The best iPad apps of 2023

The best iPad apps
(Image credit: Apple)

While the iPad is undoubtedly the all-conquering best tablet range right now, it's the apps that really set it apart, as it arguably has the best selection available of any tablet OS.

But while there are many great apps, finding the best iPad apps can be easier said than done, as there are lots of lesser ones to sift through.

That's why we're here to help, as we've spent hundreds of hours testing the best free and paid-for iPad apps, and have helpfully split them into multiple categories to let you browse for what you actually need. 

Whether you want the best art and design apps, the best education apps, the best apps for entertainment, music, kids, fitness or anything else, we've got you covered.

Of course, if you need a better iPad, our list of the best iPads around is there for you too - but if you've just been given a new tablet, then these are the titles that you need to be checking out - starting with our favorite new app this month.

Oh, and if you're looking for something fun, then we've also rounded up the best iPad games you can download right now.

iPad app of the month: Ableton Note ($5.99/£4.99/AU$9.99)

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

A screenshot showing Ableton Note on iPad

(Image credit: Ableton AG)

Ableton Note brings a streamlined take on Ableton’s popular desktop software to your iPad. This isn’t full Ableton Live. Instead, it’s best thought of as a musical sketchpad – a place in which to try out ideas wherever inspiration hits, which can then be worked up on a PC or Mac.

The interface makes it a cinch to work up loops fashioned from drum kits, synths and samples. An intuitive audition/confirm system lets you gradually build loops through adding new notes, and individual notes can be nudged if your timing is off.

Loops can become part of a greater composition by duplicating them, working up variations, and playing them together in the app’s grid view. It’s quality stuff, whether you’re a jobbing pro or someone who’d always fancied making music but felt intimidated by more complex and less welcoming apps.

The best iPad art and design apps

Our favorite iPad apps for painting, sketching, drawing, CAD, pixel art, graphic design and animation.

A screenshot showing Affinity Publisher 2 for iPad

(Image credit: Serif Labs)

Affinity Publisher 2 for iPad ($19.99/£17.99/AU$30.99)

Affinity Publisher 2 for iPad joins Serif’s existing creative apps for iPad - Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer. Publisher, as its name might suggest, is all about layout design, giving you the means to create everything from a poster to a magazine, right on Apple’s tablet.

It’s full-fat desktop-grade fare. That means you’re not going to fashion a layout in a few clicks, but you do get fine-grained control over everything you work on – to a level that previously had only existed on a powerful PC or Mac. This means you can dig into complex typography along paths, work with master pages, import assets from other apps, export to a range of formats, and so much more. 

At the price, it represents astonishing value for money, whether you’re a jobbing pro or someone who’d just like to try their hand at a pro-level layout app.

A screenshot showing Acrylic on iPad

(Image credit: Ethan Lipnik)

Acrylic ($1.99/£1.79/AU$2.99)

Acrylic is called a wallpaper engine by its creator – and there’s certainly scope within to fashion beautiful backgrounds for your iPad and other devices. But for our money, it’s just a really interesting app for working up abstract digital art.

The minimalist interface invites you to create a gradient or a scene. The former provides control over shades, subdivisions and points, and you can temporarily display a wireframe to better understand the mesh. Scenes instead have you extrude 3D shapes from a canvas and experiment with depth of field, color and film grain.

Anything you create is authentically saved to the app for subsequent experimentation. And any image can be exported in up to 4K, ready to use or expand on elsewhere.

A screenshot showing Pixaki 4 Pro

(Image credit: Rizer Creative Ltd)

Pixaki 4 Pro ($26.99/£23.99/AU$41.99)

Pixaki provides iPad owners with a way to craft pixel art. The style originated by necessity during the 1970s and 1980s, and might seem obsolete in an era where individual pixels are impossible to see on a screen. But the aesthetic remains popular, perhaps because you instinctively know thought has gone into the placement of every dot.

With this latest revision, Pixaki feels modern. The interface is sleek, offering fast access to key tools and yet getting out of your way when you want to draw. More transforms would be nice (such as flip and rotate), but the shape, fill and brush tools are excellent, the layers system works well (and allows you to import reference images), and there’s a keyframe toolbar when you want to make artwork move.

