10 of the best iPad apps

With the iPad 2 arriving on Wednesday, we thought we'd round up some iPad app favourites

Rumour has it a new iPad is being unveiled this week, so what better time to round up a handful of the finest bits of software for Apple’s touchy tablet? Here are 10 essential apps and games that you need to grab from the App Store, stat!

TED

£Free

Make yourself feel clever by watching these educational – but almost always entertaining – talks by assorted geniuses, visionaries and entrepreneurs. And musicians. With over 700 videos already available and more added each week, your brain will be bigger than a football in no time, but don’t worry if the selection seems daunting: you can build your own playlist, and access unwatched vids offline to boot.

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BBC iPlayer

£Free

Freshly unleashed onto the iTunes App Store, this iPad-tailored edition of iPlayer lets you browse through and watch/listen to over 400 hours of Beeb TV and radio programming from the previous seven days. And it’s free! Lovely stuff, in other words, but Auntie could have made it even better by allowing you to download shows and watch them offline, not to mention stream via 3G rather than just Wi-Fi. Maybe in the next version...

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Brushes

£4.99

Fancy yourself an artist but don’t like the idea of getting yourself covered in oil paint? There’s an app for that: Brushes lets wannabe Manets and Monets use their iPad screen like a canvas, “painting” onto it with a finger and 19 types of brush. The ability to add layers means you can work on individual portions of your masterpiece without ruining other bits. When you’re done, you can share on Flickr direct from the app. Sceptical about the quality? Check out the image above, finger-painted by Brooklyn artist David Jon Kassan using this very app.

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Plants vs. Zombies HD

£3.99

More addictive than crack-flavoured Pringles, this tower defence game sees you manically planting carnivorous vegetation in order to stop marauding zombies from invading your home and chowing down on your sweet brains. In the hands of a lesser developer things could get repetitive, but PopCap varies the levels and adds new plants and zombies at a rate that keeps you coming back until you’ve vanquished the entire shambling undead horde. And then you’ll want to start all over again.

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Dropbox

£Free

Pretty much the first thing you should download when you get an iPad, Dropbox uses the cloud to sync files between your various devices – computer, iPad and phone. Videos, photos, documents and presentations can all be synced, and shared with non-Dropboxers via email or web links, and designating a file “Favourite” will download it onto your iPad for offline use.

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More after the break...

Infinity Blade

£3.49

When you fire up Infinity Blade for the first time, you’ll end up poking your eyes to make sure they’re working properly. Yes, this is indubitably the best-looking 3D game on iOS, and it’s hard to believe that Epic has transferred the Unreal Engine 3 so effectively to a skinny mobile device. More importantly, it’s blow-your-balls-off fun, as you swipe and tap your way through assorted henchmen to get to the evil God King who killed your father, levelling up as you do so. An essential game that’s being improved all the time.

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Words With Friends HD

£1.79

“‘Words With Friends’ is the new Twitter” according to serial celeb squirer and guitar noodler John Mayer. We don’t really know what the hell he’s on about, because this Scrabble ripoff is just a massively addictive game rather than anything related to social media. But whatever: it’s well worth owning, as it lets you play multiple games (up to 20 at once) against any of your mates, updating when they make a move. Because there’s no rush, games can last several days – but when you hear the familiar chime to signal a move has been made, you’ll be reaching for your iPad.

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VLC Streamer

59p

AirPlay might be doing the business for iTunes-to-iPad music streaming, but until video is added to its list of talents (something rumoured to be happening in the next major iOS update), VLC Streamer remains the go-to app. It lets you grab videos from a networked PC, Mac or NAS and watch them instantly on your iPad. And it’s not particularly fussy about formats, playing pretty much anything you throw at it. A bargain at 59p.

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The Guardian Eyewitness

£Free

Give your iPad’s gorgeous screen a workout with this photojournalism-themed app, updated with an amazing new photo – based on a current event or news story – every day. What’s more, the app gives you tips on how the pro photographer responsible took the shot, including camera settings, so it can actually help you become a better snapper.

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Epicurious

£Free

Who’d a thunk the iPad could improve your culinary skills? But it can, at least if you opt for a cookery app like Epicurious. Free (yet ad-supported, almost to the point of annoyance), it’s packed with recipes that take you step by step through the creation of a dish. You can even whack in a list of things you have in the fridge and let the app give you suggestions for what to do with them. Just be careful not to spill lemon juice/salt/chicken stock all over your lovely tablet.

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Also...

Apple iPad 2 event confirmed for March 2

Apple iPad 2 rumours begin again

All Apple reviews

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