You've seen the commercials; Apps are what makes an iPad come to life. Here are the very best ones for work, play, creation, consumption and everything in between.


Twitter: The official Twitter app for iPad packs in the features, giving you a full Tweet-and-browse experience. It can be a little bit overwhelming at first, but powerful things often are. Free.

Flipboard: A true testament to the iPad's transformative powers, Flipboard scrapes your Twitter and Facebook feeds for links and arranges them in a simple, beautiful magazine-style format. Free.

BeeJive IM for iPad: If you're looking for one place to corral all your chats, BeeJive is it. It's the best, best-looking IM client for the iPad, connecting to AIM, GTalk, Facebook chat and a handful of others. $10.

Skype: Skype. For iPad. Finaleffingly. It works over 3G or Wi-Fi and you can talk to anyone using Skype, which is pretty much the de facto standard for video chatting these days. There's also features for IM, emoticons and support for both front and back cameras.

Instamap: Instamap is an Instagram browsing app on your iPad that lets you check up on your stream, see popular photos and even subscribe to particular tags and locations. It's wonderfully designed and though you can't take pictures, it's as good a way to peek at Instagram on your iPad.


iMovie: iMovie on the iPad is great for on-the-go movie editing. There's support for gestures, an updated UI, templates and fully customizable transitions. Not to mention multitrack audio recording, Airplay compatibility and the ability to export movies in HD. $5.

KCRW Music Mine: The KCRW Music Mine app is more about the music of KCRW, the best radio station in the world by the way, than listening to KCRW itself. You can access the music of a 100 different musicians and bands, handpicked by KCRW DJs and updated daily to match the KCRW on air playlists. Pick and play as you wish. Free

Rdio: If you're not familiar with Rdio, just know that it was our favorite streaming music app because of its combination of selection, social aspects and quality music apps. The iPad app double downs on that with an easy way to check your friend's activities, offers up gigantic in-your-face album artwork and has a music player that is clearly influenced by the stellar iPod App on the iPad.

GarageBand: GarageBand for iPad is a no brainer for any budding musician. It offers 8 track recording, over 250 loops, and is fully compatible with the Mac version of GB. You get a load of virtual touch instruments too and if you want, you can plug in your guitar and use the virtual amps. $5.

Korg iMS-20: A faithful reproduction of Korg's MS-20 analog synth, this is the app that will make your music-playing friend get the iPad. It's proof of just how powerful the tablet can be as a music production machine. $16.

Sketchbook Pro: The challenge with drawing apps is packing the most features in the most accessible way possible. Sketchbook Pro walks that line, offering up enough stuff to keep real deal artists busy while making it easy enough for schlubs like me to enjoy. $8.

Adobe Eazel: Adobe Eazel works as a standalone paint application and also connects to Photoshop, sending images that get automagically scaled to whatever resolution you want. What's especially cool is the five finger interface and the mixing of wet and dry paint for color blending, with an engine that allows paint to dry over time, just like in real life. $3

Good Player: As awesome as VLC was before it got pulled from the app store, GoodPlayer is pretty much the same thing. It can play pretty much any video file you throw at it without the silly need to convert them. There's even Airplay support and it has the option to stream movies from the web. $3

Remote: With AirPlay, Apple's signalled its intentions to not just sell you music and movies but to let you move them around your house, too. The official Apple Remote is a key piece of the puzzle, serving as a rich controller for iTunes or AppleTV. Free.

TED for iPad: TED talks are some of the best content the internet has to offer, bar none. The iPad, safe from the constant, pinging distractions of the internet, is the perfect place to watch them. Free.

Kindle: Even if you don't have an actual Kindle, Amazon's still the king of ebooks. Their iPad app lets you buy books from the vast Kindle library, and you can rest easy knowing that they're on a platform that's almost guaranteed to have some staying power. Free.

StreamToMe: The iPad doesn't play nice with many file formats natively. Along with a server app you install on your main machine, StreamToMe will re-encode pretty much any video you throw at it on the fly and beam it to your iPad. Magnificent. $3.

