My first iOS device was iPod touch 4. It was very long my only iOS device, until I purchased iPad Air 1 with iOS 7. And it was fantastic. Much bigger screen with IPS techology – iPod touch 4 uses TN panel – and iPad was not lagging like iPod touch 4 did. I personally don’t like new iOS 7+ design, I would prefer iOS 6 style. Later I purchased iPad Air 2 and in Late 2015 I got iPad Pro 12.9-inch. That 12.9-inch screen is amazing and split-view multitasking is much better, because I can see “full version” of both apps on the screen (in 50:50 mode) and not two “striped down versions” like on iPad Air 2. Typing on new “PC style” software keyboard is pleasure, especially for users like me who are typing a lot of text on iPad. My iPad Pro became my personal mobile computer and it was so good, that I sold my MacBook Pro and got iMac Retina 5K. iPad Pro is my mobile computer and desktop Mac with big screen and high performance is my main workstation. I have tuned my iPad-Mac workflow and now I will expose it for you. All my iPad’s apps are hand-picked, I have tested hundreds of apps to find best ones. I prepared for you 7 categories:
- File Management
- Extensions & Widgets
So let’s start:
Are you finding best file manager for iPad? Get iFiles 2! It’s best file-management app, even better than Documents by Readdle. iFiles 2 is the only filemanager comparable to Documents by Readdle. I know that iFiles 2 is paid and app from Readdle is free, but iFiles 2 got some features I’m missing on Documents by Readdle. Anyway, Readdle’s app is second best filemanager in whole App Store, only paid iFiles 2 beats it. I use iFiles 2, because I can connect to computers and NAS in my LAN, (S)FTP servers and cloud services and I can manage my files between these storages. It works with classic filesystem – folders and files – so you can directly copy your files here. There are some ways how to get your files here: download it from NAS/computers in LAN, cloud services, (S)FTP servers, or copy from another iPad app via “Open with…” menu. You can use iTunes File Sharing or alternatives like iMazing 2 too. And last way is interresting – via wi-fi, but not like many other apps via Internet browser and mostly one-by-one, but iFiles 2 will create a virtual disk and you can copy files here by drag & drop, like on classic computer. Your only limit is wi-fi speed and iPad’s storage. iFiles 2 supports Document Provider extension, so you can, for example, send your files via web formulas in web browser or upload your files to WordPress blog – all within Internet browser – directly on your iPad. This was not possible with iOS 7 and earlier, because Document Provider extension is here since iOS 8. But there is not a lot of apps with this feature, so choose your apps carefully. Both iFiles 2 and Documents by Readdle support it. Interesting is option to create tabs, so you don’t have to do many taps while managing your files. But one feature I’m missing – Spotlight support. Apple since iOS 9 opened Spotlight search for 3rd party apps, but iFiles 2 still does not support it.
You can download iFiles 2 on the App Store:
WD My Cloud:
I’m user of WD My Cloud. Unlike other apps, this official app from Western Digital allows you to access your NAS even if you are not on the same wi-fi network. App is still not optimized for the big 12.9-inch iPad Pro and iOS 9 iPad multitasking. Interesting is support for cloud storages – supported services are Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Creative Cloud and MyCloud.com. Unfortunately, this app can’t manage your WD My Cloud settings, you have to use web browser.
You can download WD My Cloud on the App Store:
For me as i-Flash Drive user, this app is essential. i-Flash Drive is an external USB stick for iOS devices, which can be connected to both Lightning port on iPad and USB port on your computer. PhotoFast ONE is app which communicate with your i-Flash Drive and allows you to copy files to it and then, when you connect it to your computer, all datas are here. Interesting option is to link your PhotoFast ONE app to cloud services – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive – and backup your data on i-Flash Drive. You can backup your iPad’s contacts, calendars and Camera Roll too. Apple bans Youtube videos downloaders from App Store, but this app can download videos from Youtube directly and I’m not sure how it passed through Apple’s review, but it works. Please note, that you will need to connect your i-Flash Drive to iPad to be able to download videos from Youtube. But one issue is here: PhotoFast ONE app has problem with some “library files”, like exported bookmarks library from your Internet browser, so if you want to copy these “library files” to i-Flash Drive via PhotoFast ONE app, compress them into ZIP archive and don’t open them on iPad with PhotoFast ONE app.
