The Friday Five: Apps I Can't Live Without

When I received my iPad 2 last June I wasn't sure whether it was worth paying the prices asked for a lot of the apps I was finding available. Trust me when I say you have to do some shopping around. I've probably only spent about $20 on apps, most of which were games the hubs and boy wanted. But I use that damned thing all day, every day for dozens of purposes so I was inspired to write up today's Friday Five on the thought 'what if my iPad was on fire and I could only save 5 apps'. haha! Okay not the best analogy but you get the idea and so here are the five I've grown to think are the best of the best. Not sure if all of these are available for android too but Bluefire Reader is and Toca's apps are not.

1. Bluefire Reader (Free)
One of the pitfalls of being an e-ink loving Kindle fan is the lack of color and the size. Want to review cookbooks or children's picture books? It just doesn't fly on the Kindle 3 and my beloved NetGalley can't send them to the Kindle app. Enter Bluefire Reader, which I actually now use almost exclusively for reviewing. Unlike my K3 which has no backlight I can read late without juggling a booklight or bothering the hubs. Authors can send me their ARCs or sell sheets as PDFs and I have everything stored right there in one app. I use this app almost more than my stupid Bakery game one. lol

2. Toca Tea Party (99¢)
This is the first app I paid money for. It was $2.99 at the time and now I would have paid $29.99 knowing how much of a lifesaver this app would be. My iPad is only known to the tot as 'tea pardy' thanks to this genius and OMG-*squee* adorable app. This app has kept the tot busy at big sister's basketball games, doctor's appointments, in the car, at big brother's parent teacher conference... the list could go on and on. I showed it to one of the aestheticians at the spa a couple of months ago and she told me she bought it for her 4-year-old son who loves it. Need an app that'll entertain a little one? Give this a try and check out some of Toca Boca's other cool ones.

3. Calculator for iPad Free (Free)
While there is a pay version that I should probably break down and buy, I just don't think it's a justifyable purchase. Other than an annoying pop-up reminding you of the pay version this one does everything I need it to. Helps me calculate percentages on pages read versus total pages when I've been reading PDFs in Bluefire Reader as well as simple adding and subtracting when I'm in a hurry. I'm not good with math and am forever turning to the calculator on my computer for help so having it on the iPad is even handier. I think I'd go a little crazy without it and it was the one thing I was shocked that wasn't a built-in app on the iPad to be honest.

4. iPeriod Ultimate ($1.99)
The free version is great but I liked it so well I upgraded and this has been so useful. You can chart your weight, add in moods and tick off symptoms. It can average your cycle out or you can put it in manually. As soon as you open it the app lets you know the expected date of your next period and the calendar shows estimated high fertility days based on your cycle. There's no more panicking wondering 'am I late?' or guessing when I see the doc and they ask the dreaded 'when was your last period?' question. Granted you'll have to be willing to check it regularly to get good use out of it. I also love that it's discreet and is only named iP on your screen and can even be passworded.

If there is one thing I never thought I'd use my iPad for it's cooking. But this app has saved my butt so many times now it's not even funny. I found the perfect Taco Seasoning recipe when I discovered I was out one night thanks to this app! Plus when I search for recipes I can specify certain ingredients to include or exclude, preparation methods and more. If you're a busy mom like I am and you find yourself at your wit's end scrambling for last minute dinner ideas download this app. It's a lifesaver and you can't beat FREE.

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