Someone asked me once, “Why would I need an iPad when I already have an iPhone? Don’t they run all of the same apps?” Precisely! That’s the advantage of owning both Apple devices — virtually all the applications that you purchase for one will work on the other. The best developers offer what are called “universal apps.” That is, a single download (and payment, if not free) gets you an app which will look custom made on both your iPhone (or iPod Touch) and your iPad. This clearly gives you the best bang for your buck, so I’m always on the lookout for universal apps.
Here are some of my favorite apps that work well on both the iPhone and the iPad. They may work differently on each of the devices, but they are well adapted for the different screen sizes and potential uses. It’s no coincidence that these are among some of my most used apps.
- Instapaper. After installing a bookmarklet in your browser, you can send any news article or blog post with a single click to your “read later” queue. Instapaper removes all the ads and unnecessary graphics, leaving just a simple page of text that you can read on the go. I use the iPhone app when I’m waiting in the doctor’s office, and the iPad app when I finally get to relax on the family room couch at night.
- Bible +. This is the app from Logos (formerly Libronix) which brings the Bible and hundreds of other religious texts to your fingertips. The Logos desktop program is excellent for text analysis and in-depth word studies. But it’s hard to read at length from the computer screen. When I come across a reference to a lengthier quote from Luther, I prefer to open it up in my iPad app and take it over to my favorite easy chair.
- Dropbox. DropBox has rescued me more than a couple times when I’ve forgotten to bring a hard copy of a certain document (say, my Sunday morning sermon or Bible class notes). Since I save almost all my working documents on my DropBox folder on my harddrive, they are automatically synced online and accessible over the internet on any iOS device with the app installed.
- Evernote. I put my larger documents in DropBox, but smaller notes go in Evernote. It’s perfect for the dozens of little notes that you write to yourself or lists that you keep.
- Netflix. Clearly this app isn’t essential for ministry purposes, but even pastors need to relax sometime. With a Netflix subscription I can watch instantly any of hundreds of movies or TV shows. I enjoy watching some of the television series that I missed during my 14+ years in Brazil. Because it’s a universal app, I can pause a movie on my iPhone and then pick it up at the same place later on my iPad.
- Kindle. Similarly, books that I’m reading in Amazon’s Kindle app are automatically synced so that I can pick up reading at home where I left off when the mechanic said my car was finally ready. All the books I purchase digitally from Amazon are available on every device (including Android, etc) that I own.
- PrayNow. I’ve mentioned this devotional app before. Because it’s a universal app, I’m much more likely to get my daily Bible reading in, even on the busiest of days.
- Facebook. This is another non-essential app, although some have used Facebook to great effect in their ministry. It took Facebook a year and a half to come out with a universal version (the iPad app only was made available recently), but both versions are well done.
- 1Password Pro. With all the many passwords we need to keep in this digital age, I’m glad to have a program that stores them all for me and seamlessly keeps them organized on all the devices that I’m likely to need them.
These universal apps rise to the top for me because they scale well or take advantage of the strengths of each iOS device.
I’ve briefly considered trading in my iPhone for an Android, but then I realized I would have to invest in a new library of apps (many of them the same ones I mentioned above). An excellent marketing move by Apple to maintain my consumer loyalty. Oh, Steve, you had me at “App Store.”