Apple's tablet is becoming a serious tool for content creation. We reveal the best iPad apps for design, creativity, inspiration, and organisation.
Unlike the iPhone, Apple's tablet has enough screen space to enable more complex interactions. It's therefore no surprise that there are many iPad apps for designers. Whether you're looking to design on your iPad, carry out research, find inspiration, or improve your task management and productivity there are tons of iPad apps out there - many of them free.
But how do you find the best iPad apps to help you in your day to day design work out of the hundreds of thousands available? To save you the hassle, we've gathered together some of the very best creative iPad apps in the Apple's App Store. You're sure to find something that meets your needs to download today!
- Also read: The best iPhone apps for designers
01. PicLab HD
- Developer: Roberto Nickson
- Price: $1.99/£1.49
PicLab HD makes image editing an absolute doddle - enabling you to either snap a photo or grab one from your photo library, then go to town on it. As well as adding typography - lots of fonts and full control over size, positioning, opacity, rotation, and colour - you can layer illustrations, ornamentation and other design elements.
02. Photoristic HD
- Developer: Georgii Kharchenko
- Price: $4.99/£2.99
Photoristic HD is an iPad image app that's just powerful enough to be quite useful without overloading you with features that you don't really want. It's all about the standard image adjustment tools (white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, vibrance and saturation), with additional colour controls, a black and white mode, split toning and a hefty collection of presets for Instagram-style quick fixes.
- Developer: Luke Rogers
- Price: $4.99/£2.99
Created by game developer , Pixaki's billed as a pixel editor designed with professionals in mind, and it packs a decent set of features to ease your creative processes. Working on a canvas up to a whopping 512x512px in size, you can build your own 16 colour palette with an intuitive hue picker and work with up to 20 layers.
04. Loop ($0.99 / £0.69)
- Developer: Universal Everything
- Price: $0.99/£0.69
Inspired by the work of its founder and creative director Matt Pyke, design studio Universal Everything created Loop, a drawing app that allows you to easily created short, hand-drawn animation and share them via email, Tumblr and in the Loop gallery.
05. GoldfrApp ($0.99 / £0.69)
- Developer: Future Corp Ltd
- Price: $0.99/£0.69
Released by electronic music duo Goldfrapp in anticipation of the release of their sixth studio album, Tales Of Us, GoldfrApp: Tales of Us is an app that combines two of your photos using the 'double exposure' photography technique; creating an illusory joint image. Images created can then easily be saved to your camera roll and shared with friends via email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
06. Tayasui Sketches
- Developer: Tayasui
- Price: $1.99/£1.49
Sketches is one of the most delightfully simple drawing and painting iPad apps that we've found. It features eight brushes along the left-hand side, ranging from pencil and charcoal to felt pen and watercolour brush, with a further two available in the pro version.
Each one exhibits its respective characteristics brilliantly, meaning it's simple to pick a brush and start sketching. Although limited in terms of editing options, they're a delight to use, and in the pro version you're at least able to increase the size and shape as well as edit the blend mode.
- Developer: FireCore
- Price: $4.99/£2.99
Decent iPad apps for video playback are hard to find. Apple doesn't support most popular file formats but Infuse is a genuine rival to the popular AVPlayerHD.
Infuse is indeed a beautiful way to watch videos. Just look at the gorgeous way in which it displays your video library: once copied across over iTunes, your videos are displayed as thumbnails in a grid format. However, instead of choosing a random frame from videos to fill those thumbnails, the app analyses the file name and metadata to work out exactly what the video is.
When it recognises a movie or a TV show episode, it chooses content-specific thumbnails as well as giving you episode synopses, artwork, cast lists and more.
08. Stripe Me
- Developer: Yooshr
- Price: $1.99/£1.49
Want to out-stretch Modigliani? You certainly can with Stripe Me, an elongating photography iPad app. Using either of your iOS device's cameras you essentially capture horizontal or vertical video footage, with half of the shot static and the rest manipulated by the recording.
This is one of the most fun iPad apps on our list. Creating giraffe-like necks and huge gaping gobs won't be fun forever of course, but if you start rotating static objects, you can acquire a neat spiral effect (hint: try experimenting with a Lazy Susan).
09. Posts (free)
- Developer: Pico
- Price: Free
One of the better iPad apps for Blogger and WordPress users is now free - and just as good as when it first hit the App Store. For WordPress especially, it's a rare case of an app capable of handling many custom sites as easily as a default installation, including custom posts, pages, templates and custom post formats - though unfortunately not outright custom post types.
