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.

Quick Look: Money Pro for iPad

  

I can’t believe I haven’t written about Money Pro before now. Next used to be my monthly spending tracker of choice. I loved it because of its clean design, excellent shortcuts, and support for both iOS and OS X. However, one thing that always the tugged at me was the lack of any features related to income tracking. Next was purely about tracking what you spent, and not the money you had made in a given month.

Money Pro does a lot of what Next could do, and more. It’s not quite as clean and fast as Next, but it does feature: 

  • budgets for specific accounts
  • quick categories for expenses
  • a great Apple Watch app
  • great iCloud sync across devices
  • iOS and OS X support

I bought Money Pro on a lark last Fall and was surprised by its power. I’ve really only used personal expense trackers, but Money Pro is more of a money manager. 

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Quick Look: Centrallo, an Evernote alternative for your productivity needs

Centrallo-FOR-iPad

Evernote has had a firm foothold on the productivity app market-especially when you consider their deep integration across multiple mobile platforms, in addition to the web. I myself have tried several times to find new, more appealing alternatives to fit my basic needs without all the clutter. However, in the end, I always seem to come back to what I know best, and where I have the biggest investment. That’s not to say there aren’t new productivity apps, and improvements to existing apps that continue to challenge Evernote for the crown. Even a simple option like the Notes app in iOS, is enough for many users.

Centrallo has been around since August of 2014, providing users with a clean and easy way to prioritize, organize and create lists to make their lives more productive. I liked their app well enough to give it a look when it first came out. It was a cross platform app that was also available in a web version–a must for me. It was good, but not great for my needs, and so I haven’e been back in a while.

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Quick Look: Day One 2.0 for iPad

  

Day One 2.0 hit the App Store this past Thursday for $10, but if you’re fast, you can currently grab it for $5 during its initial launch week sale.

For those not familiar with it, Day One it’s is a great journaling app on iOS and OS X. I’ve used the app for years now to help record how I’ve felt during major milestones in my life, as well as simply recording my day to day. I’m the kind of person who usually issues a blank stare when someone asked how my weekend was, and Day One has helped me drastically increase my recall of recent activities.

Day One 2.0 has expanded on a lot of what was great in the first version. You can now have multiple journals within the app, add up to 10 photos to a single entry, and multi-select entries for batch processing right on the iPad.

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The State of Apple Maps on iOS 9

Apple Maps iOS 9
As a big fan of Google Maps, it took me a while to warm to Apple’s own maps app. The service took a few years before I could really trust its directions or see a good representation of nearby points of interest in Toronto. Thankfully, Maps got a whole lot better in iOS 9 because Apple is listening. I’ve pointed a few Toronto locations out that weren’t showing up properly (unless you searched for them by name), and two weeks later, they were fixed. You don’t get the same email replies that you would if you report something on Google, but as long as the issues are fixed, I’m happy.
The iPad Pro has also had an influence on which maps app I want to use. I defaulted to Google Maps on the iPad Air 2, but iPad Pro support is still lacking. Apple Maps has the advantage here because it’s a system level app. It already looks great on the iPad Pro, and I can keep it open in Split View while I research parks and museums in Safari.

I’d ideally be able to use Apple Maps full time, but there are a few factors to consider.

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LINE Finally (Properly) Comes to the iPad

LINE universal app

LINE is one of the largest, if not the largest, messaging services out of Japan. It isn’t huge in North America, but it’s pretty big in east Asian countries. I use it to chat with my family on a daily basis. We could technically use other services like Google Hangouts or iMessage, but my mother and sister vastly prefer LINE for the personality it brings to the table.

Before the most recent update, I was ready to leave LINE because of its lackluster support for the iPad. The iPhone app is passable, but the official LINE for iPad app hasn’t seen an update since Oct 2014. It didn’t display at proper resolution on the iPad Pro, and you couldn’t reply to notifications.

It seems as though LINE has chosen to simply ignore the dedicated iPad app and have updated the main app to become universal. LINE is now a decent iOS 9 citizen across all iOS devices: it supports notification replies, and it scales properly for the iPad Pro’s hi-res display. It’s still not a great app, though. It lacks Split View or Slide Over support, and it won’t let you load up directly to the Chats view. It insists on pushing a Facebook/Twitter-esque timeline upon its users, and relegates actual chatting to a secondary “Chats” tab.

However, I stick with LINE because that’s where my family is, and they love LINE for the stickers.

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Quick Look: Autodesk Graphic for iPad

  
One of the apps that the iPad Pro has really unlocked for me has been Autodesk Graphic (previously iDraw), an incredibly powerful vector illustrating app on iOS. I picked Graphic up late last year while it was on sale, and I’ve been playing around with the app over the past few weeks.

