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Best New iPad Apps: Control your Mac or PC, check weather conditions and the strangest way of consuming news

by Doug Drinkwater

July 12 2013

Take charge of your PC or Mac with Actions

Actions for iPad is a handy little app ($3.99, iTunes) which enables you to transform your PC or Mac into a touch-based product.

That may sound nigh on impossible but it’s actually done rather simply over Wi-Fi.

You will first however need to install the Actions Server on your Mac or PC but having done as such, and checked that both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network, you’ll be able to send numerous commands to any software running on your computer.

On launching the iPad app you’ll be guided through a brief tour on how to use the icons, the chance of customizing the screen layout and will then be asked to enter a passcode to connect the tablet to your PC.

From there it is pretty easy. For example, tapping my computer brings up ‘My Computer’ on your Windows device straight away and there are also options to open Windows media player, a Chrome browser (although this function is bizarrely labelled as ‘new folder’) or the search charm on Windows 8.

Tapping into bookmarks gives you quick access to Google, Wikipedia or Facebook, while system digs into task manager, ease of use or projector mode.

Once your iPad and computer are on the same network, you can send numerous commands to any software running on your PC or Mac. For example, you could tell Safari to launch a web page, create an email template or press some hotkeys into action.

Actions is not infallible – the start-up tutorial could be simpler and some of the icons didn’t work in certain apps (email as one example, although this may be reliant on you having Outlook or another email client installed). That said, it is a super productive app for getting things done faster.

Actions’ App Store page details what apps it works with.

Check the weather with WunderMap

The Weather Underground, the first online weather service, this week came to the iPad for the first time.

The free app gives you access to information on weather conditions in their local area. You can search by your current or favourite location, view webcams from weather stations and dive down into more weather details by setting map layers for satellite, radar and weather station images.

There’s even the option to search for severe weather alerts, such as hurricanes, active fires and fire risks.

Guide is definitely the weirdest way of ‘reading’ news

Here’s an interesting way to consume news – don’t read your favourite blogs or news websites, watch them as video instead.

That’s the concept of Guide, a wacky new app for Apple’s iPad (free, iTunes).

Indeed, on launching the app you should notice just how unique Guide is. The landing page asks you to pick out your favourite topics (technology, sport and politics as just three examples) but on doing this, you’ll jump into a screen with a robot and a scrolling list of articles from your selections at the bottom.

The robot details how to use the app, which is simple – if slightly odd. You simply hit the news article you want to read and the robot – or even more strangely a virtual dog – will read out your chosen article. The ‘newsreader’ will go onto read out other news articles from that section until you choose to pause.

Adding new sources in easy, you just have to select ‘add content’ at the top. There is no option to add individual URLs.

All in all and Guide is a forward-thinking app which may seem a little strange at first. It’s worth checking out if only to see where it could lead to in future.

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