Posts can also handle multiple blogs at once, and syncs with your sites to work offline as well as when there’s a net connection. It doesn’t try to replace your actual admin screens, but has more than enough power to keep sites updated while away from your PC/Mac.
- Developer: Merek Davis Com
- Price: $0.99/£0.69
Mextures is far from just another retro filter clone; it's the most customisable effects app on the App Store, and it's a must-have if you love the vintage look.
Part of its success is that the filters are all rather subtle, with only major effects taking place on your photo because you keep adding layers of different effects and dialling their strength up or down. The app's textures all come in packs (Light Leaks, Grit & Grain, Grunge and so on) that you can swap at will, overlaying multiple transitions until you're happy with the result.
11. Inkist (free)
Inkist is another in our selection of iPad apps aimed at artists. It benefits from a simple but stylish interface that's been designed to be highly responsive and artist-friendly. The app is "free for a limited time" so hurry!
In the app, which is based on its Mac cousin, you build up layers of colour and flatten them down on the background rather than relying on multiple layers. Although it might not be to everyone’s taste, for many traditional artists, this will be real benefit.
Support for pressure-sensitive styluses is available natively, and Inkist has a range of simple, customisable brushes. Support for pressure-sensitive styluses is available natively (accessible through the ever- present tool palette) so you do have some more flexibility with your strokes, although with a standard stylus we found simple, quick taps were not always tremendously effective.
12. Vittles ($8.99/£5.99)
A 'vittle' is a short explanatory video clip, and creating one is easy when using the basic drawing tools on offer with this iPad app. Either draw and record them or import photos and PDFs (from Dropbox or even Keynote) to create simple yet dynamic presentations on your iPad.
The tools are limited to simple brushes, colours and a lasso. Brush options are limited to a restrictive size range and altering the opacity, but they’re rendered using Vittle’s own dynamic brush engine - meaning they aren’t pixellated - even when zoomed in.
Vittles can be exported and shared at 720p and multiple clips can be recorded and re-arranged before exporting. Voiceovers can be added while you record or by exporting it to iMovie.
13. Meeting-Recorder ($1.99/£1.49)
iPad app Meeting-Recorder goes way beyond merely recording memos, notes, or snippets of that song idea that’s been lurking in your head. It allows you to contextualise your recordings in a way that captures much more than just the audio of a meeting.
So as well as being able to name and tag recordings, you can also add text notes, photographs, and star 'ratings', to allow you to capture as much of the meeting as possible, and find the recording again easily afterwards.
When you're done, you can share the audio in a variety of ways - including sending it to Dropbox, or storing it as a note in Evernote. You can also create a PDF from the visual materials associated with your recording, and share those. Recordings can be shared with iCloud too, thus making a recording you create on an iPhone easily available in the iPad app.
14. ProCutX (free)
ProCutX turns your iPad into a companion controller for Apple's Final Cut Pro X video editor, providing a screen of buttons for accessing many of its most useful tools. This handy iPad app saves you having to memorise keyboard shortcuts and locations in the menu bar.
Controls are grouped by task. A dial that moves the playhead sits at the centre; your finger doesn't have to precisely track its edge, just orbit the centre. Forget about quickly scrubbing a second or so in either direction, though - the maximum rate of advancement is similar to holding the left or right arrow keys on your keyboard.
That's because ProCutX depends on a companion app installed on the Mac, which relays commands from the iPad by pretending to be an attached keyboard (though really, it's just connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Mac). Motioning around the dial at least lets you slow down the rate of advancement to land on a precise frame without repeatedly tapping an arrow key on your keyboard.
15. Easy Studio
The core aim of this iPad app is to help kids learn to animate. The objects at your disposal are simple geometric shapes. Once they're on the stage, you can rotate, change size and colour and move them at will. (Rather than leaving you with a blank canvas, the Expert mode contains some templates to help create trains, cars and animals that you can then animate.)
To create animation sequences, arrange various simple shapes on screen, tap a button to take a photo, and then tap and drag to move the objects slightly, and take another photo. The outline of an object's original position remains on the screen as you move it, like a basic onion skin, so you can see how far it's travelled. After you've repeated this procedure, you can play back your photos, and the result is a simple-but-effective animation.
The simple geometric shapes on offer also require some imagination, and the developers say it's best targeted at children of ages six and upwards.
