I remember my first device with iOS, it was iPod touch 4. I’m surprised, but it still works. I’m running iOS 6 on it and it’s pretty laggy and battery is drain after one hour of watching videos on YouTube, but it works. As I said last year, I’m fan of iPad, the best tablet for my needs on market. Currently I’m running iPad Pro 12.9-inch Space Gray from 2017 with 256 GB of storage and LTE connectivity, with iOS 11 of course. As last year, I will share my list with my must-have apps, so sit down and read 🙂
- File Management
- Social & Internet
- Photo & Video
- Extensions & Widgets
So let’s start:
As my main file manager, I use app called FileExplorer Pro. It’s a very powerful manager with ability to connect to my desktop Mac, NAS, FTP servers, Dropbox and many other services. This app can search for devices in LAN, so configuration is seamless – just find device and log in. FileExplorer Pro uses latest technologies from iOS 11, except drag-n-drop in app itself (developer said me he is working on it), but it provides great iOS 11 Files app extension support, so you can enjoy file management as with native drag-n-drop support in whole iOS. As for iOS 11 Files app, you can login to your FTP server, devices on your LAN like NASs or Dropbox and you can browse it directly in iOS 11 Files app even without launching FileExplorer Pro itself. It’s very handy. Free version of FileExplorer Pro is available on App Store too.
You can download FileExplorer Pro on the App Store:
I use three clouds: iCloud Drive, MEGA (purely for backups only) and… Dropbox. It’s a multiplatform cloud supported by all major operating systems. 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. With iOS 11 and Dropbox’s iOS 11 Files app extension suppport, you can enjoy it in similar way. My WD My Cloud NAS is compatible with Dropbox’s NAS app, so I have my Dropbox files backed up locally on my NAS. If you need more that 2 GB of space for your files in cloud, Dropbox offers 1 TB plan for 9,99 euro per month, or just invite friend and earn free extra 500 MB of space for each invited friend. Bonus applies to both of you and your friend. By this way, you can gain storage up to 16 GB.
You can download Dropbox on the App Store:
Fantastical 2 for iPad:
I use Fantastical 2 on both Mac and iPad. Unlike Apple’s Calendar, it supports native language input for adding events, so just type something like “lunch at 15:00 today”, then (optionally) set reminder alert and confirm event in one click. iPad multitasking with Fantastical 2 is georgeous: it won’t just “rearrange” app like most of apps while in iPad’s multitasking mode, but it creates new user interface optimized for multitasking. If you are using both iPad and iPhone, you need to purchase app for both devices, because Fantastical 2 for iOS devices is not an universal app. If you own more iPads (or iPhones), you only need to purchase Fantastical 2 for iPad once, it will be available for all your iPads. And in Family Sharing too.
You can download Fantastical 2 for iPad on the App Store:
And iPhone version here:
I have some types of tasks, which fit better in to-do list rather than regular calendar. In our comp-blog.com team, we are using Todoist, because we need to share our tasks and Todoist is multi-platform app with many useful tools and it still feels light and tidy. Like Fantastical 2, it supports native language input. You can create both private and shared lists of tasks, so you can use Todoist, for example, at work/school sharing tasks with your mates without disrupting your privacy in personal life tasks. It’s simple to create list shared with co-workers, another shared list with your family and one personal just for you. I switched from Wunderlist, because it was acquired by Microsoft and it will be soon discontinued. Todoist is great even in free version, advanced users and teams should consider to get premium version, if free version does not match all your needs.
You can download Todoist on the App Store:
Few months ago, I found great note-taking app: Notability. I was subscribed to Office 365, but Microsoft’s apps for iOS were lacking new features from iOS 11 and most of them won’t be added, so I returned back to free iWork from Apple. I was using MS OneNote for notes and I know, that it’s now free even without Office 365 subscription, but in the future, it may be subject of change and I was not really satisfied with design of OneNote. I was also thinking about what could happen to my notes if Microsoft changes something or discontinues OneNote. And just one more simple question: will I be able to read my notes after next 10 years? I was finding note-taking app with support to import and export notes in PDF format, because PDF is universal, worldwide-adapted format. And I found Notability. All my notes are automatically synced via iCloud to my iMac and iPad. As for my requested feature to import/export to PDF, Notability works at 100%. All my notes are automatically exported in PDF format into my Dropbox account, even if I move/rename notes in Notability app, it will reflects my changes in Dropbox folder.
