Lifehacker Pack for IPad: Our List of Essential IPad Apps

It took a while for the apps to go on their own, but we are now in a place where the iPad has almost as good a selection of apps as the iPhone. It’s harder than ever to find worthwhile apps. Let us save you time with this collection of the best iPad apps.

The Lifehacker Pack is an annual snapshot of our favorite and must-have apps for each of our favorite platforms. This list focuses on apps that really shine on the iPad, so there won’t be half-done, exploded iPhone apps here.


Outlook or Spark

You might not think this is solely based on the name, but our pick as the best email client for iOS is Microsoft Outlook. It includes everything you need in an email client, including a unified inbox, custom swipe options, powerful search, and robust filtering. It knocks Apple’s standard email app out of the water, so if you’re looking for something more powerful, Outlook is the way to go. If you don’t want to do business with Microsoft, Spark is the next logical choice, and a fantastic email application in and of itself. It does everything that Outlook does, but adds a smart inbox that is much better than Outlook and lots of customization options to make the app your own.

Google Keep , Evernote , Simplenote, or OneNote

It used to be easy to choose note-taking apps, but nowadays things are much more complicated and you have many reliable options. If you like a ton of features one by one, OneNote and Evernote are the most comparable , offering you image saving tools, IFTTT integration, tons of folders, special recipe filters, and tons of other options. In fact, the catch is that OneNote is free, while the best features of Evernote are locked down for pay . But these buckets are not for everyone. If you are more into plain text, Simplenote is the app for you. There isn’t a long list of features here, Simplenote just makes text, and it does it very well. If you’re looking for something in between, Google Keep is worth taking a look at . It’s powerful, but still pretty simple. Of course, you get a lot more from Google Keep if you are already investing in the Google ecosystem. Heck, it’s also worth noting that the default Apple Notes app has improved a lot over the years, so if you haven’t checked it lately, take a look at it. It sits somewhere in between all segments of Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep.


For some reason, there are almost no to-do apps on the iPad, but luckily our iPhone favorite, Any.Do, made its way to the iPad last year. Any.Do has a simple interface that makes it easy to add tasks and organize them, but you can also add tasks with your voice, share lists with others, sync across multiple devices, and even snooze tasks easily.


Editing images on iPad isn’t the best option, but sometimes it’s the only option. Pixelmator is a decent app for this because it has pretty much all the tools that the desktop version has . You can quickly get started with photo editing, drawing, and basic graphic design. If you’re editing photos on your iPad, Pixelmator is a must-have.

Duo Display

Using iPad as a second display is a great way to extend your desktop without taking up too much space. The best app for this is Duet Display . With it, you can connect your iPad to your computer with a cable and then immediately start using your iPad as a second display with virtually no lag. It also has many options, including high-resolution displays, 60fps, and support for touch input.


The iPad is a fantastic (albeit expensive) notebook, and depending on what you’re looking for, you have a few options. As a sketchbook, Paper is a fantastic option that makes even the worst artist look like an artistic genius with its brush options, easy-to-use book, and downloadable color palettes. While you’re at it, you might also want to consider taking a sturdy stylus .

Fantastic 2

You have many options for calendar apps on the iPad, but our favorite on the iPhone is Fantastic 2 , and that remains the case for the iPad, also because it’s the perfect grid of features and usability. Fantastical allows you to enter natural language text, so you can enter “lunch with Alan tomorrow” and Fantastical will automatically create an event. In addition, the app has different view modes, a light and dark theme, integration with reminders and a map view to visually see your day.

Editorial or Ulysses

Writing on iPad is great, and you have tons of quality apps to do it. However, we love the edition because it’s incredibly customizable. The gist of revision is automation features where you can customize text expansion, application triggers, and more. Basically, it’s as powerful as you want it to be, but still great for simple writing. If you prefer a long letter, then Ulysses is our favorite . Ulysses sits somewhere between plain text and Scrivener, which makes him perfect for organizing and writing whatever novel you intend to write without being overwhelming.

