Must-Have Apps for Every iPad
Apple's iPad enjoyed a resurgence in the past year, as new models like the iPad Pro and the 10.2-inch iPad have arrived on the scene. As a result, there's no denying that the 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 the best iPad apps that take advantages of the tablet's massive screen space and solid specs.
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. The company has made a strong push into iOS apps, highlighted by Flow, an impressive drawing and note-taking app that does justice to Moleskine's notebook roots. It’s so good that it managed to bag both an Apple Design Award and a nod as 2019’s iPad App of the Year.
Users can draw or take notes on an infinite-width canvas. You’re able to customize everything from your writing tools (virtual pens, pencils and markers in a variety of colors and sizes) to paper (pick from Moleskine's traditional ivory paper or black, white, and blue, with options for grids). Flow provides a luxurious drawing experience that fully supports the iPad’s interface. Try out the app for free for seven days, before a $1.99 monthly subscription kicks in.
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.
Your podcasts probably go wherever you go, so there's no reason to stop listening once you're on your iPad. Overcast shines brightly on Apple's larger portable screens thanks to a well-designed layout that gives you space for what you're currently hearing as well as what you're planning on getting to. That means you can sort your back catalogue of shows you've been meaning to listen to into different playlists, while finding the right spot of an episode you're currently finishing.
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 (Free)
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.
Infuse Pro 6 ($24.99)
If you’re more about hoarding video files instead of subscribing to a streaming service, Infuse Pro 6 might be up your alley. A feature packed video player, Infuse Pro plays videos stored locally on your iPad, as well as streamed from PCs, Macs, cloud storage services, Plex, Kodi, and most UPnP/DLNA servers. Infuse Pro plays a wide array of media files and formats, such as MP4 and MKV, with the option to stream your video through AirPlay or Google Cast. Infuse Pro 6 is a step up from the free version, with expanded video formats, AirPlay, Cast, and cloud service support, Dolby DTS sound, and cross-device syncing.
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.
Writers write everywhere they get the chance to, and so if you work with words, make Bear your iOS text editor of choice. Its column view and hashtag-based filing allows you to stay organized with minimal effort, keeping the focus on your prose. When you're done with a project, Bear gives you a bunch of ways to export your results, with .TXT, .PDF, .RTF and .DOCX support. Also, Bear's got Face ID baked in, so you can protect your notes.
Fantastical 2 ($9.99)
Fantastical 2 is a very flexible app. If your iPad's set up as a standing screen at your desk, turn Fantastical into a digital desk calendar. When you want something more powerful, use it as a split-view or slide-over app. That's because Fantastical is more than just your average calendar app. Its natural text recognition means you can just copy text out of a webpage or email, open Fantastical, and create a new event faster than you can say "Clippy."
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. While the app's a free download, you'll need a Netflix subscription, which starts at $8.99 a month.
1Blocker was one of the first really good ad blockers on iOS when Apple opened up that functionality on iPhones and iPads, and now it’s been optimized for Safari. The app is designed to make browsing faster and more secure by blocking ads, popups, trackers and other online cruft. Rather than blocking content of a downloaded page, 1Blocker works with Safari's content blocker API to tell the browser what to block in advance, saving time and resources. 1Blocker X features more than 115,000 blocker rules, custom regional ad-blocking settings, and easy-to-use custom rules settings.
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.
Dice by Pcalc ($1.99)
If you've got a tabletop game like Dungeons and Dragons, you also need dice. So when it's time to get your friends through another minefield of baddies and you're short on all the physical accessories, you can roll for initiative ... digitally. Dice gives you a tray of digital dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and more) that you flick to roll and can select different colors and hues. It even packs in rolling with advantage and disadvantage. Friends won't believe you? You can even record video of your rolls.
Sayonara Wild Hearts (Free)
Heart Machine’s award-winning action RPG Hyper Light Drifter delivers a slash’em up experience that is both gorgeous and tactically intense. As the Drifter, you’ll explore a rich pixel art world that draws inspiration from both fantasy and science fiction, with pastoral environments filled with high-tech detritus and magical and technological monstrosities. You’ll need to take advantage of every aspect of the Drifter’s abilities and arsenal as you slowly piece together what happened to you and your world while also engaging in fast-paced, almost dance-like battles against mooks and boss monsters.
Hyper Light Drifter provides touch controls with haptic feedback to provide a tactile assist to your controls. Thanks to iOS 13, it also supports MiFi controllers for players more used to a traditional gamepad. A particular treat for iPad Pro users? Hyper Light Drifter boasts an impressive 120 frames per second on your shiny new tablet, among the many factors that earned it a nod from Apple as the iPad Game of the Year for 2019.
Apple's flagship Apple Arcade game, the retro-riffic Sayonara Wild Hearts is so pretty that it deserves a bigger screen than your iPhone. While that does mean your fingers have more space to traverse as you tap and swipe its protagonist on your screen, it's so much easier to get lost in the graphics when you're falling into this pane. Also, if you've got an iPad Pro, the game's excellent soundtrack (think the band Chvrches, but more 8-bit) sounds fantastic on the quad speakers of Apple's best iPads.