Unsure? Check out the free ‘intro’ version, which limits canvas size, layers and animation frames, but is otherwise full-featured. 

Zen Brush 3

(Image credit: PSOFT)

Zen Brush 3 ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Zen Brush 3 is a next-generation painting app that focuses purely on the experience of working with East Asian ink brushes. Previous iterations of the app have been tactile and beautiful, but this release expands on the original premise in meaningful ways.

The new water feature provides scope for blending and bleeding, and a greatly expanded palette removes the severe limitations on hues that plagued earlier versions of the app. Plenty of templates enable you to augment your artwork with everything from paper to 3D objects.

Elsewhere, the brush action and ink emulation remain unsurpassed on iPad, making for a particularly beguiling experience when armed with an Apple Pencil. Great stuff for when you want to create Asian-influenced art, or just fancy something a bit different to relax with.

Voxel Max

(Image credit: Adrian Andreca)

Voxel Max ($6.99/£6.99/AU$10.99)

Voxel Max is a pro-grade app for creating voxel art - essentially, pixel art in 3D. So instead of carefully placing pixels on a flat canvas, you plot cubes in a 256×256×256-pixel build area.

Although compatible with iPhone, the Voxel Max experience revels in the iPad’s extra screen acres. You get more room to view and manipulate your creation, and Apple Pencil support for when getting all painterly with shaped brushes (spheres; larger cubes) rather than adding individual cubes one at a time.

For professional illustrators, there are plenty of tools to dig into, including non-destructive transforms and face extrusions. But newcomers should find the app quite welcoming too, with its online help center and pre-built models to experiment with.

Procreate 5X

(Image credit: Savage Interactive Pty Ltd)

Procreate 5X ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Procreate 5X is the latest iteration of the best painting app for iPad. Like its predecessors, this version has a minimal interface that gets out of your way while you work, yet packs a lot of power that’s placed within easy reach.

The existing and hugely impressive brush editor has now been augmented with a range of draw-on filters, including noise, blur, glitch and chromatic aberration. You can swiftly add a gradient map to any layer, auto-fill selections with color, precisely transform selections, and instantly create palettes from favorite snaps.

For newcomers, this is an immediate, intuitive proposition; and for long-time fans, Procreate 5X further pushes the app’s ambition and opens up yet more creative options. Either way, it’s a huge bargain at this low price.

(Image credit: Steven Troughton-Smith)

Pastel (free + $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Pastel is an iPad app for any amateur or professional artist with a thing for color palettes. The second you open the app, you can peruse a collection of pre-loaded examples, which mix reference material (such as colors used on games systems) and hues that simply look great together.

Creating your own palettes is easy. Load a photo and Pastel will extract key colors – or you can start with a blank canvas. An existing palette can be edited at any point, using built-in color pickers. Furthermore, palettes can be exported to PDF, and individual values copied or dragged to other apps.

Pastel is every inch the modern, refined iPad app. It’s simple, usable, and makes excellent use of modern iPad conventions. Generously, you can also try it for free, adding up to 20 items before going 'unlimited' with a one-off IAP.

Linea Sketch

(Image credit: The Iconfactory)

Linea Sketch (free or $0.99/99p/AU$1.49 per month)

Linea Sketch reasons that sketching on iPad shouldn’t require you to be inundated with too many features. This app therefore gets out of your way so you can get on and draw.

Tools sit at screen edges, making it a cinch to access colors, pen tools, and layers. You can import images to sketch over, work with grids and custom backgrounds, and record your masterpiece’s creation to export and show off on social media later.

With Apple Pencil, the app is especially lovely to use, with straightforward transform controls, responsive line thicknesses, and the superb ZipLine that turns wobbly scribbles into perfect polygons, just by having you pause for a second when you’re done. 

Note that the free version is full-featured, merely watermarking exports and reminding you to support development - so you’ve got no excuse to not check it out.

