There is little that is more important to your user experience with a tablet than the apps that you choose to install on it. You might load it up with games and entertainment apps to be the perfect distraction and couch companion, you may have nothing but the essentials for productivity and work, or you might be like us, as we install all the things.
Aside from testing every app we can get our hands on, here is a look at a few of the top apps we install, the essential iPad apps for our daily needs.
Although I spend most of my time invested in the Android world, my iPad is still my go-to tablet and I’m lucky enough to have both an iPad Air 2 and an iPad Mini 3. While I don’t spend an awful lot of time on either, I tend to keep the iPad Air 2 for media consumption and the smaller iPad Mini 3 for productivity tasks.
What apps do I consider essential? Unlike our esteemed tablets expert Jonathan below, I don’t have a long list and instead only have a handful of apps that I make sure are installed on any iPad (or other iOS device for that matter) that I have.
Download Slack on iTunesSlack: One of the things I do enjoy the most about the iPad is the quality of some of Apple’s apps, not least beginning with Slack, which is essential to the way we communicate as a team. Having used many other co-working tools, I have no hesitation in recommending Slack as the best way for a large group of people to work together. One of my favorite things about the Slack for iOS app is the ability to see when someone is typing – just like you would on the desktop app or in a web browser – which is a feature that’s definitely missing from the Android apps.
iMessage: Believe it or not, one of my favourite things about my iPad is being able to use iMessage. As a Mac user, this integration between the various devices in Apple’s ecosystem means I can message someone from my Mac, pick up replies on my iPad and – when I have one – respond to replies from the iPhone. In particular, I message friends abroad quite often and while I do send iMessage them from my Mac, it’s nice to be able to send these while on the move.
Download Twitter for iOS on iTunesTwitter: For me, social media certainly begins with Twitter and there’s no better place to start than with the Official Twitter app for iOS. This is bound to be a contentious choice, just for the sheer number of Twitter apps in the App Store but I personally find the official app simple and easy to use. That being said, I do also like 3rd party apps such as Echofon and Tweetings. If you’re a Twitter fan, feel free to say hello: @nirave
Download Facebook on iTunesFacebook: Love it or hate it but Facebook is a large part of most people’s lives and I’m no different. While I much prefer Twitter (and by a long way), a lot of friends use Facebook and with around 20 notifications on Facebook per day, being able to stay in the loop without needing to go into a web browser is definitely welcome.
Download Google Drive on iTunesGoogle Drive: While DropBox used to be my Go to for cloud storage, I now find Google Drive to be the easiest to access from all of my devices. Given that a lot of Android phones also come with free Google Drive storage for a year or two, it definitely makes Drive my number one choice.
Download Dropbox on iTunesDropbox: That being said, Dropbox still has a lot of my legacy files, including memories of my brother’s wedding and more. Yes, I could move it over but I like having Dropbox for legacy files and Google Drive for my day-to-day.
As mentioned above, my iPad Air 2 has largely become my streaming device and tends to travel everywhere I go. There’s five different apps that provide all the media content I need and I recommend these to anyone who’s looking to stream content on the go.
Download Sky Go on iTunesSky Go: These first two are exclusive to the UK but simply put, Sky Go allows me to access a lot of Sky’s live TV and on demand content anywhere on the go. I find Sky Go ideal for travel, and you’ll often find a few movies and a box set or two on there when I travel.
Download Sky Store on iTunesSky Store: While Sky Go allows me to access the on-demand and live content, the Sky Store app allows me to access movies that I’ve bought. Considering they drop on Sky around the same time as elsewhere and I get a DVD included for a similar price to the standard download price on other providers, Sky’s Buy to Keep service is my way of increasing my film collection.
Download Amazon Video on iTunesAmazon Video: I’m an Amazon Prime member and self-confessed Amazon-aholic and while I do use the delivery services several times per week, Prime Video is a great way of watching some films and content that isn’t available elsewhere. And with the trio of Clarkson, Hammond and May set to land exclusively later this year, Prime Video is definitely here to stay for me.
Download Netflix on iTunesNetflix: But of course, no on-demand media collection is complete without Netflix. Although I don’t watch it as often when I’m at home, Netflix is one of my go-to apps when travelling and has kept me entertained on numerous occasions!
