10 iPad mini Apps Worth Paying For

By Edward C. Baig, Bob LeVitus

Lots of great free apps are available for your iPad mini. But as the cliché goes, some things are worth paying for. Still, none of these ten for-pay apps are likely to break the bank.

Bill Atkinson PhotoCard

Bill Atkinson PhotoCard is a free app that lets you create gorgeous high-resolution postcards and send them via either email or the U.S. Postal Service.

You can have printed postcards sent via USPS for $1.50 to $2.00 per postcard, depending on how many print-and-mail credits you purchase. Printed on heavy glossy stock on a state-of-the-art HP Indigo Digital Press and then laminated for protection, they’re stunning.

You can use one of the 200 included Bill Atkinson nature photos or you can use any picture in your Photos library. You can add stickers and stamps and you can even add voice notes to emailed cards.

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Real Racing 3

Real Racing 3 is a gorgeous car-racing game, with super-realistic physics and an incredible selection of exotic cars. Although it’s free to download, it’s grouped with the apps that cost money because you’ll probably find yourself spending at least a few bucks to upgrade your cars or buy new, faster ones.

The course of the game involves more than two dozen series, with each series limited to four closely matched car models and featuring about 50 events.

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After a few races, your car needs repairs that can take up to three hours in real time. You can’t race again until repairs are completed, but you can skip the wait for some gold coins.

ArtStudio for iPad

This app has everything you need to create awesome artwork.

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Here are just some of ArtStudio for iPad’s features:

  • Offers 25 brushes, including pencils, a smudge tool, bucket fill, and an airbrush. Brushes are resizable and simulate brush pressure.

  • Allows up to five layers with options, such as delete, reorder, duplicate, merge, and transparency.

  • Provides filters, such as blur, sharpen, detect edges, and sepia.

At $4.99, it’s a heck of a deal for a thoughtfully designed and full-featured drawing and painting app.

Beware of rip-offs in the iTunes App Store, such as the similarly named Art Studio HD — For Your iPad.

Pinball Crystal Caliburn II

Good pinball games require supremely realistic physics, and Pinball Crystal Caliburn II ($3.99) nails it. The way the ball moves around the table and interacts with bumpers and flippers is so realistic that you’ll think you’re at an arcade.

Art Authority for iPad

Art Authority ($9.99) is like an art museum you hold in your hand; it contains more than 70,000 paintings and sculptures by more than 1,000 of the world’s greatest artists. The works are organized into period-specific rooms, such as Early (up to 1400s), Baroque, Romanticism, Modern, and American. In each room, the artworks are subdivided by movement.

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You find period overviews, movement overviews, timelines, and slideshows, plus a searchable index of all 1,000+ artists and separate indices for each room.

A kid-friendly K-12 version is available with more than 60,000 paintings and sculptures. It costs $7.99; “inappropriate” nudity for the youngsters has been eliminated.

Solar Walk — Planets of the Solar System

This handsome animated $2.99 guide to the night sky from Vito Technology will delight astronomy students and anyone fascinated by outer space.

From the start, you’re taken on a virtual tour through the galaxy. You can search planets, satellites, stars, and more. You can even travel through time and space with a time machine feature. Animated movies cover topics such as Earth’s cycles, solar eclipse, and the moon’s phases.

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Solar Walk is heavy on in-app purchases. For example, you’ll have to pay 99¢ to watch a movie on a solar eclipse or to watch an animation showing a repair of the Hubble telescope, though you can get a high-resolution bundle with numerous extras for $1.99.

Action Movie FX

Action Movie FX lets you add Hollywood-style special effects to your videos so you can “destroy” people, places, pets, and other stuff in a variety of fun and interesting ways. The free version features eight big-budget movie effects.

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When you’ve finished filming, you can adjust the timing as well as resize and reposition the special effects.

You can purchase most of the ten currently available FX packs, for $0.99 each.

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Facetune for iPad

You don’t really think those drop-dead gorgeous models are really that drop-dead gorgeous, now do you? They had “work done.” The $3.99 Facetune app can make you look perfect, too — okay, it promises to make you look better.

Facetune smooths wrinkles, whitens teeth, heals zits, changes the contours of your face, gives you a full head of hair if you’re lacking, and even defocuses the image to minimize imperfections in your face.

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60 Minutes

If you’re a news junkie, you may appreciate 60 Minutes, CBS’s venerable TV news magazine. CBS Interactive’s $4.99 companion app to the series brings the latest 60 Minutes segments to your iPad mini so that you can watch at your convenience.

Another great part is the Previous+ section, which features more than 250 hand-picked stories, covering the 40-plus-year history of the show.

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You can search shows by topic, by decade, and by correspondent.

Parallels Access

Who wants to carry a laptop in addition to an iPad mini? Parallels may eliminate the need to carry the extra machine. Its Parallels Access iPad app ties into a subscription service that lets you tap into your home or office PC remotely, whether it’s a Windows PC or a Mac.

What sets Parallels Access apart from other apps that provide remote access to computers is that you can get to use all the programs that reside on your PC or Mac, including the proprietary software that your company may employ.

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The Parallels Access app is free to download, as is the agent program you must install on each Mac or PC that you choose to access. A Parallels Access subscription is $19.99 per year.