(Image credit: Eran Hilleli)

Looom ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Looom cleverly rethinks frame-based hand-drawn animation for iPad. Rather than aping desktop tools, it fully utilizes the touchscreen. Ideally, you draw with an Apple Pencil, and use your other hand to move between frames. The process feels fluid - we agree with the creator’s suggestion that it’s akin to playing an instrument rather than using software.

Although a Pencil is preferred, it’s possible to use a finger to paint. And either way, your creations are likely to resemble wobbly scribbles. But Looom is nonetheless a superb entry point for animators, due to its ease of use, and a useful sketchpad for veterans - not least when you consider you can run up to five layers, each with their own unique number of frames.

The lack of share options (such as GIF) is a pity, but SVG export to desktop software is at least provided for pros.

(Image credit: science-to-touch)

iOrnament Pro ($6.99/£6.99/AU$10.99)

iOrnament Pro resembles a hugely powerful customizable kaleidoscope. As you draw, the app repeats your strokes across the screen on the basis of rulesets you choose to define symmetry types. There’s a range of pen types and brushes, along with bling-like glitter effects; and if you don’t fancy going freehand, you can use geometric shapes or import a photo.

The basics are simple enough for a child, but iOrnament Pro’s toolset lets seasoned artists delve deeper. There’s a layers system, an option for wrapping your work around a sphere, and several export options, including the entire image, single tiles, and a time-lapse recording.

In some ways, iOrnament Pro is a curious beast. It’s not an image editor you necessarily need; but as everything from an experimental design tool to a relaxation aid, it’s one you may well want.

Imaengine Vector (free + $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99)

Imaengine Vector is two apps in one. In its most basic form, it’s a photo filter app. Load a picture or use your iPad to take a photo, and you can select from a number of filters. Most of them are eye-popping, transforming your image to anything from ink sketch to abstract art.

That alone is worth the outlay, but tap the ‘editor’ button and Imaengine Vector transforms into a full editing package, enabling you to adjust every stroke, and add to the image with lines and shapes of your own.

The app’s interface is a touch esoteric, and would do better if it avoided shoving all the buttons right at the edge of the iPad’s display. But that’s the only major shortfall in this powerful app, which can produce some seriously arresting visuals.

Live Home 3D (free + IAP)

Live Home 3D is for people who fancy partaking in some interior design. Whether you want to experiment with your own home, or design an entirely new one, there are plenty of tools here for doing so – in 2D and 3D alike.

Even for free, there’s loads to delve into, from creating bespoke floor plans to projecting your finished masterwork on to real-world surroundings in AR. Thousands of materials and models are available to deck your virtual home out so that it resembles the real thing.

There are two paid tiers: Standard ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99) removes watermarks and is flexible regarding import/export; Pro ($19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99) gives you more customization in terms of drawing, output quality, and light editing. In all versions, the app is powerful, usable, and entertaining.

Affinity Designer (US$19.99/£19.99/AU$30.99)

Affinity Designer brings desktop-grade vector illustration to iPad. Its huge range of tools are ideally suited to anything from high-end illustrations through to interface design. Every stroke always remains editable, and you can zoom to an absurd degree, and never lose detail.

The app works nicely with Apple Pencil or your own digits, and has a smart gestural system where holding fingers on the screen mirrors desktop keyboard modifiers. Elsewhere, you can pinch layers to group them, or drag one layer on to another to create a mask.

This is an app you can get lost in – but in a good way. The more you use it, the more you realize its sheer scope. And it even shares a file format with Affinity Photo, so you can bounce documents between the two without losing anything.

Core Animator ($5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99)

Core Animator is an app for creating motion graphics on your iPad. If you’ve ever seen Adobe Animate (formerly Flash), you’ll feel at home. If not, the app might take longer to get to grips with, but you’re helped along by built-in tutorials and Core Animator’s usable, logical interface.

The basics involve adding objects to a canvas and manipulating them at various ‘keyframes’ on the timeline. You can adjust each one’s position, rotation, scale, and opacity, and Core Animator deals with all the frames in between.

It’s worth noting there are no drawing tools, so you must import elements created elsewhere. The app also demands time and patience, but give it both and you can end up with superb results.

