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The Best iPad Utility Apps

How to Get More Out of Your iPad

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There's more to the iPad than just playing games, watching movies, writing email and browsing Facebook. But if you want to get more out of your iPad, you might want one of these utility apps to extend the uses of your iPad.

Most of these apps are free downloads from the app store, or have free versions with a limited number of features. However, a few of them will drain your wallet a little bit. But what's $10 when you can use it to buy yourself an extra monitor for your Mac?

All prices listed are subject to change at developer's discretion.

Photon Flash Browser

Photon Flash Browser for iPad

This browser may have the longest name on the app store -- the actual name contains a mini-description that makes you wonder what the app store police were doing on the day it was approved -- but while the Photon Flash Browser may not have the best name, it is the best way to view Flash on the iPad. Like similar apps, the Photon Flash Browser streams Flash from a central server to your iPad. One thing that is neat about the browser is that it doesn't always stream the information. You tell it to go into streaming mode when you hit a site with Flash, so you can browser normally the rest of the time.

Don't need Flash? If you want a Safari-alternative, check out the Diigo Browser, which mimics the look and feel of Google Chrome.

Price: $4.99

Dropbox

Dropbox

Want to share files between your iPad and your computer? There are a number of different ways you can get your files to your iPad, but Dropbox is by far the easiest. An application that you install on both your iPad and your Mac or Windows-based PC, Dropbox uses cloud storage to both backup your files and let you open them on the iPad. You can even open the documents in different apps, like Evernote for opening a rich text document or iBooks for opening a PDF file.

Price: Free for up to 2 GB of storage

Visit the Dropbox website.

Air Display

Air Display for iPad

Have you ever wanted to add a second display to your iMac or MacBook but didn't want to shell out over $200? Now you can get one for just $10. AirDisplay acts as a second monitor for your Mac, allowing you to extend the desktop to your iPad's display.

But the cool part is that the iPad doesn't lose its touch controls. You can use the touch screen controls to manipulate the applications running on you Mac, like punching in the numbers for a calculator or drawing inside of a photo editing app.

AirDisplay may not be the best solution for playing a game or watching video, but most normal apps will work great with it.

Shop for a new Mac to go with your iPad

Price: $9.99

Skype

Skype

It's hard to argue with placing cheap phone calls on your iPad. Skype offers free Skype-to-Skype calls, a pay-as-you-go model with callas as cheap as 2.3 cents a minute and a subscription mode as cheap as $4.49 a month that allows unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada. (Exact prices may change at Skype's discretion.)

The Skype app will remember your most recent calls and allow you to tag your contact list to make it easy to search. The app works over Wi-Fi and 3G, and along with cheap calls, you can do instant messaging and add emoticons to your messages.

Price: Free download, not all calls are free

Find My iPhone

Find My iPhone

Who hasn't lost their phone? I'm pretty good about doing the pat down when I leave the house or get up from my chair at a restaurant, but what gets me is when I take it into a room in the house to place a phone call then plop it down on some random table. The Find My iPhone installs on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, allowing you to quickly find it when lost. You can configure the app to display a message, play a sound, lock the device or even delete all of your data.

Price: Free

Wi-Fi Finder

Wi-Fi Finder

Another great utility, the Wi-Fi Finder will find the closest Wi-Fi hotspots to your location. This makes it a great utility for vacations or work trips, allowing you to scan near your hotel to find a coffee shot or Internet cafe where you can park for a while and go for a nice stroll on the information super highway. Not only is this great for those without a 3G plan for the iPad, but for those on the limited bandwidth plan, it can help keep that bandwidth usage low.

Price: Free

TouchCalc

TouchCalc for iPad

There are a lot of calculator apps on the app store. On a scale of 1 to 10, this one goes to 11. It'll not only do your standard multiplication, division, addition and subtraction, but you can use it for scientific functions, statistical functions like variance and standard evaluation, and even some programming functions like calculating logical operators. Truly a calculator fit for Nigel Tufnel.

Price: Free

Clock Pro HD

Clock Pro HD

About the only time-keeping this clock won't do is keep track of time underwater. Clock Pro not only has a standard analog and digital clock setting, but it will let you time a quick nap or how long the rice should be on the stove. It also has a stop watch, a chess clock and the ability to find out when sunrise and sunset will come for your specific location. It even has a metronome, so if you are musician, you can use it for keeping track of the beat.

Price: Free

PrintCentral

PrintCentral

If you are planning to use your iPad for work, you'll probably want the ability to print from it. Unfortunately, not every printer supports AirPrint, so you'll need some type of solution. There are a number of good free apps like HP's ePrint Home & Biz, but that will only work with select HP printers. For the rest of us, PrintCentral provides a much cheaper alternative to buying an AirPrint-capable printer.

Price: $8.99

AppShopper

App Shopper

One of the best utilities you can get for you iPad is the AppShopper, which (as the name suggests) will help you find apps to download. What makes AppShopper better than just browsing the App Store? One if the best features is the ability to see price drops. Developers will frequently drop an app in price -- even making it free -- in order to market their app. But even if you cruise sites like Free App a Day, you won't always find all the deals.

AppShopper is a great way to keep track of the latest deals, the newly-free apps and their own Top 200 list. You can specify if the app is made for iPhone or iPad and browse by category as well as by biggest risers, biggest drops or best ratings.

Its truly an iShopaholic's best friend.

Price: Free

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