It looks like the iPad is here to stay and is still a market leader. I had my doubts about it when it first came out, but it continues to be one of my most valuable business tools as I keep adding more apps and I keep finding more uses.
I will go out on a limb and make a prediction that the iPad will be popular for a long time for business, entertainment and education. There are other tablets, but none has as many apps or is as popular as the iPad, even though the iPad won’t play Flash and doesn’t really multitask.
People practically demanded a built-in camera, but now that it has arrived it doesn’t seem like many iPad owners are taking full advantage of it.
I got my first iPad when the new device was introduced in 2010, and then I won an iPad2 shortly after those became available this year. The iPad2 gave me the opportunity to fully test camera apps designed for iPads and iPhones.
To get started, I asked my friends with iPhones for some recommendations. Four months later, here are my top 10 picks:
1. ICameraHDR Pro. This app takes three pictures of the same scene and combines them into one high dynamic range (HDR) image. It is all automatic: one click, instant HDR.
2. Dynalight HD. The photo effects make almost any picture look good. It is fun to use and it didn’t take long for it to become my favorite app. Try out the fun effect called "mysterious light."
3. Photosynth. Photos are stitched together as they are taken, and the end result is a 3-D image. Viewers can move up and down and from side to side in the images, just like a virtual tour. Photosynth can be used with a camera and computer, but it is much easier to create them with the app.
4. AutoPainter. Take a photo, choose a paint effect, and the app does all the work to turn a photo into a simulated painting.
5. Halftone. Give photos a vintage look. Comic-book-style text and stickers can be added.
6. PhotoPad. My first photo app for the iPad, and it is for photo editing. It has the basics, like cropping and resizing, and some special effects. It is very easy to use and I consider it a must-have for photo editing.
7. Diptic. Create a collage with several pictures to tell a story. It is easy to grab photos from the photo library on the device or get them from your Flickr.com account.
8. Plastic Bullet. Some fun photo effects.
9. AutoStitch. Take pictures, stitch them together and create a panorama.
10. Instagram. A photo-sharing social network. Take pictures with the app, add a special effect, and send them to the Instagram site to share with friends.
Most of these apps can be used on iPads without built-in cameras and on the iPhones and the iPod touch. Some of the apps offer one-touch sharing so that the photos can quickly be sent to social networks, and the iPad screen is great for photo editing. Taking a photo or creating some artwork is a fast and easy way to share on social networks.
The built-in front- and rear-facing cameras are low-quality, but with a little imagination I can create some decent photographs. The iPad2 can also be used for video. It is not easy to hold it steady because of the shape, but it can be done. The video quality isn’t bad, and you can upload videos to YouTube with two clicks.
I recently used it to create a kind of virtual tour of a local community garden, which will be used for a blog post this weekend.
Skype recently released an app for the iPad and iPhone that uses the camera. I had my first Skype video conference on the iPad a couple of weeks ago. The discussion was business-related but I took the call on my back porch.
After the business discussion I gave a short tour of my gardens and then went inside and showed my office. The camera can be switched from front-facing to back-facing midcall. Skype is much more fun on an iPad than it is on the computer in my office.
Now my iPad is one more source of content for blogs and social networks. The apps are all cheap or free, and it’s easy to use and turn ordinary photographs into some interesting artwork.
I get the most out of my iPad by using the camera, and I can use the apps to edit photos taken with other cameras for some interesting effects.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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