Concepts (free + various IAP)

Concepts is an advanced vector-based sketching and design app. Every stroke remains editable, and similar flexibility is evident elsewhere, with varied grids (dot; lined; isometric), definable gestures, and an adjustable interface.

With version 5, Concepts’ design revamp transformed the main toolbar into a space-efficient tool wheel, from which Copic swatches pleasingly explode when you switch colors. As such, the app’s a touch alien at first, and can be fiddly if you don’t have a Pencil.

But Concepts soon becomes natural and fluid in use, and it’s apparent the app’s been designed for touch, rather than a developer hammering desktop concepts into your iPad.

If you’re not a professional architect, illustrator or the like it might be overkill, but if you’re unsure, you can get a feel for the app for free. IAPs subsequently allow you to unlock shape guides, SVG and PDF export, infinite layers, and object packs.

Clip Studio Paint Ex for manga ($8.99/£6.99/AU$11.49 monthly)

Clip Studio Paint Ex for manga brings the popular PC desktop app for digital artists to the iPad. And we mean that almost literally – Clip Studio looks pretty much identical to the desktop release.

In one sense, this isn’t great news – menus, for example, are fiddly to access, but it does mean you get a feature-rich, powerful app. There are loads of brushes and tools, vector capabilities, effect lines and tones for comic art, and onion skinning for animations. It also takes full advantage of Pencil, so pro artists can be freed from the desktop, and work wherever they like.

The app could do with better export and desktop workflow integration, and even some fans might be irked by the subscription model. But Clip Studio’s features and quality mean most will muddle through the former issues and pay for the latter.

Stop Motion Studio Pro ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Animation can be painstaking, whether doing it for your career or just for fun. Fortunately, Stop Motion Studio Pro streamlines the process, providing a sleek and efficient app for your next animated masterpiece.

It caters to various kinds of animation: you can use your iPad’s camera to capture a scene, import images or videos (which are broken down into stills), or use a remote app installed on an iPhone. Although most people will export raw footage to the likes of iMovie, Stop Motion Pro shoots for a full animation suite by including audio and title capabilities.

There are some snags. Moving frames requires an awkward copy/paste/delete workaround. Also, drawing tools are clumsy, making the app’s claim of being capable of rotoscoping a tad suspect. But as an affordable and broadly usable app for crafting animation, it fits the bill.

The best education apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for learning something new – from astronomy to human history.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Codea ($14.99/£14.99/AU$22.99)

Codea wants you to use your iPad for creating things – specifically other iPad apps and games. Built around the Lua programming language, Codea is a code editor with a friendlier face than most – to change a color, you just tap and drag; if you get stuck, reference materials are built in. Once you’re done, press play and you can watch your code run, and interact with what you’ve made.

Although you can’t expect to fire up Codea and be troubling the App Store charts within a week, there are many examples you can mess around with, which help you understand the fundamentals of a game or 3D graphics.

If you’re still a bit suspicious that an app exists for creating other apps, do be mindful that there are already apps and games made with Codea available for download. So why not make one yourself?

(Image credit: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd / TechRadar)

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life ($0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49)

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life hints at the future of consumable media. At its core, this is an educational journey into over 30 creatures and their habitats. You learn how living things on Earth are interlinked, and the way in which everything is constructed from the same fundamental building blocks.

It’s the presentation, though, that sets the app apart. The main interface comprises sets of 3D scenes you can twirl and explore. Embedded within, you’ll find over a thousand high-res images, short videos narrated by Brian Cox and engaging essays.

The result is something that borrows from magazines, books, television and apps, successfully merging them all into something new. Especially on the larger screen of the iPad, the dazzling visuals and text alike all get a chance to shine.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Solar Walk 2 - Planet Explorer ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.99)

Solar Walk 2 is a digital orrery. It offers a stylized 3D view of the solar system, and tapping on any planet or moon whisks you toward it within seconds, like you’re piloting a rocket from NASA’s dreams.