You can download PhotoFast ONE on the App Store:
I had once low-end WD My Cloud NAS. I was finding solution for syncing my files between iPad, NAS and Mac, so I had to purchase new NAS with support for installing custom apps (and other options like RAID). I have chosen Resilio Sync (formerly BitSync). Because of iOS limitations, it only supports syncing within Resilio’s iPad app. When you want to start syncing, just launch app and wait until sync is complete. It uses peer-to-peer system, so synchronisation is very fast and no datas are sent via Internet. Resilio’s sync app supports Document Provider, so you can edit your files with apps that support Document Picker feature, so you don’t need to use “Open with…” to edit your files and to copy back to Resilio Sync app. As I said, I use iFiles 2 and when I copy file from iFiles 2 to my NAS and then I launch on iPad Resilio’s app, changes are synced. On Mac, you can fully manage which folders are synced, it’s iPad counterpart is much more limited. Representative of Resilio wrote e-mail to it’s customers, and I reported that iPad app should be more robust. Second issue is that Resilio Sync still does not support iOS 9 iPad multitasking (but it is optimized for 12.9-inch iPad Pro). I can recommend this product, just be aware when you are buying new NAS – check it’s compatibility with Resilio Sync.
You can download Resilio Sync on the App Store:
I use Dropbox as my exclusive cloud storage. It’s a multiplatform cloud supported by all major operating systems. I don’t like iCloud Drive from Apple, it’s one big mess with strange behavior of apps’ dedicated folders – I see other apps’ folders on Mac, other apps’ folders on web icloud.com and other apps’ folders on iPad. Dropbox is much better, with better synchronisation. It creates dedicated Dropbox folder on your Mac and by drag-and-drop I copy files to that folder and it synchronizes changes on Dropbox server and then I have up-to-date version of my files on all devices. My WD My Cloud NAS is compatible with Dropbox’s NAS app, so I have my Dropbox files backed up locally on my NAS. Dropbox offers extra paid optional storage, but, for individuals, only one option – 1 TB. There is not way to choose for example 100 GB. If you are a free user, you can increase your capacity for free by reffering friends. Both friends and you will get some extra space for free.
You can download Dropbox on the App Store:
I was long-time user of Apple’s default Calendar app. I was satisfied with Readdle’s apps like PDF Expert, so I tried their calendar app. And it was good. This calendar looks much better, it’s more robust and much more intuitive. Reviewing your events is no longer pain thanks to better management. Calendar 5 works with calendars you were using on your Apple’s Calendar app, but here is one issue: I’m using built-in Calendar app on my Mac and this Readdle’s app on iPad. When I want to synchronise Calendars 5 with my calendar servers, I have to launch this app. Background syncing is not working. I have calendar widget from another developer, which supports background syncing.
You can download Calendars 5 on the App Store:
Wunderlist is perfect to-do manager and useful for both individuals and teams. You can manage your tasks & sub-tasks, assign tasks to chosen user(s), create folders, events support chat, which is essential for teams. Even free version is useful, if 5 MB limit for files is enough. This is must-have app for our comp-blog.com team. iPad app si very clean and good looking with optional widget. Wunderlist, like many other apps (like mentioned Calendars 5), is linked to notification services, so you won’t miss any event when your Wunderlist app is closed from iOS multitasking.