Just one note: you can’t directly sync both Mac and iOS version of Notability to Dropbox at the same time. Just choose your “primary” platform and link it to Dropbox. Secondary platform will be synchronized by iCloud, so if you choose Notability for Mac as primary platform, only Mac version will save notes to Dropbox, but if you create a note on your iPad, it will be synchronized via iCloud to Mac and from Mac it will be copied to Dropbox. It’s little confusing, but it works. And if Notability will be discontinued, I can easily find another note-taking platform with support of importing and exporting into PDF.
With iOS Spotlight and full Apple Pencil support, your notes can reach a whole new level. Notability for iOS is not stripped-down app, it’s on par with its desktop version with corresponding functions – for example, you can’t draw notes with Apple Pencil on Macs’ displays.
You can download Notability on the App Store:
When I find something interesting on Internet and I want to keep it, I use Pocket (formerly Read It Later). My entries are synced via Pocket account to my Mac and iPad, so I have my articles everywhere. Action extension is very handy and I don’t have to open Pocket, I only have to click on Share button and select “Pocket” app. Very easy. Pocket offers premium version, but for my needs, free version is enough.
You can download Pocket on the App Store:
Bear is my blogging app. I was using Ulysses, but it turned into subscription model and that was not all – in that times, I discovered Bear, so I decided, after few days, to leave Ulysses and I switched to Bear. Bear is at subscription model too, but much cheaper than Ulysses. Moving datas from Ulysses to Bear was not pain, because I was using similar philosophy as in cause of Microsoft OneNote vs. Notability, so I’m not under vendor-lock. Bear uses tags to sort your posts and every post can have multiple tags. As for exporting notes, Bear supports formats like PDF, Markdown, TXT and more. Bear also supports exporting notes without tags. Synchronization is very fast, it supports backing up your notes into cloud and GUI is well done. Just try and you will fall in love, non-premium version is free.
You can download Bear on the App Store:
PDF Expert is the most powerful PDF editing tool for iPad. You can read, annotate and even edit your PDF files. Things like updating logo, signature or any text in document is a matter of a few seconds or minutes. It’s really fast. You can remove some pages from PDF documents, highlight your texts to study, make marks, add web links to text, merge documents to one, change properties like author and even protect your PDF files by password. Great software with great functions.
PDF Expert for Mac can be purchased from both Mac App Store and developer’s website. What about Handoff service, which is not supported for 3rd party sources, including downloads from web?
PDF Expert uses its own Readdle Transfer (which is better that Apple’s Handoff), so you don’t have to get version from Mac App Store to enjoy Handoff with its iOS counterpart. Readdle said it will upgrade regularly both versions, but I still recommend Mac App Store version because of Family Sharing.
You can download PDF Expert on the App Store:
Pages. Numbers. Keynote. I switched from MS Office back to iWork from Apple, because native solution from Apple works better on my Mac + iPad combo. I can fully enjoy iCloud Drive and Handoff features and I don’t need another account filled up with bloatware to work with my important documents – all is handled by iCloud, even editing files in web browser. MS Office for iOS won’t support many of the great features included in iOS 11, so I definitely decided to return back to iWork. And as bonus, iWork is completely free, without subscriptions.
You can download Pages on the App Store:
You can download Numbers on the App Store:
You can download Keynote on the App Store:
Creating a webpage on iPad may sound crazy, but it works. Since iOS 11, you have no longer to use “Open with…” feature to copy files one-by-one to sandbox of source code editor app or Document Picker with style file by file editing. GoCoEdit can open folders from other Document Provider-enabled apps (like FileExplorer Pro mentioned at the beginning of this summary) in the same folder hierarchy as in host app and all changes, like editing source files or even moving files in folders, are reflected to host app. You edit original file, no duplicates are created. With ability to upload files directly from GoCoEdit app, you don’t have to open host app. iPads’ drag-n-drop is supported too.
You can download GoCoEdit on the App Store:
Social & Internet
Everyone is using Facebook and its Messenger, why you should use Telegram?
Telegram is free communication system for most platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android and many others. It uses end-to-end encryption and nobody can read your messages. Unlike Facebook’s Messenger, you are not spied over and your personal datas and activity aren’t sold to 3rd party companies, mostly for marketing. It was said that Facebook will add ads into Messenger and a lot of junk is already here. If you are thinking about alternative, consider to get Telegram. It’s free, without ads, without junk and your privacy is kept. Plus, design is much better and cleaner and you can make free calls over Internet to another users of Telegram. Telegram originates in Russia and now it’s worldwide.
