My Must-Have apps for iPad, 2018 edition

My Must-Have apps for iPad, 2018 editionYear has passed, and as usual, I reviewed apps I was using this year on my iPad Pro. My workflow was not dramatically changed, as it was from iOS 10 to iOS 11, but I think that with upcoming iOS 13 and its focus on iPad, there will be many changes and I’m really looking for new features. iOS 12 was about optimalization and security, as well as performance improvements. iPad Pro is my daily computer and this year, I divided my must-haves into 6 categories.

  • Life Management
  • Social Networks & Internet
  • Files & Office
  • Multimedia
  • Network
  • Utilities

Life management

FE File Explorer Pro:

This app is my manager for local and cloud files. Almost all of my files on iPad are stored in this app. I can connect to computers in network, NAS devices, cloud services like Dropbox or even FTP servers. FE File Explorer got great iOS 11 Files app integration – all of mentioned services can be accessed via Files app. All basic file operations, like copying, moving, archiving (zip), duplicating, renaming, deleting, etc. are present. Thanks to drag-n-drop support, you can drag multiple files to another app. In short, this app has everything you would expect from iOS file managers. It’s powerful and clean with great UI desing.

You can download FE File Manager Pro on the App Store:

Cardhop:

What about contacts? I was finding default contact app replacement and when I read on Twitter that Flexibits is finding betatesters for Cardhop for iOS, I instantly asked for testing. I was already using Cardhop for Mac and I like the idea to have great apps for both macOS and iOS platform. Cardhop features great design, including Dark Mode, and ability to select from supported apps to set it as default for tasks like to write e-mail. It’s very useful with Quick Actions. I can set Spark as e-mail client and Tweetbot as Twitter client. Cardhop also makes contact notes more prominent and contacts’ Birthday notification feature with lovely Rich Notification is just amazing. Cardhop is AI powered, so just enter something like “Raynor me@raynor.sk” and it will add e-mail adress to contact “Raynor”. Or even more – type “e-mail Raynor Today plans” and it will show suggestions based on entered data with ability to launch e-mail client.

You can download Cardhop on the App Store:

Agenda:

Another app that won design award from Apple. Agenda is my favourite note taking app. The concept is very interesting – it’s date-based note app, yet still fully useful for “classic” notes. You can assign date to your note and it even supports calendar integration. If you are power user of calendar and notes, it is really worth to check this app. Also, pricing model is interesting. While in premium subscription, you will receive all new premium-only features and if you after year decide to not prolong your subscription, all your already gained premium-only features will be available forever. Agenda also got macOS counterpart with iCloud sync.

You can download Agenda on the App Store:

Fantastical 2:

I use Fantastical 2 for iPad for a long time and I still love it. Nice design with agenda view and dayticker are the ultimate features. It also supports native language input. Fantastical 2 for iPad uses built-in calendar from your iOS device and for power users, Siri shortcuts are here. Widget is available too and I’m only missing iOS Spotlight search. Fantastical 2 is available on Mac, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch, so I can enjoy this calendar app on all my devices and I can’t imagine my calendar setup without this great app.

You can download Fantastical 2 on the App Store:

Things 3:

My favourite to-do app is Things 3. It’s the best looking task manager app for both iOS and macOS devices, there is no surprise it won design award from Apple. In few words – it’s simple, but powerful app. Features like tags, projects, URL schemes, repeating tasks, deadlines, checklists, all are there. Keyboard shortcuts are very rich and unified by platforms. Powerful automatization is great advantage over many to-do list apps and I’m only missing Spotlight integration. If you are using Calendar Events or Reminders (or both), Things 3 can import and sync them too. Things 3 account is required to sync Things 3 data, but it’s really easy – just register with e-mail and your chosen password and then log in into all your devices. It’s all you need. No web interface, no settings, just your e-mail and password.

