Compelling apps for your iPad
Make your iPad more capable without having to splash the cash…
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to iPad apps on the App Store. However, many of them require an additional commitment to a subscription service, like Netflix or Now TV, while others need an in–app purchase to get value from them. We’ve scoured the store for the best free apps that can be used either entirely without paying a cent or whose in–app purchases really are optional extras. Across these two pages, you’ll find apps to entertain and inform you — all for free!
> PCalc Lite bit.ly/mfpcl
PCalc has been around since the earliest days of the App Store. The Lite version includes a full scientific calculator with such cool features as optional RPN mode, multiple undo and redo, and unit conversions. There are two visual themes available.
There are no shortage of drawing apps on the iPad. But Paper stands out for the loveliness of its interface. You store your drawings, notes, and even annotated images in notebooks. And you can view those notebooks in a 3D view that allows you to open them and swipe from page to page. There’s a full range of drawing and painting tools and support for Apple Pencil. There are templates for grids, lines, and storyboards to help you get notes and drawings down quickly and the Diagram tool is able to snap your rough sketches to straight lines and shapes.
The notebooks themselves have customizable front covers and you can view them in a grid to make navigating them easier. There is a premium subscription available, but all the tools most of us really need are available in the free version.
> TuneIn Radio tunein.com
TuneIn Radio offers 100,000 stations from around the world to choose from, as well as podcasts and exclusive content. It will recommend stations based on your location, and you can even search and add favorites to make personal playlists.
> Tasty tasty.co
The iPad is the perfect platform to easily view cooking tips. Tasty boasts over 3,000 recipes, in US–specific measurements, taking you step by step through them all. It’ll even keep your iPad awake and give recommendations for your next meal.
> Flipboard flipboard.com
If you want your news stories delivered in a more visually arresting style than a simple scrolling page, Flipboard hits the spot with its flipping pages. Moreover, its social layer lets you collaborate with friends on digital ‘magazines’.
Once, Documents was a vital iPad install due to being a Finder equivalent. Files now takes that spot, and Documents integrates with it. But Readdle’s Documents app has other tricks up its sleeve that it’s worth a download.
To use just some examples, it allows you to save pages from the web, grab content from local computers and remote file servers, create two–way syncs to folders, and open or make Zip archives. When viewing documents, you can annotate PDFs, listen to music offline in a swish player, and peruse movies. And if beady eyes are nearby, you can lock everything behind Face ID/Touch ID.
> VNC Viewer realvnc.com
Documents and Files might let you grab files from your Mac, but VNC Viewer enables you to view and control them. It’s ideal for moments when you need to do something on your Mac, but your Mac’s not currently in front of you.
Brushes Redux bit.ly/mfbrshsrdx
The original Brushes was thrust into the public eye when Jorge Colombo used it to paint a cover for the New Yorker on his iPhone. That app’s long since vanished from the App Store, but it was fortunately — and generously — reborn as the open–source Brushes Redux.
There’s experimental support for Apple Pencil, but the app’s virtual brushes work very nicely as you paint with a digit. There’s plenty of power here as well: hugely flexible custom brushes, a layers system, and the means to record and share your efforts to fashion a digital masterpiece. It’s a must for digital painters.