Netflix: I've gotta say, when you're curled up in bed streaming some old TV show to your tablet, the future starts looking like a pretty alright place. With great new Instant Watch offerings popping up all the time, a Netflix subscription is essentially mandatory. Free.

Google Earth: You haven't experienced Google Earth until you've experienced it on the iPad. Seamless swishing, flicking, pinching, and zooming. Free.

The Daily: Overall, it's probably the best iPad newspaper/magazine/multimedia experience/whatever to date. There's a tremendous amount of high quality content in a variety of sections, with sharp writing, beautiful photos, and well-produced video sprinkled throughout. Free, for now.

The Atavist: For some people, the iPad is the device with the potential to liberate long-form journalism from the distracting confines of the PC. It's with that noble aim that the Atavist, an app that vends long-form, multimedia-enriched articles, was created, and it's off to a promising start. Free, $3 per article.

Marvel Comics: Comic books for the 21st Century. Marvel serves up its host of heroes in a slick, easy-to-read app. Issues can be purchased a la carte or gobbled up buffet-style with a $50/year digital subscription. Free, about $2 an issue.

TWCable TV: Luckily, if you're unlucky enough to deal with Time Warner as our cable and internet provider, you get an iPad app that streams 32 channels of Live TV...for free. It basically adds another TV to your house littered with channels of ABC Family, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, and others when you're on your home Wi-Fi. Free.

VinylLove : VinylLove for iPad is a music app that beautifully mimics a record player. You can thumb through alphabetized crates of records (the songs on your library), move the needle (to fast forward) and even hear the digitally added slight crackle and pops. There's a history to that mp3! $5.

SnagFilms: It's a free streaming video app that specializes in documentaries. The selection is pretty decent, ranging from the popular like Super Size Me to super interesting subjects like Young Yakuza. A great app to have in your arsenal when you want to wrinkle that brain of yours. Free

Planetary: Planetary is an iPad-only music player that renders your music collection as a stunning universe of stars (artist), planets (albums), and moons (songs). It's a totally new way to explore music and brilliantly executed. Everything looks great, responds to touch and filled with clever details. And it's free. Free.

HitPad: Hitpad is your explainer for all things going on in the world, or well, all things going on in the world according to the Internet. It finds the current 'trending topics' and gives you the news, tweets, videos, web and photos about them. It's a tidy and attractive app that keeps you up to date.

NASA Visualization Explorer: The NASA Visualization Explorer app brings a new topic from the space agency to your iPad each week. It's chock full of images, videos and scientific information. From Polar studies based in Antarctica to the movement of marine deserts, you'll get to see a side of NASA that doesn't often make the front page news. Free

Snapseed: Snapseed is a photo editor for the iPad with clever controls and snazzy textures and filters. The coolest part about Snapseed is how you use it though. You just select the effect or adjustment you want to make from the bottom bar and then cycle through the options with a vertical swipe and adjust your settings with a horizontal swipe. $5

Luminance: What makes Luminance stand out in the increasingly crowded space of photo editing apps is that it's great at handling layers. Each effect-vignetting, tweaking exposure and white balance, etc.-is a layer that you can re-arrange to see how the picture changes and delete to see how it looks without the effect. Editing like a pro.

World War II Interactive for iPad: An entire app dedicated to the war to end all wars. You can follow the entire timeline of events, from what caused World War II to the Aftermath and everything in between. What's especially great about World War II Interactive is that the app provides you with rare pictures and videos you've probably never seen before (unless of course, you're a big WWII buff).

Fotopedia Japan: Japan is awesome. They have robots, anime, sushi, ramen, and according to the Fast and Furious people are drifting cars all over the place. But I can't afford to hop on a plane and visit the Land of the Rising Sun. Instead I can stare at the amazing photos in this Fotopedia app. If I do save up the money to visit, the app's Trip Builder will help me plan where to go.

Air Media Center: IThere are tons of media streamers for the iPad. What sets Air Media Center apart from the crowded streaming party is its ability to stream content with on-the-fly conversion turned off for higher quality streams and price. It's only a $1. I think I can handle a buck for video streaming.


World of Goo: The smash Wii Ware hit somehow makes even more sense on the iPad, like this is how it was meant to be played all along. Pure gooey physics fun. $5.

