Having had my iPad Pro for over a year and a half now, I feel pretty confident to say that it is probably my favourite piece of technology I have ever owned. The versatility, power and potential it allows a person to unleash makes it an undeniable masterpiece. It simply has no serious competitors.
I mostly use my iPad for writing, editing, blogging, drawing and vector art. I have an Apple Pencil and if your use case will be anything like mine, I highly recommend you get one too. Used properly, an iPad can be an incredible productivity device, here’s a list of apps that I use most often trying to squeeze the most out of my iPad.
Also, I’m personally not a fan of subscription based apps, so everything below (at time of writing at least) is either free or has a one time purchase fee.
First up is an app that really showcases why the iPad shines as a tablet. If you’re a student or someone who takes notes for any other reason and have an Apple Pencil, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Simply put, this is an app that simulates pen and paper. It doesn’t sound very interesting like that, but it has allowed people to make digital notes like this:
With cloud backup and the ability to import PDFs and write on them as if it were a worksheet, this is a game changer for any student of any age.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/notability/id360593530
If you’ve seen any digital art online in the last few years, it’s very likely you’ve seen something that was drawn in Procreate. This wildly popular app allows for very intricate drawings, with the latest major update adding animation support and the ability to import Photoshop Brushes.
I don’t consider myself a professional artist by any means, but for when I want to get into drawing/painting, I know that this app with an Apple Pencil is all I’ll need (and Bob Ross tutorials).
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/procreate/id425073498
Documents (by Readdle)
Though the lack of a PC like File Browser has been the main criticism of iOS/iPadOS for many years, that gap has been somewhat partially filled by many file explorer apps. Apple did release a Files app with iOS ****
The best of these in my opinion has been for many years Documents by Readdle. Not only can you store files within the app, but you can also link FTP servers and your cloud accounts such as Dropbox or Google Drive. On top of this, you can also connect wirelessly to your PC. To transfer files. It truly feels like an all in one experience.
I never paid much attention to calendars until I started using an app that made it see how valuable scheduling aspects of my time could be. Calendars 5 (also by the same people who made Documents) allows this, but what places this above everything else is the fact that it has a month view that doesnt sacrifice form over function.
Having a visual overview of the month allows me to see upcoming events in advance (though this doesnt always stop me from forgetting!) and synchronisation using the Calendar service of your choice makes for a smooth experience.
Having a To-Do List app has been essential for me for many years. To Do by Microsoft (which replaces the older Wunderlist) is the perfect app for that. It is cross platform, well designed and gives mostly a continuous experience across all platforms you use it on.
The best feature about this app is that though quite often you get bogged down listing all the things you have to do, To Do gives you the option to pick the most pressing things you have to accomplish on a daily basis and add them to a Smart List called ‘My Day’. Essentially, you can pick the best of the best to get done that day. Very helpful!
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/microsoft-to-do/id1212616790
This is an app that I have used for a very long time. Although it hasn’t changed too much since then based on UI improvements or features, it isnt a negative in the slightest. Phonto excels when it comes to making text based images, and though not everyone may have the need for this, if you do you wont regret taking a look at this app.
With the option to import your own fonts, make custom sized canvases, apply colour patters to individual words/characters and much more, there is little you’ll find lacking.
Anyone who spends any time in the iOS video editing community has heard of Lumafusion being mentioned at least once before. This isn’t without good reason too, the app is a powerhouse of a video editor which is able to push the latest iPad Pro’s to their limits and provides editing functionality on the go not otherwise seen before.
You wont need to get rid of your desktop video editor just yet, but for your on-the-go needs Lumafusion will be more than enough.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/lumafusion/id1062022008
If you do any sort of heavy photo editing or manipulation on your iPad, Affinity Photo is an app you need. though Photoshop has recently been released for iPad, it isnt feature complete and requires a monthly subscription.
Affinity Photo is a one time purchase that is packed with 95% of the things you can do in Photoshop. With this on an iPad, you have a versatile heavy photo editor and manipulator that wont take money from you monthly. Using this with the Apple Pencil makes this a very versatile option.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/affinity-photo/id1117941080
Just like its counterpart Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer is the competitor to adobe when it comes to Vector Design. Though Adobe is in the process of bringing its own establish vector design app InDesign to iOS, Affinity Designer reigns supreme for now. It is again just a one time purchase versus Adobe monthly subscription.
It is very handy and has excelled at whatever vector based project I have used it for. If you are into graphic design in any capacity, it is worth learning to use this. Having it available to use on the go with the Apple Pencil is a gamechanger.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/affinity-designer/id1274090551
If youre looking to do some basic photo editing without the weight and complexity offered by Affinity Photo, Pixelmator Photo is a good option. Its machine learning tool means that it can make smart decisions regarding every aspect of editing your photo, whether its removing objects from a photo or applying certain edits, you are bound to be impressed.
You also have the ability edit RAW photos and make a very impressive number of changes to your photos, with a very efficient user interface. Definitely check this one out.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/pixelmator-photo/id1444636541
Google Play Books
Google Play Books is a very underrated service in my opinion. Google allows anyone with a free Google Account to upload a maximum of 1000 books (either in PDF or ePub format).
This doesn’t stop there however, Google Play Books also allows. You to download your books for offline reading, sync progress between apps (even on their web version) and take highlights which are kept neatly in your Google Drive.
Its a very useful service for any reader. I personally use a Kindle for my reading, but this is a clear cross platform winner if you don’t mind reading without an e-ink screen.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/google-play-books/id400989007
With the deluge of new online content read every day, and the 24/7 news cycle surrounding us, we can often catch a story, article or headline that we want to read but dont have the time at that moment. We could simply bookmark the link or save it in our notes, but this quickly becomes unmanageable.
Enter Instapaper. With it, you can simply share webpages and articles to the Instapaper extension button in your browser and it will send the link there cached for later reading at your convenience. It also strips the pages you save to their text only, minimalist formats, so you wont be distracted by ads or unnecessary parts of the page. It works offline too, so once the article has been downloaded you can read it even without an internet connection.
Download Link: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/instapaper/id288545208
Journalling or keeping any sort of Diary is incredibly fruitful. It allows you to organise and understand the thoughts and feelings that clutter your mind. With the myriad of technology around us, it was surprisingly difficult to find a cross platform, simple Diary app that didn’t wasn’t subscription based. In fact, for a long time there wasn’t one.
I gave up looking for a while until I recently found Diarium. While it may lack some of the bells and whistles of other, popular subscription based apps, it does exactly what it says and provides a cross platform experience for you to write your Diary entries across. It also backs up to the Cloud Service of your choice – and did I mention it was subscription free?
These are the apps that make my iPad worth it as an iPad. They allow me to pick it up and use it to make things. The feeling this can give anyone is extremely powerful, so I hope these suggestions have helped you either find a new app, or even decide to get an iPad yourself!