Links: Software Development and Call for iPad App Ideas

by Kelle on April 2, 2010

BookArc for iPad

Not too many links this week since the geek web is basically 24-hour iPad coverage. I’d love to have an observation planning program for the iPhone OS. An app where you can setup the target list on a desktop or web app and then the iPad app displays rise and set times, airmass plots, etc. What other astro-centric apps would you like to see? What would the iPad have to have for you to use it instead of an laptop on travel?

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tanya April 2, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I would love to have some application were paper reading is made easy (a la full PDF functionality) with full note taking and some sort of bibtex output. I have no idea how the iPad stacks up in comparison to other eReaders, but it has potential to be THE thing I bring on any place to catch up on papers.

I guess we’ll see in the future how things develop in terms of iPad presentations, Text/LaTeX creation, etc.


2 Adam Solomon April 3, 2010 at 11:59 am

I don’t get the pic. If you’re going to start adding keyboards and docks to it, how is it any different from a laptop with a ridiculously constrained OS?

I agree though that the iPad would be a beautiful PDF reader. But that’s literally about the only reason I’d want one. So not on this college student’s budget 🙂


3 Charon April 3, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Speaking of pdf readers, anyone have an e-reader that they like for pdf reading? It seems like the ones that would be truly good at it aren’t quite here yet, but I haven’t tried any personally.

And no iPad for me. I seem to be in a rather small minority of people who loathe touch screens. Glass is especially bad, but I don’t even use the trackpad on my laptop unless I’m traveling and don’t have my mouse.


4 Tanya April 4, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Thomas just got the iPad yesterday (for work in TV business) and shipping it off tomorrow. It’s really nice, and I mean that, but it’s nothing you really need.


5 Jonathan Foster April 5, 2010 at 11:02 am

In my opinion, the killer iPad app for astronomers/scientists who read a lot of papers doesn’t yet exist. This would be bibliography software with the capacity to sync to your computer and record/save hand-written (with one of the extra stylus pens available) PDF annotations. I think the bibliography aspect could be minimal — I’m happy to do the bulk of my reference care/feeding on my main computer.

Papers has an iPad app, with nice features like EZ-proxy access to, but no annotations. BibDesk is unlikely to come to the iPad any time soon. There are plenty of requests for Mendeley on the iPhone/iPad platform, but no idea if this would support annotations.

The problem seems to be the lack of PDFKit on the iPhone/iPad OS. This makes writing a PDF annotation app a completely different game — so an app like Skim would have to be re-written entirely. There is iAnnotate for the iPad, which manages this somehow, so it should be possible…


6 Matt April 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I’d love to develop an iPad App I could share with other people without having to use the App Store. Maybe something that could be distributed under the GPL, even!

To answer the question in the post: for me to use the iPad instead of a laptop, I’d have to be able to develop for it and share those developed applications with others, without the intervention of Apple. Full stop. Also, doesn’t running LaTeX violate the terms of the App Store, since it’s a full, interpreted language?


7 Kelle April 8, 2010 at 9:27 am

I started on wiki page for iPhone and iPad apps:
iPhone OS Apps


8 Mike August 9, 2010 at 3:42 am

For those wanting to use the iPad as a laptop replacement for “real work”, note that an IRAF port will soon be released. For details and screenshots, see


9 Maurice de castro October 13, 2010 at 9:32 pm

Regarding your initial request, check out astroplanner on the apple store. Its an observing or astrophotography planning tool for the ipad. You can contact me for feature requests.
Clear skies


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