Osmos HD: One of, if not the most, immersive, unique iPad games in the App Store, Osmos makes cellular life captivatingly beautiful. $5.

Dead Space: A new, tablet-optimized extension of the popular console shooter series, Dead Space shows just how robust an iPad game can be. From the visual details to the spooky sound design, it's got the full package. $10.

Infinity Blade: How good can an iPad game really look? Uh, check out Infinity Blade to find out. Spoiler: really f-ing good. $6.

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: The iPad's big touchscreen breathes new life into the LucasArts classic, and its smart UI stays out of the way while you enjoy the puzzles, humor, and animations you remember from way back when. $5.

Flight Control HD: It was one of the best games when the iPad came out and it still is—directing air traffic can quickly turn from meditation to mayhem. Both modes are fun. $5.

Words With Friends HD: With its recent expansion into the wide world of Android, there have never been more friends to play against. Words With Friends looks its absolute best on the iPad, allowing you to survey the board like a general overlooking a battle field. $3.

Labyrinth 2: Remember that game where you turn the knobs to navigate a little metal marble through a maze without letting it drop in any of the holes? Turns out that's just as fun when there are no real knobs or marbles involved. Fun for both kids and kids at heart. $8.

The Incident: 8-bit pixel revival at its finest, the Incident is at once retro and fresh, apocalyptic and hilarious. $2.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP : A game that's an epic experience. One part 8-bit graphics, one part beautiful original music, one part adventure, and one part RPG combine for a game that's essentially about exploring and brings your childlike wonder back. $5.

Battleheart: RPGs are intimidating! But Battleheart is adorable and addictive with delicious graphics and a control scheme designed around poking, prodding, and swiping. You control four characters and go on your RPG quest. $3.

NBA Jam: I was gonna have to go Ron Artest on EA if they bungled the iPad port of this classic, but thankfully they've turned out a excellent, faithful update of the original. "He's on fire." "Boomshakalaka." Big head mode. It's all there waiting for you. $10.

Tiny Tower: A free 8-bit style game that lets you channel your inner landlord. You build floors on a tower to attract "bitizens" to live in it and then control their lives (manage, hire, give a job, evict). It's like SimCity but actually fun.

W.E.L.D.E.R.: It's a supremely addicting word puzzle game. Instead of filling in empty spaces with letters, you're given a full slate of seemingly random letters already splayed across the board. The point of the game is to rearrange those letters into words. Score more points by connecting special letters and such.

FlipShip: The most clever twist of FlipShip didn't reveal itself to me until, about a half-dozen rounds into this top-down shooter, I finished a game with a score of exactly zero. Then I realized that this game wasn't predicated on twitch skills but knowing, in an arcade sense, when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. Or, in this case, when to flip 'em.

Frederic - Resurrection of Music: Play as Chopin as he battles for musical supremacy. To mix things up, Chopin's masterpieces are transformed into electronic, reggae, and spaghetti Western songs. Music blasphemy? You won't know until you play.

Zombie Minesweeper: In real life the person who dawdles while playing Minesweeper must worry that their boss will catch them. In Zombie Minesweeper, the dawdling player must worry that the game's suburban zombies will.

Super Crossfire HD: You've got a ship that travels the bottom of the screen, endlessly firing at waves of enemy fighters intent on doing you harm. To destroy them you simply move back and forth, spraying them with pretty purple space bullets. Bright explosions fill the screen.


Instapaper: Reading, it turns out, is just about the best thing you can do on this crazy futuristic tech-slab of yours. Instapaper strips all the web junk from the articles you come across and leaves you with the sweet, pure text. $5.

Reeder: Thanks to RSS feeds, you will never, ever run out of cool stuff to read. Reeder is the cleverest, prettiest way to sift through it all. $5.

Zite: It's a personal magazine app that customizes its content just for you. It learns what you like from your Google Reader and Twitter account and displays stories you'd probably ejoy reading. The app gets bette the more you use it, as it becomes more familiar with your tendencies. Free.

