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Review

An app directory for the iPad 2 Add to ...

Contrary to popular belief, the iPad 2 doesn't render the original iPad - which was released in Canada less than a year ago - obsolete. It might be lighter, thinner, and faster, but it runs the same apps as its predecessor.

That said, a quick visit to the "Enhanced for iPad 2" section of the App Store reveals a handful of programs designed to take advantage of the tablet's new features, including its cameras, gyroscope, and speedier processor.

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We took ten apps made with iPad 2 in mind out for a test spin.

FaceTime(Pre-installed)One of two camera-enabled apps that come pre-installed on Apple's second generation tablet, FaceTime works as it does on iPhones and Macs: just tap names in your contact list to start up real-time video conversations. It's easy as pie. Video quality takes a bit of a hit compared to what you might be used to on your iPhone, but that's to be expected given the larger screen size. Just keep in mind that you can only call up pals who also own Apple devices, and that - unless you're willing to use an Apple-unapproved workaround - connections are limited to WiFi.

Photo Booth(Pre-installed)The iPad 2's other pre-installed camera app is simply a means to snap digitally manipulated pictures. Nine tiles demonstrate image-altering effects such as X-ray, thermal, kaleidoscope, and light tunnel. Tap the one you like, select either the front- or rear-facing lens, then touch the camera icon to click a picture. A few more taps can send it off to friends and family via e-mail. I thought it merely a mildly amusing distraction, but my wife and daughter have spent a surprising amount of time playing with it over the last couple of weeks and giggling at the results.

Twittelator($4.99) Stone Design's popular Twitter client has been upgraded to take advantage of the iPad 2's cameras in some simple but useful ways. Users can now update their Twitter avatar image simply by tapping it and taking a fresh snapshot. They can also illustrate their posts with photos and videos captured mid-tweet - handy for folks who want to send messages with images from live events. The default sharing services are Moby and TwitVid (which also allows for concurrent uploading of videos to YouTube), but you can select your service of choice in the settings menu.

Jenga($0.99)The iPad 2's gyroscope is put to sly use in this updated virtual version of the classic stacking game. You still tap and drag blocks as you normally would to manipulate them. However, instead of swiping the screen to change camera perspective you now swivel and tilt the tablet in real space. It's a clever feature, but unless you're in a private place with lots of room to twist your body, it's not particularly practical. That said, it does shine a spotlight on the sensitivity of the iPad 2's gyroscope, which precisely picks up and translates even the smallest of movements.

GarageBand($4.99)This music making app comes with an eight-track recording studio and plenty of virtual instruments that respond in realistic fashion to the intensity and location of your taps. It's robust enough to satisfy the creative fancies of experienced musicians and intuitive enough to allow ambitious rookies to create professional sounding arrangements (gotta love those instantly generated instrument patterns and automated recording loops). Once you finish your musical masterpiece you can publish it to your iTunes library or email it to friends. It runs on both generations of iPad, but enjoys performance benefits from iPad 2's added horsepower.

WebEx for iPad(Free)Cisco's WebEx for iPad brings two-way video conferencing to Apple's slate. Setup is a snap; just install the app and sign in or enter a meeting number to join a conference. You can also host meetings, share pictures and audio, and activate clever features such as voice-activated stream switching, which automatically casts a spotlight on the current speaker. It should help the iPad become an even better fit for business users.

iMovie($4.99)If you plan to shoot much video on your iPad 2 - and trust me, framing video on a 10-inch screen is a lot of fun - then iMovie is pretty much a must. A simplified version of the desktop edition of Apple's popular video editing app, you can select from stored photos and videos or capture new clips from within the app. The editing process is speedy and simple, allowing users to intuitively cut and splice shots together, add soundtracks, and share their creations via sites like Facebook, Vimeo, and YouTube. It's just a shame that such a useful Apple-made program doesn't come pre-installed.

Word Lens($9.99)This is one of those apps that seems like something from the future. Point the iPad 2's outward facing camera at Spanish words printed clearly on any object - signs, packages, magazines - and it will instantly recognize and translate those words to English, maintaining text size and orientation within the scene. It's pricey, especially considering it translates only a single language, and that the iPad edition lacks the zoom function found in the iPhone version, but it could prove useful for people planning a trip to a Spanish-speaking country.

Infinity Blade($5.99)The most visually sophisticated game yet released for iPad, this sword-and-shield fighter recently received an update to make its bar-setting graphics appear even prettier on Apple's new tablet. I ran the game on both generations of hardware side by side and saw slight but noticeable improvements in the iPad 2 version. Character models are less jaggy, and I could make out enhanced textures and details. The upgrades aren't such that they would convince existing iPad gamers to run out and purchase an iPad 2, but they do serve as clear proof that Apple's new tablet can be a boon for gaming graphics.

Pocketbooth($1.99)Even with the ability to customize effects, paper stock, and borders, two bucks might seem like a stretch for an app that simply snaps quartets of pictures and places them in a photo booth-style strip. However, once you realize that most real world photo booths now cost upward of four bucks per session it starts to seem like a better deal. What's more, Pocketbooth takes advantage of iOS 4.3's AirPrint functionality to send strips wirelessly to compatible printers. Strips can also be shared via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail.

Follow on Twitter: @chadsapieha

 

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