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5 iPad Apps That Rival Their Desktop Counterparts

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The iPad is sometimes criticized for being a consumption device and not a device for creating and managing content. But one look at the App Store can help dispel that notion. With more than 65,000 apps built to take advantage of the iPad’s features, there are tons of options, from photo editing to word processing that match — or outpace — their desktop counterparts.

Here are five of our favorite desktop-rivaling iPad apps.

1. OmniGraffle ($49.99)

OmniGraffle for iPad is a tablet-optimized version of the popular diagramming and layout tool for Mac OS X. Some may balk at the high price tag, but in our opinion, it’s worth it and then some.

Using OmniGraffle, users can create layouts, wireframes, diagrams and charts directly from the tablet. The app is full featured with a large collection of pre-defined and editable diagram elements and shapes, plus the ability to add color, gradients and text to a design.

A real standout feature is that OmniGraffle for iPad can connect to the extensive stencil libraries created for OmniGraffle for Mac OS X. These stencils include editable elements that make creating accurate mockups or diagrams of something, like an iPhone app, hassle free.

The app can also save and open files from OmniGraffle for Mac OS X, making it s great addition to an existing workflow.

2. Djay ($19.99)

The iPad is increasingly being used by musicians as a way to record, edit and create music. Djay for iPad turns the tablet into a full-fledged turntable system.

The app plugs into the music collection on the iPad and allows for dual track mixing. It can even record live mixes. Effects can be applied on the fly and the app has support for pre-cueing and AirPlay.

The touch interface completes the app. By looking and acting like a traditional digital turntable, the app is easy for novices to pick up or for experts to take their skills to the next level.

3. Bento ($4.99)

Bento started its life as a Mac OS X app that aimed to bring the database features of FileMaker to the home and small business user. An iPhone app followed in 2009. In 2010, Bento for iPad was released, bringing users access to their existing Bento workflows and letting users create new projects at ease.

The app enables users to create projects for a multitude of purposes. For instance, I created a system in Bento to help keep track of my clothes. I have a form that I can fill out where I attach the name of the item, along with descriptions like size, color, brand and material. I can also designate if something is dry-clean only or if it has any other special instructions, and I can mark the item as clean, on loan or dirty.

Using Bento for iPad, I can go through my closet and find items to add to a packing list or I can enter in new clothing items as I acquire them. The app connects with existing Bento projects and lets you create new projects from scratch. Most of the desktop features are in the iPad app, which makes it a great way to enter information, take inventory or fill out forms.

4. Photogene ($2.99)

Photo editors for the iPad are plentiful, but Photogene is a standout for us because it’s fast, inexpensive and feature-rich.

The app lets you edit photos in your iPad library, and you add effects, control tone, retouch blemishes and eliminate red eyes. Photogene also has options for adding text and vignettes, as well as cropping and rotating images.

But these features aren’t exclusive to Photogene — what really sets the app apart from others is its non-destructive photo editing. The original photos aren’t change — instead the edits take place in the app and can be altered or reset at any time. Only when a file is exported back to the camera roll do the edits actually take place. This is the same feature found in desktop apps like Lightroom and Aperture.

Editing photos using a touchscreen is really fluid and very easy for users who aren’t well versed in the world of photo editing software.

5. iMovie ($4.99)

First released for Mac OS in 1999, iMovie revolutionized non-linear editing software by making it easy for users to create and edit fantastic looking video compositions without pulling out their hair.

More than a decade later, iMovie continues to be the standard by which all other mainstream consumer video editing products are based. In conjunction with the release of the iPhone 4, Apple released iMovie for iPhone and with it it brought some of the best features of the desktop app to the small screen.

In March 2011, iMovie also landed on the iPad 2. Taking advantage on the new devices ability to record HD video and dual-core processors, the app sings.

Some of the best features from iMovie ’11 are present in iMovie for iOS and finished productions can be uploaded directly to video hosting sites like YouTube.

Although not technically available for original iPad owners (check out this page for instructions on how to get the app running), the app is still worthy of this list. Amazingly, benchmarks of iMovie for iOS and iMovie ’11 indicate that for most users, the iPad version of the app is actually going to be faster than on a MacBook Pro.

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