Elements: An attractively sparse text editor for the iPad with a handful of features—like autosaving to the cloud via Dropbox—that set it apart. If you're used to cumbersome, feature-soaked text editors like Word, Elements is a breath of fresh air. $5.

SimpleNote: SimpleNote is the longstanding holder of the minimalist note taking crown: It lets you take notes and keep them in sync across your iPad, iPhone, and the web reliably and simply with zero distractions. Free.

Dropbox: Wanna see what this "cloud" fuss is all about. Start dumping your files in Dropbox on your PC or Mac and watch them magically appear in the iPad app. It's quick, it's clean, it works, and it's free.

Screens: VNC can get confusing, but Screens makes it dead simple. Turn internet sharing on on your Mac (or PC, or Linux machine) and Screens will let you control it. You can even use all your favorite multitouch gestures. $20.

Pulse: So you like the idea of RSS—news coming to you, instead of you going to it—but don't want to deal with adding feeds and endless lists of headlines. Pulse makes the whole thing visual, giving you swipeable columns and rows of stories and sources. Free.

PhotoSync: With PhotoSync, you don't have to plug in your iPad to transfer photos and videos to and from your computer. It transfers your photos and videos wirelessly and is plenty fast. You could even swap photos from your iPhone to iPad too. $2.

iA Writer: Very possibly the best and most elegant text editor on the iPad. The typography is stellar, the interface is perfect for just writing as there's no distracting autocorrection or scroll bars. There's an added row for arrow keys and even a focus mode blurs everything but the three lines you're working on. Syncs with Dropbox too. $1.

LogMeIn Ignition: It's the best VNC app on the iPad. LogMeIn Ignition gives you pretty much control of your PC/Mac through your iPad. It's speedy, refreshed with a clean UI, and lets you wake your computer up from anywhere in the world. $30.

iCab: The Safari browser is great and all but iCab has a lot more features, like full screen mode and tabs. Tabbed browsing on the iPad is absolutely necessary. $2

Penultimate: Penultimate is a scratchpad for your iPad where you can handwrite quick notes with your finger. It's as useful as using a pen and pad but so much slicker. You can print or e-mail your handwritten notes too. $2.

Wacom Bamboo Paper: It's an iPad app that turns your iPad into a digital notebook (or sketchpad). Even without Wacom's Bamboo stylus, your finger is perfectly suited for writing—it really does feel like ink is bleeding from your fingers (or stylus). Free, until June 30

iChromy: It's an iPad browser that looks and feels like Chrome. And since I use Chrome every single day, that's a good thing! It has tabbed browsing, an incognito window, and an omnibox (a shared box for typing in URLs and search terms) too. As close as you'll get to Chrome on an iPad. Free

Dolphin Browser HD: A web browser alternative that shines on the iPad. All the feature you want: tabbed browsing, porn mode, full screen browsing, gestures that can trigger actions and webzines that make websites look prettier and a super slick slidable sidebar for bookmarks. Free

Blogsy: It's a blogging tool for your iPad. Which means, it can replace your blog backend when you're on the iPad. Why would you do that? Because Blogsy makes all the html formatting you need for blogging—bolding, italicizing, linking and even adding pictures—a lot more iPad friendly. $5

Google Search: It's like Google Chrome on the iPad. No really. This is probably one of the slickest apps on the iPad from Google. It has all the Google apps available in one spot and the the built-in browser is pretty much Chrome. You're probably signed up for at least one Google service and the app is free, so check it out.

Codify for iPad: It's an app for writing software. Codify uses Lua as its programming language. A simple language that works perfectly on the iPad. The app includes example programs to learn or crib off of to help you build your own app. Intelligent auto-complete and in-line reference documentation could help you take the first steps to app-developing domination.

MSI Afterburner: The app lets you overlock your PC from your iPhone or iPad. It all works over Wi-Fi and you get to monitor the temperature, voltage and fan speed and even tweak settings to overclock your PC. Nice.

AntiCrop: It's content-aware fill on your iPad. Well it tries to be. It won't work every time, but it'll help fix those missing spots on most of your photos.

