Ten Great Free iPad Apps

Want some excellent iPad apps that won't break the bank? These apps can make your iPad even more useful and fun, and they don't cost a thing!

Comics

The Comics app is a front-end to the largest comic-book library online, offers a ton of free content, and provides a well-designed interface that makes viewing comics on a small screen more pleasant than other comic-book reader apps.

The free Comics app lets you download dozens of free comics when you first launch it, and more freebies are added each and every week. To find comics — free or paid — just use the Comics app's excellent in-app comic store, which offers thousands of comics and series and generally lets you download the first issue in a series for free to see if you like it enough to buy subsequent issues.

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Dragon Dictation

Wouldn't it be nice if, instead of having to type text or e-mail messages, you could dictate them and have your spoken words magically translated into text? If that sounds good to you, you'll love Dragon Dictation. Just tap the big red Tap and Dictate button and speak into your iPad's microphone. Tap anywhere on the screen when you're done talking and in a few seconds, the words you just spoke appear onscreen as text.

After you dictate text that this app converts into text, you can e-mail the text to yourself — which Dragon Dictate lets you do with a couple of taps — and then edit the text on your desktop or laptop computer.

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Dropbox

Dropbox is fantastic for many reasons, but the big one is that it lets you synchronize documents among your desktop computer, your notebook computer, your iPad, your iPhone, and even the cloud. That cloud part means that, in addition to having the most recent version of important documents available on all your electronic devices, you can also access those documents with any Web browser — on any Web-connected computer — in any location on Earth that has Internet access.

Even if you use another backup solution, having redundant backups in multiple physical locations is an excellent idea.

Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List

Epicurious is a recipe app "for people who love to eat." It's nicely laid out, easy to navigate, offers great photos of most of the finished dishes, and provides a shopping list feature that's super convenient. It also offers user reviews, many of which have suggestions on how to tweak the recipes. And many recipes tell you a little about the chef who created it. Better yet, some recipes even have nutritional information!

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Flipboard

Flipboard bills itself as a social magazine. It's part RSS news reader and part new way to view social-networking content, a lot of which is news linked to by your friends. The flagship feature of Flipboard is turning your RSS feeds — including your Facebook Wall and Twitter feed — into a magazine-like spread.

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Of course, Flipboard also supports some straight RSS news feeds, though the number is somewhat limited. Those feeds include a variety of commercial magazines, blogs, major media outlets, and individual RSS feeds of some famous people.

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Google Mobile App

Voice search on Google's search engine through the Google Mobile App — tap the microphone and speak whatever you want to search for. The app records what you say, sends it to Google's server farm for processing, and spits out the results quickly. It works very well, as long as you don't have a lot of ambient noise or a fan blowing past the iPad's microphone.

iBooks

iBooks lets you use your iPad to browse, search for, and purchase books from Apple's iBookstore. Book pricing is similar to that of Kindle books, but the iBooks selection is much smaller. But iBooks offers easy and convenient management of screen brightness, font size, and typeface. It has a comprehensive search feature, highlighting, and note-taking — and it can read PDF documents, as well as iBooks.

Pandora Radio

Pandora Radio is one of the coolest concepts ever. You tell it the names of your favorite musicians and songs, and then Pandora creates an instant personalized radio station that plays only songs that exemplify the style of music represented by the artists and songs you named.

Pocket Legends

If you're a fan of Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), Pocket Legends for iPad is an incredibly cool 3D MMO game that doesn't (or at least doesn't have to) cost you a cent.

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You can join thousands of players from all over the world when you play. You begin by choosing one of three character classes: an archer, an enchantress, or a warrior. Then you (and, optionally, other players) wander around dungeons, forests, and castles killing zombies, skeletons, demons, and other bad guys while collecting gold pieces, experience points, weaponry, and armor.

Shazam for iPad

Ever heard a song and wondered what it was called or who was singing it? Just launch Shazam and point your iPad's microphone at the source of the music. In a few seconds, the song title and artist's name magically appear on your iPad screen.

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When Shazam is right, which it almost always is, that song has been tagged (in Shazam-speak). After Shazam tags a song, you can

  • Buy the song at the iTunes store

  • Watch related videos on YouTube

  • Tweet the song on Twitter

  • Read a biography, a discography, or lyrics

  • E-mail a tag to a friend

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