iPads and the Work of the Church

I confess. I adore my iPad. When Steve Jobs announced it a year ago, I yawned. I had a laptop and a smart phone. Enough already. Why shower Apple with more of my income? But then the rave reviews began. And they kept coming, so in August I made the leap.

My only regret has been some loss of sleep. More often than I care to admit, I play on my iPad late into the night. But it’s not all fun and games. Really.

There’s a smorgasbord of apps that are great for church work. The real work-horses (email, browser and calendar) come pre-installed. And here are a few others I use every day.

For Research

Bing. Free. Looking for a sermon topic? Or how to fix an irksome website issue? Until last week, the Google toolbar in Safari was my go-to research tool. But then Bing came along and it’s gorgeous. Plus it has lots of serendipitous information tacked on — the local weather, news trends, and so on. And the search results aren’t bad either.

For News

MobileRSS. $2.99. I’ve relied on news feeds as my primary way to stay current on tech for 10 or so years now, but I’ve never had as seamless and immersive an experience as on the iPad. The iPad shines for scanning news. There are several great contenders, but I like to read my news oldest first, and MobileRSS was the only one that met that criterion last time I checked.

Instapaper. $4.99. How did I ever manage before Instapaper? This app is a sanity saver. When I’m whipping through articles and happen on one that deserves more than a few seconds of my time, I just click on Instapaper. It’s stored away ready to read later — plus much of the gobble-di-gook of your average web page is stripped away.

For Organizing

Evernote. Free. I’ve got Evernote on my iPad, PC, Mac, Android phone and iPod. That’s the beauty of it. You can send stuff from one machine to another with no problem. You can even email right to your Evernote account. I use Evernote for home and work to do lists, ideas of things to do in the future, bookmarks, and much more. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is well worth the time to learn.

For Inspiration

Kindle. Free. Kindle on the iPad isn’t as good as either the Kindle reader or print. And yet… It’s so utterly convenient. You can read in the middle of the night without turning on a light. You can bump up the text size. And it’s with me everywhere, unlike its print and reader counterparts. There are hundreds of wonderful free books, but I like to support authors and love buying books for the Kindle. Yesterday is was The Wise Heart. Today it’s Beyond the Worship Wars. It’s my own personal library in just two clicks.

For Religion

Choices will vary widely according to your faith and need, but it’s a virtual certainty you will find something amazing. Just search the App Store using terms like “church,” “prayer,” or the name of your faith. Then dig into what you find. I tried “mediation” and came up with this truly lovely app that I use almost daily. Insight Timer. $1.99.

Learning More About the iPad

AppStart (free) and AppAdvice ($1.99). Last but not least, is this pair of meta apps — apps about apps. AppStart teaches you the basics of your iPad, and brings together excellent recommendations on a variety of core topics. Then if you just can’t get enough, AppAdvice is a daily publication filled with iPad and iPhone news and reviews. It catches app sales and and has excellent advice on the latest and greatest.

That’s just a small taste of my daily fare. The magic of the iPad is it’s versatility and broad appeal. I hope you’re fortunate enough to enjoy one too.