You can download Things 3 on the App Store:

Debit & Credit:

I decided to better manage my money spending, so I was finding good money management app. I tried some of them and finally I decided for Debit & Credit. It has all I need packed in really good-looking app. It support multiple accounts, scheduled payments with option to auto-pay when due, budget feature and many sorting parameters, like categories, payees, tags, dates, etc. Simple, but really powerful app from indie developer.

You can download Debit & Credit on the App Store:

1Password:

I resisted for a long time, but I fall in love with 1Password. I was using iCloud Keychain, but recently I felt I don’t have enough control over my passwords. 1Password is not just about passwords, you can also add software licenses, e-mail accounts’ setting data, bank accounts, payment card etc. All data can be tagged and noted. With Watchtower feature, 1Password can warn you about compromised logins, vulnerable passwords, reused passwords, weak passwords and expiring passwords. Logins used on unsecured websites are listed too and 1Password can also inform you about inactive 2FA logins on supported websites. 1Password covers almost all platforms.

You can download 1Password on the App Store:

Social networks & Internet

Spark:

Products from Readdle are just amazing and Spark is not exception. I was long-term user of Apple’s default mail client, but I was interested in testing other mail clients, because Mail by Apple did not meet my requirements. I tested many e-mail clients, like Airmail, and the best one I found was Spark by Readdle. It includes many features which are not included in the pretty old IMAP protocol, like snoozing or built-in notifications for e-mails I want to send later. Undo send mail function is pretty handy, you can stop accidentally sent e-mails for up to 5 seconds since clicking on send button. Spark also supports third party extensions – I’m personally interested in Things 3 and Trello integration. UI desing of Spark is highly customizable and notification sound for incoming e-mails is just joy to hear. For teams, there are useful features to work on e-mail together with real-time editor and private discussion. You can also create links to invite your teammates via apps like Slack. Spark can export e-mails into PDF file in both iOS and macOS version, while built-in e-mail solution from Apple is only capable to export PDF on Mac platform. Power users may benefit from ability to create URL links to access your selected e-mails directly by one click. As for me, I can add URL link into my to-do app Things 3, so when I receive notification from Things 3, I can display my chosen e-mail directly without need of manual search. And templates? Yes, they are here, so if you rely on often replies based on templates, with Spark you will save a lot of time.

You can download Spark on the App Store:

Telegram:

If you want secure chat without spying eyes, you want Telegram. Founded by two brothers from Saint Petersburg, Telegram is monthly used by 200 million of active users. Telegram covers almost all platforms and it got also web version. It’s not only about chat, you can send files, voice messages and even make calls. If you are looking for an alternative to Facebook’s Messenger, I would strongly recommend Telegram. Because of great privacy policy and encryption, Telegram is banned in some countries.

You can download Telegram on the App Store:

Tweetbot 5:

I noticed, that most of developers of apps I use got Twitter account, so I created account (look for @CBC_Raynor if you want to follow me). First party Twitter app for iPad is just oversized iPhone version and macOS version was later pulled. As someone, who wants the same experience on both iOS and macOS platform, I was finding alternative. Before few years I discovered Tweetbot and I’m still using it. It uses iCloud sync (Tweet Marker service is available too), so I can start reading tweets on my iPad, then go away and continue on iMac in exactly position I stopped reading tweets on iPad. Also I like Pocket integration. Tweetbot is regularly updated and new features of Twitter, like 280 characters as tweet limit (was 140), are applied very fast.

You can download Tweetbot 5 on the App Store:

YouTube:

I don’t like YouTube app from Google, but due to changes in last years, like 60 FPS videos only available in official app, I was forced to first party software. This app still does not support Picture-In-Picture multitasking feature from iOS 9, probably because Google would not be able to serve ads in this mode. Notifications work reliable and UI is not bloated, but I still don’t like it. Of course, official app does not block ads and here in Slovakia, unlike some EU countries, YouTube Premium is not available (this is that shared digital market in European Union).

