Best iPad apps for new users

Best iPad apps for new users

Best iPad apps every new owner should download now!

You just got your brand new iPad. You’ve set it up. You tried out all the built-in apps. And now you’re starting at that big, beautiful screen and wondering — what’s next? Well, the App Store! It’s home to hundreds of thousands of iPad apps any of which can transform the screen you’re holding into a new a wondrous tool or toy. Here are some great ones to get started with!

No matter what type of device you own, you are always going to need a way to keep track of the dozens of passwords you collect from apps and websites. 1Password makes it incredibly easy to store information across all of your devices so you only have to remember the one you use to unlock the app. It also works with Touch ID(iPad Pro, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 or later), so you can keep your passwords ultra secure.


Of course, no iPad would be complete without Apple’s suite of productivity apps. With Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, you can create and edit the best files and documents around. And, if you are sharing your work with Office users, no problem. iWorks is compatible with Microsoft’s counterparts.

Duet Display

If you plan on using your iPad as a companion to your Mac or PC, you can turn the smaller display into a second screen with Duet. Lag time is undetectable because you connect the devices using a Lightning USB cable, instead of over Wi-Fi. When the two are connected, you can drag files, browser tabs, and more to the iPad’s screen. Plus, you can use your mouse, trackpad, and even touch screen gestures to interact with anything on the second screen.

$ 9.99 – Download now


Acorns: Invest Spare Change

Investing is hard to plan and even harder to understand, but with Acorns: Invest Spare Change, you can start putting your spare change towards your future!

Acorns connect with your bank card and every time you use that card to make a purchase, it will invest the change up to the nearest dollar into a wide portfolio. That means, if you buy a coffee for $3.27, Acorns will take the other 73 cents and invest them for you, you don’t even have to do anything.

You can track your investment progress in the app and see your growth over time, so you’ll always know how your money is doing. Plus, Acorns algorithm and the information it gathers about you when you sign up can be tailor to your liking. Whether you want fast growth over a short period of time, or to gradually make gains over 25 years, Acorns can make it happen.


I discovered shortly after I started using Mint that it automatically creates a budget for you. After you connect your credit cards and bank accounts, the app automatically creates a budget based on average spending habits. You can increase or decrease the maximum for each budget and add or remove categories. Income and expenses are automatically added when you make purchases with your credit or bank cards. Cash transactions must be manually added.

The only problem with this automated budgeting system is that it sometimes gets expenses wrong. So, you have to go in and adjust a category manually every once in a while.

If you don’t really need a budget, but like having one, just to see how you are doing, use Mint for the finance tracking and take advantage of the budgeting feature.

Streaming media


If you can’t stream movies and shows on your big screen TV, watching them on your iPad is the next best thing. With a paid subscription to Netflix, you can access thousands of titles. If you are already a subscriber, all of your history, favorites, and queues will be waiting for your on your tablet.


Similar to Netflix, Hulu gives subscribers access to thousands of TV shows and movies right on their iPad. You can watch current seasons of some of the most popular shows on television the day after they air. Plus, Hulu’s exclusive content makes it worth the monthly price. If you already subscribe to Hulu, your history, favorites and queues will be available on your iPad.


To round out the media streaming trifecta, add YouTube for hours of homespun fun. Don’t forget to subscribe to iMore to keep up to date on the latest and greatest Apple product reviews. And, of course there’s always cat videos.

Cloud Storage


If you’ve made the plunge into the 256 GB iPad Pro, you probably don’t need to worry about storage, but for everyone else, there is Dropbox. Dropbox is a cross-platform cloud storage service that lets you keep photos, videos, documents, and more in one place. You can access your account from anywhere you have Internet access, and you can also share content with others without having to give them your personal account information.

Google Drive

If you have a Google account, you may want to look into using the Google Drive cloud service. Similar to Dropbox, you can save all manner of files, including videos and pictures. With Google Docs, you can collaborate in real-time with others, too. The only requirement is that you must be signed up with Google.