You can download Wunderlist on the App Store:
Word. Excel. PowerPoint. OneNote. MS Office is essential for me, so I purchased Office 365 Personal. OneDrive storage is useless for me, because I use Dropbox. Thanks to Office 365 Personal subscription, I can install MS Office on my all devices without violating any law. iPad version is very good designed, clear and easy to use. Because it is tablet, touch-based version, not all features are available, but it should be enough for average user. Interesting is support for Apple Pencil – MS Office can recognize if you are using your fingers or Apple Pencil – and you can draw directly on document with your Apple stylus, like on cells in Excel or anywhere in Word document. For Word/Excel/PowerPoint it’s set to use Apple Pencil for drawing by default. After changing one setting, it can be used in OneNote too. I was user of Apple’s iWork, now I prefer MS Office.
You can download MS Office on the App Store:
Ulysses is distraction-free text editor for macOS and iOS. I use it for writing texts for our comp-blog.com. Ulysses supports Handoff, so I can start writing on iPad and when I come home, then with one click continue on Mac and vice versa. Your text library can be automatically saved to iCloud (as library on iCloud) or Dropbox (as plain text). Ulysses supports folders and smart folders, markdown, night mode, statistics, goals, attachements etc. Texts can be exported to many formats like plain text or PDF.
You can download Ulysses on the App Store:
PDF Expert is another good piece of software from Readdle for your iPad. It allows you to annotate, sign or fill formulas in your PDF files, highlight text etc. Interesting is Apple Pencil support, you can draw anywhere on document. Pages in your PDF files can be rearanged, rotated, deleted or even extracted. It works together with PDF Expert for macOS and thanks to Readdle Transfer feature (something like improved Handoff from Apple), you can work on iPad and continue on Mac or vice versa. Readdle Transfer does not require iCloud service, so it works with macOS version of PDF Expert purchased on Readdle’s webpage. You don’t need Mac App Store version, but, of course, you need to purchase it on Mac App Store if you want benefit from Apple’s Family Sharing. PDF Expert supports Dropbox, so all your cloud files can be accessed within app. If you want to convert your files on your iPad to PDF, you will need small utility called PDF Converter. It’s true that there are many PDF convertor apps on App Store, but this solution from Readdle is well integrated in system with good looking design with intuitive and logical user interface. And as bonus, it will be regularly updated.
You can download PDF Expert on the App Store:
And PDF Converter:
Textastic Code Editor 6:
I know that creating webpages on iPad is little madness, but if you find some errors on-the-go, you can fix it with iPad. With good external keyboard is Textastic enough for small edits, but it won’t replace your desktop computer with two or three monitors. Another problem is file management, so you will have to use Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud Drive or WebDAV. But one elegant solution is here: if you have FTP client with Document Provider extension, like Transmit from Panic, your Textastic app, thanks to Document Picker feature, can edit files directly on your server without need to download it, edit and then reupload.
You can download Textastic Code Editor 6 on the App Store:
Ergo Web Tools:
Little utility to test responsive design of your webpages. You can simulate various widths from 200 px up to iMac Retina 5K resolution, so you can test if your webpage looks good on all devices including small iPhone SE and big computer displays.
You can download Ergo Web Tools on the App Store:
Spark is perfect e-mail client for iOS devices, another good software from Readdle. Unlike Apple’s Mail app, you can personalize it much more, like editing swipes actions, sidebar and widgets with fast access to calendar, inbox, attachements etc. With calendar widget is problem that you won’t see flag on date with events, but if you tap on day with events, events will be shown. Also, I would be glad for Wunderlist support. Spark for iOS supports some services – Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box Readability, Pocket, Instapaper, OneNote and Evernote. Interesting is ability to snooze e-mail, useful quick replies or ability to cancel sending/deleting e-mail – if you accidentally send or delete e-mail, you have few secs to click on “Undo”. Settings can be synced via iCloud between Spark for iOS and Spark for macOS. Unfortunatelly, Handoff is not supported. Better signature management, option to logging, swipe actions (great with Magic Mouse), Smart Inboxes and Quick Replies make this client really awesome. And it’s free for both iOS and macOS.
