Mailboxes, Find My iPhone and other great iPad apps

Jun 21, 2010

You don’t realize how much garbage is being sold in the iTunes App Store until you peruse apps by their release date, but it’s also the very best way to ensure that you don’t miss anything good. These are among the very best iPad apps released this past week:

1. Mailboxes

Mailboxes ($2.99) solves the problem of keeping Gmail private on a shared iPad. Though I call my iPad “mine,” I actually share it with my kids. With a tap, they (or anyone else with access to my device) could easily access any of my email accounts. Mailboxes solves this problem by allowing you to create a four-digit passcode for multiple Gmail accounts. Simply choose the account name from a list, enter the passcode, and your email will open in the familiar Gmail interface.

2. Find My iPhone

Yes, you have to be a MobileMe subscriber in order to use Find My iPhone (free). It’s my personal opinion that anyone should be able to use Find My iPhone (or iPad or iTouch), but despite that (and as I am a MobileMe subscriber), the app is invaluable. Before the app was created, one could only use Find My iPhone by logging into their MobileMe account via a Web browser.

After you install Find My iPhone on all of your mobile Apple devices, you’ll easily be able to locate a misplaced device. In a test, Find My iPhone on my iPad located my iPhone (which is sitting on the table next to me), showed its location on a map, played a sound on the phone (you can choose not to play a sound) and displayed a message (Return me to my owner!).

3. Bills for iPad

I have an intricate bill-tracking-and-paying system which involves a teetering pile of unopened mail. Bills for iPad ($3.99) allows you to enter upcoming bills and expenses, categorize them, track due dates and payments made (and even record confirmation numbers for payments made by phone or online). There’s nothing intricate or over-involved here. The user interface looks like an organized office (I don’t have one of those, either) with a calendar on the wall, a whiteboard listing overdue, planned-for and paid bills, and a file cabinet. Export your bill/expense calendar as .csv or .html files via Wi-Fi or email, and lock your financial information with a passcode.

Much better than flipping through a giant pile for an already-late electric bill.

4. Super Web Browser

I love tabbed browsing, but what’s truly invaluable to me when doing research on the Web is being able to view pages side-by-side. Super Web Browser ($1.99) to the rescue! View two websites at once, and choose your ideal positioning—top/bottom or side-by-side, and adjust the size of each if necessary.

Pinch to re-size either page without affecting the other.

5. Family Board

Family Board (99 cents) is a nifty app that allows an iPad to become a family communication device. Establish icons for each family member, and then record voice messages or type text messages for any family member.

The main screen shows all the family members, with messages for them listed below their icon. Messages are very simple to create (a toddler could likely figure out how to create a voice message with ease). Once read or heard, messages are grayed out, but can still be accessed.

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Viki Gonia

Viki Gonia writes a column for her local paper, teaches writing at Columbia College of Chicago, and has had her iPhone surgically attached to her hand.

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