The view can be manipulated by standard iOS gestures, although this app is also really nice to just leave in a docked iPad so you can watch moons and planets orbit their parents.

When you want to science things up a bit, though, the app’s ready and willing. An interactive facts panel provides stats, graphs, and the means to crack open a planet to see what’s inside. Add some IAP and you can travel with famous space missions like Voyager 1. In all, it’s a cracking alternative to a real-world orrery – and a lot more portable and interactive, too!

Human Anatomy Atlas 2018 ($24.99/£23.99/AU$38.99)

Human Anatomy Atlas 2018 represents a leap forward for iPad education apps and digital textbooks alike. In short, it turns your iPad into an anatomy lab – and augmented reality extends this to nearby flat surfaces.

You can explore your virtual cadaver by region or system. Additionally, you can examine cross-sections, micro-anatomy (eyes; bone layers; touch receptors, and so on), and muscle actions. If you want to learn what makes you tick, it’s fascinating to spin a virtual body beneath your finger, and ‘dissect’ it by removing sections.

But the AR element is a real prize, giving you a captivating, slightly unnerving virtual body to explore. Ideal fodder for medical students, then, but great even for the simply curious. And although it’s pricey for the latter audience, the app’s often on sale, and has dropped as low as $0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49. Snap it up if you see it cheap.

LookUp ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

There are quite a few dictionary apps on iPad, and most of them don’t tend to stray much from paper-based tomes, save adding a search function. LookUp has a more colorful way of thinking, primarily with its entry screen. This features rows of illustrated cards, each of which houses an interesting word you can discover more about with a tap.

The app is elsewhere a mite more conventional – you can type in a word to confirm a spelling, and access its meaning, etymology, and Wikipedia entry.

The app’s lack of speed and customization means it likely won’t be a writer’s first port of call when working – but it is an interesting app for anyone fascinated by language, allowing you to explore words and their histories in rather more relaxed circumstances.

Redshift Pro (($17.99/£17.99/AU$27.99)

The ‘pro’ bit in Redshift Pro’s name is rather important, because this astronomy app is very much geared at the enthusiast. It dispenses with the gimmickry seen in some competing apps, and is instead packed with a ton of features, including an explorable planetarium, an observation planner and sky diary, 3D models of the planetary bodies, simulations, and even the means to control a telescope.

Although more workmanlike than pretty, the app does the business when you’re zooming through the heavens, on a 3D journey to a body of choice, or just lazily browsing whatever you’d be staring at in the night sky if your ceiling wasn’t in the way.

And if it all feels a bit rich, the developer has you covered with the slightly cut down – but still impressive – Redshift, for half the outlay.

Sky Guide ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49)

There are quite a few apps for virtual stargazing, but Sky Guide is the best of them on iPad. Like its rivals, the app allows you to search the heavens in real-time, providing details of constellations and satellites in your field of view (or, if you fancy, on the other side of the world).

Also, when outside during the daytime (at which point stars are inconveniently invisible to the naked eye), you can use augmented reality to map constellations on to a blue sky.

Indoors, it transforms into a kind of reference guide, offering further insight into distant heavenly bodies, and the means to view the sky at different points in history. What sets Sky Guide apart, though, is an effortless elegance. It's simply the nicest app of its kind to use, with a polish and refinement that cements its essential nature.

Earth Primer ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

When you're told you can control the forces of nature with your fingertips that probably puts you more in mind of a game than a book. And, in a sense, Earth Primer does gamify learning about our planet. You get a series of engaging and interactive explanatory pages, and a free-for-all sandbox that cleverly only unlocks its full riches when you've read the rest of the book.

Although ultimately designed for children, it's a treat for all ages, likely to plaster a grin across the face of anyone from 9 to 90 when a volcano erupts from their fingertips.

Journeys of Invention ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

Touch Press somewhat cornered the market in amazing iOS books with The Elements, but Journeys of Invention takes things a step further. In partnership with the Science Museum, it leads you through many of science's greatest discoveries, weaving them into a compelling mesh of stories.

Many objects can be explored in detail, and some are more fully interactive, such as the Enigma machine, which you can use to share coded messages with friends.