Download Spotify Music on iTunesSpotify Music: Everyone needs a bit of music and while I don’t listen to Spotify much on my iPad – I usually use my phone – it is useful to have for the times when I need to use my phone. Especially when travelling, Spotify is a live saver and although I’ve tried other services, I keep coming back to Spotify.
Download the iWork suite on iTunesPages, Numbers & Keynote: There’s a funny story about Apple’s document suite; a few years ago, I tried it out, really hated it and then tried it out a second time to construct a 40-page document. Since then, if I need office services on my iPad, this is where I go; I’ve tried Microsoft’s own apps and I don’t know why, I just find Apple’s to be more refined.
Download Kindle on iTunesKindle: I’m a big fan of reading (which isn’t widely known) and although I used to have a large physical collection of book, Kindle is where I pretty much buy everything I read. Yes, I do occasionally miss the feel of a physical book but having my entire book collection available on every device makes Kindle a no-brainer for me.
Download BBC News on iTunesBBC News: The next two are devices that make up my news aggregation, although most of my news now comes via Twitter. BBC New is good for a quick glance at breaking news and they do have some interesting features.
Download Sky Sports for iPad on iTunesSky Sports for iPad: While BBC News handles my actual news requirement, Sky Sports is my go to for sports news, analysis and even watching Sky Sports live. As the sole broadcaster of F1 in the UK, the Sky Sports for iPad app also has an incredible F1 centre that allows you to watch the race live, see the multi camera action, see positions on the track in real time and tons more. There’s nothing quite like watching the race on the TV while seeing all the metadata in the app; it’s a very intelligent experience.
Those are the apps that I use across my iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4 but what about Jonathan Feist? Let’s take a look, over to you Feisty!
I am one of the lucky few that have more than one iPad kicking around, as such, I try not to take for granted that I can use each for different purposes. In short, I use the iPad Mini 3 for communications and gaming, the iPad Air 2 for work, productivity and testing, as I have the latest beta software installed. The iPad Mini 2 I use to test most apps that you see me talk about here on the site.
Update: A few months later, I still use the iPad Air 2, but I’ve graduated to the iPad Pro for my major productivity tasks and the iPad Pro 9.7 for my entertainment.
Allow me to share my essential iPad apps, I’ll even break them up into a few categories to make it easier to read.
The essential tools for my work, I would get nowhere without the ability to communicate with others.
Download Gmail on iTunesGmail: You may call me old school, but I greatly rely on email for almost all of my communications aside from work and my wife. For email, I use Gmail. Sure, I have other emails, but Gmail is where it’s at.
Download Slack on iTunesSlack: Communicating for work is done almost exclusively on one of my new favorite apps and services, called Slack. I’ve seen no better way for a large group to enjoy organized chat. I suppose you could call Slack the modern age chat room, just with all the benefits of modern chat tools, some professionalism sprinkled on top, and giphy integration.
Download Hangouts on iTunesHangouts: Where Slack is ideal for business use, one cannot get through their day without communicating with friends and family. For many, there are services like WhatsApp to fill this need, for me, it is Google Hangouts. What can I say, having my conversations tie to Gmail, my Google Contacts and Google Voice for making calls to my family that lives in Canada, Hangouts is priceless.
Download Skype for iPads on iTunesSkype: Last, when it comes to streamlining the VOIP communications (Hangouts is fun, but data heavy) Skype is the tool of choice around these parts. If we Skype for no other reason, be sure to check out the Android Authority Podcast, which, believe it or not, I record some weeks right from Skype on the iPad.
Download Discord from iTunesDiscord: The folks over at hammer & Chisel Inc. understand what we I want out of a communications app, while not quite powerful enough to replace Slack for our required bot integration, the ability to bring in now 5000 people to the same text and audio chat channels makes for a powerful group communications tool. Remember that podcast I talked about, we no longer use Skype, check out Discord for yourself and you’ll see what we made the switch.
