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Reference Apps for iPad

In this post, we will see some of the outstanding reference apps for iPad. They really make iPad a compelling reference tool.
Following applications are discussed in brief, not in details since it is better to experience it.
  1. Wikipanion Plus
  2. Dictionary
  3. The Elements, A visual Exploration
  4. IMDB
  5. Solar Systems
  6. TED
  7. How Stuff Works
  8. Art Authority
Wikipanion Plus

In the last 10 years Wikipedia became the main reference site for all of us. But the articles will appear bland and boring to read if you open it in any normal browser. The same article looks gorgeous in Safari Reader mode or if we use Wikipedia plug in for Chrome. There are plenty of applications available in iPad which allows you to browse Wikipedia but Wikipanion plus stands out. It has almost same “reader” effect in iPad, the plus version allows you to save it now and read it offline later.

Article is another Wikipedia apps which scores better in presentation style (like a book) but it cannot match the features available in Wikipanion Plus.

Others worth mentioning are Wikibot, Discover, Wikihood + etc WikiHood + gives a list of celebrities or places of interest around the map you have selected.


Dictionary is an excellent iPad application which will replace any hard copy of dictionary you have. It also includes a thesaurus, synonyms and spoken pronunciations. It is based on Random House Unabridged Dictionary.

Merriam Webster dictionary for iPad is free and has all the definitions from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the app offers voice search – to let you look up a word without having to spell it – along with synonyms, antonyms, example sentences, Word of the Day, and more.

Elements a visual exploration 

This apps was discussed earlier in this column. You can’t think of any other better way to learn all chemical elements. In this apps the elements in a periodic table comes to life, you can touch, rotate and feel those and learn about each elements in detail. You can also relearn along with your kid and this truly makes learning a fun. It is still the biggest application in iPad with 1.7GB size and cost you $13.99

It is really worth the prize and shows the power of iPad as a learning device. It is still the “demo app” in your iPad to show off.

Solar System

Solar System is from the same company which sells Elements Tochpress and is in the same league. You can touch and feel the planets. For a moment you can play God spinning the planets in the Solar system at your pace. I am sure that the amount of visualization available in these apps helps you in understanding many things which you never understood enough and ignite curiosity in your kids to learn more about planets. This is must have application.

Armed with these two applications from Touch Press your kids do not have any excuse but love Chemistry and Astronomy. You are creating an excellent foundation for them.

Touch Press have two more applications which are very exciting. Check their website http://touchpress.com/)


AroundMe is a location-aware apps which helps you find nearby businesses and services—banks, restaurants, gas stations, hotels, hospitals, and similar establishments. It is easy to use and produces fast results using online maps. For better results you need iPad 2 or iPhone4.

If you really want to experiment with its extra options use iPad 2 camera and it overlay the results with the picture. In real World it is awkward to use this feature in iPad , since you do not want to go around with iPad and points its camera for something interesting to identify the name.


If you are interested in movies you do not look elsewhere, iMDB (Internet Movies Data Base) is the best application you can have and it is free too. For best results use it in landscape mode. It comes with an excellent interface and uses iPad capabilities to the maximum. It has many listings, top 250, worst 100 movies, Oscar winners, etc… Once you select a movie it gives lot of information in the right pane and left pane changes as per the your selection, all stars in the movies, all the movies by a particular star etc.. It is very dynamic and you are going to love it.

Art Authority

This is for Art Lovers. Art Authority gives access to all the paintings of World famous artists over centuries. It has more than 25000 photos Ancient, Byzantine, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary periods. It comes with a low resolution picture and Art Authority’s Smart-res implementation manages the transition from lower-res to higher-res image by first zooming-in on in parallel downloading the higher-res one. It then fades in the high-res version over the low-res one, providing an additional “sharpening” effect.

How Stuff Works

When your Kids ask you questions which you can’t answer easily you tend to consult How Stuff Works site. Now it is available right in your iPad, with a much presentation.

How Stuff Works apps in iPad gives a brand new way of accessing the information content in the website http://www.howstuffworks.com/ It is very intuitive and makes it fun to find out how things work in the real World. It contains articles, podcasts, quizzes and videos which makes it very interesting.


TED describes itself as "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world". The app pretty much does what you want - quick access to dozens of inspiring videos. It enables you to save any talk for offline viewing, and also for providing hints on what to watch next if you've enjoyed a particular talk. A must apps reference.