The iPad is, by far, the most software-rich tablet out there. We’ve been creating Best iPad Apps lists for years now, but this is something new. We’ve completely rewritten and recreated our master list of fantastic iPad apps. In the pages ahead, you’ll find more than 100 of our faves, from Amazon Instant to Zite, with more to come! We’ll add new apps on a regular basis and tweak this article to help you find apps in any category you need. Each main category page is split into subcategories too, so you can find the best apps for Turn-by-turn navigation just as easily as ones for transit directions. It’s all right here. Let us know what you think in the comments section, or suggest something we’ve missed!
Update on 4-14-2015 by Joe Donovan: Six new apps have been added: SwiftKey, Deliveries, DocScan, Elevate, BringFido, and Document 5.
New iPad App Additions
Here are the newest apps added to the roundup, including those for scanning documents, tracking packages, and finding a suitable hotel for your four-legged friend.
Swiftkey is a replacement for the lackluster keyboard built into iOS 8. It’s more intelligent when it comes to making text predictions than Apple’s native keyboard, and furthermore, offers multiple language support and quick syncing with Gmail and Facebook.
Deliveries is simply a great app for tracking packages. It provides accurate summaries, a sleek user interface, and seamless integration with every Apple device. It also works effortlessly with iCloud and your tablet’s notification center.
Forget your scanner — this app will use your iPad’s camera to convert paper documents into high-resolution PDF files. It comes with a handful of capable editing tools, too, allowing you to easily convert textbook pages and chalkboard photos into PDFs.
Elevate is one of the best brain-training apps out there. It’s designed to improve your focus, memory, and math skills with a series of entertaining activities. The cognitive tests also get more challenging as you improve, regardless of which of the 30 you choose.
Want to travel with your best friend? BringFido makes it easy to find and make reservations at a slew of pet-friendly hotels scatter across the globe. The app will also lists nearby dog parks, available sitters, and veterinarians with a host of reviews and rates from other dog owners.
The iPad still falls short when managing files. However, one of the best solutions is Document 5, which lets you convert various documents to PDF form directly on your iPad. Best of all, Document 5 pairs with iCloud to store all your files in a single place.
Categories (Click on one to jump to its page):
- Work and Organizing
- Security and Utilities
- Travel and Maps
- Fitness, Health, Sports
- What’s Around Town
- Social and Chat
Entertainment covers all the stuff you watch, read, play, and enjoy. This is the fun stuff, and our favorite section.
Movies and TV
Netflix is an absolute essential app, especially on the iPad. Tons of films, TV shows, and random documentaries about drug cartels that look great on the Retina display. Subscription starts at $8 a month.
No cable? No problem. Hulu is the place to go for catching up on all of the shows on television right now. Most network and cable channels have shows available. Subscription to Hulu Plus starts at $8 a month.
For Amazon Prime subscribers who take advantage of the large video library provided by Amazon, this is the app of choice. Rent, purchase, and stream tons of videos. Amazon Prime subscription run $100 a year.
What good is all this streamable content if you can’t remember the names of the shows and movies or actors that you want to watch? IMDB is the answer, plus it provides movie news and showtimes.
The Netflix and Hulu apps may be free, but Crackle’s content is free, too, with no subscription needed. There’s tons of turnover and weird content, but it has Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars series.
Viggle does the novel task of rewarding you for consuming media, which you’re going to do plenty of. Check in to shows, interact with fans, play show-specific trivia, and score some gifts for your trouble.
YouTube used to be included in iOS until the Apple-Google breakup, but you should put it right back on your iPad. It’s the best place to watch user-submitted content, and a great place to get your fix of cute animal videos.
With content split up across various platforms, it can be a pain to figure out where the movies and shows you want reside. Fanhattan centralizes all the information by showing you everywhere a video is streaming.
In front of the television and the silver screen aren’t the only place to be entertained anymore. There are tons of online creators, and you can see all the best web video in one place on Showyou. It’s like Flipboard for video.
You can easily read a book on a tablet, but why do that when you can have someone else read it to you? Audible, an Amazon company, has a massive library of audio books to choose from.
You may have chosen the iPad over a Kindle tablet, but you can still enjoy the Kindle app. It gives access to Amazon’s huge selection of books that can be downloaded and read anywhere.
This is a no-brainer app since you already have an Apple device, but Apple’s own book shop is still a solid option. Purchases sync to your account and can be viewed on any Apple device.
Video and music aren’t the only mediums that have gotten the streaming experience. You can pay a monthly fee for Oyster and download all the books you want from its library without owning. The subscription costs $10 a month.
