The problem with the built-in in app store is that by default, it lists the top apps as being the bestsellers or most downloaded, and frankly I’ve never trusted the wisdom of the crowd. Check out the top paid apps at the time of writing. Number one is a pokey TV app that basically copies the functionality of various region-specific TV apps.
A closer look at the app reveals the average review is just 2 stars, with 80% of all the people who purchased it rating it one star. Curiously, you can’t sort by ranking. Way to go designing usability there, Apple! So off we go, in search of reliable app reviews…
A no-nonsense iPad app reviews site that covers a lot of ground, my favourite part of the site being the App Lists. This is similar to our very own Best Of Software pages, but focusing on a single topic – Best Holiday Baking Apps, for instance. It’s refreshing to view app round-ups without having to painfully search yourself and try out each one.
While not strictly a reviews site, this site offers pretty much every kind of functionality you could possible want from the app store itself – and much much more. Where to begin? With RSS feeds for everything, you can view the stream of apps with various powerful filters:
- iPad, iPhone or Universal (and now Mac apps too).
- All paid or free apps only.
- Updated apps, new apps, or price Drops
It can be a bit much sometimes, but if you’re looking for a raw stream of new or recently made free apps – and don’t mind wading through the chaff – nothing beats it.
Okay, I admit it – this is my site. Having recently taken on a few incredible new writers (that frankly put my own review efforts to shame) and publishing two or three times a week, my hobby project is now the leading site for iPad board game reviews. With honest and extensive reviews from real board game fans, iPad Board Games is a site you can trust – but then I would say that wouldn’t I?
If you think that board games are boring, you really ought to go check out some of the highly rated games, and be prepared to have your eyes opened to a whole new world. I’ll tell you now – Monopoly is nowhere to be found. The current top games include Carcassonne, a beautiful tile laying / city building game with incredible depth and strategy and comprehensive online play options; and Ticket to Ride, a classic Eurogame that sees players racing against the clock and each other to build the greatest rail line across the American continent. You wouldn’t believe the quality of some of these board game conversions – most other iPad games just don’t compare.
Launched only a few months ago as an offshoot of the main AppStorm site, their iPad specific in-depth reviews, opinions and news make for a great read. Though there does seem to be a definite “productivity” slant to their app choices, they still offer a good variety that keeps this site permanently in my RSS feed.
An article highlight – Is an external keyboard really worth it? – convinced me to hook my wireless keyboard to my iPad instead of my main Mac, as it’s just too small for daily use, but absolutely perfect for working on my iPad on the move.
Finding child-appropriate and still genuinely fun or educational titles is perhaps the hardest thing to do. It seems like a lot of child-focused software is just mass produced junk that’s designed to cash in on unwitting parents, and that’s where sites like Vital Titles come in. An up and coming site, Vital Titles covers a wide variety of genres and ages, with honest reviews and a real parent’s take on things. We need more sites like this!
Honorable Mention: Discovr Apps ($0.99) – One App To Rule Them All
This paid app help you discover similar apps with a visual representation of the results. To use it, you start by typing the name of a single app, and are presented with other suggestions. It’s a bit like Wikipedia in that you never quite know where you’ll end up, but it’s simply a great tool to discover apps that might be better or more suited to your needs than the original one you thought of.
Newcomer: Yahoo! AppSpot
Free, but only available to US iTunes account holders, Yahoo! brings us a curious little attempt at replacing or augmenting the app store. One user loves it – “finally, a search that returns relevant results“, while others complain it scans their library yet gives random suggestions for apps they might like. Knowing Yahoo!, it’ll be dead and useless in a few months, but if you have a US account then give it a whirl and let us know how it works out in the comments.
What’s your favourite site for iPad app reviews? Do you feel I’ve made a glaring omission here? Of course, there is one increible news source I didn’t mention – MakeUseOf! In fact, you can follow all our iPad related stories here, and with a new member of the team an enthusiastic iPad user, I think there’s going to be even more coming this way soon!