You can download YouTube on the App Store:

Twitch:

Someone watches commercial sport on TV, I watch e-sports, mostly Warcraft 3 and DotA 2. If you want to watch professional players or streamers playing your favourite game, Twitch is the best platform for that. Unlike YouTube app, Twitch app is pretty decent and with Picture-In-Picture support. I’m not watching Twitch everyday, but often enough to keep mobile app on my iPad. There are some competing services, like YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming, but forget about them. Twitch is the best videogaming service on the market.

You can download Twitch on the App Store:

Pocket:

When I’m browsing web, tweets on Twitter or reading e-book, I sometimes find some interesting links. If I want to read them later, I use Pocket to save these links. It support tagging and viewing saved links in both Web View and Article. Because it supports extension feature included in iOS Share menu, saving articles can be done in two taps – first on Share menu icon, second one on Pocket icon in the list. Pocket is well integrated in many other services and apps and it’s also available on most other platforms, so if you are still saving “read-later” links in your browser’s bookmarks or note-taking apps, give a try to Pocket.

You can download Pocket on the App Store:

Google Analytics:

On our website, we use Google Analytics, so it’s indeed that this mobile app from Google is installed on my iPad. I don’t like its design, it’s ugly and wasting space, especially on 12.9-inch iPads Pro, but it’s the best way how to analyze visit rate on mobile device. On my iPhone I use GAget app, but no iPad version is available, so on iPad I’m relying on first party app.

You can download Google Analytics on the App Store:

WordPress:

Our website is running on WordPress, so I use WordPress app on both iPad and Mac, but only iOS version I consider as must-have, so that’s reason why it is not listed in my macOS’s must-have app list. It’s not only about posting articles from mobile app, but also detailed visit rate statistics, push notifications for events and some other features make iOS version of WordPress app very useful. If you are running WordPress-based website, make sure to download this app to your smartphone or tablet.

You can download WordPress on the App Store:

Files & Office

DEVONthink To Go:

This is a mobile counterpart of desktop DEVONthink Pro. It’s just limited mobile companion app, but it fully downloads my DEVONthink database on iPad and because I use DEVONthink database for my blogs and personal data, this is my must-have app. Also, I sometimes blog from my iPad Pro with external keyboard and mobile companion of DEVONthink synchronizes great with desktop version. iOS Spotlight search integration can also search by tag stored in my database, so finding a needed file from database is really fast. In mobile app, I’m mostly missing smart folders and column view, but it is still usable.

You can download DEVONthink To Go on the App Store:

MS Office:

Word. Excel. PowerPoint. These three apps are my must-have. Mobile versions of MS Office apps are limited in compare to their macOS counterparts, but still useful. I’m subscribed to Office 365 service, because I need to be compatible with Windows PCs and also for 1 TB space on OneDrive. Mobile versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint fully support 2nd generation of Apple Pencil on 2018 iPads Pro and you can set if Apple Pencil should be used for more accurate navigation in compare to fingers, or for drawing on documents, which is useful, for example, for taking notes or just to draw something on Excel table. For common use, mobile Office 365 is usable.

You can download Word on the App Store:

You can download Excel on the App Store:

You can download PowerPoint on the App Store:

PDF Expert:

PDF Expert from Readdle is the best PDF editor I have found for iPad. I use it for few years and this flagship software from Readdle is just amazing. It’s not only about annotating as most PDF apps do, but it can even edit PDF files, like editing text or included pictures or to fill a form. Rearraging pages in document or merging more PDF files into one is included and highly intuitive. It got most of features from its desktop counterpart and also full support for 2nd generation of Apple Pencil.

