25 superb iPad apps that won’t cost you a penny

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ipad-freemium-appsFree iPad apps don’t have the best reputation, and with good reason: many of them are free in name only, and spend much of the time trying to part you from your cash in order to provide something approaching a decent user experience. Free apps, then, aren’t always the bargain they first appear beware of false economies, scams, annoying in-app payments and adverts, and various other irritations that often beset free apps for both iPad and iPhone. We discuss some of these issues in ‘Freemium is the worst thing in the history of gaming: a rant’ and ‘Why apps need to be more expensive’. But that’s quite enough negativity. Because there are plenty of free iPad apps that are great you just need to know which ones to pick. In this article we round up 25 of our favorite free iPad apps, and explain why they’re so good. We also link to longer reviews of the apps where possible, and to download links so you can try them right away. They’re free, remember, so there’s no reason not to give them a go.

Social apps

Facebook :- If you’re on Facebook, then this is probably the first app you’ll be downloading on that new iPad whether I advise you to or not. Luckily it’s a decent offering. It’s free, it looks good (and fits in with the design aesthetic of iOS 7 and iOS 8) and does a good job of getting out of the way and letting you find out where your ex-girlfriend has been on holiday.

Twitter :- Like Facebook, Twitter’s free native iOS app is simple and effective. It’s cleanly designed, intuitive to use and well suited to the more basic aspects of using Twitter which is what you want from themobile app.

Find My Friends :- Find My Friends had a pleasant, minimalist makeover when iOS 7 came out. And in terms of functionality, those still interested in stalking their friends, checking up on their wife’s whereabouts andmaking sure they don’t end up in the same pubas their dad will find it as useful as ever. For those that haven’t tried it, it’s free to download and well worth exploring.

Skype for iPad :- Here’s a superb and versatile alternative to FaceTime for when you want to video-call friends and relatives who (for some reason) aren’t on Apple devices. Features a user-friendly interface and the ability to make calls over 3G, although call quality issues and data limits mean we’d recommend this as an occasional indulgence only.

Entertainment apps

Kindle :- When it comes to reading apps, we’re looking for a lot: a pleasant reading experience; benefits like a built-in dictionary, easy and fast navigation and search, and customization options; and a store with a massive ebook selection, which is easy to browse from an iOS device. Amazon’s Kindle app shines on all those fronts. That’s why despite competition from Apple and its iBooks offering it’s still the best e-reading option in the App Store.

BBC iPlayer :- With its large catalog of television programs and radio shows, all streamed without adverts, the BBC iPlayer app enables you to watch any show broadcast in the last seven days on the move. The BBC iPlayer app should be a stock download for all iOS device owners in the UK. The ability to cache shows for 30 days added in version 2 will make it a vital component for anybody going on long journeys without reliable connection, and also make it less data intensive for watching television shows.

GarageBand :- If you’re a serious musician you might find the iOS version of GarageBand a bit gimmicky (although it’s much more likely that you’ll appreciate it as a handy portable notebook). However, for those who can hear it all in their heads, but have no training whatsoever, and never felt confident enough to try and lay it down, the interface of GarageBand for iOS is nothing short of a miracle. It’s free, too, although a one-o in-app purchase of £2.99 unlocks all the additional instruments and loops.

Podcasts :-
Apple’s first stab at its Podcasts app didn’t support playlists and didn’t sync podcasts between devices, and its Now Playing screen was split in two. But since version 1.2 the app’s on version 2.1.2 at the time of writing it’s been a different matter. Playlists (called Stations) have been added, iCloud syncing ensures synchronization between devices (and with iTunes on your Mac), and the Now Playing screen is a single unit that lacks the old tape-deck interface.

YouTube :- It’s easy to get used to viewing YouTube videos in Safari, and hardly a painful experience (assuming you steer clear of the Justin Bieber clips), but the optimized YouTube iPad app is altogether smoother and slicker. A clever feature, for instance, lets you swipe downwards in a video you’re watching to browse the rest of YouTube while the video continues in a lower-right split screen.

Remote :- Essential if you’re an Apple TV user, Remote lets you control media libraries in nearby systems from the comfort of your iOS device. A simple and stripped down app, but it gets the job done.

Productivity apps

Evernote :- This note- and snippet-managing service lets you type text notes and take photo notes with your device’s camera. Evernote automatically uploads everything you put into it to the company’s servers, where your notes are indexed for easy search and retrieval, and become available for syncing to all your devices. It’s fast, smooth and highly functional.

Readdle Documents :- Documents is, as the name suggests, an app for keeping your documents in one convenient place, particularly on the move. Those documents include text, audio, music files and web and email content. It’s been awarded ‘Editors’ Choice’ by Apple in more than 70 countries, and that’s a fair reflection of the app’s exceptional quality and usefulness.

Snapseed :- Snapseed might be free, but its tools and enhancements rival those of many paid-for photo apps on the iPhone. From single-tap Auto Correct and tools for cropping and straightening to more creative options such as Retrolux, Grunge and Tilt-Shift, Snapseed is packed with features and worthy of a place on your home screen. We recommend that you give it a try, and doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Quark DesignPad :- DesignPad for Quark is a useful creative tool that’s user-friendly and capable of producing attractive designs or rather, the foundations of attractive designs in minutes. Ideally suited to design students and enthusiasts, Quark DesignPad is a good way to learn the fundamentals of grid-based design without the cost and time needed to invest in full-scale desktop publishing software.