Microsoft’s cloud storage service is also the best way to transfer data between your iPad and your PC. When you sign up, like iCloud, you get 5GB of free storage. For $2 a month, you can get 50GB, and after that, you can subscribe yearly and also get Office 365 for $70 to $100 per year.

With the OneDrive app for iPad, if you have Office, you can get to work on documents right in the app, with the ability to save right in the app. Photos are automatically tagged so that you can find them easily, and you can share everything. You can even access files offline, so that you can get work done when you don’t have an internet connection.

If you’re a PC user, OneDrive is the best cloud storage service for you.


Evernote is like cloud storage extreme (with a capital “E”). Its great for taking notes and making lists, but it is also a place for saving ideas, like something you’ve seen on your favorite blog (or this best app list). Features include a business card scanner that turns physical contacts into digital ones, voice-to-text dictation, and the ability to collaborate on project ideas. It is your one-stop shop for creativity.


Kindle Reader

Having the Kindle Reader for iOS is like having a Kindle inside of your iPad. When you purchase a book on Amazon, you can send it to your iPad directly from the website. When you open the app, it will be there, waiting for you to download. Thanks to landscape mode, reading on the iPad feels more natural.


Did you know that you can check out ebooks from your local library? Overdrive makes it easy to get those books onto your iPad. You can connect your local library number to check out books, read them, and even return them. You can place books on hold and get a notification when they are ready for checkout. All of this, and you don’t even have to exit Overdrive.

Comics by comiXology

Comic book readers will really enjoy getting their weekly fix right on their iPad. Comixology has the largest selection of comics across all distributor including majors and indies, plus get your Manga fix without having to wait for the next Anime convention. You do have to purchase books from the ComiXology website before you can download them. Now that Amazon owns the service, all of your Kindle comics are readable in the Comics app.


If you have lots of documents, books, pamphlets, comics, or other items already stored on your computer, you can add them to GoodReader to take with you anywhere. You can import files from iCloud Drive, open PDFs from Safari in it, and even connect to a friend’s device to share files directly. It is also a document annotator, so if you want to draw mustaches on your magazine models, go right ahead.




A relative newcomer compared to the rest of the list, Bear might seem simple, but it offers a great deal of flexibility for handling text. It’s true that Bear is good for both notes and todo checklists, but it’s support for Markdown, variety of themes, and simple organization make it a great tool for many different kinds of writing. Add images, files, code blocks, and more to spice up your work and give it more context.

In terms of options, you’ve got few. Choose how to sort your documents, pick a theme, pick your font, and even control fine-grain details such as font size, line height and width, and paragraph spacing. If you’d like to sync your work between Bear on your iOS devices and Bear for Mac, you can purchase a $1.49 per month subscription to Bear Pro.

iA Writer

For bloggers and those that use plain text or Markdown to write, iA Writer is a must-have for the iPad. You can concentrate on your work by activating focus mode, use special tools to highlight such things as nouns or conjunctions, and get a preview of what your finished work should look like once it is published. The customizable keyboard lets you select specific functions you use the most, like headers, bullets, or bold font. Documents can be stored and accessed in iCloud or Dropbox for easy access across any device. Oh, and Night mode.

Day One 2 Diary + Journal + Notes

Every good writer knows that journaling is how you keep your skills sharp. Day One is a streamlined digital journal app for keeping daily notes, musings, and ideas in order. You can add photos and locations to your entries and create multiple journals for different themes. For example, you could keep one journal specifically for writing song lyrics, and another for keeping track of your photography shoots. Bloom Built created an exclusive cloud storage service to keep your journal accessible across all of your devices. But, if you prefer iCloud or Dropbox, you can always use Day One Classic instead.


Notability is a note-taking app that lets you handwrite your notes instead of typing them, which is fantastic for new iPad Pro owners that also have the Apple Pencil. In any given note, you can sketch, handwrite, type, cut out a section and paste it back in, and record audio that is saved with that specific note. It features palm detection, so you can write with your hand resting on your screen (the way most people handwrite) without confusing the program.