What's especially great is that none of this feels gimmicky. Instead, this app points towards the future of books, strong content being married to useful and engaging interactivity.

The best movie and entertainment apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for having fun with your iPad, whether reading, watching TV, using Twitter or delving into interactive art.

A screenshot showing Play: Save Videos Watch Later on iPad

(Image credit: Marcos Antonio Tanaka)

Save Videos Watch Later ($2.99/£2.49/AU$4.49)

Play: Save Videos Watch Later gives you a place to bookmark YouTube videos, so you can view them later – or dig into saved favorites. You might argue YouTube does this itself, but Play’s feature set goes beyond what YouTube offers.

On iPad, videos can be added to Play via drag and drop from the Subscriptions tab, sharing, Shortcuts, or copying and pasting URLs. The ability to assign tags lets you organize bookmarked videos, and iCloud sync means you can get at your collection on all your Apple devices. 

With its sleek interface, Home screen widgets, easy to filter video list, and low one-off payment, Play is an excellent app to get more from YouTube by organizing what you’d like to watch and ensuring much-loved videos always remain within easy reach.

A screenshot showing Book Track

(Image credit: Simone Montalto)

Book Track (free + $5.99/£4.99/AU$9.99)

Book Track is an app dedicated to helping you read more – whether you prefer paper tomes or those that exist in digital form on your iPad. Libraries can be imported via CSV or from GoodReads, or you can opt to start afresh by way of an online search or scanning book barcodes.

The app affords you great flexibility. Your library can be displayed as cover art or a text-based list. Items can be categorized, including the formation of a wish-list for items you don’t yet own. There are options for saving quotes and tracking loaned books.

Overall, Book Track is a great way to keep tabs on your collection, and even your reading progress through a statistics pane. On iPad, it shines, not least with the info-rich but beautifully designed three-pane view on the bigger 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

A screenshot showing the Infuse 7 app

(Image credit: Firecore, LLC)

Infuse 7 ($0.99/79p/AU$1.49 per month)

Infuse 7 lets you play your digital video collection on your iPad – wherever said videos happen to be stored. Point the app at a cloud service or folders on a home network and it’ll go through your files, adding cover art and descriptions. When you watch, you can pull down subtitles with ease.

The app supports a wide range of formats, and optional Trakt connectivity enables you to sync your watch history, submit ratings, and sound off about what you’ve viewed. The revamped home screen makes for a more custom experience than before, with user-defined lists based on genre, age and ratings.

For what you get, it’s good value – and there are annual and lifetime discounts if you’re a fan. Not sure about splashing out? You can always run the free version, which removes cloud service support and sync, but nonetheless excels for watching videos stored on your local network.

(Image credit: Jean-Michel Jarre)

EōN by Jean-Michel Jarre ($8.99/£8.99/AU$13.99)

EōN by Jean-Michel Jarre exists in a similar territory to the algorithmically generated audio apps released on iPad by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers. Only instead of an endless river of generative ambient audio, you get something akin to an infinite Jarre remix.

This all works better than you might think, with Jarre’s trademark synth washes, electronic beats, and flickering riffs dancing about in a mix that never repeats itself. Although there are quite clearly defined ‘tracks’ of sorts, they’re different every time you fire up the app.

On iPad in particular, the visual component gets a chance to shine. On the larger display, the resulting effect is a little like a desktop Jarre concert – and unlimited iterations for the price of a single new album seems like quite the bargain.

(Image credit:

Tayasui Color 2 ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Tayasui Color 2 is a rare iPad coloring app, in that it’s properly premium and doesn’t delve into the murky world of subscriptions. That means it’s more limited than its contemporaries – you get just 18 illustrations – but you’re not forking out for something you may only dip into on occasion.

The app has other benefits, too, not least a beautiful design that makes it feel like the most tactile offering on the platform. The illustrations sit within a flip book of virtual stiff card pages. As you color, sound effects mimic real-world tools, which is especially mesmerizing if you’re using a stylus. 

