The 8 best iPad apps -- so far

These useful iPad apps will let you watch streaming movies, manage passwords and more.

Apple's iPad has been available for a short time, and you can already find apps to watch streaming movies, manage your Web passwords, use Twitter, do word processing and more.

But it's still early days yet. Apple gave only a chosen few developers early access to the iPad -- everybody else had to make do with software simulators and homemade cardboard mockups. They rushed their apps to market, and it shows. Many of the early apps are buggy and missing features.

These are the best apps I've found so far. They are all iPad-optimized, not iPhone apps stretched to fit the iPad. They get the job done, they're fun to use, and several of them are free.

1Password for iPad

1Password encrypts, stores and organizes your passwords and other private information, and it automates log-ins for Web sites and other Internet services. You can also use it to store credit card numbers, bank account numbers, ATM PINs and more. 1Password is an extremely useful app for both the Mac and the iPhone, and now it's available for the iPad too.

iPad apps

1Password for iPad

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The iPad version is more like a grownup application than its iPhone counterpart, although it's still missing some of the capabilities of the Mac product. In landscape mode, you get an easy-to-navigate three-pane view of your information and you can browse through entries alphabetically or using the search function.

You can store any information you want using 1Password's preconfigured templates and categories. For example, Logins is where (obviously) you store your Web usernames and passwords, Wallet is for credit card numbers, and Identities is where you can store separate e-mail addresses, phone numbers, street addresses, etc. for work, your personal life, your secret spy identity or whatever.

1Password for iPhone includes a very handy bookmarklet that installs in Mobile Safari. If you're browsing a site that requires a log-in, tapping the bookmarklet will automatically shut Safari, switch to 1Password and call up the correct username and password for the site you're browsing. Unfortunately, that bookmarklet doesn't work on the iPad version. Vendor Agile Web Solutions says it's working on adding it to a future version. Until then, 1Password has its own built-in minibrowser that you can use to automatically log in to password-protected sites.

The latest release of 1Password Pro contains both the iPad and iPhone versions. It's priced at $14.99 and is available as a free upgrade for existing users of 1Password Pro on the iPhone. For iPad owners who don't have an iPhone, 1Password is a $6.99 stand-alone program.

Instapaper Pro

Instapaper is simple and highly addictive. If you're browsing the Web and you find a long, meaty article that you don't have time to read right away, you simply click a bookmarklet in your browser, and that article is instantly saved to a queue of articles at Instapaper.com. Later, when you have time to read, you can call up your queue of articles and dig in.

iPad apps

Instapaper Pro

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While this is a great iPhone app, it's even better on the iPad with its bigger screen and better graphics resolution. The iPad and iPhone apps not only download articles for offline reading, but also format the articles for on-screen reading by removing clutter, changing the font and automatically scaling the graphics. You can move through articles by either tapping the screen to turn pages or tilting the device forward or backward to make the article scroll. (It's possible to accidentally tilt the iPad and start scrolling when you don't want to, so I prefer to tap the screen to turn pages.)

Instapaper Pro runs on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and it's priced at $4.99. The latest version, written for the iPad, is a free upgrade for existing users of Instapaper Pro. There's also a free, ad-supported Lite version for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but it lacks several features, including support for tilt-scrolling, tapping the screen to turn pages and sorting articles in folders. In addition, Instapaper Pro can handle 250 articles but the Lite version only handles 10.

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