You can download Spark on the App Store:
I have iPad, Mac and Android smartphone. With mysms, I can connect these devices together. You will need to be on same wi-fi network or using cellular data. After installing mysms on all your devices, you can, for example, receive SMS from Android smartphone on your iPad and reply on iPad without need of unlocking your Android smartphone. SMS can be backed-up to Dropbox. Notifications are supported too, so if you forgot to deactivate silent mode on your smartphone, your iOS device or Mac will alert you. You can use those alert for both SMS and calls and it works on both iOS and macOS. Message and call history is synced, so you can manage your workflow seamlessly.
You can download mysms on the App Store:
Tweetbot is an app which is well optimized for 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It got interesting right column, where you can see your activity, stats, mentions and likes. Interesting is sync via iCloud, so if you read few tweets on your iPad and then you can continue reading tweets on your Mac at the place you left on iPad. Tweetbot supports multiple accounts and ability to choose way how will Tweetbot open link – directly within app or in Safari.
You can download Tweetbot 4 on the App Store:
Facebook Pages Manager:
All my contacts and friends are on Facebook and many of them use Messenger as only online communication tool, so I’m forced to use Messenger. Personally I don’t like Messenger and with upcoming changes like ads directly in app it will go even worse. I have downloaded dedicated Messenger app on my iPad, because I don’t like chatting in Internet browser. Although I don’t like this app and its battery draining, I have to suffer it.
You can download Facebook Pages Manager on the App Store:
I use Google Analytics on my webs and dedicated app is for me better solution like looking manually on Internet, so I downloaded this app. It’s still not optimized for big iPad Pro and lacks iOS 9 iPad multitasking, but still better as nothing. It’s shame that big corporation like Google can’t make their app better.
You can download Google Analytics on the App Store:
I got this app for statistics and ability to send notifications about new comments on our comp-blog.com. Not all types of statistics in WordPress-based website are available to Google Analytics, so that was another reason to get this app. I don’t use it for publishing new articles. App supports widget for your Notification Center.
You can download WordPress on the App Store:
App for fast sharing my ideas on Twitter and Facebook. I can add my Twitter and Facebook account – including Facebook pages – and share my ideas on more services and pages by few tabs. I can choose which added services I want to use to share ideas, so it makes my sharing experience much better.
You can download Linky on the App Store:
Many forums and blogs support Tapatalk and some of them I’m regularly visiting, so I got this great app. It improves and unifies reading experience with notification alerts, so I never miss any important update or new post/reply without flooding my e-mail account. Our web comp-blog.com is on Tapatalk too – just find “comp-blog.com” (without dashes) and follow us. Thanks.
You can download Tapatalk Pro on the App Store:
ProTube for YouTube:
I tried many Youtube clients and I have choosen ProTube. Some features like 60 FPS video and 4K resolution are on iOS limited to official Youtube app from Google, so I’m very surprised that these features offers ProTube. You can block annoying ads, enjoy background playback and one feature which is not present in official Youtube app from Google – Picture-In-Picture multitasking. Some rumors say that PIP is not available in Google’s app because in this mode Youtube can’t show ads. ProTube offers features like choosing resolution, audio-only playback and adjustable playback speed. Even if you don’t have Google account, you can still create local playlists on your iPad. Some other features are AirPlay and Chromecast support, iOS 9 multitasking, 3D touch, regular updates etc. You may find better looking client on App Store, but features provided within ProTube beat all other Youtube clients.
