Category Archives: iPad App Reviews

If you’re a fan of iPad apps, you’ve landed in the right place. Here we cover many of the best apps and games in the iPad App Store, and even some that are not so great, just so you’lll know which to avoid. We cover all the iPad app categories – from iPad editions of newspapers and magazines, to productivity apps, games, eBook apps, utilities, social networking apps, photography apps, and more.

My Take On Evernote in 2017

Evernote has had a rockier time in the public eye in the past year. Last June they increased their pricing and put some harder limits on the free accounts. This opened the service up to a lot of criticism from free users, who were actually getting a very good deal from the service. Previous to that price change, you could use Evernote across as many devices as you wanted, as long as you stayed within the monthly upload limit. That was pretty generous for a company whose income comes from a subset of paying users.

However, I do also understand the backlash to Evernote’s pricing change: it wasn’t announced alongside any significant new features, so it just looked like a price increase on both paid plans, and a sudden limitation of the free plan that so many people were enjoying. I think this move challenged Evernote’s user base, many of whom were suddenly looking at other note apps that they could use for free. Apple Notes had made some big changes to its feature set with iOS 9, and OneNote introduced an Evernote to OneNote importerto make it easier to move large note libraries to Microsoft’s free note-taking service. Late in 2016 also saw the launch of Bear, which featured its own Evernote import (in the Mac app) and its own set of tagging, attachment, and in-line picture support.

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Quick Look: ProTube for iPad

I don’t tend to spend very much time on YouTube unless I’m doing some in-depth research on a product. When I’m researching, I’ll voraciously consume all the hands-on and review videos I can get to, in order to see my next <insert lust-worthy object here> from all available angles. One of the things that I find most frustrating about this are the long, unskippable pre-roll ads that will sometimes air before a video. Most of these ads are repeats of something I’ve seen just minutes ago, and they feel like a waste of my time. I don’t mind a five second skippable pre-roll ad that tries to attract my attention, but it’s obnoxious to force someone to watch through 30 seconds of sub-par content.

It’s for this reason that I bought ProTube many moons ago. I’m not sure how the developer does it, but the app features a completely ad-free viewing experience. That’s something that’s difficult to accomplish even on the desktop. With ProTube, what you tap on is what you’re going to be watching, and that’s already a very big reason to pony up $4 for the purchase.

But wait, there’s more!

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Cloud Storage on iOS: iCloud, OneDrive, and Dropbox

Cloud storage services have been an incredibly useful way of working around 128 and 266 GB storage limits on modern iPads, but I’m still feeling torn about which solution is best for me. I know of Google Drive, but I’ve spent most of my testing period jumping between iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive. I haven’t come to a solid conclusion about which solution is perfect for me, but I now have enough to talk about the pros and cons of each service.

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Duet Display now adds Touch Bar Functionality to Your iPad

Duet Display

The excellent iPad app, Duet Display has always been one of my favorite apps for adding an extra display to my MacBook at home and PC while at the office.  Screen real estate comes at a premium these days, and to be able to add another interactive display to my workflow is always welcome.  Originally developed by a couple of ex-Apple engineers, so you know the attention to detail is going to be there, never mind their the instant credibility by association.  Luckily for them, Duet Display stands firmly on its own as a multi-tasking go-to for professionals in a variety of fields and careers.

If you haven’t already given Duet Display a try, now is the perfect opportunity to add an extra screen to improve your performance and efficiency.  The app was updated last week and is now on sale at 1/2 off the regular price of $19.99.  That alone is a great opportunity to buy Duet.  However, they have also added an unanticipated caveat–Touch Bar support!

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Evaluating 1Password for Families

I’ve been a 1Password user for a few years now, but it was only recently that I decided to look into their subscription service. 1Password for Families is a $60/year subscription service that provides access for five users on a single Family account. The perks of this plan include:

  • 1 GB of storage for each family member
  • Access to iPhone, iPad, Android, and Mac apps (Windows doesn’t seem to be Family compatible yet)
  • Access to a 1Password web app
  • Shared vaults with the ability to restrict editing rights for specific members (“look, don’t touch!”)

Previous to signing up for the Family subscription, I had kept all of my personal information in the Primary vault (the default vault that comes with any 1Password installation). It took me a while to realize that there was no way to sync this vault with my 1Password for Families account; I had to actually copy or move my data from the Primary vault (which was synced via Dropbox) to the Personal vault in 1Password for Families (which syncs via Agilebits’ custom sync engine).

