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The 30 best iPad apps

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29 Oct The 30 best iPad apps

We’ve gathered together the very best iPad apps in Apple’s App Store – and many are free. You’re sure to find a timelessly brilliant app that meets your needs, saving you the hassle of searching through the hundreds of thousands available.

Whether you’re looking to design on your iPad, carry out research, find inspiration, or improve your task management and productivity there are tons of iPad apps in our list. So here is the 30 best iPad apps

  1. Sunrise Calendar: Sunrise Calendar is an app that collects all your calendar data into one place. Recently given a massive makeover and update for iPad and iPhone, it’s a fab-looking iOS 7-flavoured app that you can use to funnel all those Google calendars, plus the iCloud-powered ones on your iPhone and iPad, into one super-calendar that’ll hopefully ensure you’re never double-booked again.

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  1. Adobe PhotoShop Touch: It may not bePhotoshop CC, and Adobe Photoshop Touch isn’t without its limitations – there’s no RAW import, and the maximum image export size is 1600-by-1600. However, this iPad app retains enough of its desktop cousin’s features (and places them in a sleek, pared-down, tablet-optimised interface) to make it an essential purchase, and one of the best iPad apps for designers. Video editor, graphic and web designer Nicholas Patten says he particularly likes “how it allows the user to still use layers and control opacity levels and blend modes”. And the fact that it costs less than a pub lunch doesn’t hurt either.

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  1. Cloze: Cloze is an iPad app designed to help you manage and improve online relationships with the important people in life. It does this by presenting communication between you by email, and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in one unified inbox. Cloze automatically splits your contacts into two groups – Key People, and everyone else. It does this by allocating each of your contacts a score based on how often you communicate with them, the form that communication takes, how often they respond to you and the breadth of topics you discuss.

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  1. Camera+: iPad app Camera+ essentially does three things extremely well: capture, editing and sharing, and offers some terrific extras compared to the built-in Camera app. For example, if you have a new iPad (which has a proper movable lens system, and actually takes good photos), you can split the touch points for where you want the camera to focus and for where you want it to expose. You also get the option of shooting in burst mode (though the pictures are very low-res), shooting with a five-second time delay, or shooting automatically when the iPad detects it’s being held steadily. When editing, there’s a good range of special affects you can apply, and you can stack up multiple effects – setting the intensity of each, or even brushing the effect on or off with a configurable brush tool. You can also apply Scenes, optimizing the shot for modes such as Cloudy or Sunset, and the Clarity filter gives most photos an instant lift.

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  1. Photoristic HD: Photoristic HD is an iPad image app that’s just powerful enough to be quite useful without overloading you with features that you don’t really want. It’s all about the standard image adjustment tools (white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vibrance and saturation), with additional colour controls, a black and white mode, split toning and a hefty collection of presets for Instagram-style quick fixes.

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  1. Pixaki: Created by game developer Luke Rogers, Pixaki’s billed as a pixel editor designed with professionals in mind, and it packs a decent set of features to ease your creative processes. Working on a canvas up to a whopping 512x512px in size, you can build your own 16 colour palette with an intuitive hue picker and work with up to 20 layers.

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  1. Loop: Inspired by the work of its founder and creative director Matt Pyke, design studio Universal Everything created Loop, a drawing app that allows you to easily created short, hand-drawn animation and share them via email, Tumblr and in the Loop gallery.

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  1. Paper by FiftyThree: “I don’t do any design work on my iPad,” says web designer and product company founderElliot Jay Stocks, but it appears that Paper has at least set him on the path. “I’ve recently been using it to do some rough sketches. Previously, I’d toyed around with Adobe Ideas, but Paper’s friendly UI and life-like tools appeal to the illustrator in me. Even the roughest wireframes now look wonderful, thanks to the ink pen and the gorgeous watercolour brush!”

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  1. Tayasui Sketches: Sketches is one of the most delightfully simple drawing and painting iPad apps that we’ve found. It features eight brushes along the left-hand side, ranging from pencil and charcoal to felt pen and watercolour brush, with a further two available in the pro version. Each one exhibits its respective characteristics brilliantly, meaning it’s simple to pick a brush and start sketching. Although limited in terms of editing options, they’re a delight to use, and in the pro version you’re at least able to increase the size and shape as well as edit the blend mode.

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  1. Infuse 2: Apple doesn’t support most popular file formats but Infuse is a genuine rival to the popular AVPlayerHD. Infuse is indeed a beautiful way to watch videos. Just look at the gorgeous way in which it displays your video library: once copied across over iTunes, your videos are displayed as thumbnails in a grid format. However, instead of choosing a random frame from videos to fill those thumbnails, the app analyses the file name and metadata to work out exactly what the video is. When it recognises a movie or a TV show episode, it chooses content-specific thumbnails as well as giving you episode synopses, artwork, cast lists and more.