Who says books can’t have pictures? Some of the best stories out there exist in graphic form, and you can read them on your iPad with Comics. The app allows you to read purchases on your ComiXology account from anywhere.
The news isn’t always pretty, but it will look good in Flipboard. The app turns your favorite news sources into a digital magazine with a beautiful layout for your consumption.
Pick the topics that matter to you and Zite will mix them together in a mashup of articles tailored to your tastes. It’s a hodgepodge of the things that interest you most (highly addictive).
News Republic is a news app for the social media generation. Articles from hundreds of top publications are navigable by tags, which will lead you into an internet rabbit hole very quickly.
Feedly is the more traditional way of following your favorite websites. This RSS reader will feel familiar to any Google Reader users and is ideal for keeping up with tons of sources at the same time.
Wind up with way too many tabs open at the same time? Then it’s time to get Pocket. Save articles and come back to them when you have time. This app is formerly known as Read it Later.
There’s always multiple takes on a news story, and you can see them all with News 360. Find a headline that catches your eye and see how every other news source has tackled the same topic.
A lot of news apps try to match your preferences, but Digg has its own tastes and interests. You can see the hand-picked stories deemed to be best of the web and trend-worthy by Digg’s staff.
Reddit is like a great news aggregator that you don’t have to set up—just tap into the communities that produce great content. There’s no better way to navigate the site on iPad than the BaconReader app.
Radio and Podcasts
Apple’s own podcasts app wasn’t so well received, which sent us on a hunt for a better option. Pocket Casts is our favorite podcast app thanks to its design and great options.
With its new version, TuneIn just reinvented the Live Radio and podcasting app. The new TuneIn has built-in social elements like Spotify. Read our full review.
Stitcher Radio is a bit like the Pandora of talk shows. Tell it your favorite podcasts and shows and it’ll put together a playlist of those plus others it thinks you’ll enjoy as well.
No music streaming service is more popular or offers more music than Spotify. Listen to all of your favorite songs on the go. A subscription to Spotify Premium is $10 a month.
Everyone is plenty familiar with Pandora at this point, and it’s still a must-have app for music lovers. No other option matches Pandora for new music discovery tools.
If you can’t put a finger on the song that you’re listening to, or you hear a catchy tune on a commercial and want to log it, use Shazam to figure out what’s playing.
The iPad is equally great for watching movies as it is for making them. Create your own animated films and time lapse clips with this powerful app that captures footage frame by frame.
There’s plenty of ways to listen to music on iPad, but if you want to mix your own, you need Traktor DJ. It’s the easiest way to get the same effects as a real DJ without needing your own turntable.
GarageBand is Apple’s own product, but it’s really a must own for any music lover. It turns your iPad into your ultimate digital amp and even if you’re not a capable musician, it’s a blast to mess around with the virtual instruments.
Apple always turns to the Infinity Blade series to show off what its tablet is capable of, and for good reason. The fighting game with epic boss fights always looks amazing.
For an odd game, check out Limbo. It’s eery, a little scary, and stunningly beautiful despite its black and white color palette. Filled with tough puzzles and challenges.
A hit from the indie gaming world made its way to the iPad and the experience is just as great. An action RPG with amazing visuals and an enthralling story.
Some games are about offering an intense environment and difficult challenges. Then there’s Monument Valley. It’s an extraordinarily pleasant game with beautiful visuals, relaxing puzzles, and an odd retro vibe.
Things are going to get a little creepy and odd once you enter the Room. It’s a game full of ambiance and intrigue. The Gameplay consists of puzzling and intricate machines that you interact with through intuitive touch controls.
If you’re familiar with the Walking Dead empire at all, you’ll know what to expect here. Tons of tension, an engaging story, and plenty of gory and graphic deaths – both human and zombie.
No place offers sports coverage like ESPN, so turning to the Worldwide Leader in Sports on your iPad makes sense. Score updates, news alerts, video highlights, and more await the sports fanatic in you.
Seeing the scoreboard tally each point in real time isn’t always enough. Sometimes you just have to see it. WatchESPN lets you watch tons of sporting events live – assuming your cable provider allows it.
There’s way too much sports news to digest, but if you want to try, TheScore has all that and more — tons of information, live scores, and everything you’d expect to track your crazy sports obsession.
It’s pretty tough to avoid ESPN when getting your sports fix. It just has the best college football coverage. Year-round updates, live games, and a scoreboard are all here.
March Madness is easily one of the best times of year for any sports fan. Non-stop games, tons of upsets and underdogs, and you can follow it all as it unfolds with this app.
It’s not college specific, but CBS Sports has a plenty of college related content and offers regular coverage of the biggest college sporting events, including title games.