CloudOn: Run Microsoft from your iPad. Not an app that looks like Microsoft Office. The actual suite. You'll need an Internet connection to access the suite on CloudOn's servers. It's like being at your desk. Maybe that's not a good thing.

Dijit: Control your fancy home theatre with your iPad. Not so fast there buddy. Before you get to downloading, you'll need to purchase Griffin's Beacon. But once you have them both, you'll feel pretty powerful controlling everything from the same device you tweet cat pictures from.


NightStandHD: If you happen to dock your iPad next to your bed, you might be thinking, "Hey, this thing could probably make for a pretty beautiful clock." You're right! NightStandHD has a handful of beautiful clocks both analog (looking) and digital. $2.

Speakeasy Cocktails: It's a cocktails recipe book app that will transform the way you see, judge and drink cocktails. The info is on par with the best cocktail books. There's a consistent narrative to the app, the chapters are set up to teach you the basics first and then branch out to show you each alcohol's different recipes. You'll learn to drink with it. $10

Epicurious: You like food, right? Epicurious has got tons of recipes presented in a nice, photo-friendly format. Show this to your Mom to justify your iPad purchase. Free.

Wired: No one's really made the slam dunk tablet magazine yet, but if you want to get a sense of how the magazine of the future might look, Wired's leading the pack. $4.

Gravilux: Most people looked at the iPad and saw a device for creation or consumption. Scott Snibbe saw it as the perfect platform for interactive art. Gravilux, a whirling, touch-baed gravity simulation, is addictively purposeless. $2.

New York Times for iPad: After a somewhat clunky start in the app world, NYT has pulled it together and put together a clean, content-packed tablet edition of their paper. You'll have to start paying for it soon, but for now it's free.

CNN: There's so much going on the world right now that I keep my eyes glued and fingers pressed to the CNN app on the iPad. There's breaking news, top stories and the clincher, at least for me, great videos of everything CNN covers. Free.

New Yorker: The first great iPad subscription: $6 a month or $60 a year. If you want the print and web version along with your iPad subscriptions, it's only 10 bucks more at $70 a year. Which is to say that this is all a pretty damn good deal as each issue of literary excellence only costs you a buck fifty.

The Atlantic: The Atlantic, excellent in all three of their mediums: their magazine, their website, and their blog of sorts, The Atlantic Wire, has finally merged all their content into one app. It's available for free. If you're not a subscriber to The Atlantic magazine, you can still access all the website content in the app without paying a dime.

Yelp: The preeminent food-finding service goes great on the tablet. Just make sure to wash your hands before you pick it back up. Free.

Qwiki: It's like a visual Wikipedia. Which is to say it's a super pretty way to learn stuff. How so? Instead of delivering information in text and hyperlinks, Qwiki provides a narrative to the topics you search for with an audio commentary and relevant images. Free.

Pennant: With a staggering amount of data for every game dating back to the '50s, Pennant isn't just a valuable resource for baseball nerds but also an example of how beautifully a dataset can be brought to life on a tablet. $5.

IMDB: A recent facelift makes the mobile IMDB a significant enough improvement over the website to warrant inclusion—IMDB has all the movie information you could ever want, as well as trailers and showtimes for the here and now. Free.

NBA Game Time Courtside: The only app you need if you love basketball. It gives you video highlights, player stats, box scores, play by play reports and if you have NBA League Pass, you get to stream live NBA games too. Free.

Crackle: From Sony, Crackle gives you free streaming of big time TV shows like Seinfeld and Married with Childen and movies like The Da Vinci Code and Stranger than Fiction. Selection isn't huge but it's free! Free.

HBO Go: If you're smart enough to order HBO with your cable, HBO Go will let you watch every episode of every season of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Rome, and any other awesome show HBO has ever made. Oh, and you can stream movies too. Free.

WatchESPN: If you have the right cable provider, you can stream ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 and ESPNU straight to your phone. Works over 3G or Wi-Fi and lets you watch all the biggest sports moments on the go. A must have for any sports fan. Free.

NBC: NBC's new iPad app lets you watch the most recent full episodes of their shows (Community!) for free. Also, there's clips, trivia, game and galleries.

