Review of Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders by Peter Meyers

“Horseless carriage.” Hold that thought.

Goals

I got my iPad as a tool to accomplish things with more mobility and efficiency, not to spend time wandering virtual supermarket aisles looking for the shiniest variation on a theme. Given that, I was immediately attracted by this title from O’Reilly. Both the author, Peter Meyers, and the publisher have the right credentials and reputation to address my need.

The book

The content is well organized, with chapters (and sections) that support both leisurely browsing and focused navigation: At Work, At Leisure, Creative Corner, At Play, At Home, Out and About, For Your Health.

The reviews typically provide an app’s icon (great for quick visual reference), price, reviewed version (important in the fast-moving world of the App Store), publisher, overview, well-organized comments and usage tips, and screen shots for key points.

The rankings Meyers gives were highly consistent with my experience on key apps I regularly use. More important, he is clear about his point of view and why he evaluates as he does—a crucial feature for this type of reference. On my first reading, he introduced me to new and useful possibilities. I will be keeping this book within easy access for ongoing use.

Finally, I must confess a slightly wistful thought that turned out to be premature. I still remember the early days of the World Wide Web, when a variety of printed “yellow-pages to the Web” books appeared. Most of them had a fairly short shelf-life, as the explosive growth of the web left them quickly out of date. I immediately wondered whether this book would have such a future. But…

Horseless carriage?

In its early days, the automobile was often referred to as a “horseless carriage”; most people only thought of it in terms of what they already knew, and hadn’t realized the implications of that new technology. (How many people—and companies—are still trying to think of the web as a magazine, newspaper, radio, television, mailbox, etc. minus some physical attribute, not recognizing it as a new thing that is all and none of the previous media?)

That’s why I regard Meyers’ preface as one of the most enduring parts of this book.

He gets it.

Meyers explicitly focuses on what makes the iPad a new thing, not just a mobile phone or netbook, and uses that understanding to guide his selection and evaluation of apps that are important, note-worthy, or simply enjoyable to use. And that makes this book useful not only to a “discriminating downloader” like me, it makes it a great reference to an aspiring app developer who needs to understand what makes iPad apps different, and to any technophile (iPad owner or not) who wants to understand better the potential of this new thing.

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