A perennial favorite iPad app for the younger generation around here is Pocket Zoo. There is a cartoon zoo that you can visit and see photos of the animals and hear the sounds they make. Not surprisingly, it’s a lot of fun to startle your friends and siblings with an elephant’s trumpeting.
However, the real winner is the live animal cams at zoos around the world. You mostly have to visit during daylight, of course, but the kids find it endlessly amusing to try to spot the animals, some of which are much tougher to see than others. The penguins pictured below always seem to put on a great show, but your young ones may need more patience to spot some of the larger animals. On the other hand, when they do catch a glimpse of the tiger, for instance, the reward is even greater.
I have always enjoyed turn based strategy games in general and space trading games in particular, so I was glad to find Dark Nova on the iPad. Those familiar with the space trading genre will feel right at home: you start as a struggling space captain with a small ship trying to make a buck carrying cargo from one planet to another despite the depredations of pirates, the scrutiny of the police, shifty fellow traders, and the occasional alien pest. It’s mostly all about profitable buying, selling, and passenger traffic with the occasional flyer into smuggling or piracy if you are feeling adventurous. You are free to proceed at your own pace since it is turn based and not multiplayer, and there is enough of a challenge (and multiple levels) to keep you amused for a considerable period. While I did not try it, I see there is also a Dark Nova HD specifically for the iPad which presumably has larger graphics for the larger screen, although I was quite happy with the regular version in 2x on my iPad.
There are a variety of weather apps available for the iPad, but by far and away the best that I have seen is Weatherbug Elite for iPad. It has all the expected weather features, but what really blew us away is the mapping. First, we are using a Wi-Fi iPad and yet Weatherbug Elite is able to pinpoint our street location almost exactly apparently because they use technology from Skyhook Wireless that uses a vast database of Wi-Fi access points to triangulate your position.
Second, the radar and other mapping is what I would term infinitely scalable. You can use the usual iPad multi-touch to zoom the display in to your street and out to your state or larger. The other night we were in the middle of a line of thunderstorms complete with hail and funnel clouds. With Weatherbug Elite on the iPad zoomed in on our location it was like watching the storms pass overhead. Very, very neat.
However, the best news is that Weatherbug Elite for the iPad is free. Give it a try and see if you do not think it is slick as well.