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New iPad for Christmas? Download these apps first...

by Andrew Koziara

Every year the App Store has thousands of apps added to its library, making it that much harder for new users to know where to start. With a myriad of apps for social networking, media, news and productivity, and many iPhone apps that aren't really iPad optimized, it gets even more difficult. The following apps are a great place to start, and will really put your new iPad to good use.

Flipboard (Free)

This app creates a perfect storm of news and social media, combining them in a single location. Not only can you read through a bevy of news and blog posts like a real magazine, but you can immediately share any story with your friends thanks to Facebook and Twitter integration. You can even read your own Facebook news feed as if it were a magazine itself. The app learns what kinds of stories you like to read, and adjusts its output over time. Highly customizable with plenty of features like Google Reader support and lots of third party news sources bringing in more variety, this is an amazing app all around.

Netflix (Free)

Netflix has become one of the ultimate media streaming services available right now, making thousands of movies and television shows readily available at all times. This app is so thorough and convenient, it's even caused movie piracy to go down. Using the HD screen of an iPad for an even better viewing experience, you can now watch items from your queue on-the-go. The service is subscription-based, but there's always a free trial for new members. Either way, it more than pays for itself over time, and belongs on the front page of every iPad.

Evernote (Free)

Never forget anything ever again until the end of time using this app. Connected and synced to the evernote.com online service, you can take down notes and reminders at any time using your iPad. There's a wide variety of reminders available. You can jot down a quick text note, take a picture of something and tag it with a note, or even record voice entries like it's your own personal Captain's Log. Whether it's a birthday, appointment or just a cool idea that you don't want to forget, you can easily record it and add it to your note collection. Now you just have to make sure to remember to jot down the notes of the things that you need to remember!

Pages ($9.99)

While you have Evernote for taking down quick notes and reminders, Pages is meant for more heavy duty jobs. This is Apple's official word processor for the iPhone and iPad. Documents are highly customizable with various colors, fonts, textures and plenty of preset styles and templates from which to choose. Compatible with applications like Microsoft Word and with all the same functionality, this is truly a complete word processor that you can use on-the-go. With features like AirPrint wireless printing and newly added iCloud saving and syncing support, the app is more useful than ever before, and I've only scratched the surface of what's possible.

Pandora Radio (Free)

Pandora is the ultimate personal radio streaming service on the net, and it's available for your iPad too. You start by simply entering a song or artist that you like, and Pandora proceeds to play songs similar in sound, structure and style to your entry. This is a great app for discovering new music that's likely to match your taste. You can also like or dislike any given song, and Pandora will learn your tastes over time, consistently getting better and better. You can also view artist information, song lyrics and a good deal of other information if you get curious. The app and service are both free, so what are you waiting for?