The 20 best iPad apps to download in 2020

With 5 different models of iPads, Apple is doubling down on the tablet becoming a laptop replacement. And with beefed-up specs, they’ve become the most portable devices that are great for everything from school to work to play. But regardless of how powerful iPads are, they will always need awesome apps to help get the work done. Keep reading, and this article will cover the best apps for note-taking, reading, creating, and more.

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The best note-taking apps for iPad

In very basic terms, iPads are somewhere between laptops and a pad of paper and pen. It’s the perfect device to take notes on. It’s lightweight and portable. And, especially if you couple it with Apple Pencil, it replicates the experience of writing on paper.

1. Evernote: Most popular iPad note-taking app

Evernote, one of the best note taking apps for iPhone

Evernote is arguably one of the most popular iPad apps, especially when it comes to note-taking. And that’s because it’s so much more than just a digital notebook. You can keep all of your thoughts stored and organized by topics and tags. Not only can you save typed and handwritten notes, but you can also save media like pictures and audio clips with each note.

Evernote on the App Store


2. Simplenote: Best free note-taking app for iPad

Simplenote, one of the top iPad Pro apps

If you’re the type of person that prefers your notes to be clean and simple, then Simplenote is one of the must-have iPad apps. When you’re using Simplenote, it’s clear that the most important thing is the notes. And because the app is not only available on iPad but also iPhone, Mac, and Windows, you can also sync your notes across all of your devices — and sync them all for free!

Simplenote on the App Store


3. Notability: Best note-taking app for iPad with Apple Pencil

Notability is, hands down, one of the best note-taking apps, especially if you’re using Apple Pencil. The app’s main purpose is to help you combine every medium, so your notes capture a complete picture, whether that’s handwriting, doodling, or typing up notes. Then, when you’re done with notes, you can easily share them via your favorite cloud services. 

Notability even allows you to annotate to PDFs, so if you want to take notes on something you’re reading, you can do it directly on the PDF instead of switching back and forth between apps.

Notability on the App Store


4. GoodNotes: Note-taking app that syncs with iCloud

Like some of the other apps mentioned in this list, GoodNotes will allow you to take notes in whatever way you prefer, enabling you to type notes, handwrite them, or even sketch ideas. GoodNotes syncs with iCloud Drive and leverages the Files app on your iPad, making it seamless to store your notes across all of your devices.

GoodNotes on the App Store


The best PDF readers for iPad

The fact that you’re able to hold iPad in your hands and lounge on the couch or outside makes it the perfect device for reading. And if you’ve got a lot of PDFs to skim through and read, you’re going to want to be comfortable while you do it. Here are a few of the best PDF readers you can download for your iPad.

5. Adobe Acrobat Reader: Must-have iPad app

Adobe Acrobat, the number one PDF reader for iPad

Regardless of whether you’re talking about viewing PDFs on iPads or computers, there’s no argument that Adobe Acrobat Reader is the go-to app for it. And with the iPad version of it, you can use Apple Pencil to fill out forms, sign paperwork quickly, or even annotate documents however you want to.

Adobe Acrobat Reader on the App Store


6. PDF Reader - Document Expert: Top iPad app for creating PDFs

One of the best apps to scan and create PDFs on the go with your iPad is PDF Reader - Document Expert. As its name suggests, you can read PDFs with this app, even those that are password protected. This is great if you find yourself frequently working with sensitive documents. You can also use the camera on your iPad to scan physical documents to create PDFs.

PDF Reader - Document Expert on the App Store


7. FoxIt PDF Reader: Powerful PDF reader and editor

The app that is arguably the closest in features and functionality to Adobe Acrobat Reader is FoxIt PDF Reader. Even with the free version of the app, you’re able to view, comment, and highlight PDFs. But you can unlock even more features like Speak, which will read documents to you when you upgrade with the in-app purchase.

FoxIt PDF Reader on the App Store


8. Apple Books: Easy and useful PDF reader

Apple Bopoks, the native PDF reader for iPhone

Rounding out the PDF readers list is the Apple-native app, Books. Even though Books is known more for reading published books, you can also import PDFs into the app. And the interface will store and organize them in a way that makes it easy to find documents later. While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the other apps have, you can still highlight text, bookmark, and leave notes. 

Apple Books on the App Store


The best video apps for iPad

If you’re someone who loves watching movies, then obviously the iPad is for you. Its large screen makes it the perfect device to view all of your favorites movies. But the iPad is also an incredible device for creating videos as well. iPad’s touch screen allows you to get hands-on with your editing, and with an array of available apps, you’ll be creating amazing videos of your own. Here are a couple of apps to make and watch videos on your iPad.