You can download Telegram on the App Store:
Tweetbot is a client for Twitter with support for multiple accounts. Most developers of apps I’m using are registered on Twitter, so I created Twitter account to follow them all. Tweetbot is well optimized for big 12.9-inch iPad’s Pro display with its 3-column design. Design is robust, but still tidy and clean. Twitter recently updated character limit from 140 to 280 and if your Twitter client was not updated to support it, try Tweetbot. It’s regularly updated with long history of updates.
If you purchase Tweetbot for Mac too, it will synchronize your timeline via iCloud, so if you read some tweets on Mac and then you sit at your iPhone/iPad, you can continue where you left of. If you are using other platforms like Windows or Android, Tweetbot supports, on both macOS and iOS platforms, feature called “Tweet Marker”, so if you have compatible Twitter app for platforms like mentioned Windows and Android, you can still benefit from timeline sync.
You can download Tweetbot on the App Store:
I was long-time user of ProTube app, because it was not only blocking ads like most alternative YouTube players on iOS platform, but it allowed me to play 4K videos, playing songs from YouTube in backgroud, 60 FPS videos, Picture-In-Picture support etc. But Google forced Apple to remove such apps from App Store, so ProTube vanished from App Store, as many other players. After that, Google changed API for YouTube, so ProTube is not working even for users which got ProTube from App Store in past. I’m not happy with Google’s official app, but I use it because a lot of functionality, like 60 FPS videos, is only allowed for official YouTube client.
You can download YouTube on the App Store:
Photo & Video
Taking photos with 12.9-inch tablet looks funny, but it works. iPads Pro from 2017 got camera HW from iPhone 7, so with my current iPad I have rediscovered taking photos. I tried many camera apps and finally I set up with Camera-M. It’s built entirely with strictly the latest available APIs and frameworks. Camera-M includes all photo settings which you would expect from professional camera app, like setting shutter speed, ISO, exposure, histogram and a lot more. It supports Focus Tracking powered by Machine Learning framework and full support of dual-camera chips on supported iPhones. No matter if you want to shot photos in RAW, HEIF, JPG, TIFF, or PNG, Camera-M supports it all. I only miss bracketing support for HDR photos and iOS 11 Files app extension, but developers are working on it. I’m not a professional photographer, but I can really benefit from this awesome camera app and with Affinity Photo for iPad, your Apple tablet can become a powerful photo-taking tool. Description of Camera-M is really long, so just click link below to see it on your own.
You can download Camera-M on the App Store:
If taking photos with 12.9-inch tablet is not cool enough, let’s record a movie! FiLMiC Pro is a leading video-recording app on iOS market. Bitrate of videos can be set at much higher level than in built-in Camera app from Apple. Videos with 120 FPS can be played at its native “speed”, so if you have an iPad Pro equipped with ProMotion display, you will be excited how it’s possible to shot so great movies on your tablet. 240 FPS slow motion is supported on capable devices. Another great feature are presets – just set something like “1080p at 60 FPS with FiLMiC Extreme quality and AAC audio with 48 kHz frequency” and save it as preset. Sometimes you want to get high-quality video for Final Cut Pro and sometimes you just want to share short video on Facebook via limited mobile data plan. FiLMiC Pro supports HEVC codec and iOS 11 Files app integration. Many advanced features are available as in-app purchase, like live shadow and highlight adjustments or live RGB, saturation and vibrance adjustments. If you are under bad light condition, you can use torch feature (on equipped devices) with three level of light intensity. If you try FiLMiC Pro, you won’t regret.
You can download FiLMiC Pro on the App Store:
Every photo has its “secret data”, like GPS location or “log” with used camera settings, like used exposure or if flash was fired. It may interrupt your privacy. With Photo Investigator, you can check all of these datas and optionally to remove it before sharing. App itself, after launching, works with Camera Roll or as an extension in Share menu with most apps, just don’t forget to enable it. Very handy is support for videos and you can even check if video uses HEVC or not.
