SPIN Play: It's a leaner, more straightforward take on a digital publication than some we've seen—there are no interactive infographics or crazy control schemes—but that's probably a good thing. If you're familiar with Spin, this incarnation will be familiar: there are some longer features, shorter capsule profiles, album reviews, a handful of movie reviews, and a laundry list of new songs you simply must check out. But what's nice about it is that now you don't have to search those songs out on your own. Tap the music icon and they play. Tap the video icon, where available, and a video plays. They keep playing as you poke through the magazine, too, which is nice, though you can stop them at any point (or advance to the next track without the article-specific icons) through an always-present playback bar at the top of the layout. $2.
State Plate: Everyone's played the license plate game, but has anyone actually ever won? As in actually spotted plates from all 50 states? How did we ever even keep track? Well now there's a way, with State Plate, a gorgeous iPad app that turns your tablet into a touchable scorecard for the classic road trip pastime. It's got some cursory information on every state, lending a vaguely educational air to the activity, and it seems like a clever way to keep your kids diverted for a good chunk of your trip. Because really, they're never gonna see those Hawaii plates. $2.
TWCable TV: Time Warner, my cable company, whom I hate, has finally entered the app foray with TWCable TV, a free iPad app that lets subscribers stream 32 channels of live TV—including ABC Family, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and others—right to their tablets on their home Wi-Fi networks. Note: you must have Time Warner cable and internet for the app to work. But I must say, it works quite well! The design is clean and simple and AMC HD looks better on my iPad than it does on my TV, where I'm used to the audio cutting out completely and Don Draper's face getting the Cubist treatment from compression artifacts every other scene. And it doesn't do anything else useful, like changing your channels or managing your DVR, because that's just how Time Warner rolls. Free.
Instagallery: If Instagram photos are the closest we get to instant iPhone art, then they deserve an equally beautified place to hang. That's the idea behind Instagallery, an iPad app that lets you view, like, and comment on photos (both your own and your friends'), view them in a slideshow, or automatically sort a set by who took them, where they were taken, or how they were tagged. Most important than all those features, though? It looks great. Think of it as the perfect canvas for your tiny pixel portraits. $2.
50 Greatest Photographs National Geographic: The 50 best National Geographic pictures are all gorgeous, beautiful and iconic. And as amazing as they are, they're really just a snapshot of a greater story. Wouldn't you love to find out the behind the scenes stories on how each of those pictures happened? National Geographic's new iPad app tells you just that. Some of the shots are pure luck, others take years to develop, but all of them are unique, just like the pictures themselves. Great for anybody interested in photography, really perfect for those who love great stories. $5.
Instapaper: Instapaper, the popular "read it later" app, has added a new social layer in version 3.0. Now you can follow other Instapaper users to see the articles they "like," or browse through hand-picked articles instantly from Editor's Picks. Other nifty features include a "smart rotation lock" to detect accidental rotation, and a new built-in web browser to browse for articles in-app. $5.