9. iMovie: Best iPad video editor for new users

iMovie, the native video editor for iPad

If you’ve ever wanted to dip your toe into the waters of video editing on your iPad, iMovie is the app you’ll want to start with. You can use a template to create Hollywood-style trailers or create your own video from scratch. And you can use iMovie to record with, or you can pull video clips in from your photo library, a cloud service, or even with an SD card reader connected.

iMovie on the App Store


10. Videoshop: Best video editing app for iPad

Maybe you’re looking for something a little more powerful than iMovie. Videoshop has you covered. With some more advanced features, you’re able to add themes and filters, adjust the speed of your videos, rotate videos, and add in layered effects.

Videoshop on the App Store


11. YouTube: Best video player for iPad

YouTube, the number one video app for iPad

This one is fairly obvious because we’re all familiar with YouTube’s website and the wide variety of videos you can find on there. Spoiler: You can find pretty much everything on YouTube. The app includes all of the same features as the website, so you can create video playlists, favorite videos, or leave comments. But where the app stands apart is when you pair it with a premium account, allowing you to save videos to watch offline. 

YouTube on the App Store


12. Crackle: Free movie app for iPad

Crackle is an amazing app. When you sign up for an account, you instantly gain access to hundreds of new and classic movies. The downsides are that there are still ad breaks in the middle of your movies, and you can’t download them to watch offline. But those are small caveats when you consider everything you can watch for free.

Crackle on the App Store


The best iPad apps for creativity

There’s no denying that iPads and iPad Pros are great tools for creatives. But the apps will help you get the most out of your iPad depends solely on what you’re trying to create with it. Here’s a shortlist that covers apps for everything from sketching to design and even writing.

13. Procreate: One of the must-have iPad Pro apps

Ask any creative what apps they have on their iPad, and it’s almost guaranteed that one of the apps they list will be Procreate. With hundreds of brushes and powerful tools, Procreate gives you complete control over what you’re creating and designing. While it’s not free, the $9.99 price tag is very reasonably priced for everything you’re getting with this app.

Procreate on the App Store


14. Autodesk SketchBook: Best sketching app for iPad

Autodesk Sketchbook, the best sketching app for iPad

SketchBook has long been a powerful app for designers on their computers, but now you can have that same powerful app on your iPad for free. In fact, the iPad version of SketchBook is a great companion app to the computer version because you can start a file on one device and finish it on another. If you haven’t used SketchBook before, you’re going to want to download it and give it a try.

Autodesk SketchBook on the App Store


15. Adobe Photoshop: Best art apps for iPad

Adobe Photoshop, one of the best iPad Pro apps


Adobe Photoshop is a mainstay on lists about the best creative apps, and the iPad version is no exception. Photoshop has been optimized for iPad’s touch screen and Apple Pencil. Despite not having all of the desktop features, the iPad version is still a powerhouse in its own right, and you’re able to sync files back and forth thanks to Adobe’s creative cloud.

Photoshop on the App Store


16. iA Writer: Best writing apps for iPad

For writers looking for an app that lets them simply get to their words, iA Writer does just that. It’s a simple plain text editor that strips away all the bells and whistles of other apps to help you focus on what’s important: the writing. The clean interface is designed to remove distractions. 

iA Writer on the App Store


The best iPad apps for kids

It’s no surprise that kids love iPads. How many times have you been out at the grocery store or a restaurant, only to see a child playing with their parent’s iPad? They can be a great source of entertainment for kids, but iPads can also be powerful educational tools. Here are a couple of the top iPad apps for both.

17. Tynker: Top iPad app to teach kids coding

While, on the surface, Tynker looks like a video game, at its core, Tynker is teaching kids basic programming concepts. They have to solve puzzles and build things using things like algorithmic logic and loop variations. The first adventure includes 20 levels and is free when you download the app. But if your kids are enjoying it, there are additional levels you can purchase in the app.

Tynker on the App Store


18. YouTube Kids: Best iPad app for kids to watch videos

YouTube Kids, one of the best YouTube apps for kids

We all know and love YouTube for its free and mostly uncensored content, but it can be a scary place for kids. That’s why the YouTube Kids iPad app is so great. It’s curated with videos that are family-friendly and more appropriate for little ones. The app has incredible parental controls that allow you to set stricter or looser filters, as well as time limits to help you keep an eye on their screen time.

YouTube Kids on the App Store


19. Star Walk 2: Popular app for kids to experience the outdoors

Star Walk 2 is an iPad app that perfectly balances screen time with spending more time outside. It’s an AR app that shows you a map of the stars in real time so you can see and identify which stars and constellations are above you just by pointing your iPad at the sky.

Star Walk 2 on the App Store


20. WWF Together: Best iPad app for toddlers

The WWF Together app is excellent for your little animal lovers. It shows you the work the WWF organization is doing with endangered animals while letting you experience interactive elements with the animals. You’ll get to play with features like “Tiger Vision” or chopping down bamboo for the pandas. 

WWF Together on the App Store


There are literally millions of apps available today on the App Store. Hopefully, this article was able to help you find some of the specific types of apps you’re looking for. Or maybe you’ve discovered some new apps you didn’t know you needed yet. iPads and iPad Pros are incredible devices that are capable of so much, but the truth is, they’re only as good as the apps you put on them.

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