First apps for your new iPad, 2011 edition

A few months after the first iPad was released last year, I posted a list of apps that new owners should consider installing first. It has become one of the most popular posts on TechBlog, but it was written almost 14 months ago. That’s eons in Internet time, and it’s already out of date.

With that in mind, here’s an updated version of the list. It includes many of the original items, but others have fallen off and new apps have been added. Some of the additions came from solicitations I posted to Twitter, Facebook and Google+. (And thanks to everyone who made suggestions!)

These apps are free unless otherwise indicated.

Beat the Traffic HD – Traffic and weather for the iPad. if you’ve got an iPad 3G, it will also tell you how fast you’re going. – Dictionary & Thesaurus – the popular iPhone dictionary app is reformatted for the iPad. It’s a large download (grab it via Wi-Fi if you have a 3G iPad), but once it’s installed, it won’t have to connect to the Net to download definitions.

Dragon Dictation – Excellent voice recognition from the folks who bring you Dragon Naturally Speaking. Say what you want to write, then paste it into any application, including e-mail. no, it’s not as amazing at the iPhone 4S’s Siri, but it will make text input on your iPad a lot easier.

Echofon Pro – This is the best Twitter client for iPad (and iPhone, too). It syncs across devices and makes it easy to mute robotweets from annoying services like Foursquare. if you’ve got Echofon for Mac, it will sync with that as well. There’s a free, ad-supported version, but Pro is well worth your $2.99.

Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List – a beautifully designed, smartly organized recipe and grocery shopping application that includes user reviews of the recipes.

Facebook – At long last, Facebook has updated its iOS app to be iPad-friendly. if you’re on Facebook, you’ll want it.

Feeddler RSS Reader for iPad and iPhone – the best RSS reader for the iPad. It’s particularly good if you have a lot of feeds to manage.

Find My Friends – Get your friends to install this free Apple app on their iOS devices, and you can see where they are. They, of course, can see where you are, too. It’s also great for families, allowing you to keep track of where your kids’ locations.

Find My iPhone – Even though “iPhone” is in the name, this app works just fine on the iPad, allowing you to track it down if it’s lost or stolen.

Flipboard – Feed this app your Twitter and Facebook streams and it extracts links from your friends’ updates, displaying the results in a magazine-like format. This is one of the most innovative iPad apps you can install, and probably the best way to view the information flowing into your social networks.

Garage Band – love music, but have no musical abilities? Garage Band makes it ridiculously simple and fun to create music using Smart Instruments. if you’re a serious musician, there’s a lot here for you, too. Read my review.

Google Earth – the Google Earth program for traditional computers is cool enough, but being able to navigate the globe with your fingertips is astonishing. Google Earth was made for the iPad.

Houston Chronicle – OK, I’m a little biased, but the Chronicle’s app really is pretty good. And it’s certainly a great way to find out what’s going on in Houston on your iPad. It’s loaded with the full newspaper first thing in the morning, then updated throughout the day. It’s free for 14 days, then $5.99 a month (or free if you’re a print subscriber).

iMovie – Did you think the iPad’s touch-based interface was too limiting for video editing? think again. It’s $4.99.

Instapaper – Save articles you find on the Web for later reading with Instapaper. Install a small bookmarklet in your web browser (you can do this in mobile browsers as well) and use it when you find something you want to read later. Then, pull up Instapaper to read your articles in a clean, uncluttered format. It’s $4.99.

Kindle – Amazon’s book-reading app is so much better than Apple’s own iBooks e-reader. if you’ve got a Kindle or a smartphone with the Kindle app, you can pick up where you left off on any of those devices.

Netflix – Watch any TV show or movie in Netflix’s growing Watch Instantly library on your iPad.

NPR for iPad – This is one of the best news apps from a traditional outlet, intelligently laid out and easy to navigate. It also gives you access to NPR’s First Listen feature, which lets you stream new albums before they’re available for sale.

New York Times – the nation’s top newspaper is available in a cleanly formatted, innovative app. It’s free to download, and there are some free articles here, but you’ll need to subscribe to read all the content.

Pages – the iPad doesn’t really come with a decent word processor, so if you’re planning on writing anything beyond a quick note or an email, you’ll want this well-designed app from Apple. It’s full-featured and is $9.99.

Pandora Radio – the popular streaming music app redesigned for the iPad. the improved layout makes it much easier to learn more about the music you’re hearing.

Pinball HD – This was reviewed in TechBlog a while back. if you love pinball, you’ll want this $2.99 app. And there’s now a version for the iPhone 4 that takes advantage of the Retina Display screen

Reuters News Pro for iPad – Another excellent app from a traditional news source. View news by country or category, as well as browse video reports.

Solitaire City Classic – An excellent, 99-cent solitaire game that lets you play several different types of the card game. a free version limits you to double Klondike solitaire.

Shazam for iPad – the popular music tagging and identification app for the iPhone looks great on the iPad, where there’s more room for album art and information from the friends you’re following.

Speedtest X HD – if you’re compulsive about checking your connection speed, you’ll want this app. the one downside: you can only choose from four testing locations.

Today’s Front Pages – the Newseum presents the daily front pages from dozens of newspapers across the country.

Urbanspoon for iPad – Another iPad app I’ve reviewed in TechBlog. It’s much more useful than the iPhone app, with a map showing you restaurant locations throughout the city.

USA TODAY for iPad – a well-designed app for reading content from USA Today.

Waze – This free app relies on crowdsourcing to tell you about speed traps, accidents, road closures and other impediments to your commute. It also has excellent, turn-by-turn audio directions, with the most efficient or fastest route determined by current traffic conditions.

The Weather Channel Max for iPad – still the best weather app, Weather Channel Max provides big maps, forecasts from different viewpoints and video reports from the cable TV channel.

WeatherBug Elite for iPad – Another very good weather app. one of its best features: You can set your local weather station within a given location in a city. given that the north side of Houston can often have very different weather than the south side, this feature is very useful.

WeatherStation Free – OK, yeah, you can tell I’m a weather geek. This uses generic info from the National Weather Service, and formats it in a slick-looking dashboard. Simple weather at a glance.

Wikihood for iPad – This cool app pinpoints your location, then finds Wikipedia articles about key locations around you. It’s great for discovering interesting places both at home and when traveling.

Zillow Real Estate Search – use this app to find out the value of homes around you. if you’re shopping for a home in a specific neighborhood, it’s invaluable (particularly on an iPad 3G).

Zite – a cross between Flipboard and Pandora, you tell Zite what articles you like and it will give you more of that type.

Any apps you’d add to the list? Suggest them in the comments.