Best free iPad apps for reading, organzing, shopping, drawing, editing photos and more
Last Updated: 142 days ago
If you believe the data : Lots of people had the iPad on the top of their Christmas lists. Well, if you woke up with Apple's tablet under the tree -- Congratulations! The wonderful world of tablet computing awaits you.
But now what? An iPad is only as good as the apps you get for it. With over 275,000 made just for the tablet in Apple's store, though, it can be overwhelming to find the right ones. Not to worry, ABC News' technology team has you covered. We have rounded up some of the best free iPad apps in different categories. Get ready to start downloading!
Flipboard is a social reader app -- log in with your social network and it gathers all the links to the stories and photos your friends are sharing in a clean and easy-on-the-eyes layout. You can flip through pages and pages of stories that are popular with your friends. You can customize your news sources and select different topic areas too. Basically, if you were looking to build your own personalized magazine -- this would be the app to do it.
This cross-platform app syncs your notes from the web and all of Evernotes other apps so you always have them in one place. You can insert images and voice reminders within your notes too. Evernote has organized all your notes into notebooks, which you can give a cover photo. The company is constantly adding features, but this is already one of the best to-do list apps out there.
Now that you have an iPad, you're probably wondering what's the best way to get photos and files from one device to another. Dropbox is one of the best options. The app can be downloaded on your computer (Mac or PC), your phone, and your iPad. Drop a file in your Dropbox on your computer and it will pop up on your iPad. It's a great way to transfer images or files. Dropbox gives you 2GB for free; you can upgrade to larger plans for a monthly plan.
Mint is a personal finance organization app. Similar to the website, the iPad app lets you track your budget and see all your accounts in one place. The iPad app, though, presents everything in a touch-friendly way. You can tap the graphs and swipe to move through the months. For those worried about putting all that personal financial information into the app, the app is protected by a 4-digit PIN. If you lose your iPad you can deactivate it from your Mint.com profile.
The iPad can quickly turn into a small TV with a few key apps, butShowYou is the app you want for tuning into the best videos on the Internet. The app brings in video that your friends are sharing on Twitter or Facebook. Log in with your accounts and it will bring in the videos people are sharing on YouTube and other video sites. You can share your own videos with your ShowYou followers and easily share them on other social networks. There's, of course, no shortage of funny cat videos.
HuluPlus is one of those must-have apps for turning your iPad into a TV replacement. If you have a Hulu Plus subscription ($7.99 a month) you get unlimited streaming through the app, meaning you can watch non-stop episodes of "Modern Family," "The Office," "Family Guy," "Glee," "The New Girl," and more. You get all the standard video controls, but move to the split screen mode and you can watch a video while browsing other shows. ABC programming is featured on Hulu.
Not everyone is replacing their TV with the iPad -- a lot are watching TV in their living rooms with the iPad in their laps. For those, there's GetGlue. Log in with your Facebook account and you can "check-in" to the TV show you are watching. You can then see who else is watching that show and what they are saying about it. You can follow friends and they can follow you. The app also shows you what is coming up on TV and provides central pages for programs to show you what others are saying about it. Basically, it's the ultimate social experience around TV.
Spotify has become one of the hottest music services and its iPad app shows off its greatest features. Log in and you will be presented with your collection of songs, albums and playlists on the left side. On the right column you see the list of songs. The app also surfaces options which are buried in the desktop apps or sites, like the Inbox and messaging features. There's also an easy search function and "What's New" area to see top songs. You can spend hours getting lost in finding music.
If there is a place to window shop on the iPad it's in Fab's app. Fab has become one of the most popular places to shop on the Internet because of its social media tie-in and its awesome inventory. With everything from a hat that has a built-in beard (called Beardo) to a lamp that can be turned on with a plastic gun to interestingly shaped couches and hammocks, you can browse lots of cool stuff in the well laid-out app. You can see what your friends have bought or liked if you log in with your Facebook account. It's free to browse -- of course, it costs to buy!
There are lots of air flight games for the iPad, but who doesn't want to fly a paper airplane through some crazy scenes? Airwings uses the iPad's gyroscope -- launch your paper airplane and you can tilt the iPad to get through the mazes and obstacles. However, the game requires you to play with friends through Game Center. Don't let that be a deal breaker though, some of the levels can get pretty crazy -- there's one where you use spit wads as your weapon. And this isn't one of those cheap-looking free games -- graphics look great on the Retina Display. You just have to tolerate the ads.
Snapseed provides photo-editing tools with an intuitive, gesture-based interface. Once you open the app, it displays an informative overlay with simple instructions on how to use it. Tap the camera icon to open an image from your library or use the built-in camera from your device to snap a picture. Once you load the image into the app's main screen, a list of tools such as filters and adjustments appears along the left-hand side. Add a filter, such as "Grunge" or "Tilt and Shift." Pinch and Zoom to control the adjustments on the screen, or use the controls that appear along the bottom row. The app is one of the best ways to edit or adjust photos with a touchscreen.
