the new camera. But it also shows off the device’s impressive processing power (iMovie seems to hang more on my iMac then it does on my iPad 2) and its creative potential.
I’ve already talked about how much I enjoyed this app when I tried it out on the original iPad. But iPad 2 brings a little bit more to the GarageBand mix, thanks to its boosted internal specs. And it almost stole the show at the iPad 2 unveiling, so it’s likely to impress anyone who might be interested in the device, even those who aren’t particularly musical to begin with.
If you’re into gaming at all, you probably know about Crysis, a game which was basically the standard by which all PC hardware was measured for quite a while. Infinity Blade from Epic Games is pretty much the Crysis of the iOS platform. It’s the first iOS game to use the Unreal Engine, and it really shows off the graphics capabilities of the new A5 system-on-a-chip. The iPad 2 is said to offer 9x better graphics performance over the previous generation, according to official Apple info, and it’s not hard to believe when you see the improved textures, lighting and shadows in the game running on the new tablet. If you have an original version to run side-by-side with the new one, your audience will be even more amazed by Infinity Blade on the iPad 2.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4
Another game, the Lego Harry Potter title for the iPad, is one of the best examples of a console/PC/iOS titles I’ve ever come across. It was great fun to play on the original iPad, and it runs even better on the iPad 2, with much less visual stutter and fewer performance slowdowns. Basically, it looks great and gives a hint at what the iPad 2 can do for iOS gaming.
This is another graphically intensive app that really shows off the iPad 2’s raw power. Using Google Earth on both the first and second-generation iPad devices reveals that the iPad 2 finds and zooms to searched-for locations much faster and more smoothly. Images seem to resolve more quickly, too. Google Earth may not be an app I find myself using every day, but for illustrating the advantages of the iPad 2, it’s definitely a good choice.
Sadly, there aren’t yet really any good quality third-party iPad apps that take advantage of the new camera on the iPad 2, which is a shame. There’s Cisco’s new version of WebEx for iPad which features two-way video communication, but that’s likely only going to impress the enterprise crowd. There’s also a fun and visually impressive app called DecoSama that lets you put stickers on your photos, much like the photo booths that first became popular in Japan, but in my tests it consistently froze when trying to take photos from the iPad’s built-in camera. Skype or Instagram or another popular iOS player that depends on the camera will inevitably throw their hat into the ring, but it hasn’t happened yet.
If you’ve already laid hands on a new iPad, what apps do think best show off the new hardware?