June 24, 2021


Popular Software

These are the 10 best iPad apps of the past decade

Following the iPad’s 10th birthday, we look back at the apps that have made Apple’s tablet a hit with people of all ages.

It’s now been more than 10 years since former Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad. The move firmly pushed tablets into the mainstream gadget conversation while leading many to ask, “What the heck is this giant iPod touch?” (Oh 2010, you sweet summer child.) In a review of the first-gen iPad that year, CNET’s Donald Bell described the device as “an elegant, affordable supergadget.” One of the main draws was how easy it was to access and navigate the apps on the 9.7-inch screen.

Jobs said the iPad would define “an entirely new category of devices that will connect people with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.” He wasn’t wrong: 10 years later, the iPad’s portability, user-friendly interface and variety of apps have made it a favorite device in many homes, classrooms and offices. We use it for web surfing, reading, drawing, binge watching and sometimes even working.

Apple separated iPadOS into its own platform last year, bringing the tablets closer to operating like a laptop — though for most people, the tablet isn’t ready to become a primary work device just yet. My CNET colleague Dan Ackerman dove into this topic in his commentary, Apple iPad at 10: Can we call it a computer yet?

The best Apple iPad apps of all time

Looking back on that first announcement (and how much we made fun of the name iPad), you can see the evolution of our expectations for the iPad and its apps. It briefly looked like the iPad would be the next frontier for magazines, with its large, high-resolution screen and interactive capabilities. That never came to fruition, but Apple is still betting on the format with Apple News Plus, a service for accessing top magazines and newspapers in one place for one monthly subscription fee.

The iPad also held a lot of potential for mobile games and — unlike the expectations for magazines — that promise was fulfilled. Many of the most popular iPad apps today are games, and the Apple Arcade mobile game service now has more than 130 games you can download and play on the iPad and other Apple devices.

We selected 25 apps that have turned the iPad into a useful tool for entertainment, reading, working and playing. Here are the top 10 — check out the rest in our full gallery of the best iPad apps of all time.

1. Netflix

The release of the first-gen iPad coincided with the expansion of Netflix’s movie and TV streaming service. The Netflix app on iPad allowed us to take our favorite shows with us everywhere we went, on a much larger screen than the iPhone — truly a game changer that helped push us into the streaming era. This became especially useful for parents, who can now hand an iPad to their kid to watch family-friendly Netflix shows in any room of the house, on road trips and in other places where a little bit of distraction could go a long way.

2. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

With Lightroom, Adobe brought its desktop-standard photo editing to the iPad to use on the go. With a combination of free and premium features, Lightroom helps even professional photographers get important photo work done. With the advent of iPadOS, a recent update even lets you directly import photos into Lightroom from a memory card.

3. Flipboard

Flipboard is a curation tool that uses a combination of editors and algorithms to deliver news, videos and podcasts tailored to your interests. Founded in 2010, Flipboard was one of the first apps to take advantage of the iPad’s magazine-like layout. In the iPad app today, you can create Smart Magazines that bundle together articles and sources around your specific interests, like photography, technology or recipes.

4. Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle app for iPad helped open up the world of e-books, as it allowed people to purchase e-books on Amazon and read them on the iPad, instead of on a Kindle. You can’t buy books directly from the app on your iPad, but the Kindle books you buy from Amazon (including Amazon.com from your web browser on the iPad) will automatically appear in the Kindle app.

5. Procreate

An Apple Editor’s Choice winner, Procreate is an art app made for the iPad and the Apple Pencil, featuring ultra-high definition canvases, hundreds of virtual brushes, and many design and animation tools. It’s used by creative professionals, hobbyists and aspiring artists, who can import or export art as Adobe Photoshop files or in virtually any other format they’d like. Professionals who use the app view the combination of iPad, Apple Pencil and Procreate as a big upgrade to the digital tools of the past. (Check out our list of 10 Procreate app tips for budding iPad artists, too.)

6. Star Walk

Winner of the Apple Design Award back in 2010, Star Walk is a detailed astronomy app that allows real-time tracking of the night sky and its stars, constellations, planets and more. The iPad app showed the benefits and potential of the device’s large, portable screen. When you launch the app and point your tablet at the night sky, you’ll see a labeled map of stars, planets, satellites and constellations from your location.

READ MORE: https://www.cnet.com/news/these-are-the-10-best-ipad-apps-of-the-past-decade/