The Best Starter Apps for New iPads

6 min read
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Apps are really what makes an iPad because there’s only so much you can do with the generic Apple apps you get right out of the box.

When it comes to making the best use of my iPad Air and Pro I’ve been playing around with a lot of different apps, so here are some of the ones I’ve come across so far. These apps are a must-have for me because my philosophy is to keep things simple and minimal. I then build on top of these apps to make the experience more unique. In addition, many of them are free.

1. Flipboard


This free app collates the best news and trending topics into a lovely flipboard-style presentation. It’s a great app for just about anyone because you can customize the entire app to your favorite topics.

This app also works great with home screen widgets. You can set up multiple widgets for various content you want to see. Plus, it looks fantastic on an iPad, taking advantage of the stunning screen—flipping through the board is an enjoyable iPad experience.

2. Yoink

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Yoink is a shelf app that allows you to quickly store items on the side of the screen to use later. It sounds simple but it’s incredibly useful.

You can collect text snippets, images, and even full-size documents – it turns your iPad into a better desktop-like experience and makes it that much more convenient for almost any type of power user.

3. ProCreate

One of the best things about an iPad is that you can get on your creative side with an Apple Pencil and an app like ProCreate. 

At only $10, you get a full art studio that you can make as simple or complicated as you want. Creative professionals use it to make amazing works of art, and I use it to take notes. I’ve tried a lot of different note-taking apps, and ProCreate is probably the most fun to use with the Apple Pencil for quick scribbles, sketches, and notes.

This plus the extra power in the new iPads with an M1 processor and the 120HZ promotion displays would definitely get your creative juices flowing. 

4. PDF Expert

PDF Expert is an application that allows you to read, annotate, edit, and sign PDF files.

Without a dedicated PDF application, it is difficult to view PDFs, let alone edit them. PDF Expert addresses this which makes it an essential app to include in your collection.

I use this application to highlight notes, annotate them, sign legal documents, and generally read PDF files that I download from the internet. You can then save these and re-upload them, for instance, to Google Drive.

5. Google Drive

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If you’re part of the Google ecosystem – which is impressive if you’re not already – you’ll need to download Google Drive to manage your documents in the Cloud if you’ll be working remotely with an iPad.

I consider Google Drive to be the “desktop” for the iPad, where I store and access all of my folders, files, and downloads via the app.

You’ll need Google Sheets and Google Docs to open spreadsheets and word documents. To get the most out of the GSuite, it’s best to download the entire G workspace stack.

6. Notion

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I don’t know how I’d get by without Notion, which is an all-in-one app for note-taking, collaboration, to-do lists, kanban boards, and more.

I use Notion to manage my businesses and literally organize my life. Because it is cloud-based, my work is instantly updated when I return to my laptop or desktop.

It integrates well with other programs and services like Google Drive, and you can embed documents right in Notion to have them link to other programs and documents.

Although there may be other iPad apps that perform some Notion tasks significantly better, I personally prefer having everything in one place and forgoing some advantages in favor of simplicity.

If you’re interested in how I’ve set up my Notion, I’ve made a full video on it you can check out here.

7. Instapaper

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If you enjoy reading on your iPad as I do, you’ll want to get Instapaper. 

It is an app that saves pages and articles, automatically formats them to be iOS-friendly, removes clutter, and, best of all, makes them accessible offline and at any time.

Once the article has been saved offline, you can change its appearance, highlight text, and even have it read to you using the text-to-speech function.

It’s a great app to keep on hand so you can build a collection of offline content for when you need it.

8. Amazon Kindle


Amazon Kindle is a must-have starter app for anyone who enjoys reading.

If you already own a Kindle, you can use the Kindle app to read eBooks and sync them with your existing Kindle library. You also have access to the standard Kindle features such as reading progress tracking and dictionary look-up.

It’s not the same as using a native Kindle, but it’s great for books with color illustrations, or if you have a larger coffee-table book or manga because the iPad is so much larger than Kindles.

9. Bettersleep

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Bettersleep allows you to listen to a variety of ambient noises, which helps you focus.

I use this app when I need to get in the zone by setting a timer for an hour, working with ambient noise, and then fading out when the timer expires.

The app integrates seamlessly into the iPad, with widgets and native player controls available.

10. Lightroom

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Lightroom, an Adobe photo-editing app, is a no-brainer for photographers or casual enthusiasts who enjoy photo editing.

It’s a powerful app that gives you a wide range of controls to customize your photo and makes use of the iPad’s computing power.

If you already use Lightroom CC, the touch control sliders, large screen, and cloud syncing make using it on the iPad a truly enjoyable experience. I simply enjoy taking the iPad to a cafe and taking my time color grading photos shot on the Fuji X100V, for example.

11. BitWarden


There will be a lot of logins with all of these apps I mentioned, as well as the ones you already use and it’s hard to keep up with all the usernames and passwords.

To save me the headache, I have BitWarden as my preferred password manager which has a native iPad app. It gives me access to all of my logins in one place across devices, which is handy when I’m out and about with the iPad.

There’s also a password generator, which is very useful and secure for creating new logins for new websites.

So, whenever I need to login into an iPad app or save a new login I’ve created on the iPad, Bitwarden makes it super simple. You could use Apple’s iCloud Keychain, but I prefer a dedicated password manager because it is more secure and works much better for non-web logins.

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These are the apps I recommend when getting started with a new iPad, so go forth and start building out the rest of your apps!

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