16. Computer Arts Print Glossary
Heading to the printer can often be a daunting task if you're not too familiar with all of the terminology. Thankfully, that's where the Computer Arts Print Glossary comes in. It's a unique iPad app giving you quick access to common, and not so common, printer terms.
The glossary covers every bamboozling term you might encounter, from 'Deckle Edge' and 'Against the Grain' to 'Cheating the Plate'. With this handy app, you'll never need to fear the printers again! To buy the Computer Arts Print Glossary app you first need to download the free Computer Arts container app from iTunes.
17. Lume ($1.99/£1.49)
We're big fans of light painting here at Creative Bloq. A great way to make your photos stand out, this iPad app, developed by art collective Lichtfaktor, lets you add seriously cool effects to your images.
Instead of messing around for hours with a camera and real lights, you can create brilliant light effects simply by using an iPad and your fingertips. Lights can either be drawn directly onto existing images, or use photos can be used as templates to create striking portraits.
18. Handy Photo ($1.99/£1.49)
Despite the lack of Adobe polish, this iPad app is a seriously good photo editor, and it won't break the bank either. The selling point to Handy Photo is its interface, which uses the corners of the screen to cater for rotating menu options.
It’s all designed to keep the central area of the screen clear, allowing you to use swipe gestures to tone your effects up or down, much like Luminance. The editing options for the large part work well, although the orange and blue menu palette didn't convince us. Where Handy Photo really excels, though, is the depth of its effects. It’s not without its problems, but thanks to the excellent airbrushing arsenal on offer, you can fix most blemishes with a bit of patience.
19. Flowboard (free)
Should you ever find yourself having to prove the iPad's credentials as a tool for creativity, you could do worse than turn to Flowboard. This elegantly designed iPad app allows you to create portfolios, presentations and photo slideshows, and it produces beautiful results.
You can start from scratch or choose from a large number of templates. After selecting a template option, you tap on a box and add an image, video or some text. The boxes themselves can be dragged around and re-sized, and their content can be scaled using the familiar two-fingered pinch and un-pinch gestures.
20. Sprite HD ($6.99/£4.99)
Sprite HD is an iPad app for prototyping user interfaces for iOS. The premise is straightforward: you create a new page for each screen display you want to mock up and then add elements to it in order to see how it will look.
Sprite HD has a full library of buttons, controls, icons, and dialogue boxes and allows you to add text and images manually. Start with a background - either black or grey linen for iOS - and then drag assets to it from the library, one at a time. It's a useful way of quickly visualising and sharing how an app will look in a given state.
21. Hopscotch (free)
Hopscotch is an iPad programming language that teaches kids to code in a fun and playful way. Making it easy for youngsters to create and publish programmes, Hopscotch allows them to be able to make digital stuff just as easily as they make tangible real-world stuff.
Crafted by five New York City based web designers, they founded Hopscotch so they could build the toys they wish existed when they were growing up. Already gaining five star reviews across critics and users alike, Hopstoch is much more than child's play.
22. Unstuck (free)
If you're ever facing one of life's challenges, iPad app Unstuck may be able to help. Unstuck offers up personalized digital tools and community to help you get from stuck to unstuck, no matter what the challenge may be.
First is helps you figure out why your stuck, work, home, etc. Then it identifies the type of stuck moment you're having and offers tried and tested tricks and tips to solve it. Genius!
23. Drawnimal ($1.99/£1.49)
Help teach your kids the alphabet with this adorable new iPad app from designer and animator Lucas Zanatto. Drawnimal aims to motivate children to draw around the device and encourages them to think outside of the box.
Helping them to leave the digital screen, it shows children how to draw the main features of animals with animations to help them to learn the alphabet. Drawnimal is available for iPhone and iPad, with over 30 different animated animals and sounds. You can also switch between four different languages.
24. Photo Album ($4.99/£2.99)
The clue is in the title here. Photo Album is a photobook maker, developed by Appsicum. This nifty little iPad app automatically creates albums, based on GPS location data, ratings, tags, date, etc. And tags can be read from other popular software like Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, iPhoto and the Microsoft photo app.
As well as creating traditional photo albums, you can also use Photo Album app to conveniently create collage, mood boards and photobooks with minimal effort.
25. WebNote (free)
WebNote by Hopin Inc is a free, web-browsing and content cataloging app for iPad and iPad Mini that allows users to bookmark, collect, and share digital content with a quick double-tap and swipe.
Content captured can be maintained exclusively private to the user or shared via Twitter, Facebook, or among one's Webnotes contacts. The next time you come across something that you'd like to keep or share, just double-tap, select your social network of choice, and slide to send. Simple!
