Must-Have Apps for Every iPad
The tablet market may have cooled down from its heyday of several years ago, but Apple's iPad remains the must-have tablet. Its portability, massive screen and impressive specs make it a great platform for productivity apps, media players, social media tools and everything else in between. From magazine and news readers to productivity and photo editing tools, we take a look at 20 of the best iPad apps that take advantages of the tablet's massive screen space and solid specs. (Photo Credit: Denys Prykhodov/Shutterstock)
Pixelmator Photo ($4.99)
Pixelmator has long been one of our favorite mobile art applications, and a new app, Pixelmator Photo, is geared toward photo manipulation. Pixelmator Photo is able to apply nondestructive color augmentation and editing to your images. The app comes with a wealth of tools to repair, touch up, and enhance your photos, allowing for fine-grained editing, or fast presets for quick tweaks. Pixelmator Photo's powerful tools turn your iPad into a mobile photo editing powerhouse, easily earning a place in the 2019 edition of the Apple Design Awards.
Flow by Moleskine ($1.99 per month)
Moleskine isn't just about physical journals and notebooks anymore, as the app maker's strong push into iOS apps shows. Its Timepage calendar app was a great first foray into the mobile space, and Moleskine has followed it up with another Apple Design Awards winner. Flow is an impressive drawing and note-taking app that does justice to Moleskine's notebook roots.
Users can draw or take notes on an infinite-width canvas that lets you customize everything from your writing tools (virtual pens, pencils and markers in a variety of colors and sizes) and paper (from Moleskine's traditional ivory paper to black, white, and blue, with options for grids and more). It's a luxurious drawing experience that fully supports iPhone and iPad interfaces. The app is free for a 7-day trial, with subscriptions costing $1.99 per month and including cloud storage and app updates.
Moleskine's $6.99 Timepage calendar app for iOS does a good job at being stylish and feature-packed. A smart calendar and day planner, Timepage works with existing calendar providers like iCloud, Facebook and Google, while providing some nifty calendar views and easy event creation. The base view provides a simple timeline of the day's coming appointments, with a date tab on the side for selecting specific days of the week. A month "heatmap" view quickly shows which days are free or busy, with filters surfacing particular events or calendars. Natural language parsing for event creation, maps and weather info, and natural language support are among the other additions. This iPad version provides expanded view modes and split-screen support, taking great advantage of the iPad's expansive screen and multitasking features.
Astropad Studio turns your iPad or iPad Pro into a graphics tablet for your Mac. Astropad provides a natural drawing experience and should work with any Mac out of the box. It supports a wide variety of pressure sensitive stylus brands, such as Adonit, Wacom and Apple's own Pencil. Astropad is designed to work equally well whether you're connected to your Mac wirelessly or through USB, and features color correction, palm rejection, customizable shortcuts and gesture controls. The app works on a subscription model, costing $7.99 monthly, or $64.99 annually.
More than just a clever play on words, Procreate brings a fast, feature-packed digital arts studio straight into your tablet. Procreate features support for ultra-high def 4k canvases, up to 128 layers, 250 levels of undo and redo, and more than 100 customizable brushes. From transformative tools to video capture of workflow, multi-touch gesture commands and GPU accelerated filters, Procreate puts on an impressive performance. It's overkill if you're just looking for something to doodle with, but if you're in the market for a robust, professional quality art app on an iPad, Procreate deserves a look.
The Kindle app provides users with a powerful multi-platform reading app that gives them full access to their library and a highly customizable reading interface. Readers can tweak the app's text display, backgrounds and more, with Amazon's Whispersync technology ensuring that settings are saved across all your devices. Users can access books purchased through the Kindle marketplace, as well as a wealth of free public domain books and promos. The iPad's large screen, ideal for reading, is a perfect fit for the Kindle app.
Libby by Overdrive
Why spend a ton of money on ebooks if your local library already has a digital media lending system? Libby is the latest incarnation of Overdrive's popular digital media management system, allowing users to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from participating libraries. Simply sign in with your library card and then you can browse your library's digital media collection, allowing you to search for titles, set holds, borrow ebooks and audiobooks with a tap, and return or extend a lend just as easily. You can preview books from the app and download titles or stream them to your iPad to save space.
MyScript's Nebo is a feature-rich note-taking app built with the iPad and the Apple Pencil in mind. Featuring MyScript's Interactive Ink technology, Nebo automatically parses your handwritten notes into text, while allowing you to easily format your text, add extras like emphasis, underlining, bullet points, diagrams, mathematical notations, and picture annotation. Users can write equations and calculate or export to LaTeX, export text into Microsoft Office documents or text files, and search through your notes to quickly find something you've scribbled down. If you're more about jotting down notes as opposed to typing them down, MyScript Nebo is an incredibly versatile note taking tool.
