My essential iOS apps — Part 2


Part 2 — on the iPad

The following apps are as essential to me on the iPad as they are on the iPhone, and have already been discussed in Part 1: Dropbox, Simplenote, Google Maps, Snapseed, Scotty, iMDB, Wikipanion, Spotify, Pushpin for Pinboard, Twitterrific, Netbot and Felix.

All my iPad essentials (except Paper) are universal apps, or have a separate iPhone/iPad version available, but I find these in particular to be most enjoyable, useful, practical on the iPad.

Flipboard — The first app I open in the morning, while having breakfast. The feature I love most is how easily you can add favourite articles and feeds to create a magazine of curated content. If you visit Flipboard’s website, you’ll also find a ‘Flip It’ bookmarklet to add to the browser, so that you can add things even when browsing from your computer. (By the way, I have a little magazine like that on Flipboard, called Morrick’s Flipcrumbs.)

Daedalus Touch — I’ve been writing more on my iPad in recent times, especially since I started using it with an Apple Wireless Keyboard. I’m also a happy user of Phraseology (I love its linguistic analysis tools) and iA Writer (I love its strong focus on the text and the airiness of the interface), but I’ve come to favour The Soulmen’s Daedalus Touch, especially since the last major update which has brought, among other nice improvements, the amazing option of letting you install your own fonts. Another useful feature in Daedalus is the integrated Web browser, particularly when I translate because I can quickly look up words in online dictionaries without having to switch to Safari and back.

Paper — I like sketching and painting on the iPad when I have some time or when I need to clear my mind and relax. I have purchased a fair amount of apps for that, but since I’m talking about essentials here, if I had to choose just one to install on my hypothetical ‘minimal iPad’, I would pick Paper due to its versatility. You can use it to just make doodles or very refined drawings and paintings. (I have all the In-app purchases, of course.)

Documents by Readdle and GoodReader — To handle documents, these two apps are both great and rich in features. I like Documents’ user interface better, but I also like GoodReader extended syncing capabilities. So it’s really a draw between these two.

Posts — Time ago I had my eyes on Poster by Tom Witkin and put the app in my wishlist. But since 99.9% of the time I’m publishing articles from my Mac on my WordPress blogs, purchasing an iOS app for that purpose wasn’t a priority. When I finally decided to give Poster a try, Automattic acquired it, so I had to look for an alternative. After a bit of research, I tried Posts and found it to be very good for the job. (By the way, I had hoped that after Automattic acquired Poster, the official WordPress iOS app would get better, but I still find it barely usable.)

Just Type — This app is to the built-in Notes app what Google Maps is to the built-in Maps app. The feature I probably love most? Full Dropbox integration. And iCloud syncing. And a great selection of fonts to choose from for your notes. And… only $0.99/€0.89.

WordWeb Dictionary — On the iPhone, I like the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app better. On the iPad, I prefer WordWeb. I really like its search features: you can use wildcard characters like ‘*’ or ‘?’ to search patterns (e.g. if you type req*ed in the search field, you’ll get all the words beginning with ‘req’ and ending in ‘ed’.), and you can filter search results by noun, verb, adjective, adverbs. And did I mention it’s free?

Feedly — I still haven’t returned to my old favourite Reeder. For now I’m staying with the Feedly official iOS app because it’s good enough for my needs and because I actually like its Flipboard-ish interface (though I liked the previous default fonts better.)

Screens — Over time I’ve purchased a few apps with an ‘expensive’ price tag, and at first glance it’s easy to dismiss them with the typical Oh, App X does just that? It’s not worth the price objection. Is Screens by Edovia worth the $20? It’s just a VNC client, after all. There are other, less expensive alternatives. I can use a Mac to control another Mac, and Screen Sharing is built in Mac OS X. Sure, but then you realise how well designed and well implemented the app is. You realise how fast and reliable it is. You realise how a well-designed UI makes monitoring and controlling a Mac via an iPad (or iPhone) a breeze. You realise how often you end up using it because (at least in my case) it’s faster and more responsive than a Mac-to-Mac remote desktop session. After a while, you realise that yes, Screens is worth its $20 price tag.

Readmill — The iPad is my main ebook reader (I don’t have a Kindle), and I read a lot in Apple’s iBooks app, which I find decent enough. But I also love Readmill’s iOS app, which has a really nice, elegant interface. Plus, I can upload a book or PDF from my Mac via the browser and have my Readmill library synced across iOS devices. Readmill (both the app and the service) is getting better and better with every update.

Digits — I’ve never understood why certain iOS apps that are built-in on the iPhone are absent from the iPad. Digits is a great calculator app. I love the interface (big numbers and buttons on the iPad in landscape orientation), the ability to check your calculations on virtual paper tapes and even to email them, which comes very handy when calculating my expenses, etc.

Camera+ — I haven’t mentioned Camera+ among my essential iPhone camera apps because I actually started liking it more on the iPad. I don’t take many photos with the iPad, and for my very limited needs Apple’s Camera app should be enough, but I really like Camera+‘s interface, which feels a bit less cramped than on the iPhone 4. I also use it a lot to import and edit images from the camera roll. Another recent favourite (hat tip to Nick Heer for mentioning it in his great article on the best photo editing apps for the iPhone) is Afterlight.

AppShopper — AppShopper is an essential tool to keep an eye on the App Store. I use it to search for apps (it’s faster and better than the official App Store app), to manage a wishlist of apps I’m interested in and want to monitor, and so on. Note that I’ve linked to the current AppShopper Social app, but I’m still using (and referring to) the original AppShopper, which I downloaded before it was removed from the App Store in December 2012.

The Author

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!