You can download ProTube for YouTube on the App Store:
This is best video player for your iPad. It officially supports DTS Audio Codec (DTS HD), DTS Headphone:X, Dolby Audio Codec (AC3, E-AC3) and Dolby Mobile Surround Sound. You no longer need to convert your videos and movies, nPlayer handles most video formats and codecs with support for H.264/MPEG4 Hardware acceleration. Watch your movies wirelessly on big TV screen thanks to AirPlay, Chromecast and video cast for smart TVs or by cable via HDMI. Subtitles and playlist files (CUE, M3U and PLS) are no problem for nPlayer. Great feature is that nPlayer can play content from your LAN via SMB/CIFS or UPnP/DLNA. You can connect to network services like FTP, SFTP, WebDAV or cloud services Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Box and Yandex.Disk. If you are not good with computers, you can find compatible devices in your LAN by one tap on “Scan Network…”. User interface is highly customizable and with support for iOS 9 iPad multitasking and Picture-In-Picture you can, for example, write e-mail and still watch your movie. Another features are multi-track audio, audio boost, audio sync, lyrics display and support for DTS HDMI Bitstream (Passthru)
You can download nPlayer Plus on the App Store:
I often work with metadata on both iPad and Mac. Sometimes I need to delete all metadata and or remove GPS location or add my own metadata. For this I use Metadata Pro. It’s supports profiles, so if you are, for example, often adding or editing custom sets of metadata types to same values (like copyright for your photos), just make your own profile. Simple and powerful app, but works only in photos in Camera Roll. After editing metadatas, it creates its own album with your picture files. And one bonus: Metadata Pro offers iOS 8 extension for viewing metadata on any photo/picture or some videos on your iPad and it works with all apps that support “Open with…” feature. This is crucial app for me.
You can download Metadata Pro on the App Store:
Screenshot from your iOS device with nice device’s bezels? No problem! This app makes nice pictures from screenshots taken on your iPad (and iPhone nad iPod touch too), so you can make nice screenshots like you can see on our comp-blog.com. You can combine few screenshots, including screenshots from iPhone and iPad to make great looking professional pictures. Simple, but very useful app.
You can download LongScreen on the App Store:
Annotable allows you to create some graphic units, like rectangles and arrows, on your photo or any other picture. It’s simple annotating app, but very powerful. Just choose your color and let’s go. Option to undo unwanted changes is present too. Don’t want to show your e-mail address (or other element) on your screenshot? Or face on photo? Annotable can do this too. Cropping, adding texts, free painting… all here! Great!
You can download Annotable on the App Store:
Who converts videos on iPad??? It sounds like madness, but it is possible. Since iPad Pro with A9X chip and 4 GB RAM, device is strong enough to convert Full HD videos. Many formats and audio codecs are supported, but not AC-3 due to copyright issues. Choose your format, video encoder, resolution, FPS, bitrate, audio sample rate, audio bitrate, time range etc, and enjoy your videos. No Internet connection is required, it all works locally.
You can download iConv on the App Store:
If you are finding the best calculator for iOS, here is PCalc. It’s a great choice for scientists, engineers, students, programmers or for common use. It’s highly customizable, it includes RPN mode, constants, support for binary/hexadecimal/octal calculations, trigonometrics calculations, complex numbers support and rich settings. Converting between units is here too (hundreds of options), including currencies. You can have up to 8 lines on PCalc’s calculator display, multiple undos/redos and engineering/scientific notation. Interesting is support for Apple’s features. PCalc has it’s macOS counterpart and it can be synced with it’s iOS counterpart via iCloud, so you don’t have to play with many options on both platforms. Interesting is support for Notification Center widget and Handoff compatibility, so you can start calculating on your Mac and after you need to go out, you can continue on your iPad, including history of calculations. PCalc is regularly updated. This is ultimate calculator for your iOS device (and Mac too).
You can download PCalc on the App Store:
Looking for weather was never so funny as with Forecast Bar. Watch current conditions or forecast for next 24 hours or even more days ahead. App provides all weather data you may need, like temperature, “feels like” temperature, relative humidity, dew point, cloud conditions, UV factor, visibility, high and lowest temperatures in your home or any supported location, wind speed, pressure, sunrise/sunset, Moon phase etc. It supports widget in your Control Center. As for notifications, you can set time for day summary and alerts like coming storm. This app has it’s macOS counterpart with iCloud sync, so your settings and list of locations are always up-to-date on both Mac and your iOS device.