Comixology is a fantastic digital comic book reader that allows users to access comics bought from Comixology. Backed by the largest digital comics marketplace online, Comics features big name publishers such as Marvel, DC, Image and IDW. A particular strong point for Comics is its Guided View technology, which allows for a smart, slick, panel-by-panel reading experience. This app really takes advantage of the broad screen real estate of the iPad, allowing for a very natural reading experience, unlike on a smaller device such as a smartphone.
If you're looking for an app to read DRM-free comics, check out Chunky, a free and feature-packed comics option for the iPad. On the technical side, Chunky supports CBR, CBZ and PDF comics, as well as metadata tags from ComicRack and ComicBookLover. A smart upscaling mode does its best to render even low-res files as crisp as possible, while multiple view modes (single page, two page and right to left) let you read how you like. There's even an auto-contrast/tint fix to adjust for faded comic scans. The app can download comics from your cloud storage services, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, straight into the app's self-organizing library. Plus, a parental lock allows you to flag and hide titles behind password protection.
Marco Ament's Overcast is our favorite iOS podcatcher, offering a great combination of clean design and powerful audio and podcast management features. Overcast deftly handles episode playbacks and downloads, sends notifications of new episodes, and can play offline or through streaming if you need to save some space. It also has some nice audio features. Voice Boost normalizes the sound levels of speech, automatically raising quiet voices and lowering loud ones. Smart Speed automatically cuts away at gaps and silence in the podcast, speeding up play without distorting audio.
Pocket is a great offline reading tool that allows you to select and save articles, pictures and videos for later viewing. Its trimmed down, cleaner format means you can enjoy content without a lot of the side clutter on the Web. It makes the most out of the sharing options in iOS 10. The latest version offers easy sharing of content to and from Pocket, as well as a handy Safari extension that makes sharing articles and Web pages to Pocket an extremely simple affair. Now you can simply save and surf, rather than fumble around with a bookmarklet.
Passwords and logins are a hassle unique to the information age. Thankfully, an excellent password manager like LastPass can take the hassle out of logging in to your favorite websites and apps. While the LastPass iOS app was already a pretty solid password generator and vault, support for Safari extensions in iOS means that LastPass can integrate itself into the built-in web browser and provide form and password autofilling to your iPad. Additionally, a major update has unlocked cross-platform passwords syncing for all users, allowing you to sync your password vault between your iPad, Mac, PC or Android phone for free.
Even with the News app now built into iOS, Flipboard remains a neat little news aggregation and curator program that curates material that you like to read, such as blogs, websites, your social media news feeds and more. It aggregates all of this content into a sleek, magazine-like format that allows you to view material in one neat package; perfect for when you want to relax with your tablet. Beautiful design and the ability to view all your Web content in one place make this app a keeper.
A streaming media juggernaut, the free Netflix app allows subscribers to log in and enjoy unlimited access to Netflix's vast library of movies, TV shows, and Netflix exclusives on the go with their mobile device. Powerful search tools let you easily work through a treasure trove of film and television, while a user rating system allows the app to tailor its recommendations to your viewing taste.
Crunchyroll ($6.99 per month)
Gone are the days when keeping up with the latest anime series required saving up for pricey BluRay discs or engaging in online piracy. Digital streaming service Crunchyroll carries the latest and greatest anime series, delivered straight to your iPad screen. Free users can watch a very limited selection of series, while premium subscribers can access the full archives ad-free, as well as the latest anime series with an hour's delay from the original Japanese broadcast.
Snapseed's an old mobile photo-editing favorite, and Google incorporated many of its editing features into the Photos app, but development isn't dead on this old reliable. Snapseed 2.0 revamps the interface, and combines the old selective area edits with new one-touch edit tools and filters, transform and brush editing tools and a powerful layer for working on your image edits. The new interface and the loss of the Grunge filter hasn't pleased everyone, but Snapseed 2 is an impressive free mobile photo editing app.
Spotify has become synonymous with online streaming music, thanks to its familiar interface, Facebook integration and massive song library of more than 20 million tracks. Mobile and tablet users can choose to listen to music from any of the artists, albums and playlists in Spotify's massive library, and premium users can enjoy an ad-free experience and the ability to download music for offline listening.
Facebook and Messenger
Facebook is a ubiquitous presence in today's social media world, and the Facebook mobile app keeps you in touch with your family, friends, contacts and groups. The Facebook mobile app compresses much of the website's functionality into a mobile package, allowing users to post and share status updates and photos, view notifications and keep updated on their news feed. One caveat? Facebook split off the messaging features into a separate app, Facebook Messenger, so if you want the full experience, you'll want to install Messenger on your iPad as well. (That app includes texting, voice messaging and call functions.)
The standard Twitter app is fine for basic use, but if you're looking for something more fully featured, check out Tweetbot, a $9.99 Twitter client that adds a ton of extra features with the Twitter power user in mind. Users gain access to granular mute filters for things like users, hashtags, and keywords, as well as a detailed activity and analytics view that quickly summarizes your interactions, mentions and retweets. Tweetbot may be overkill for some users, but if you spend a lot of time on the microblogging network, it's going to make your life a lot easier.