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Quick Look: Gmail for iPad

I really like the default Mail app on the iPad. I think it’s a great example of what a good iPad Pro app should be. It supports a lot of different keyboard shortcuts, has a cool three-pane panel for extra context in landscape mode, but also still respects the concepts of margins for easy reading on a large screen. One thing it really sucks at, however, is searching for email. Unless I’ve flagged something, searching for email in the Mail app is just a crappy experience.

Luckily, Gmail (which I use for my primary personal email account) has seen a number of solid updates in the past year. It’s not something I’d recommend for everyday use necessarily, but it’s a great app to load up in those moments where you need to find that one email from your boss from two years ago.

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Quick Look: Bear for iPad

The screenshot above should also make it obvious, but if you were wondering if iOS has just received another really good-looking notes app that also sync with the Mac, then the answer is yes. Bear uses simple plain text for all of its formatting, so the notes you type out are easily transferrable — at any time — to any other platform or service. However, just because you’re using plain text, it doesn’t mean your notes have to look plain: Bear also handles rich text formatting with Markdown, and it displays pictures right alongside body text.

The Simple Bear Necessities

Whereas other plain text tools like iA Writer 4 focus more on being plain text writing machines, Bear feels like it focuses specifically on taking great notes in a flexible format. There are extra writing elements like word counts and read times in the right sidebar, but I’ve definitely become a bit of a snob when it comes to writing apps: without some sort of focus mode to keep text centered, I don’t consider Bear a full-fledged writing app for my purposes. That’s fine though, because in my brief testing period, it feels like a fantastic app for notes.

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Quick Look: Amaziograph for iPad

Amaziograph isn’t a pro-level app, but it’s one of those apps that really shines on the iPad Pro. Pick up an Apple Pencil, spend $2 on Amaziograph, and start to re-discover the fun of creating tessellations and mirrored images in just a fraction of the time it takes to create them manually.

The mechanics of Amaziograph are dead-simple to learn. You choose one of 10 initial grid types, each with different kinds of mirror or tiling effects. Then you just start drawing and watch as your strokes are multiplied across your screen. This is one of those apps where the act of creation is really part of the experience. There’s a genuinely soothing effect to seeing how your drawing can come to life as you add a little line here, a circle there, and finish things off with a blast of colour. It can feel like you’re drawing with 10 of your greatest clones, and they’re all perfectly in sync with you.

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Quick Look: Screens 4.2 for iPad

It’s been a while since I talked about Screens, the VNC app that helps me remotely control my Mac from my iOS devices.Screens 4.2 came out this past week and introduced an interesting set of in-app purchases.

You can now use a Dark Mode for a very reasonable $0.99, and for $2.99, you can enable an accompanying iOS device to act as a trackpad for your remote connection. I have no need for a dark mode in Screens because I spend most of my time controlling my Mac from the iPad, so I barely ever see the Screens UI. However, the idea of the trackpad was interesting, so I cleared some space on my desk this evening to try the iPad and iPhone side by side.

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A Second Round with OneNote for iPad

I’ve given OneNote another shot over the past few months, using it both at work and at home for tracking receipts and personal thoughts. I’ve written about OneNote before, but I don’t think I really gave it a fair shake, so I moved 2000 notes over to the service to really determine whether or not I could adapt to the service. Unfortunately, the answer is still no, but I have a more detailed idea of why.

In OneNote We Trust

OneNote has been around for years, but it was only in the past few that it became a free product. You don’t have to pay for any monthly plans because the app just uses space in your Microsoft OneDrive, and there’s more than enough space with a free OneDrive account that it’s indistinguishable from unlimited for most users. Microsoft is so large, and OneNote such a core product, that I really do feel like I can trust in the service to stick around for the foreseeable future. That factor is a big deal when thinking about which note app to invest in: with platforms coming and going, where will your cache of notes still be accessible in four or five years? With OneNote, Microsoft has built up enough trust with me that the answer feels like a pretty safe “Yes”.

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Popular Email Client Cloud Magic is now Newton, and it’s Packed with Power Features

Newton Email

One of my favorite email clients, Cloud Magic is now Newton.  Cloud Magic was already a clean, fast reliable way to navigate and triage your email.  With a reliable push notification system, and versions for both iOS and Mac, Newton had developed into a mature ecosystem.  Now that they have built their app into a huge success, the creators of Newton felt that it was time for the next stage of development.  They intend to take this awesome email client/platform, and add even more power features and improvements.  Furthermore, they plan to add support for additional platforms and evolve Newton into a email client that boosts your productivity by making email fun and easy.

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