You can download Forecast Bar on the App Store:
MacID is app, which allows you to use Touch ID on your iPhone/iPad to unlock your Mac. It needs to be installed on both devices and on the same wi-fi network and it also needs Bluetooth. Automatic lock of your Mac while you are too far away with your iPhone/iPad or automatic wake when you are near is included too – it’s based on dBm unit, it can be configured to set up to fit your needs and network parameters. MacID for iOS can also show notifications on your iOS device when your Mac requests unlock requests, elevated privilege requests and auto-lock notifications. Just one issue – iOS version needs to be running in multitasking, but this is not a bug, it’s due to Apple’s restrictions for apps published to Apple’s App Store.
You can download MacID on the App Store:
Old, unupdated app without support for Apple Music, not even updated for big iPad Pro, but it works good. Lacks of Apple Music features are my biggest concerns, but it is still usable to play your iTunes Library remotely. You can connect to all your iTunes Libraries in your household, if you are authorized. Simple app but it works well.
You can download iTunes Remote on the App Store:
iNet for iPad:
Simple, but powerful app to monitor your LAN directly on your iPad. You can scan your LAN and see all deviced connected to your network. Datas like IP address, MAC address, open ports and services, vendor names and devices’ names are present. Results can be exported as CSV or PDF
You can download iNet for iPad on the App Store:
I have AirPort Extreme router. I know, that it is overpriced as of it’s features, but wi-fi signal and reliability are very good and it supports MIMO technology, so I’m satisfied. Plus it looks luxuriously. I can manage or update my Apple router from simple app. But my next router won’t be from Apple, because AirPorts are discontinued. I will find router with built-in VPN.
You can download AirPort Utility on the App Store:
This is the best VPN app I have found. It needs ExpressVPN subscription. VPN is service, which can encode your Internet connection. It’s not only protection against hackers, but your ISP can’t monitor your Internet activity and you can get out of government censorship or access, for example, “Czech only” websites from Slovakia (and many more countries) using server in Czech republic. In some countries, like China and UAE, are VNP services illegal.
You can download ExpressVPN on the App Store:
Extensions & Widgets
Copied is a clipboard manager. It helps you watch your clipboard history while you are running this app in iOS device’s multitasking (due to Apple’s restrictions). It send data to iCloud and then sync with all your iOS devices and Macs. It offers custom keyboard for whole iOS, where you can save your often used phrases or codes and paste them with one tap.
You can download Copied on the App Store:
Calendarique is a simple calendar widget for iOS’s Notification Center. It was updated for iOS’s 10 look’n’feel and it looks really good. It works with your iOS calendars (tested on iCloud and Facebook events, Google services and MS Exchange should work too, as their support is built-in on iOS)
You can download Calendarique on the App Store:
Simple widget for Notification Center, it shows you upcoming events from your calendars. You no longer need to launch calendar app, just go to Notification Center.
You can download Agenda: Widget+ on the App Store:
Highly customizable blocker. It’s based on fast native Content Blocking API. It’s supported by users and nothing like “acceptable ads” in AdBlock is allowed. 1Blocker has many rules with your own blacklist or whitelist and you can fully customize your blocking experience. This blocker has it’s macOS counterpart with iCloud sync, so all your settings are synced between iOS devices and Macs. Safari extension is available too.
You can download 1Blocker on the App Store:
No ad blocker is 100% perfect, so I have added another one. It’s not as customizable as 1Blocker, but it does its job good and it’s synchronised by iCloud like 1Blocker, so your setting and profiles are always available on your Macs and iOS devices.
You can download Roadblock on the App Store:
This is my workflow of must-have apps for my iPad Pro for year 2016. I hope I helped you choosing the best software for your iPad. See ya in year!