There is one minor issue, in the illustrations not scaling as well as they might when you zoom in – they get a bit blurry. But otherwise, this is a wonderful premium take on iPad coloring.

Reeder 4 ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Reeder 4 is a premium RSS client. You subscribe to website feeds, which can be browsed individually or as a whole, ensuring you never miss an article from favorite sources.

Although you can opt to view the original web pages, you’re better off with Reeder’s own reader, which removes cruft, leaving you with just text and images. For sites that only provide synopses, entire articles can be loaded with a touch of a button. There’s also a ‘Bionic Reading’ mode can also be invoked, emboldening specific letters in words to slow you down, so you take in more of the text.

Despite the odd flub (a default theme that very much needs the ‘increase contrast’ option on; finicky animations), Reeder remains ahead of the pack. It’s a must-buy if you want a better way to take in news and other articles on your iPad.

David Bowie is… ($9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99)

David Bowie is… takes 2013’s blockbuster Bowie exhibition and stuffs it inside of your iPad as an AR experience.

Curated by theme rather than chronologically, the exhibition is a set of interactive scenes, ‘projected’ onto your desktop. Optional narration by Gary Oldman adds backstory as you examine lyrics, costumes and videos, exploring the life of a music icon.

On iPad, David Bowie is… works especially well. The screen’s squarer aspect ratio makes examining content less awkward than on iPhone, and the larger display lets everything shine. The only thing that might give you pause is the price, but for far less than a ticket to the original exhibition, you get unlimited access to all the goodies – including dozens of songs and videos – without having to peer over other people’s shoulders.

Bloom: 10 Worlds ($7.99/£7.99/AU$12.99)

Bloom: 10 Worlds is the follow-up to 2008’s Bloom, which never made it to iPad. That app had you tap the screen to simultaneously play notes and create spots of color. The former looped and slowly evolved; the latter disappeared into the background like ripples in a pond.

10 Worlds expands this premise out from a ‘single’ into a full album. There are 10 takes on the format to enjoy, each with its own visuals and audio. The visuals in particular have been significantly improved from the original Bloom, replacing that app’s hard geometric forms with a more painterly approach.

However, it’s the intriguing mix of instrument, album, and art that still shines through. The result is an essential addition to iPad, perfectly complementing existing Eno/Chilvers collaborations Scape and Reflection

Shepard Fairey AR - Damaged (US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Shepard Fairey AR - Damaged takes a warehouse-sized art exhibit and transforms it into a virtual space. This means instead of getting a digital book, where you swipe between stills, you instead experience the context and atmospherics of the original show, dragging the screen to move, or actually walking around in AR, adjusting your view on the basis of where you hold your iPad.

Fairey – creator of the iconic ‘Hope’ image of Barack Obama – is on fine form here, exploring issues relating to social media, celebrity, and the notion of constructing your own reality. Optionally, his narrative can accompany your journey around his work, adding extra insight. But however you check out Damaged, it proves itself to be the finest example of a virtual gallery on mobile, looking to the future rather than the past.

Tweetbot 5 (US$4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Tweetbot 5 is a premium Twitter client. Unlike Twitter’s own client, which is determined to present tweets as it sees fit, Tweetbot lists tweets in order, omits ads, and doesn’t clutter up your mentions feed with notifications about retweets and likes. There’s a night mode, for tweeting in the dark, iCloud sync across devices for keeping your place, and nice sound effects that make the app feel alive.

On iPad, the app of course supports Split View and Slide Over, but it also has its own built-in column view. This means if you’re the kind of person who lives on Twitter, you can, for example, simultaneously scroll through your feed in the main pane, while chatting with people via direct messages in another. Top stuff for power users – or anyone who wants to avoid social network noise.

Chunky Comic Reader (free or $3.99/£3.99/AU$4.49)

There's a miniature revolution taking place in digital comics. Echoing the music industry some years ago, more publishers are cottoning on to readers very much liking DRM-free content. With that in mind, you now need a decent iPad reader for your PDFs and CBRs, rather than whatever iffy reading experience is welded to a storefront.

