Macworld's 2011 App Gems Awards

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App Gems: Top reading apps

Book lovers have found a welcome companion with iOS devices, particularly with the iPad and its reading-friendly screen. Our favorite reading apps from the past year include a tool that ushers comic books into the digital age, and two children’s books that make the most of the iPad’s interface.

Comics

Comics by Comixology is the definitive app for reading comic books on iOS, and has been since the day the original iPad shipped. With version 3.0, Comics got even better. It’s got a new, smooth interface and does a much better job of handling the huge volume of digital comics now being released. With DC Comics releasing all of its books simultaneously in paper and digital form (Marvel will follow in 2012), the days of the paper comic-book issue may be numbered. But reading on the iPad has a bright future ahead of it thanks to Comics.—Jason Snell

The Going to Bed Book

As for books themselves, The Going To Bed Book is a great children’s book; author Sandra Boynton could probably have released a glorified PDF of the book and still had a pretty decent iOS app. Instead, the now-universal The Going to Bed Book for all iOS devices offers a pseudo-3D view of the original board book—and everything is interactive. Your kids will delight in making the adorably-drawn animals jump, the steamy sink fog up the screen, and the stars sparkle in the nighttime sky—and you will, too. And since Loud Crow Interactive’s app can read to you or let you read yourself, it works for a wide age range.—Lex Friedman

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Likewise, Moonbot Studios, the makers of The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore could have simply done an ebook version of the animated short—the visuals, music, and storyline are certainly evocative enough to produce a perfectly fine children’s story. But the iPad app does so much more: Each scene features some sort of reader-driven activity to draw you into the story. Tap the screen in one scene, and the seasons change. In another, you can piece together pieces of a torn up page. None of this interactivity feels tacked on—it’s perfectly incorporated into a story that’s a love letter to the power of books. And the app itself is a powerful example of what books can be in the age of the iPad.—Philip Michaels

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