ESPN ScoreCenter for iPad
Of course, we've got something for the sports lover. The ESPN Scorecenter for iPad contains a rich amount of information and detail on the games and teams fans love to follow. Tap the menu button to access any sport--football, for example. Select NFL to see a recent calendar of teams that played and the scores, too. The app allows users to view video replay; swipe to the right of the screen and the screen loads the selected video quickly, and also provides a quick caption of what you're about to see. This is a comprehensive app with an enormous amount of data at your fingertips. With everything from stats to scores to video and social media, it's hard to imagine that a sports-lover will have to look elsewhere -- other than the TV. Note: ESPN and ABC News are owned by the Walt Disney Co.
Around Me locates the nearest gas station, bank or restaurant for you, and the newest release even lets you book a hotel. Launch the app and a column with categories to search appears on the left side, and a map with your current location loads onto the main screen. Tap "Supermarkets," for example, and the app loads the nearest options in the left side column with the address and distance from you. The app contains a useful set of map tools, such as zoom and search buttons; press the compass icon, enter in your address, and the app will adjust the location on the map below. Tap the Hotels tab, and the app provides a list of hotels nearest you including star ratings and the lowest rate available per night. For $2.99 you can upgrade to an ad-free version of the app.
Design lovers, illustrators and even the casual doodler will find Paper to be an essential app for sharing sketches and illustrations across the web. Begin with a blank journal, and choose a photo for the cover of your journal from your camera roll. Tap the journal to open it and start to fill it. Tap on a page, and a row of drawing utensils and a palette appear before you below. Select the pen tool and a color from the palette and begin to draw--the lighter you press, the thinner the line. Pinch and zoom to shrink the journal and flip to the next page, or close it entirely when you are done. If you've got an iPad stylus this is one of the best apps to go along with it.
Allrecipes or Allrecipes Video Cookbook
Allrecipes provides some of the best cooking tools on the iPad. Its main app provides thousands of recipes in a well-organized layout. But to add to that Allrecipes has released its Video Cookbook app, which provides users with thousands of recipes and hundreds of how-to videos to help you cook up a storm, step-by-step. Tap on a dish, such as Green Grape Salad. On the right-hand side, the app displays shopping list of ingredients and cooking directions and on the left side, the app displays video synced with simple instructions as well as estimate prep and cook times. Other cooking apps, such as Foodily and Epicurios, provide helpful how-to's and recipe as well.
Lunchbox is a food-finding app that will save you in a pinch when you forget to pack that brown bag or need a quick list of restaurant options. Search categories, such as Food and Snacks and Coffee and Tea. Search for locations on the map by pinching and zooming on the screen, or enter a search term, such as "Veggie Burger" to see the nearby options. Tap on a suggested location, and the app displays a map, as well as reviews, star ratings, and photos taken by other users.
LIVESTRONG.COM Calorie Tracker
The New Year is approaching, which means resolutions on staying in shape and eating better. LIVESTRONG.COM calorie tracker aims to help users lose weight the old fashioned way—by keeping track of calories. The app gives you access to MyPlate, which provides a database of over 1.3 million food items and tracks your calories and exercise activity to help reach your weight-loss goals. Enter basic information, including weight and height, as well as your activity level. Select a goal, such as losing two pounds per week, and the app will calculate the calorie goal you should meet each day. By creating a LIVESTRONG account, you can communicate with members to help you stay motivated and accountable to your goals.
New Year's Eve brings new beginnings, and for those of us who want a second chance at last year's fitness resolutions, the Fitness HD might give you the push you need. The app provides over 700 exercises with text descriptions as well as photos, video and audio to aide you in your fitness endeavors. Open the app and tap "Exercise Base." From there, select movements according to the part of the body you wish to target. The premium version of this app gives you access to a food and body tracker, additional workouts and well as the ability to communicate with fitness experts. This app provides simple, solid instruction on how to do basic exercise moves, but you will need to fork over at least another $2.99 to get a more in-depth experience.
Find free apps!
You will learn fast that you can't pay for all the apps out there and this list is just the start. However, on occasion, developers and companies will reduce the price of apps to free. That is where Apps GoneFree comes in. This app handpicks free apps based on a 3-star rating or better, provides a useful summary and lists them for you daily. On the left hand side, the app shows calendar with the date and days of the week running down the column in descending order. In the center panel, AppsGoneFree lists apps that are now free along with a short write-up describing each one. You can take a look back on the calendar to see free apps released on a previous day, and choose one from the list.