You can download Photo Investigator on the App Store:
This app is something like extended Photos app. Unlike app from Apple, HashPhotos shows filename and extension of all photos, which is crucial for me, because I have named all my photo files and I don’t like if some “library app” changes it. That was a reason why I haven’t used iCloud Photo Library, but with HashPhotos, I have no worries, my photos are still named as they should and I can benefit from iCloud library features. Viewing metadata is supported too and it’s really good looking. Unfortunately, HashPhotos does not accept 3rd party extensions as built-in Photo app does, so if editing tools in HashPhotos are not enough, you have to use stock app. Another issue is, that HashPhotos can’t empty trash with deleted photos, so you have to launch stock app – or wait 30 days and that old photos will be deleted automatically.
You can download HashPhotos on the App Store:
Are you watching movies on your iPad? Then nPlayer Plus is must-have. It’s true that nPlayer Plus is probably the most expensive video player on App Store, but it’s worth. Unlike VLC and many other players, nPlayer Plus officially supports DTS (DTS HD ), DTS Headphone:X, and Dolby (AC3, E-AC3). Also, you can enjoy HDR support on compatible devices, like iPads Pro from 2017. If you prefer streaming to big TV, then AirPlay, Chromecast, video cast for Smart TV and HDMI output are present. nPlayer Plus supports HEVC/H.264/MPEG4 hardware acceleration, multitrack audio, subtitles, streaming using SMB/UPnP/DLNA, a lot of gestures and many other cool features. Support for iOS 11 Files app is included too. With integrated web browser, you can use Picture-In-Picture multitasking and background audio playback on YouTube. It’s really interesting, because apps with such features are being removed from App Store due to Google request, so in future, web browser may be removed from nPlayer Plus.
You can download nPlayer Plus on the App Store:
Some people are saying that iPad is just toy, because of lack of professional apps. But since Affinity Photo is available for iPad, it’s no longer true. Affinity Photo is an iOS version of its desktop counterpart with almost all features from its desktop brother. App was designed for touch interface using latest technologies like Metal framework. It’s very complex app, but still clean, tiny and easy to learn and use. For beginners there are video tutorials. Just be careful, it has high system requirements, you will need iPad Air 2, iPad (early 2017) or any iPad Pro. Other iPads, including all minis, are not supported. PSD is fully supported, so you can work on the same project from both Affinity Photo and Adobe Photoshop (and any app with PSD support).
You can download Affinity Photo on the App Store:
My favourite annotating tool is Annotable 2. Since iOS 11, Apple has integrated annotation support for iPads, but Annotable 2 still offers many more features. Many obvious tools (rectangles, ovals, arrows, lines text…) are included and some extra tools, like loupe to focus on particular spot, blur and pixelation tools to hide sensitive data, etc. Annotable 2 fully supports Action Extension, Photo Editing Extension, Edits Sync via iCloud Photo Library, URL Schemes, 3D Touch (on compatible iPhones) and Wide Color.
You can download Annotable 2 on the App Store:
I work a lot with metadatas on both iPad and Mac. MetaGear app is available on both platforms. You can edit any editable tag or just delete them all. Presets are supported, so deleting all tags and then adding your copyright is matter of a seconds, even in batch mode. MetaGear supports Share Menu extension, so you can watch metadata of photos and pictures in almost any app. Unfortunately, MetaGear does not support videos, so I had to install PhotoInvestigator for checking metadata of videos.
You can download MetaGear on the App Store:
Great app for screenshots taken on your iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch. You can add nice bezels of iOS/watchOS devices to your screenshot in few taps without using complicated graphics software, or arrange screenshots into rows or columns. Combination of both is supported. Let’s start making cool professional screenshots for your blog to wonder your friends.
You can download LongScreen on the App Store:
There is no built-in calculator on iPad. If you are finding the best calculator for iPad, try PCalc. It contains many designs and layouts with a high level of customization and it supports many of the latest technologies like syncing to iCloud, widget or Handoff with its macOS counterpart, so you can start to calculate on iPad and then continue on your Mac – it works really good. PCalc contains many constants (Astronomical, Mathematical, Atomic etc.), Functions (Complex numbers, Trigonometric etc.) and Conversions, including Currency with updates. If you are engineer or scientist, or just want nice and highly customizable calculator, get PCalc. Free lite version is available too.
You can download PCalc on the App Store:
If you prefer dedicated weather app over website, Forecast Bar is great choice. 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. Nice customizable widget and weather notifications are really cool features. As for notifications, you can set time for daily summary of weather. Severe weather alerts are available in the USA only.