You can download PDF Expert on the App Store:

Multimedia

nPlayer Plus:

nPlayer for iOS is something like VLC for PC. It can play almost any format, and unlike VLC for iOS, it officially supports paid codecs – this is also reason why this is (probably) the most expensive video player on iOS market. With fast support for new devices and iOS versions and technologies like HDR support on compatible iOS devices (like my 2018 iPad Pro), it makes it worth for some extra bucks. You can stream video to TV, including Chromecast and AirPlay, watch 360 movies with VR headset, use highly customizable gestures, you can connect to many cloud services or computers in your LAN, it supports HEVC/H.264/MPEG4 Hardware acceleration, UPnP/DLNA services, subtitles, multiple tracks, etc. Somebody may not likes its design, but this is the most advanced video player on iOS I have ever seen.

You can download nPlayer Plus on the App Store:

Camera-M:

Powered exclusively by native APIs and frameworks, this is the best camera app I have ever used on my iPad Pro and iPhone 6s. I was also a betatester of bracket mode and Camera-M took me back into world of HDR photography. All manual controls are here, like manual exposure duration setting and ISO control. Camera-M fully utilizes features from TrueDepth camera equipped iOS devices, and supports machine learning for focus tracking. You can shoot photos in any supported format, including RAW, RAW+JPG, HEIF, PNG, TIFF and ability to benefit from Live Photo feature and P3 Wide Color Gamut on supported iOS devices. Many shooting modes are available, so it does not matter, if you want to shoot classic photo, live photo, dual photo, portrait photo, burst photos, HDR photo in bracket mode or timed photo. Professional photographers can enjoy real-time RGB and RGB luminance histogram, and highlight and shadow alerts assistant. Also, Camera-M includes Notification Centre widget for quick access and info about Golden Hour. If you are an iOS photographer, Camera-M is the best solution. I love it.

You can download Camera-M on the App Store:

FiLMiC Pro:

If you want to record high-quality videos, FiLMiC Pro is for you. Unlike many other video-taking apps, FiLMiC Pro support extreme high bitrate, so your videos are looking much better in compare to Apple’s built-in solution. It also features controls for natural, dynamic, flat and LOG gamma curves, live shadow and highlight adjustments and live RGB, saturation and vibrance adjustments. White balance, ability to lock ISO and shutter speed make FiLMiC Pro great tool for professionals. Many combos of audio formats (AAC, AIFF, PCM), resolutions (including 4K) and FPSs (including 60 FPS at 4K resolution and slow-motion) are present with ability to use HEVC on supported devices. Optionally, you can sign up into FiLMiC Sync, so all your presets are saved in the cloud and synced between all your iOS devices using FiLMiC Pro. Also, this app supports many external hardware like external microphones and 35 mm lens adapters, so you can record a movie like a pro. Developers also created FiLMiC Remote app, so you can control FiLMiC Pro running on your iPad from, for example, iPhone. With LumaFusion, you can have a powerful movie studio right in your hands.

You can download FiLMiC Pro on the App Store:

MetaGear:

Photos, which we take on our iPads and iPhones, or almost every smartphone, keep some metadata, like GPS position, date and time and even the name of the device. This may lead into privacy issues, when sharing your photos via e-mail or social networks. As for social networks, a lot of them, including Facebook, delete these metadata, so your social contacts won’t see them when they download your photos, but this does not mean that your metadata from uploaded photos aren’t stored on Facebook’s servers and available for its employees for targeted ads and tracking your Internet activity or even your location. MetaGear can deleted all these data, but that’s not all. It can add extra metadata (like your copyright notice) or delete only some of the metadata or even edit already written data, so you can, for example, fake your location. MetaGear also supports presets, so if you often add some kind of metadata, like your name as author, you can create a preset and save a lot of time.

