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Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders Paperback – December 20, 2010
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About the Author
Peter Meyers designs, speaks, and writes about digital books. After co-founding pioneering multimedia textbook publisher Digital Learning Interactive, he launched a successful career as a freelance journalist, writing about the strange and wonderful effects of computers on mainstream culture for many publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Salon, and the Village Voice. During a subsequent five-year tour of duty at O’Reilly Media he worked in the Missing Manual group, serving as managing editor and associate publisher. His most recent writing projects include Best iPad Apps (O’Reilly Media, 2010) and Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience. He blogs at www.newkindofbook.com and you can follow him on Twitter @petermeyers. Peter's undergraduate degree is from Harvard, where he studied American history and literature, and he has an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is very high quality, and the prose is wonderfully lively prose - not words that I would typically use to describe a techie publication. The organization of the book is logical, breaking into product categories similar to those in the App Store. categories such as At Work, At Leisure or At Home seem sensible. I am a little unsure though about how At Leisure differs from at Play. Maybe it does, but it's a rather subtle distinction. What this leads to is the use of the book as a browse rather than search reference. This is not necessarily a bad thing and in fact I would expect that this book is in fact a superb selling device for apps on the store. I would be unsurprised where Apple to license the ebook and make it available to iPad buyers as a catalogue. The tendency however would be to work through the book from start to finish rather than refer to it when one wanted to find a particular app to suit a particular need.
Each page features a separate application featuring a screen shot of the application, a short summary of the application and a couple callouts highlighting the special features of the app. Apps are characterized as being best in their class (unfortunately another aspect I fear will become dated). As a reader/user however, I would appreciate knowing a few of the other contenders for that title so I might investigate an make the decision for myself.
Overall I would describe the experience of this new O'Reilly book as playful. It's lively, colourful and fun to read. The information contained within is useful and well presented. On the downside it will quickly grow dated as new and more exciting applications are made available.
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...
What's that about horseless carriages?
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.
The author's titles for each app are fun. For example, one app is titled "Best Game for Killing Pigs With Birds." Can you guess which app that is? I like the author's short descriptions of each app. They are informational and fun to read. He convinced me to download quite a few of the apps. The pages show full color pictures of scenes in the app with the prices listed. Some are just silly, but I'm sure someone else might find them useful. My favorite section is the photos and movies. I found some gems. I have several apps on my wish list and will be referring back to the book. My parents have already borrowed it. Here is a list of some of my favorites that I discovered reading the book:
Pages: Best app for creating Beautiful Documents $9.99
Photo Artist HD-Oil: Best app for Oil Painting Your Photos $4.99
Drawing Pad- Best App for Drawing Time for Kids $1.99
Interactive Alphabet for iPad-Best App for Learning ABCs $2.99
Craigslist Pro for iPad- Best App for Craigslist Browsing $.99