Best free iPad apps

The best free apps for the iPad, iPad Air and the iPad mini

31. Adobe Photoshop Express (universal)

With people regularly moaning about bloat in Adobe's desktop applications, it's great to see the giant create something as focused and usable as Adobe Photoshop Express. Its toolset is strictly for basic edits (crop, straighten, rotate, flip, levels and lighting adjustments), and applying a few effects, but the app is fast, stable and extremely useable. Top marks.

Photoshop Express

32. Yahoo Weather

With weather apps, you're frequently forced to choose between lashings of data or something that looks lovely. Yahoo Weather combines both, offering a stunning interface that happens to be rich with information. The maps are a touch weak, but other than that, this is an essential weather app, especially considering Apple doesn't provide an iPad equivalent itself.

Yahoo Weather

33. Find my iPhone (universal)

Find my iPhone would perhaps be better named 'Find my Apple stuff', because it's not just for figuring out where a missing iPhone is - it can also track iPads, iPods and Macs. The app is simple, elegant and, generally speaking, provides an accurate location for devices. It also enables you to remote-lock or wipe a device.

find my iphone

34. Flipboard (universal)

Initially, Flipboard looked like a gimmick, trying desperately to make online content resemble a magazine. But now it can integrate Flickr and other networks, beautifully laying out their articles, Flipboard's muscled into the 'essential' category – and it's still free.


35. Find My Friends (universal)

While perhaps less practical than on the iPhone, Find My Friends on the iPad nonetheless works well, enabling you to track any pals that are happy with you digitally stalking them. The iPad's large display improves the app's usability, simultaneously displaying your friend list and a map.

Find my friends

36. IMDB (universal)

IMDB might be a wee bit US-focused at times (much like the movie industry), but the app is a great way to browse more movie-related info than you could ever hope to consume in a single lifetime. Settings enable you to define which sites IMDB and Amazon info is taken from, and the show times finder works pretty well.


37. Pocket (universal)

Pocket and Instapaper have long battled it out for 'article scraper' king, but Pocket trumps its rival in appealing to iPad-owning cheapskates. Instapaper requires a purchase for iPad goodness, but Pocket is free. It's also very fast, offers tagging, includes a great original article/plain-text toggle, and has a vaguely Flipboard-like visual grid-based index.


38. TED (universal)

TED describes itself as "riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world". The app pretty much does as you'd expect – you get quick access to dozens of inspiring videos. However, it goes the extra mile in enabling you to save any talk for offline viewing, and also for providing hints on what to watch next if you've enjoyed a particular talk.


39. Twitter (universal)

The official Twitter app might lack some of the features found in certain third-party clients, but it does provide a sleek and simple means of using the service. It also rapidly rolls in new features from the website, such as the Connect and Discover views, along with expandable tweets that contain photos and videos.


40. LinkedIn (universal)

The business-oriented social network comes to the tablet that businesses love to love. As you might expect, LinkedIn gives you a focussed experience for finding out what your network's up to, and providing you with the tools to make it grow. The navigation also aims to adapt to how you interact with the app.


41. BBC iPlayer (universal)

BBC iPlayer is a must-have download for iPad users. The slick interface makes it easy to browse or watch recent shows and current broadcasts. You can choose from two quality settings and toggle subtitles, stream to an Apple TV via AirPlay, or download shows to your iPad, so you can watch them on the move.


42. Dolphin Browser

Safari for iPad is a great mobile browser, but if you hanker for more features, Dolphin is a decent alternative. The browser has an Opera-like 'speed dial' that provides one-touch access to favourites, and you can create personalised action gestures. There's also a distraction-free full-screen mode for when you really want to get into a website.


43. Skyscanner (universal)

Skyscanner's website is pretty good, but the iPad app's another great example of how an app's focus can really help you speed through a task. You use the app to search over a thousand airlines, and it provides straightforward competitive journey lists and comparison graphs. If you're planning a flight, it's an indispensable download.


44. Dragon Dictation (universal)

There's always something slightly spooky about voice recognition software, as if Skynet's listening in or something, but such tools had for years been out of most people's reach. Now, Dragon Dictation is free for iOS.

It's eerily accurate, trainable and, despite the dev recommending you use an external microphone, the app works fine with the iPad's built-in one. And unlike Siri, Dragon Dictation works on any iPad running iOS 4 or later, and it also has a bigger buffer than Apple's service.

Dragon dictation

45. Remote (universal)

Although pretty basic on the iPhone, Remote on the iPad is akin to a stripped-down iTunes when it comes to accessing network libraries and playing music. It's also indispensable if you have an Apple TV and want to control it with something other than the hateful metal chewing-gum stick that ships with the device.


