AOL, the parent company of TUAW, Engadget, TechCrunch and Huffington Post, today announced the availability of AOL for iPad (free). While for many longtime internet users the AOL acronym may bring back nightmares of receiving daily CD-ROMs in the mail, the company is quickly turning into a very nimble content provider around the world.
The app was designed from the ground up for the iPad, featuring a tiled UI with stories that can be tapped to dive in deeper. While the app opens with a window onto general featured news, users can select their area of interest to focus only on stories in that area: entertainment, food, health, money, sports, style, tech, travel and world.
For those who use AOL for free email, there's a small envelope button on the top toolbar that provides access to your inbox. Another button provides a list of AOL On Network top videos -- a tap on a video icon expands the thumbnail to a fullscreen player for a quick view of the short blurbs.
Want to save content for later reading or viewing? Every story sports a pair of buttons that provide instant access to sharing (via Facebook, Twitter and email), as well as giving readers a way to mark that content as a favorite. A tap on the "heart" button starts a cute animation in which a red heart flies up to the favorites list. It's an amusing way to reinforce the message that the article has been saved for future use.
If you're looking for an all-in-one source for more than just tech news, the new AOL for iPad app is definitely worth a look. And hey, it's free (ad-supported).