Paper by Fiftythree :- Paper may be one of our favourite drawing apps to grace the iPad. If we didn’t put so much trust in reality, we would’ve sworn the company found some way to turn its supply of charcoal, watercolours, markers, and inkwell pens into lines of code that, when run on an iPad, made beautiful artwork.

Maps and travel apps

Google Maps : – It’s time to take sides: are you a fan of Apple Maps orGoogle Maps? In fact, the joy of free apps is that you can hedge your bets and try both as much as you like. Many reckon Google is still ahead, and we’dstrongly recommend that you download Google Maps and test it out for yourself. What people need from a navigation app is accuracy, and we still feel that Google is more reliable. But Apple is catching up, and is always going to feature better iOS integration. You pay yourmoney (or not, in this case); it’s completely up to you.

Google Earth :-
On top of its real-world applications which are not inconsiderable Google Earth remains one of the most purely visually impressive apps out there.Swooping in from orbit to a view of your streetin a matter of seconds is a great way to wowthe uninitiated.

New and weather apps

BBC News  :- BBC News is precisely what you would expect from one of the fi nest news organizations on the planet: an elegant, information-packed, customizable app that delivers a wide range of global news.

BBC Weather :-
The BBC Weather app offers beautiful, intuitive design, but it’s more than a looker: it features useful additional data including hourly based visibility, humidity, pressure, wind direction and wind speed information, along with important UV details including, for those many hay fever sufferers, pollencount. BBC Weather offers the ability to search and save favourite locations and then swipe vertically to view them individually a great idea for planning a journey or bragging/moaning to friends or family from afar. BBC Weather is a useful, attractive addition to thewealth of weather related apps currently available to iOS users. While there are more detailedand varied weather apps available, the BBCapp wins out for ease of use and clarity.

The Guardian Eyewitness :-
The Guardian Eyewitness is a beautifully simple photography-centric app, which showcases recent photos by professional photographers. These range from hard news imagery to human-interest pictures. Each image looks unsurprisingly gorgeous, vividly displayed full-screen on the iPad. Photography fans will love the incredible shots here. The app’s subtle interface wisely stands back, letting the photos steal the show.

Flipboard :- According to the team behind the app, Flipboard “is on a quest to transform how people discover, view and share content by combining the beauty and ease of print with the power of social media”. With the ability to customize content suited to your interests, it’s a claim that stands up well. As a social-news aggregator, Flipboard supports an extensive range of accounts including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin and Instagram. Signing in adds, where applicable, yet more tailored content, from your Facebook timeline for example. Additionally, users can create a free Flipboard account, which adds the ability to read favourite sections anywhere on any device, and create and manage personalize magazines to share with others or keep private. Flipboard is a must have app: one that showcases Apple’s iPad to great e ect, while maintaining a lead over similar social-news aggregators. Beautifully tactile and responsive, it makes reading anything on your iDevice a absolute pleasure, one ideal for exploring both favourite news sources and discovering new content, including wonderful user-curated personalized magazines.

Shopping apps

eBay for iPad :- The first rule of online auctions is that you need be constantly connected if not, how will you be able to bid on a desired item last minute if you’re away from your computer? Thanks to eBay’s iOS app, you don’t have to worry about ever missing an auction. This fully fledged app allows you to do just about anything eBay’s full website does.

Utility apps

Find my iPhone :- You frantically pat your pockets or dig through your bag, as the realization sets in: you’ve misplaced your iPhone. Fortunately, Apple’s free Find My iPhone app makes it easy to find out where you lost your phone or your iPod touch or iPad. If you’ve set up Apple’s service for locating your device (and you really should), then it’s a breeze to enter your username and password, tap your device, and fi nd it on a map. Hopefully, you’ll never have to fire up Find My iPhone for anything other than a tech demo for curious friends, but if you do, then you’ll fi nd it does its job with aplomb. 16 iPAD

AirPort utility :- Until the release of the AirPort Utility app back in 2011, the only way to configure an AirPort Extreme Base Station, Time Capsule, or AirPort Express was from the desktop AirPort Utility software. The free AirPort Utility for iOS from Apple includes all the relevant functionality of the desktop software plus a little extra: a graphical depiction of your network’s wiring and wireless routes to the internet and among base stations. At a glance, you can pick a router, which Apple represents with a thumbnail of its appearance, to examine or configure. A red or yellow icon next to the globe representing internet connectivity or a router means something’s wrong. The app provides ready access to information you need from a router, such as the IP address at which it’s operating and has been assigned by an internet service provider or set manually. But tap an Edit button, and you can drill down into most but not all configuration details, from picking a particular 5GHz radio channel to the rate of speed at which a given wireless client has connected. AirPort Utility for iOS is perfect for configuring and trouble shooting Apple’s gear without having to lug a laptop around.

iTunes U :- The iTunes U app has clear purpose for pupils and teachers, students and lecturers. It has the potential to change classrooms everywhere, and it has appeal for people outside the education system too. With free access to course materials, audio, video and presentations from schools and colleges around the world, it’s nothing less than a gift to iOS users.

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