46. LinkedIn Pulse

When unveiled, RSS reader Pulse was divisive, with an unresponsive oddball interface. But it's evolved to become free and fast, and is now a tactile, enjoyable way to catch up on news. The image-oriented interface, with slider-based RSS feeds (akin to those in the BBC News app) and configurable tab groups, makes it particularly suitable for anyone who subscribes to image-heavy sites.


47. Fotopedia Heritage (universal)

Rather like The Guardian Eyewitness, Fotopedia Heritage is perfect for anyone who enjoys awe-inspiring photography. The app enables you to browse tens of thousands of photos of beautiful locations worldwide. It also provides information about each location, and can be used for travel planning through favourites and links to TripAdvisor.

Fotopedia heritage

48. Yell Search

If you're in an unfamiliar place or travelling somewhere new, Yell Search is a great app for figuring out what amenities are available locally. The interface is responsive and efficient, and you can handily add any business you find as a favourite for easy access later on.

Yell Search

49. XE Currency for iPad (universal)

It's as ugly as they come, but XE Currency is the best free currency app you'll find. You define which currencies you want to see, along with the number of decimals to show. Double-tap a currency and you can set it as the base currency by tapping 1.0 in the calculator, or do bespoke conversions by typing any other value.

XE Currency Converter

50. Airport Utility (universal)

With apps like Airport Utility, it's increasingly clear Apple now sees the iPad as an independent unit, not merely an accessory to a PC or Mac. The app provides an overview of your Wi-Fi network, and enables you to view and change settings, restore or restart a base station, and get terribly angry at a flashing orange light that denotes your ISP's gone belly up.


51. Skype for iPad

In theory, we should be cheerleading for FaceTime, what with it being built into iOS devices, but it's still an Apple-only system. Skype, however, is enjoyed by myriad users who haven't been bitten by the Apple bug, and it works very nicely on the iPad, including over 3G.


52. Skitch for iPad (universal)

Skitch is a screen-grab and annotation tool that was snapped up by Evernote. In its iPad incarnation, it enables you to scribble on grabs, photos, maps and web pages and then fling the result to Twitter, email or Evernote, or fire your work at an Apple TV.


53. Readability (universal)

The latest of the major read-it-later systems, Readability brings with it a clean interface and a lovely set of fonts. As with the likes of Instapaper, Readability strips junk from web pages, leaving only the content. As you'd expect, you can also send on anything particularly interesting to Twitter and Facebook.


54. iTunes U (universal)

If you're still convinced the iPad is only a device for staring brain-dead at TV shows and not a practical tool for education, check out iTunes U. The app enables you to access many thousands of free lectures and courses taught by universities and colleges, thereby learning far more than what bizarre schemes current soap characters are hatching.

iTunes U

55. 4oD Catch Up (universal)

Despite what we said in the previous entry, the iPad is, of course, a great tool for TV. (After all, once you're done studying, you need some downtime, right?) Channel 4's 4oD app enables you to view a selection of recent shows, along with a handful of classic programmes.


56. Google Search (universal)

Google Search might seem redundant - after all, the iPad's Safari app has a built-in Google search field. However, Google's own offering provides a superior search experience that's been specifically designed for iPad. Highlights include a tactile image carousel, visual search history and Google Goggles integration.

Google search

57. TuneIn Radio (universal)

Output your iPad's audio to an amp or a set of portable speakers, fire up TuneIn Radio, select a station and you've a set-up to beat any DAB radio. Along with inevitable social sharing, the app also provides an alarm, AirPlay support, pause and rewind, and a 'shake to switch station' feature - handy if the current DJ's annoying and you feel the need to vent.


58. Audioboo (universal)

Audioboo is essentially a social network based around uploading short voice recordings. For free, you can upload and share unlimited three-minute snippets, send direct messages, and follow other users. A plus account unlocks the means to upload audio of any length. The iPad app enables offline download and storage of your favourite clips.


59. Netflix (universal)

Netflix has been described by some in the UK as the perfect way to experience everything a DVD bargain bin has to offer. We do agree there's a lack of content compared to the US library, but Netflix is cheap and fine for catching up on older shows. And the iPad app includes AirPlay support and a resume function, so you can pick up where you left off on another device.


60. SoundCloud (universal)

SoundCloud is a popular service for sharing sounds, and the iPad app enables you to search and play myriad snippets and music tracks hosted on SoundCloud's servers. If you're a budding musician or oddball loudmouth, you can also record and upload sounds from your iPad, or record to upload later.