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  1. Stripe Me: Want to out-stretch Modigliani? You certainly can with Stripe Me, an elongating photography iPad app. using either of your iOS device’s cameras you essentially capture horizontal or vertical video footage, with half of the shot static and the rest manipulated by the recording. This is one of the most fun iPad apps on our list. Creating giraffe-like necks and huge gaping gobs won’t be fun forever of course, but if you start rotating static objects, you can acquire a neat spiral effect (hint: try experimenting with a Lazy Susan).

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  1. Posts: One of the better iPad apps for Blogger andWordPress users is now free – and just as good as when it first hit the App Store. For WordPress especially, it’s a rare case of an app capable of handling many custom sites as easily as a default installation, including custom posts, pages, templates and custom post formats – though unfortunately not outright custom post types. Posts can also handle multiple blogs at once, and syncs with your sites to work offline as well as when there’s a net connection. It doesn’t try to replace your actual admin screens, but has more than enough power to keep sites updated while away from your PC/Mac.

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  1. Mextures: Mextures is far from just another retro filter clone; it’s the most customisable effects app on the App Store, and it’s a must-have if you love the vintage look. Part of its success is that the filters are all rather subtle, with only major effects taking place on your photo because you keep adding layers of different effects and dialling their strength up or down. The app’s textures all come in packs (Light Leaks, Grit & Grain, Grunge and so on) that you can swap at will, overlaying multiple transitions until you’re happy with the result.

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  1. Wunderlist HD for iPad: Managing to-dos is one of those things that can be arduous if you’ve the wrong app. This iPad app makes such things simple, syncing tasks across platforms. “It really helps me to stay organised and capture ideas on the go,” raves user experience designerD Keith Robinson. “It’s essentially become my back-up brain.”

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  1. Vittles: A ‘vittle’ is a short explanatory video clip, and creating one is easy when using the basic drawing tools on offer with this iPad app. Either draw and record them or import photos and PDFs (from Dropbox or even Keynote) to create simple yet dynamic presentations on your iPad. The tools are limited to simple brushes, colours and a lasso. Brush options are limited to a restrictive size range and altering the opacity, but they’re rendered using Vittle’s own dynamic brush engine – meaning they aren’t pixellated – even when zoomed in. Vittles can be exported and shared at 720p and multiple clips can be recorded and re-arranged before exporting. Voiceovers can be added while you record or by exporting it to iMovie.

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  1. Tapnotes: iPad app Tapnoptes goes way beyond merely recording memos, notes, or snippets of that song idea that’s been lurking in your head. It allows you to contextualise your recordings in a way that captures more than just the audio of a meeting. With Tapnotes you can add notes and tags on the fly, or go back and add them retroactively. When you’re done you can easily jump to tagged spots in the recording, and share a summary of the recording with other apps.

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  1. ProCutX: ProCutX turns your iPad into a companion controller for Apple’s Final Cut Pro X video editor, providing a screen of buttons for accessing many of its most useful tools. This handy iPad app saves you having to memorise keyboard shortcuts and locations in the menu bar. Controls are grouped by task. A dial that moves the playhead sits at the centre; your finger doesn’t have to precisely track its edge, just orbit the centre. Forget about quickly scrubbing a second or so in either direction, though – the maximum rate of advancement is similar to holding the left or right arrow keys on your keyboard. That’s because ProCutX depends on a companion app installed on the Mac, which relays commands from the iPad by pretending to be an attached keyboard (though really, it’s just connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac). Motioning around the dial at least lets you slow down the rate of advancement to land on a precise frame without repeatedly tapping an arrow key on your keyboard.

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  1. Computer Art Magazine: Computer Arts is the leading magazine for designers, illustrators and creative professionals, and it’s available right on your iPad via Newsstand. “Computer Arts has become a graphical bible for inspiration in design, enabling me to advance my techniques in Photoshop, illustration, logo design and typography,” says Woods. “It has helped me turn flat designs into designs with more depth, personality and flare.” Once you’ve downloaded the free container app, you can buy both regular issues and special editions, such as…

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  1. Computer Arts Print Glossary: Heading to the printer can often be a daunting task if you’re not too familiar with all of the terminology. Thankfully, that’s where the Computer Arts Print Glossary comes in. It’s a unique iPad app giving you quick access to common, and not so common, printer terms. The glossary covers every bamboozling term you might encounter, from ‘Deckle Edge’ and ‘Against the Grain’ to ‘Cheating the Plate’. With this handy app, you’ll never need to fear the printers again! To buy the Computer Arts Print Glossary app you first need to download the free Computer Arts container app

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  1. Lume: We’re big fans of light paintinghere at Creative Bloq. A great way to make your photos stand out, this iPad app, developed by art collective Lichtfaktor, lets you add seriously cool effects to your images. Instead of messing around for hours with a camera and real lights, you can create brilliant light effects simply by using an iPad and your fingertips. Lights can either be drawn directly onto existing images, or use photos can be used as templates to create striking portraits.