You can download MetaGear on the App Store:

Annotable:

Since iOS 11, iPads got native annotation tools for screenshots. It offers some tools, but if I need more complex annotations, I use Annotable. After taking a screenshot, you can invoke Annotable from “Open with…” menu directly in iOS’s default screenshot annotation screen, so you don’t have to launch Photos app and them to search your screenshot. Then you can edit your screenshot and share it with your friends. After that, you can save or discard changes. In both cases, you will be returned into iOS’s default screenshot annotation screen with original untouched image (if you haven’t used iOS’s default annotation tools before applying Annotable edits). It’s very handy and thanks to many redact tools included in Annotable, I strongly recommend this tool for everyone who often shares screenshots and pictures. Yes, this tool works with any image, not only screenshots, but I personally use Annotable mostly when I’m taking screenshots, so that’s was reason why I demonstrated Annotable’s power on screenshots.

You can download Annotable on the App Store:

Network

AirPort Utility:

I own an AirPort Extreme router, so this app is must-have for me. I don’t like configuring network devices via web browser, so it’s nice that Apple created a native dedicated app for its router. it’s very easy to learn how to use it and it match user interface of operating system (both iOS and macOS), but some users may dislike that AirPorts can only be configured via stand-alone app. No web interface is available and there is no way to configure AirPort routers without Mac or iOS device. You may like it, or not, but I personally prefer fully native dedicated app over web interface.

You can download AirPort Utility on the App Store:

1Blocker X:

Ads, trackers and malicious scripts (like cryptocurrency miners) are everywhere. Probably the most known ad-blocker is AdBlock Plus, but it’s known to pass some ads if companies pay for it. If you are finding highly-customizable, reliable, and feature-rich content blocker, you are finding 1Blocker X. There is no company or sponsor behind this blocker, it’s fully supported by users. Also, this ad blocker got really a lot of blocking rules to protect your privacy and security, and all your data are synced between iOS devices and Macs via iCloud, so no more messy whitelist or custom rules, you have all your settings synced with all of your devices.

You can download 1Blocker X on the App Store:

1.1.1.1:

There is no easy way to change DNS server on iOS devices. In short, DNS server translates that ugly strange number (IP address) into readable “www.my-web-page.com”, so you can access webpages by entering easy-to-remember domains instead of complicated IP address. By downside, your Internet Service Provider can snoop your DNS queries and some of them sell these data, in best case to serve you relevant ads. With 1.1.1.1 by Cloudflare, it’s over. This utility will create a VPN profile and change your DNS server by this way. 1.1.1.1 is not only about a privacy, but your Internet connection may get faster and more responsible. There are no complicated settings – just download app, launch it and then activate the switch. Then follow few steps shown on screen and you are done. Faster, safer and more reliable Internet is at your door.

You can download 1.1.1.1 on the App Store:

Remote Control for Mac:

An utility app to remote control your Mac. It’s not software like TeamViewer, it’s like remote control for your TV. Want to remotely pause music? Or to increase brightness? Or to use your iPad’s screen as mouse or as keyboard? Yes, thanks to Remote Control for Mac by Evgeny Cherpak, this is possible. And that’s not all. You can control any app on your Mac using its top menu – that’s where buttons “File”, “Edit”, “View”, and so on (based on app), are located – via your iOS device. You can launch any app, log out from your account, restart your Mac, lock screen, enter sleep mode, start/stop screensaver, turn display on/off and a lot more. And that’s not all, you can also control some selected services, like iTunes, YouTube, VLC, Netflix, Spotify, Kodi, Plex, IINA, etc. Just download helper app, install it and pair your Mac with your iOS device. No complicated network configuration, it’s very intuitive.

You can download Remote Control for Mac on the App Store:

iTunes Remote:

An utility to remote control iTunes on Mac. I use iTunes as my main music player on my Mac with JBL LSR 305 repros, and it’s pretty handy to control iTunes remotely when I’m relaxing on my bed. I can connect to any iTunes library shared on our local network and UI is slightly customizable – you can display four most used buttons in the bottom menu and rest of them hide under “More” button. You can launch any music file, any playlist and any album stored in your (or shared) iTunes library. App supports all basic controls – to pause/start, to go to next/previous song, to shuffle music queue, to set repeat options, and to set volume. Artwork of currently played song is displayed in “Now Playing” section, but no lyrics support (yet?).