26. ColoRotate ($4.99/£2.99)
When you open this iPad app, you're presented with what appears to be a giant spinning 3D radish. With dots on.
Developer IDEA claims the tool is based on "neurological studies of how colours are seen and processed by our eyes and brain". So basically, you plot colours on the 3D shape (the dots), the vertical dimension represents lightness and darkness, the horizontal dimension saturation, and the circumference of the radish contains all the colours of the colour wheel. This helps you visualise all the colours and their relationships to others.
A 'Precise' view lets you control hue and tint in multiple colour spaces such as RGB, CMYK, or HLS. There’s also the ability to generate random schemes when you need a bit of inspiration. The fact it can connect to Photoshop to automatically change foreground/background colours and add swatches is a further boon.
ColoRotate isn't a lighthearted colour app, but once you get your head around it, it's a very powerful tool indeed.
27. Retromatic ($1.99/£1.49)
1950s-inspired iPad app Retromatic enables you to import your photos, cut them out using an instant alpha tool, and then apply vintage effects to them. It’s a basic tool, but it's quick and easy to use.
Once imported, you can apply one of 18 (similar) filters and add one of 14 backgrounds. You can also add text (limited to iOS fonts only) and also a variety of eclectic clip art.
28. Marksta ($1.99/£1.49)
Like many creatives, photojournalist John D McHugh is sick and tired of people ripping off photos he's posted online. So he's created an iPad app that enables you to watermark your work, adding your copyright information or logo direct from your iPhone before uploading them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or other sites. It's very user-friendly, with a choice of fonts for your text, and the fact that the app's been designed by a pro photographer shines through.
29. Visualator (free)
Made by our sister site Computer Arts, Visualator is an art iPhone and iPad app generator that allows you to create stunning abstract imagery. The program enables you to play with colour, shape, and form to produce vibrant collages, that you can then incorporate into your design work. Take a look at this helpful tutorial to see exactly what you can do with it.
30. App Cooker ($39.99/£27.99)
App Cooker is a rapid prototyping iPad app. It enables you to design and create interactive prototypes that can then be shared using a variety of options, including Dropbox.
Its mockup tool is absolutely brilliant. Not only does it support linking and gestures, but you can add a multitude of components to your screens. App Cooker gives you access to Apple UIWidgets, a wireframing kit, bitmaps, shapes, text, and even your own images. For the truly inspired, it also includes a drawing tool. All in all, we can't recommend this app highly enough.
31. Wunderlist HD for iPad (free)
Managing to-dos is one of those things that can be arduous if you've the wrong app. This iPad app makes such things simple, syncing tasks across platforms. "It really helps me to stay organised and capture ideas on the go," raves user experience designer D Keith Robinson. "It's essentially become my back-up brain."
Designer's pick - D Keith Robinson
Wunderlist HD was the choice of D Keith Robinson, a designer currently living in San Francisco and working as Desk.com's director of user experience. In Robinson's time as a designer he has worked in web, creative and user-interface design, for companies large and small. Robinson also has experience as a developer, project manager, game designer, and more.
32. DesignPad (free)
Quark - maker of veteran desktop publishing software QuarkXPress - is behind this layout creation tool, which is part-sketchbook, part-wireframe design tool, and part-layout starter kit. This iPad app isn't meant for making finished layouts ready for repro, but you can knock together a wireframe-style page layout with pictures and text in minutes, email yourself the QuarkXPress version, then fine-tune it in Quark's professional desktop publishing software.
33. Design Spring (free)
Whether you’re a designer looking for inspiration, an art director trying to find someone to commission, or you just like looking at fabulous imagery, Creative Bloq's own, free iPad app Design Spring has something for you.
Updated daily, the app it couldn't be simpler to use. You run Design Spring, it downloads images, you swipe through and look at them. Want to look up close? Just tap and zoom in. Like the cut of an artist’s jib? Go straight to their Twitter feed or website. Easy!
We’ve also put in an option to select your favourite images, plus the ability to sort by category and a colour search. If if you'd like your work featured on Design Spring, email email@example.com.
34. Foldify ($1.99/£1.49)
Foldify lets you create, print and fold 3D figures on your iPad. Created by Pixle, the app includes loads of free content so you can create cool papercraft figures with precious little artistic skill required. A real-time 3D preview mode helps ensure your little character is spot-on before printing. You can print wirelessly using Airprint, and share your creations with other users.