New iPad2 set up: First 10+ FREE apps installed for my in-laws

So, as the de facto tech support guy in the family (I bet you’re one, join the club), guess who had the honor of guiding his in-laws’ on using their new iPad2?  Yup, you got it.  Luckily, we all know how easy iOS is to navigate (push icons to open app, and when all else fails, push the home button), so teaching that was the easy part.

The annoying, but required set up step was to plug it into a pc and setup an iTunes account.  I much preferred the Amazon Kindle approach, where you don’t even need a pc to use.  Mobile phones are capable of OTA (over the air) firmware updates, so why can’t the iPad do the same?  iTunes is on the device anyway…

After going through the iTunes setup (not the most intuitive, considering this is Apple),  – I paired the iPad to use their home’s WiFi (it’s a WiFi-only model), charged it up, and set up their primary email.  Next, I begain to add some apps via the App Store that I thought they would enjoy and find useful.

Here are the first dozen (plus) I’ve added this summer (I’ll be very -pleasantly- surprised if they added more on their own) prior to us leaving for Thailand, to get them started:

Skype – No description necessary, eh?  This was the iphone version, so I’ll need to get them to download the iPad version, which makes good use of the full screen.  I assume it works, but they’ve yet to Skype us with their iPad, as they still use their desktop.

Not installed but recommend: Fring for instant messaging, voice and video calls. I use it on my iPod Touch to call the U.S. for a penny/minute over WiFi.


Textfree – With a Textfree account, you get to choose a virtual US based phone number (any area code), and with WiFi (or 3G if you have the 3G iPad), you can basically text (for free, duh) with any US mobile, even if you’re not in the U.S.  Texts sent to you when you’re offline show up when you are back online.  I used it extensively from Thailand on my iPod Touch (NOT “iTouch!”) last year before I got a Google Voice account. Now I can text using that virtual number.  Textfree can also make and receive voice calls, for their listed rates. (Don’t think they’ve used it..)


Weather+Free – Simply, eye catching ‘home screen’ -ish clock with weather.  Simple and nice.

Nightstand Central Free – Very similar weather/clock screen, with alarm clock function.


Fotopedia Heritage –  What better way to use that gorgeous screen than viewing photos of UNESCO World Heritage sites?  Information is provided by UNESCO and Wikipedia, and you can find other country specific apps as well.


BBC news –  Need I say more?  Tablets, and their increased screen real estate, makes a wonderful news browsing device.  The ability to read magazine style layouts with video is quite nice.  Other recommended news apps I downloaded: Al Jazeera, News Pro (Reuters), NPR, Pulse, USA today.


Netflix – The DVD/movie streaming company has taken a hit lately, with it’s price/package changes, but it’s still a great service, if you have an account, which they do.  Also added: Crackle – another free tv/movie streaming app.




Google Earth – what a great geography learning tool.  Visually engaging, and easy to use.



ABC Player – Allows you to watch many of ABC’s programming online, as well as news. I had no idea if my in-laws wanted to watch any ABC shows, but my wife and I did, so this was very selfish on our part.  The videos stream flawlessly, and with good quality.



Flipboard –  Simply one of the best apps for the iPad.  Stunningly easy to use, easy on the eyes, for consuming news, but sharing via Facebook and Twitter.  It’s basically a social media magazine.  Well done.  Also try PBS.




Games!  Angry Birds (and Rio), Cut the Rope, Fruit ninja lite, to get them started.


Those were all the apps I downloaded in the one day of iPad tutorial for my in-laws (back in Texas).  Since we returned to Thailand, I haven’t heard if they’re using the iPad, but if they are, I hope they’re enjoying the apps.

If you’re an iPad owner, what were the first set of apps you downloaded on day one?







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