TNT: You have to be subscribed to the right cable company but if you are, you'll get full episodes of all the drama shows TNT knows. If you're not, there'll be video clips, photo galleries and a daily schedule to keep track of.

TBS: Pretty much exactly like the TNT app, if you have the unlucky fortune to be subscribed to the right cable company, you'll get access to full episodes of the network of Tyler Perry and Conan.

Infographics: The app has about 50 different infographics created by the design company for its clients. There's trivia-filled images for technology, sociology, learning and more. Perfect for those moments when you have a few minutes to spare and want to read something besides boring news.

Thrillist: If you live in a sizable city like New York or San Francisco, you'd know Thrillist can be an indispensable tool in figuring out what's happening around your city. The iPad app has a lovely carousel that lets you flip between categories to help narrow down your going out options.

Trulia: Trulia, an impressive real estate search engine and a respected name in the real estate game, has an iPad app that makes finding a new place a lot less intimidating and almost even fun. Poking around to explore apartments and homes with your finger is somehow much less frustrating than clicking around on a website.

Paprika: Built to handle recipes, the application has multiple views to help you see all of your recipes at once. Scroll through the steps, view large photos of the dish you're making, and use the built-in web browser to scrub recipes from your favorite cooking and food sites. The app also helps you manage your grocery list, and can turn your recipes into a shopping list so you can pick up what you need to cook the meal you're planning.

Martha Stewart Cocktails: Martha takes you beyond the regular cocktail recipe app with how-to videos and the history of drinks. The app will create a shopping list for your boozy excursions and recipes have a space to add your own notes. Like how wasted you got on lemon drop champagne punch.

Appetites' Easy As Pie: What if all your meals were pie? No think about it. You're thinking about it aren't you. The Easy As Pie app has 19 pie recipes presented via how-to videos. With it, your pie-a-day dreams will become a reality.

Popular Mechanics QuakeTracker: If you live in an earthquake zone in the lower 48, you should get this app for the iPad. It'll help feed your tectonic obsession by showing you the earthquake action of the past seven days. Don't forget to update your emergency kit.

Change Log

January 2012:
Added: Air Media Center
Added: FlipShip
Added: Frederic - Resurrection of Music
Added: AntiCrop
Added: Zombie Minesweeper
Added: Super Crossfire HD
Added: Popular Mechanics QuakeTracker
Added: CloudOn
Added: Dijit

November 2011:
Added: Google Search
Added: World War II Interactive for iPad
Added: Codify for iPad
Added: Paprika
Added: Martha Stewart Cocktails
Added: Appetites' Easy As Pie
Added: Fotopedia Japan
Added: W.E.L.D.E.R.
Added: MSI Afterburner

September 2011:
Added: KCRW Music Mine
Added: Dolphin Browser
Added: NBC
Added: TNT
Added: TBS
Added: Good Player

August 2011:
Added: Speakeasy Cocktails
Added: Rdio
Added: Skype
Added: Instamap
Added: Luminance
Added: The Atlantic

July 2011:
Added: iChromy
Added: Infographics
Added: NASA Visualization Explorer

June 2011:
Added: WatchESPN
Added: Tiny Towers
Added: Snapseed
Added: Wacom Bamboo Paper
Added: Blogsy
Added: Thrillist
Added: Trulia

May 2011:
Added: WatchESPN
Added: SnagFilms
Added: Planetary
Added: HitPad
Added: New Yorker
Added: Adobe Eazel

April 2011:
Added: NBA Jam
Added: Crackle
Added: iCab Mobile Web Browser
Added: Qwiki
Added: VinylLove
Added: HBO Go
Removed: Atomic Web Browser

March 2011:
Added: CNN
Added: Friendly
Added: PhotoSync
Added: iA Writer
Added: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
Added: LogMeIn Ignition
Added: iMovie
Added: GarageBand
Added: Zite
Added: TWCable TV
Added: NBA Game Time Courtside
Added: Battleheart
Added: Atomic Web Browser
Added: Penultimate

February 2011:
Added: The Daily
Added: The Atavist
Added: IMDB
Added: Pennant
Added: Labyrinth 2
Added: Words With Friends HD
Added: Marvel Comics