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  1. Handy Photo: Despite the lack of Adobe polish, this iPad app is a seriously good photo editor, and it won’t break the bank either. The selling point to Handy Photo is its interface, which uses the corners of the screen to cater for rotating menu options.  It’s all designed to keep the central area of the screen clear, allowing you to use swipe gestures to tone your effects up or down, much like Luminance. The editing options for the large part work well, although the orange and blue menu palette didn’t convince us. Where Handy Photo really excels, though, is the depth of its effects. It’s not without its problems, but thanks to the excellent airbrushing arsenal on offer, you can fix most blemishes with a bit of patience.

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  1. Flowboard: Should you ever find yourself having to prove the iPad’s credentials as a tool for creativity, you could do worse than turn to Flowboard. This elegantly designed iPad app allows you to create portfolios, presentations and photo slideshows, and it produces beautiful results. You can start from scratch or choose from a large number of templates. After selecting a template option, you tap on a box and add an image, video or some text. The boxes themselves can be dragged around and re-sized, and their content can be scaled using the familiar two-fingered pinch and un-pinch gestures.

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  1. Flipboard: AKQA’s founderAjaz Ahmed is a big fan of social news reader Flipboard, primarily because it succeeded in totally reinventing newsreader apps, making your feeds more enjoyable to consume. “That’s because of the rhythmic way it presents stories, rather than bombarding you,” he explains. “Flipboard is great because it is not chronological but more aesthetic and has a better flow, including feeds from all the sources that are important to you.”

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  1. Hopscotch: Hopscotch is an iPad programming language that teaches kids to code in a fun and playful way. Making it easy for youngsters to create and publish programmes, Hopscotch allows them to be able to make digital stuff just as easily as they make tangible real-world stuff. Crafted by five New York City based web designers, they founded Hopscotch so they could build the toys they wish existed when they were growing up. Already gaining five star reviews across critics and users alike, Hopstoch is much more than child’s play.

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  1. Net magazine: The iPad edition of web design title net magazine has recently been completely rebuilt from the ground up as a tablet-optimised reading experience. It now features a beautiful new design, exclusive screencasts to accompany the practical tutorials, and additional imagery, audio and video content you won’t find anywhere else. The container app is free to download and then you can buy a subscription or individual app as an in-app purchase.

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  1. Drawnimal: Help teach your kids the alphabet with this adorable new iPad app from designer and animatorLucas Zanatto.Drawnimal aims to motivate children to draw around the device and encourages them to think outside of the box. Helping them to leave the digital screen, it shows children how to draw the main features of animals with animations to help them to learn the alphabet. Drawnimal is available for iPhone and iPad, with over 30 different animated animals and sounds. You can also switch between four different languages.

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  1. Photo Album: The clue is in the title here. Photo Album is a photobook maker, developed byAppsicum. This nifty little iPad app automatically creates albums, based on GPS location data, ratings, tags, date, etc. And tags can be read from other popular software like Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, iPhoto and the Microsoft photo app. As well as creating traditional photo albums, you can also use Photo Album app to conveniently create collage, mood boards and photobooks with minimal effort.

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  1. WebNote: WebNote by Hopin Inc is a free, web-browsing and content cataloging app for iPad and iPad Mini that allows users to bookmark, collect, and share digital content with a quick double-tap and swipe. Content captured can be maintained exclusively private to the user or shared via Twitter, Facebook, or among one’s Webnotes contacts. The next time you come across something that you’d like to keep or share, just double-tap, select your social network of choice, and slide to send. Simple!

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  1. ColoRotate: Developer IDEA claims the tool is based on “neurological studies of how Colours are seen and processed by our eyes and brain”. So basically, you plot Colours on the 3D shape (the dots), the vertical dimension represents lightness and darkness, the horizontal dimension saturation, and the circumference of the radish contains all the Colours of the colour wheel. This helps you visualize all the Colours and their relationships to others. A ‘Precise’ view lets you control hue and tint in multiple colour spaces such as RGB, CMYK, or HLS. There’s also the ability to generate random schemes when you need a bit of inspiration. The fact it can connect to Photoshop to automatically change foreground/background colours and add swatches is a further boon.

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  1. 3D World Container App: The number one magazine for 3D artists, 3D World on iPad is more interactive than ever! Watch video tutorials immediately with the tap of a button; enjoy professional and student animation and VFX videos; and get all our tutorial files downloaded to your workstation. The container app is free to download and then you can buy a subscription or individual app as an in-app purchase.

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