The best apps for your new iPad

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Even if you already own an iPhone — in which case many iPad apps will automatically sync over for you during setup — you’ll find that getting apps for your iPad is an easy process. Pop open the app store and you’ll find thousands, but the “top apps” list is filled with as much junk as it is gold. Fear not, we’ve collected our favorite below — from great writing to great drawing to great music-making, the myth that the iPad isn’t great for “productivity” is officially dead.


This year we've picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into our top selections for Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Windows Phone apps, Kindle books, and for your Mac and PC. Next up: the best stylus for the iPad.

Deliveries

Deliveries

A lot of delivery services have options to give you updates by text when things are en route, or have been delivered at your house, but there are very few ways to easily track multiple items across several services. Worth checking out is Deliveries from Junecloud, a very simple and straightforward app that slurps up tracking numbers and itemizes everything that’s being delivered. You get push notifications, and a handy widget on the Today screen that takes some of the mystery out of each item’s transportation status.

Googledrive

Pixelmator

Pixelmator’s long been a popular, and very affordable image editor for Macs, and this year its creators made a version just for the iPad. There’s a lot to love in this app, especially the way all the tools are intelligently tucked away. It doesn’t feel like a desktop app that’s been shoehorned onto a tablet, but something made with touch in mind. Did we mention it’s still got that neat content-aware repair tool? You can erase people or objects out of your photos with ease, right on a tablet. Crazytown.

Feedly

Feedly

Google Reader may never be coming back, but take heart in Feedly. The replacement RSS reader has come into its own this past year. It syncs your feeds across the web and mobile devices and offers a flexible interface that makes plowing through hard news feeds just as enjoyable as skimming through a gorgeous grid of your favorite art and design sites.

Duolingo

Duolingo

Co-founded by one of the minds behind the CAPTCHA, Duolingo's suite of excellent language-learning apps offer lessons in French, German, Spanish, and more. It’s a fascinating proposal: Duolingo is free to use, and your work is harnessed with hundreds of thousands of other users to help translate the web.

Paper

Paper

Even before FiftyThree released Paper, creative types were crafting beautiful artworks with their iPads. While most drawing apps give you a vast array of settings and options to choose from, Paper wants you to treat it like a regular sheet of paper. Its intuitive design works equally well with a finger or a stylus, and the smooth lines and pastel shading Paper offers can make even the worst artist's creations look great.

Garageband

Garageband

Apple’s iOS port of its music-making software Garageband was maybe the first must-have app for the iPad, and even though there hasn't been a major feature update in almost two years, it's still just as good as it's always been. The Smart Instruments, which can play a number of customizable patterns, make it accessible to everyone but there's a lot of depth hidden behind the app's friendly interface.

1password

1Password

Best known for its prowess at generating and storing passwords, the iPad version of this app also boasts a highly useful browser. Log in to your favorite websites with a couple of taps (or your thumb) and stop worrying about having to tap out a complicated password with your thumbs.

Pocket

Pocket

Pocket is the best way to save the things you find on the web so you can read or watch them when you have time. And using Pocket on iOS has never been easier, thanks to extensions in iOS 8. Now you can send things to Pocket from just about every app, with no difficult setup.

retro

Retro

Despite Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion last year, resources have never gone into making a version of the app for the iPad. The idea has always been that people are snapping these shots on their phones, which made sense before the unsettling trend of people doing the same thing with their tablets. Enter Retro, a super slick Instagram client for iPad that does a far better job at letting you view photos and follow accounts than Instagram does on its own app. Even better, it does all that on a big screen.

Flipboard

Flipboard

This personalized magazine offers one of the best reading experiences on the iPad thanks to its broad library of content and elegant design. Secret best use of Flipboard: use it to browse Instagram on your iPad's big screen.

Mailbox

Mailbox

The genius of this email app is to make processing your inbox so fast that it's fun. Manage your messages just by swiping a finger, or connect a keyboard and fire off some replies. A recent update lets you connect iCloud and Yahoo accounts as well as Gmail.

sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise was one of the many calendaring apps that saved the day when Apple managed to nerf its own calendar app in last year’s iOS 7.0. Since then, Sunrise has managed to hold onto a coveted spot on our home screens, with numerous features that make creating and managing events less work. That’s not an exaggeration either, there’s actually a tool that lets you create events without typing anything.

Acompli

Acompli

Managing email on your iPad shouldn’t be difficult or half-baked, but it’s felt that way for a long time. That’s why email has been tethered to the desktop for so long. This year, though, Acompli came along looking to change that, and it succeeds. Where before you might have just tapped through new messages moved on, you can now treat your tablet like a full workstation since it manages your calendars and files, too.

Efood

Evernote Food

One of the iPad’s best use cases is as a recipe book. If you’re one to sit down in the kitchen and try making a new meal, having the right app to store new recipes you’ve seen around the web can be a boon. Evernote is already a great tool for note-taking, but Evernote Food ups the ante by letting you store restaurants you’ve been to and been inspired by, and also search for new recipes based on its own recommendation engine.

Comics

Comics

Comics is the premiere comics app on iPad. Period. There’s plenty out there that’s trying to innovate on how comics are consumed, but if you want access to a massive library of all the comics you should be reading weekly and monthly, this is the obvious choice. Sure, Amazon has turned what used to be a storefront into a glorified comics folder, but the core functionality works and works beautifully.