Internet / Communication


If you’re using Chrome on your desktop, Chrome’s sync features alone make it a stellar replacement for Safari. Chrome has some great features, including a desktop view, full incognito mode, an easy tabbed browsing experience, and speed dial for quick access to your favorite sites. If Chrome isn’t to your liking, you have a few more good options . Safari is pretty reliable these days, but if you don’t use it on a Mac, its usefulness diminishes pretty quickly.


The official Facebook app does a great job of providing you with a robust mobile experience, but it looks especially good on iPad. If you’re using Facebook, the iPad app with its large images, a beautiful wide view, and a full range of features is worth keeping close at hand.

Google Hangouts or Skype

Skype has long been a form of video calling, but Google recently introduced Google Hangouts and it gives it a way to make money. The reason is simple: almost everyone already has a Google account and that’s all you need to use Google Hangouts. The iPad version looks great on the big screen, and the added screen real estate makes video chat much better than its iPhone counterpart. With it, you can instantly make video calls without costing you a dime. However, Skype is still a form of VOIP and is widely used enough that most people have it. Both are great for video chats, so pick whichever works best for you.



Dropbox is already a fantastic cloud storage service, but what really sets it apart from the competition is its mobile app. It used to be nothing more than a file browser, but nowadays you can instantly upload all your images, edit files, and easily share anything to Dropbox using a variety of services. The PDF viewer itself is fantastic for the iPad, but overall it’s an incredibly useful app to keep close at hand. Plus, you can always get more space with a little bit of work .

The working process

Workflow is an app that lets you create macros and small apps for iOS. Basically, it’s an Automator for your iPad. You can do this with the click of a button to download upcoming calendar events, print a PDF page, find lyrics for the current song, and more.

Launch Center Pro

Launch Center Pro makes serious iPad work a lot easier by letting you create shortcuts to specific apps. Basically, you launch Launch Center Pro, hit the action button, and you will be taken to a specific part of the app so you can quickly send emails, create reminders, and more.


If This Then That is already one of our favorite web apps, and the iPad app is just as powerful . Not only can you create any recipes on the go, but you can also directly connect to your iPad contacts, photos, reminders, and more to automate everything that happens on your iPad.

E-books, music, photos and videos

iBooks or Kindle

It is difficult to distinguish between any of the reading apps on the iPad because they are all very similar. All of them allow you to read books on your phone, and most of them are tied to an account at the store of which they are a part. So, if you are using iBooks on another device, this is a logical choice. It’s the same with the Kindle app. Choose the ebook app that works best for you. However, if you’re a student, the Kindle app has all sorts of awesome features .


Google Reader may be dead, but Reeder is still our favorite RSS reader . In a recent update, Reeder added support for several third-party RSS readers, including Feedly . Reeder is incredibly clean and you can quickly save articles for later viewing, sync everything, or just browse your feeds in its simple interface.

Instapaper or Pocket

Bookmarking services are good for desktops, but really good for iPads. Save articles wherever you find them and have access to them on your phone so you can read when you’re bored. Each service has its advantages and disadvantages , but they are all awesome and look great on iPad. So pick one and run with it.

Overcast weather

Listening to podcasts on iPad is a great way to pass the time, but Apple’s option is far from ideal. We’re big fans of Overcast because once you set it up, it automates pretty much everything for you. It downloads all of your podcasts directly to the app, works over the air or Wi-Fi, or you can set it up to just stream content. Overcast can also intelligently amplify audio in podcasts and has a smart speed option that speeds up your favorite podcasts without making them look weird. It’s also free, which automatically makes it attractive.

Netflix , Amazon Instant Video, or Hulu

If you want to watch TV shows and movies on your iPad, you have a variety of options, and most of them are very similar. It really depends on what you’re paying to watch on your TV for, because for the most part, the apps for Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu are very similar. Having these apps on your iPad makes it much easier to complete your huge queue .


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