Social media


Pinterest is a social networking website for crafting, cooking, and building your dream home. It is sort of like a digital scrapbook for anything you are passionate about. The official app looks great on the iPad. You can browse through pins in your feed, search for specific topics, and see who is saving your posts. Your pins are all saved on your personal board for quick access when you want to check a recipe or see if that couch matches your lounge chair.

Tweetbot 4

You might think that Twitter’s own iOS app is perfect, and if you do, that’s totally fine. But if you’re a diehard Twitter user, you’ll probably want something a little more robust, with better features and ways to view your feed. Tweetbot 4 lets you sync your timeline across all of your devices and puts you in control of what you see.

You can mute tweets by certain users, mute hashtags, and even keywords, so that you don’t get so frustrated with all the crap flying around that you just up and quit Twitter altogether. You can still do everything like you would normally — DMs, tweet, view lists — as well as a statistics view, a night theme for low-light environments, and more.

If you want to keep track of how popular certain tweets are or how many followers you’re gaining and losing every day, Tweetbot is invaluable.



You may recall that iMore Managing Editor Serenity Caldwell reviewed the Apple Pencil entirely in sketch. The go-to app she uses for her amazing art is Paper. It is the perfect app for sketching out ideas, creating graphs, doodling, and more. There are also some impressive tools for taking notes and annotating images. It’s an all-around useful app for sparking creativity.


For creating full digital paintings, you’ll want to step into Procreate. It has dozens of highly customizable painting and drawing tools with a wide array of color options. You can paint on top of colors and blend shades for a very realistic art experience. It also has additional digitizing features, like adjustable motion and perspective blur, color balance, and more. The project tracking feature lets you record your progress as a time lapse video that you can share with others.


If you aren’t really much of an artist, but do love to express yourself with color, Pigment is a coloring book for adults that is the most realistic coloring experience on the iPad. The eight basic coloring tools range from simple crayon to airbrushing. You can freeform color and risk going outside the lines or lock a section to ensure that your creation looks perfect. The free download comes with dozens of free illustrations, but for a weekly, monthly, or yearly subscription you get new coloring books every month.



When it comes to online purchases, the iPad is the perfect mobile device for finding what you want. Amazon practically has every single sellable item in its online store and the mobile app makes it easy for you to find what you are looking for. You can add items to your wish list, compare items, check for daily deals, view recommended products, and of course, buy it all. If you shop on Amazon, you’ll want this app on your iPad. Just be careful, shopping is so easy you might spend all of your hard-earned cash.


For reseller shopping, eBay has practically everything you can think of, plus everything else that Amazon won’t sell. On your iPad, you can search for products and filter by price, ending time, and distance. You can also refine your search by sold items, condition, and auction or buy it now. View full-screen photos, compare items, and bid on that vintage toy you know you shouldn’t buy. Or, add it to your watchlist to see just how much you could have gotten it for.

Music creation


Whether you shred on electric guitar or drop beats on a synthesizer, GarageBand makes it easy for you to create music. You can download tracks you’ve recorded from another program, connect your instrument with an adapter, or capture your inspiration using a microphone. Even if you don’t own a single instrument, you can create multi-track songs since GarageBand includes dozens of guitar, bass, keyboard, and drum options that you can use to create realistic sounding digital music. Once recorded, you can export your tracks to Facebook, Youtube, SoundCloud, and more.


The iPad is an incredible device for music creation. There are hundreds of apps that all do amazing things. You can lay down beats, clip loops, create synth sounds, and a whole lot more. Audiobus is like a digital pedal board for connecting music apps. You can link up compatible apps, like Animoog and SoundPrism, to combine the music they both make. Audiobus is indispensable for any iPad musician working with multiple programs.


Gaming is another animal (and another post) altogether! We rounded up the best games for iPad because there were just too many to list here. Check it out:

Best games for iPad

What do you recommend?

This list focuses on a broad spectrum of apps that are a staple of owning an iPad, but there are thousands of great titles in the App Store that become favorites among iPad users. What are some of your favorite apps that you would recommend to someone brand new to the Apple ecosystem?

Updated January 2018: Added a finance section with great apps to help you invest and keep track of your money.

Best iPad apps for new users

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