You can download Forecast Bar on the App Store:
Unlox (formerly MacID) is an app, which allows you to use Touch ID on your iPhone/iPad to unlock your Mac. It needs to be installed on your both devices (Mac + iPhone/iPad) and to be on the same wi-fi network with Bluetooth enabled. Automatic lock of your Mac while you are too away with your iPhone/iPad or automatic wake when you are near is included too – it’s based on dBm unit, which can be configured/calibrated to fit your needs and network parameters. iOS client also shows 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 about Apple’s restrictions for apps published to Apple’s App Store.
You can download Unlox on the App Store:
Copied is simple app for clipboard history. In built-in clipboard in iOS, like in most other operating systems, you can paste only last copied entry. With Copied app, you can set history of clipboard from 10 up to 1000 entries. Another great feature in Copied app is ability to save text strings in form of custom keyboard extension, so if you are typing some texts often (like pieces of HTML code), you can save it and use anytime. Copied got macOS counterpart with iCloud sync, so your clipboard and templates are up to date on all your devices. Please note, that Copied must run in background to sync clipboards in real time.
You can download Copied on the App Store:
Remote Control is an app to remote control your Mac. It’s not like TeamViewer for full remote control, it offers features like turning on/off your monitor, logging out from your user account, shutting down or reboot your Mac, starting and stopping screensaver, controlling level of volume and brightness of display etc. But that’s not all. You can launch or quit any installed app (and many another features are present) and it can turn your iPad (or iPhone) into a virtual keyboard and trackpad. Some media players, like YouTube, Netflix, Plex, Kodi, VLC, Spotify etc. can be controlled directly by your iOS device. Remote Control requires Helper app from developer’s website.
Mostly I use Remote Control when I’m in bed and I want to play some music from my iMac with JBL speakers. It’s very addictive and yea, I know I’m little lazy 🙂
You can download Remote Control on the Mac App Store:
Simple utility for iTunes users to control some features of iTunes remotely. I mostly use it when I’m in the bed with my iPad and I want to listen some music from my JBL speakers connected to my iMac. It does not support Apple Music and Apple even did not update resolution for 12.9-ich iPad Pro, so app is little blurry with outdated look. But it always works, so I prefer this app over 3rd party solutions.
You can download iTunes Remote on the App Store:
Extensions & Widgets
When I work on my iPad, I use Yoink as temporary place for documents I’m working on. With introducing of drag-n-drop for iPads in iOS 11, Yoink is something like desktop on my Mac. I don’t have to switch between apps like mad, all my files which I currently need are in the same place, I just multitask Yoink from dock. Yoink supports iOS 11 Files app integration.
You can download Yoink on the App Store:
Pushover is service for notifications. I use it with combo of Workflow app and IFTTT, but it also supports some other services. I linked Pushover with my WordPress sites, so I’m informed when WordPress or plugin update is due. When connected to Dropbox, I can, for example, get a notification when a new file is uploaded to chosen folder.
You can download Pushover on the App Store:
One of the best content blockers for iOS is 1Blocker. It blocks annoying ads in web browser to save data on limited mobile Internet plans and speeding-up loading time. No one love ads, not just because they are annoying, but it may affect security of your computer, because online ads may serve you a malware. And many corporations track your behavior on Internet. Apple released Intelligent Tracking Prevention to protect your privacy against tracking and with great ad-blocking services like 1Blocker is browsing the web more secure. 1Blocker can stop cryptocurrency mining scripts, which are present on thousands of websites. 1Blocker is made by independent developers and it won’t adapt model like popular AdBlock -> pay us money and we will pass your ads. Also, an macOS counterpart of 1Blocker is available with iCloud sync for all your settings and custom-created lists (including whitelists).
You can download 1Blocker on the App Store:
Roadblock is another great content blocker for both iOS and macOS with iCloud sync for settings, profiles and lists (including whitelist). No ad-blocker is perfect and no ad-blocker will blocks all ads and tracking scripts, so I use 1Blocker and Roadblock combo. You won’t need another content blockers. Interesting fact: all of these content-blocking apps (unlike regular extensions for Internet browsers like AdBlock) can’t track your behavior on Internet due to Apple’s restrictions, so that is another level of privacy for you.
You can download Roadblock on the App Store:
This is my workflow of must-have apps for my iPad Pro for year 2017. I hope I helped you choosing the best software for your iPad. See ya in year!