Chunky is the best comic-reader on iPad. The interface is simple but customisable. If you want rid of transitions, they're gone. Tinted pages can be brightened. And smart upscaling makes low-res comics look good.

Paying the one-off 'pro' IAP enables you to connect to Mac or Windows shared folders or FTP. Downloading comics then takes seconds, and the app will happily bring over folders full of images and convert them on-the-fly into readable digital publications.

The best health, diet, and exercise apps for iPad

Our favorite iPad apps for cooking, relaxing, de-stressing and keeping fit.

Two screenshots showing the Noir app and its effects

(Image credit: Jeffrey Kuiken)

Noir ($2.99/£2.49/AU$4.49)

Noir is a Safari extension that wants to protect your eyes when you browse the internet at night – or just don’t want to be dazzled during the day. It does this by adding a dark mode to any website you visit when iPadOS 15’s Dark Mode is active, or by enabling you to trigger Noir whenever you like.

The extension comes with several built-in styles, along with further options to tweak what you see, for example by dimming images on the page. Wisely, it lets you apply specific settings to individual websites, if one doesn’t happen to play well with the defaults.

This sense of polish and the smattering of control set Noir apart from the competition. Sure, there are free alternatives to Noir on the App Store, but the quality gulf between these products is like day and night.


(Image credit: Portal Labs Ltd)

Portal (free + various IAP)

Portal is an ambient noise/relaxation app that wants to take your mind somewhere else - and in a more literal sense than most. Instead of merely providing audio, Portal has you virtually travel to a range of serene locations. Each is a combination of video loop and 3D soundscape - a window to a tiny world designed to help you focus, relax, and sleep.

The free app gives you a slice of the full experience, with six portals to jump through. Pay the IAP and that number rises to over 40. On the larger screen of an iPad - and with headphones on - the experience is hypnotic.

It’s configurable, too, enabling you to overlay a clock, run a focus timer, and display the task you’re trying to concentrate on. The only thing you’ll wish when it’s running is that your iPad’s screen was the size of an actual window.

(Image credit: Crunchy Bagel / TechRadar)

Streaks Workout ($3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99)

Streaks Workout is a personal trainer squeezed into your iPad. But unlike many of its contemporaries, Streaks doesn’t make assumptions about your skill level and environment. You don’t need any equipment, and the app is flexible enough to fit around your capabilities and interests.

To rapidly kick things off, you can select exercises to use within random workouts, and choose from one of four timers. These range from the reasonable six-minute Quick to the arduous half-hour Extreme. As you exercise, the app records how you do, building up a log of your efforts.

At any point, you can create your own custom exercises, making the app truly yours. And with data syncing across the cloud, there’s no excuse for not working up a sweat, since Streaks can always be with you on iPad, iPhone, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.

(Image credit: Future)

Cosm ($1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99)

Cosm is a mash-up of mental wellness aid and ambient instrument. Fire up a new session, prod the screen, and a calming note will play. Tap a few more times, and you’ll soon realize you’ve composed a custom loop to serenade you into the infinite.

So far, so Brian Eno’s Bloom – but Cosm takes things further. You get control over tuning, volume, and instrumentation. Most importantly, your compositions can be saved, whereupon the app encourages you to add a written note about how you feel.

The idea is to create a kind of journal that’s driven in part by the compositions you make – or at least to make compositions that give you a boost when you later return to them. Whether or not you’re a fan of Eno’s iPad apps, Cosm is well worth investigating.

Paprika ($4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99)

Paprika is ideal for people who live in the kitchen. Whereas other cooking apps are content to serve up some recipes and a shopping list, Paprika is a full-fledged scrapbook and meal planner you can use for every aspect of your culinary world.

Recipes can be added manually or snipped from favorite websites. Anything added to the app can be adjusted, if you decide you’ve figured out a way to improve the dish or preparation methods, or fancy adding some photos. Beyond that, there’s an ingredients tracker, meal planner (with Calendar integration), menu creator, and the means to print recipes.

It’s not as visually flashy as the likes of Kitchen Stories and Tasty, but Paprika feels like the best bet for anyone whose iPad spends almost as much time in the kitchen as they do.