Google+ on iTunesGoogle+: While the world of social is vast, there is but one essential social media app that I have installed on the iPad, Google+. I will not hesitate to admit that Google+ is my social media home of choice, feel free to come say hello: plus.google.com/+jonathanfeist
I suppose you can find me on Twitter as well. I truly am not active, but if you are looking to connect, please don’t bother the other Jonathan Feists out there, I’m at @jfeist1
Like it or not, cloud storage and other online services are becoming the norm, and I am certainly not doing anything to slow them down. As you might imagine, I have a ton of space in my Google Drive, but I usually do not install the accompanying app, instead, I install the apps for the other two cloud storage services that I have committed to, Pogoplug and Box.
Pogoplug on iTunesPogoplug: If you were unaware, Pogoplug has a dedicated cloud storage solution along with the great hardware/software based solutions to make your local storage available over the web. Pogoplug Cloud has a small yearly fee, but offers unlimited storage space for data backups and more. You may find the transfer speeds a little slow compared to some of the competition, but it is more than good enough for ensuring offsite redundancy. At least the app is free.
Box on iTunesBox: Next up is an old favorite called Box. Box may have fallen out of the limelight when it comes to mainstream users, but its abilities behind the scenes for handling both Microsoft’s Office file formats and Google Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides) formats is second to none in the cloud storage space. At least, none that I know of.
Alternative web browser
Download Chrome - itunesChrome: Nothing against Apple’s own Safari browser, but you must understand that I am a huge Google and Android fan. As such, I have some habits that are hard to shake, and the Google Chrome web browser is one of them. It has all of my passwords saved to all of my regular sites, syncs my bookmarks and so much more.
Truth is, I recommend that everyone have at least two web browsers installed, which is maybe just a habit from the old days. Remember when you could never trust Internet Explorer to work properly, but still needing it because too many sites would only operate on IE? I can’t tell you how pleased I am that those days are over, I still have nightmares.
Notes and doodling
Downlod Paper by 53 - iTunesPaper by 53: I have not yet splurged on their really cool smart stylus, but the note taking abilities and fairly comprehensive drawing tools within this app are both fun and functional.
Download Fallout Shelter - iTunesFallout Shelter: The truth is, my casual game of choice is a constantly changing thing. At this time, Fallout Shelter is my guilty pleasure. As a unique tie-in to the Fallout franchise, the game has seen a few major updates since it releases earlier this year, adding new features and tasks just when the game was beginning to feel complete.
Download Ashpalt 8 - iTunesAsphalt 8: Here again, my game of choice is a revolving door of entertainment. As a fan of cars, I often come back to racing games for my kicks. While it has been a long time since I last played with any frequency, Asphalt 8 has recently again found itself as a regular player on my iPad. As far as work goes, it is always good to have a power hungry game installed, you know, for testing purposes.
Download Google Music - iTunesGoogle Play Music: That’s right folks, if you haven’t noticed by now, I have been a long time user of Google’s services, as I have been a long time user of Android and Nexus tablets. What I’m saying is, I have not yet converted over to Apple Music, and my music collection is not in iTunes, instead, Google Play Music is the app I need to get my tunes.
Download Remote Desktop - iTunesChrome Remote Desktop: Let’s be honest, as good as the current gen iPads are, there are many times that a PC is the only tool for a task. When that is the case, but I am not in a position to sit at my desk, remotely connecting to my PC is a powerful tool. Chrome Remote Desktop is my app of choice over other options mainly because it is free, effective and consistent across all of my iPads, Android devices, PCs and my Chromebook.
Download Pushbullet - iTunesPushbullet: I will admit that I mostly use Pushbullet as a customization tool on my Android devices, while on the iPad I use it to share files and links with my other devices. Pushbullet makes it simple to push a file to another of your connected devices, and it is pretty slick that it works cross platform with no fuss.
What a list, I hope you found at least one new app in there to help with your own iPad usage. It is amazing when we look closely at our devices, I find that I regularly have more than a hundred different apps installed, which is actually pretty limited compared to many. In general, I try to find apps that can serve more than one purpose, this is not always easy, but worth the time if you have limited storage space or just don’t want to be digging through pages and pages of apps every time you pick up your iPad.
With over 1.5 million apps to choose from, what is your default set of apps that you always install on your iPad?