You can download iTunes Remote on the App Store:

Utilities

Dropbox:

I don’t use Dropbox as much as in macOS, but this app has a place on my iOS desktop for years. Some of my apps use synchronization with Dropbox and also when I share a file, it’s mostly via Dropbox. Also, some apps with auto-upload features (like scans from Readdle’s Scanner Pro) upload their files to Dropbox to specific folder(s). My Dropbox files are permanently backed-up on my NAS, so my data are safe.

You can download Dropbox on the App Store:

PCalc:

I’m using PCalc from James Thomson for years and I’m fully satisfied. I’m not a scientist or an engineer, but I like its highly customizable settings and themes with different layouts. It does not matter if you are a student, a rocket engineer or a casual home user, PCalc will satisfy everybody. Although many advanced functions are present, PCalc is still clear and easy to use and to learn app. If you love powerful software with regular updates and fast integration of the latest iOS technologies, including Handoff and Notification Centre widget, then PCalc is for you.

You can download PCalc on the App Store:

Weather Mate Pro:

Are you a weather maniac? Do you want extremely detailed widget? Then Weather Mate Pro is for you. It’s the most detailed weather app I have ever seen. You can turn on/off any kind of weather data and then reorder them, differently for current weather, hourly forecast, widget and Apple Watch, so you can have detailed widget on iPad/iPhone and few most important weather parameters on your Apple Watch to save rare space on display. You can enable temperature on home screen icon presented as badge. Weather Mate Pro uses weather data from Weather Underground and The Weather Channel, but that’s not all. This great app can also benefit from over 250 000 personal weather stations in addition to the Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS) located at airports around the globe. I’m only missing severe weather alert notifications for my location.

You can download Weather Mate Pro on the App Store:

Cloudy:

Why second weather app on my iPad? As I said, I miss weather alerts from Weather Mate Pro, so I purchased Cloudy too. It’s far behind Weather Mate Pro, but notifications are amazing. Every day at morning I get summary of today weather and in early evening I got notification summary of tomorrow weather and in case of severe weather conditions, I get notification, so I can prepare. This all works for multiple locations, including location by GPS.

You can download Cloudy on the App Store:

Pushover Notifications:

I use Pushover service mostly for my WordPress webs. It can notify me about plugin or WordPress itself updates and also I get notification when my site(s) are offline, thanks to Uptime Doctor service, which is compatible with Pushover. Pushover can be integrated into many services, including IFTTT, thanks ot its open API. Settings and provided alert tones are pretty rich. For low-skilled computer users, this app may be little confusing, because it uses API tokens and “custom applications”, so if you are not tech-savvy, you will probably need a help, but it’s worth of it, trust me.

You can download Pushover Notifications on the App Store:

Yoink:

Another great productivity app for iPad. It’s a classic shelf application to temporary store your files. When I’m working on Mac, I put my work documents on desktop, when I’m working on my iPad, I put work files into Yoink. Thanks to iOS 11’s drag-n-drop support, Yoink is very useful with managing files between multiple apps. Thanks to Slide-Over multitasking, Yoink is still with me, even if I’m already using Split View. Yoink is sitting in my iPad’s dock to be ready for action. With iCloud sync with its Mac counterpart, this shelf app is productivity booster if you are using iOS and macOS platforms.

You can download Yoink on the App Store:

iFont:

An app that Apple forgot to include in iOS. Thanks to iFont, you can install any font into your iOS device, so you can use your custom fonts in apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Pages, Numbers, Keynote etc. Some apps are not compatible with custom fonts and some apps (like Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer) are using their own custom section to import user’s fonts. But basically, it works system-wide. As rumored, I hope that Apple adds font manager into iOS 13, but for now, I rely on iFont.

You can download iFont 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!

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