While GarageBand is arguably the best bargain in the App Store, offering up a potent brew of playable instruments and integrated multitrack recording, there has been an avalanche of impressive dedicated synthesizer apps in the last couple of years. If you're overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices, here's a quick rundown of some of the top available picks. None are designed to replace GarageBand; in fact, most are primarily meant to be used in live musical performances, played as unique instruments with no counterparts in the real world. And the most expensive iPad synth app is still cheaper than almost any commercial Audio Units plugin for a desktop, so you'll find quality, convenience, and value within these 10 apps.
The great thing about board games on the iPad is that you don’t need any pieces. You just tap the buttons, poke the game board, flick the dice--it’s all on the screen. But if you miss the little chunks of plastic, iPieces are just that--felt-bottomed game tokens that interact with retro-style games on your iPad. Four sets are available: we tested Snakes & Ladders and Air Hockey, and you can also get the children’s board game Game of Goose, and Fishing, complete with a little plastic fishing rod, for $12.99 each.
Apple's new Podcasts app is a testament to the tremendous evolution the medium has undergone since its humble iPod beginnings. Having long outgrown its iTunes tab, it was inevitable that Apple would develop a standalone app to mark the podcast's maturation into a legitimate form of entertainment. Expectedly, the universal app looks great, though it's not quite as functional or bug-free as desired.
While you may be very excited about Mountain Lion and iOS 6, Apple isn’t the only company with interesting new products on the way. Microsoft is slated to release its long-awaited (and undeniably cool-looking) Windows 8 operating system for desktops later this year, with bona fide Surface tablets and a mobile release of Windows Phone 8 arriving shortly thereafter. So let’s take a look at what the competition is up to, and see where Apple could maybe learn a thing or two.
The iTwin ($99, www.itwin.com) is a handy way to securely share files with no worries about logins or fiddling with settings. Using a familiar drag-and-drop model that anyone who’s used a USB thumb drive can understand, the iTwin just works. And you can get one if you win our August contest.
It's a shame that more app developers don't code with the iPad's big screen in mind, especially when the app in question revolves around photographs. Instagram has been around for nearly two years now and there's still no native iPad or universal form of the app. With all that screen real estate, it's a shame to have to run the iPhone version embiggened, trapped in portrait mode, just to see pictures of our friends' adorable offspring or recent meals.
Luckily, a bevy of third-party apps are available that offer a bit of a twist on the old iPhone photo sharing app. Here's a look at several such apps that are all grown up for the big screen.
Early iOS tower defense favorites like geoDefense and Fieldrunners proved that the strategy sub-genre could shine on a touch screen, and Kingdom Rush only continues that trend with a fantastically well-produced affair that's bursting with challenge, content, and excellent presentation. Following an iPad-exclusive release earlier this year, Kingdom Rush comes to iPhone and iPod touch with a standalone native version, which offers the full original experience albeit for smaller screens.
Maybe we're being a little melodramatic by calling them life-threatening, but with every iOS or Mac bug comes an outcry from hundreds of thousands of Apple users. Take last week, for instance, when a Mac App Store bug caused several software updates to instantly crash apps once installed on both Macs and iOS devices. Apps included the popular Instapaper, GoodReader, Angry Birds Space HD Free, and even Readdle's Scanner Pro 4.1 update. Fortunately, the ordeal was over once Apple finally stepped in to quell the grief that had been caused over a few days, but this is not the first time that Cupertino has had to deal with squashing huge bugs. Take a trip down memory lane with us to investigate some other cases where Apple products have been plagued by nasty computer bugs.
Putting a fresh spin on iOS racers, Slingshot Racing ditches traditional steering and gas controls and simply lets you tap the screen to grapple onto nearby pillars and whip around turns. As such, timing and momentum take center stage in these looping, steampunk-themed environments, with a variety of play modes included across distinctive tracks.
Hopefully by now you have a solid grasp of Smart Instruments, and if you don't fret not! We've got instructions for that, too. But if you do and are aching to get your own song out to the masses (or just send it around to your family and friends), read on and we'll show you everything you need to know about making sweet, sweet music with your iPad.