Watch TV, relax, and find your way with these apps
Sure, the iPad is a great piece of hardware. But it’s nothing without a lot of great apps. Here are our picks for the best free iPad apps to download to get you started. We cover a range of interests, so you’re sure to find some great apps to download.
1. Best Microsoft 365/Microsoft Office Alternative: iWork
- Free to download and use.
- Apps have a clean, easy-to-use interface.
- Access your work on other devices via iCloud.
- Open, edit, and save documents in Office format.
- Writing tools in Pages aren’t as robust as Word.
- Not as many online support resources as Office.
Apple began including the iWork suite of office apps for anyone who purchased a new iPad or iPhone after the release of the iPhone 5S in late 2013. The iWork suite includes a word processor (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers), and presentation software (Keynote).
How do these apps stack up to Microsoft’s versions?
The iWork suite isn’t quite as complete but also not quite as bloated. Most of us don’t need all the extra features packed in with our word processor or spreadsheet, and for us, iWork is perfect.
Stream Free Music: Pandora
- Create stations based on artists, genres, and more.
- Use Voice Mode to control playback with voice commands.
- Find podcasts through recommendations.
- You’ll need to pay for Pandora Plus to download music for offline listening.
- The free version contains ads.
Pandora for the iPad is simple and sleek, offering the versatility of the Pandora website without much clutter and allowing you to play music (and podcasts) in the background while you do other things.
When you combine Pandora with the ability to use Home Sharing to gain access to your entire music collection, it’s easy to see how the iPad can replace your home stereo. Pandora is easily one of the best apps available for the iPad. Pandora is free to download and use and includes many features, but you’ll need to upgrade to Pandora Premium for other features, such as offline playback.
3. Broadcast Yourself: YouTube
- Get personal recommendations.
- Find out what’s trending in music, gaming, beauty, and more.
- Connect with shared-interest communities.
- Videos contain ads.
- You’ll need to upgrade to a paid subscription to download content for offline viewing.
Like Google Maps, YouTube used to be one of the default apps on the iPad. But when Apple and Google broke up, YouTube disappeared. The YouTube iPad app is great for those who want an app-based experience when browsing YouTube. The app can also be used as an external player for YouTube videos, so if you browse YouTube in the Safari browser, videos will open in the YouTube app.
4. Crunch Numbers: Calculator HD Pro Lite
- The screen shows your input and the result at the same time.
- Use more than one line for long equations.
- Email a calculation.
- This free app has ads.
- No way to customize colours.
We all need a calculator from time to time, and this free calculator app does a great job of utilizing the iPad format to handle a slew of calculations. Calculator HD Pro Lite features a standard mode, which is great for simple calculations, and a scientific mode, which is great for advanced math classes.
5. Stay Connected to Friends and Family: Facebook
- Use Siri to create status updates.
- Connect with friends and family on the go.
- iPad Facebook interface is easy to use.
- Help resources are lacking.
- Facebook is often mired in controversy.
Facebook works fine from the iPad’s web browser, but download the official app to get the best experience. With Facebook on your iPad, sending images directly to Facebook via the iPad Photos Share button is easy. Send web links from Safari, update your status using Siri, and more.
6. Personalized News Stories: Flipboard
- Curates news and interesting info.
- Personalize your news.
- Collect and share the news stories you like.
- No way to block a subject if you don’t want to read anything about it.
- Browser add-ons may affect how Flipboard displays.
Flipboard combines other social websites with traditional news and magazine sites like CNN and Sports Illustrated to create a magazine tailored to your social experience. Customize your feed, find great stories, and learn about what’s happening worldwide.
7. Keep Up With the News: USA Today
- Use My Topics to personalize your news.
- Crosswords, Sudoku, and podcasts are available.
- Content is constantly updated.
- You’ll need a paid subscription to remove ads.
- Some content is available only to subscribers.
If you need to get your news fix, USA Today is one of the best news apps in the App Store. You’ll get a free dose of daily news and daily crossword puzzles and podcasts. Keep up with the weather, and sign up for breaking news alerts so you always know what’s happening. The interface is highly visual and easy to navigate.
8. Don’t Get Lost: Google Maps
- Get maps for multiple transportation modes.
- Easily share maps with friends and family.
- Street View perspective, indoor maps, and a host of other tools.
- Street View occasionally captures images you may not want to see.
- Offline navigation is available only for cars.
- The design could be more streamlined.
When Apple replaced Google Maps with its own Maps app, it created such a backlash that Tim Cook apologized. Apple Maps has come a long way since its initial release, but many people still prefer Google Maps.
If you want to use your iPad as a navigation tool or to map your route before you get into the car, Google Maps is one of the must-have apps on the App Store. Apple’s Maps app would undoubtedly win the award for prettiest, but Google Maps is still the most functional.
9. Keep Notes and Lists: Evernote
- Tons of features that go beyond note-taking.
- Access Evernote on multiple devices.
- Access note history.
- Notes are synchronized in real-time.
- If you have a large notebook list, it can be hard to access the one you want.
- Mistakes numbers for phone numbers and creates a clickable link.
Evernote works similarly to the built-in Notes app but includes several super-charged features. Evernote is cloud-based, so you sign in to your account to retrieve your notes. You can sign in with your PC, iPad, or Android device. Create notes and task lists, email them from your Evernote account, and organize them by tags.
10. Review Restaurants: Yelp
- Find great, highly recommended businesses.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Share feedback on your experiences.
- Spiteful reviews with no merit take away from the experience.
- Some businesses claim legitimate, positive reviews are hidden.
There’s nothing quite like Yelp for finding the best restaurants around you. Combined with a great audience of reviewers, you’ll find out which restaurants are nearby and be able to choose the best. And for most restaurants, you can get a peek at the menu.
Yelp also works on almost any other type of business so you can find a dry cleaner or an auto repair shop. Have a good experience somewhere? Share your thoughts on Yelp and help a small business thrive.