I’m pretty new to vectors, but I’ve used Pixelmator for a few years now, so the toolset isn’t completely foreign to me. The left toolbar features move tools, brushes, pens, pencils, basic shape tools, and even shape libraries to insert specific pre-made objects onto the canvas. There’s also a great RGB colour picker, complete with hex values. I love Pixelmator on the iPad, but having used Graphic for a few weeks now, I think the Pixelmator team could have afforded to be a little more traditional (read: desktop-like) with its UI, especially on the iPad Pro.

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Quick Look: Outlook 2.0 for iPad

  

I used Outlook full-time in early 2015 and liked the Exchange integration, but the Mail app got so much better in iOS 9 that I just went right back to it. However, with the recent Outlook 2.0 overhaul, I decided to give the app another shot. I’ve been really impressed with how quickly Microsoft iterates on their iOS offerings, and although the app doesn’t quite have feature parity with Mail app, I do believe it’s only a matter of time until it mirrors and supersedes Mail’s feature set.

I’ve mainly used Outlook as a mail app, but I’ve dabbled with it as a calendar as well. I’ve written about it as a Gmail user, but you could also add any other Yahoo!, iCloud, IMAP, or Exchange account to the app. Here are a few rapid-fire thoughts on the past few weeks of use:

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Experimenting With Slack for Casual Communication

Slack for casual communication

Slack has a killer reputation as a team communication tool, but since it’s free to use, my friends and I decided to give it a shot as a Google Hangouts replacement. We chat across OS X, Windows, Android, and iOS depending on location, so Slack’s multi-platform support was a huge selling point. There were also a few more advantages to Slack.

One of the big draws was that Slack has actual apps for every platform. Hangouts is clean, but it has to run in the browser on desktops, so you’ve got to pin a tab in Safari or use FluidApp to generate a dedicated window. Slack was also one of the first apps to embrace the iPad Pro’s screen size with a wider layout, which gave it big points for me as an early iPad Pro adopter.

Slack???

If you haven’t used Slack before, here’s the quick primer. You start off by establishing a team (ex. teamname.slack.com) and then inviting members to join that team. Slack has a very generous free tier for small teams, but the paid tiers allow for fancier integrations with services. You can run customer support and entire teams off of Slack, and the service has lots of little features (notification snooze and @mention notifications) that help it scale from teams of 20–200 people. We didn’t need to scale up because they only things we really send around are a few Dropbox links and images of our stupid faces. The basic tier was enough.

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Quick Look: Infuse Pro for iPad

Infuse Pro 3

VLC used to be my go-to app for watching videos on the iPad, but it was overtaken this past year by Infuse Pro. One of VLC’s updates removed the ability to play audio from certain codecs, and so VLC lost its magical ability to basically play anything you throw at it.

However, I’m rather glad I was forced to look for an alternative player, because I like Infuse Pro a lot more. I don’t use the free version, though, and I paid the full $9.99 IAP to unlock all of the codecs within the app. I liked using VLC for zero dollars and zero cents, but I was also disappointed in how hamstrung it seemed on iOS as a result of being open source. It seems like every few years something is cut from VLC, or it disappears from the App Store altogether. I want a player that will just stick around and work, so I’m happy to pay for one.

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iPad App of the Week: Notability

Notability-iPad-App-of-the-Week

Who doesn’t like great iPad apps? At iPad Insight we definitely do. With that in mind, we offer up a quick review of an excellent iPad app, or a few great iPad apps, here each week.

Our picks for Best iPad App of the Week are published here every week.  Check out all out picks below and you’ll soon have a collection of stellar apps for your favorite tablet.

This week’s pick is Notability by Ginger Labs.  Notability is a Productivity application that makes note-taking and PDF annotation simple and enjoyable.  Recently selected as an Apple Editors’ Choice on the iPad, iPhone, and Mac, Notability also was recently recognized as the best selling paid productivity app of 2015–their 3rd year in a row!  Now, for a limited time, it is on sale at 83% off, for only $0.99!  You will not find a better productivity app for note taking, lecture and meeting recording, PDF annotating, sketching or drawing–especially a single app that includes all these capabilities and more.

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OmniFocus 2, Round 2

  

I reviewed OmniFocus 2 for iPad earlier this year and found it lacking when it came to the batch management of tasks. There are a lot of different ways to view and manage tasks on the iPad version, but the desktop still leads the pack of OmniFocus apps because you can select multiple tasks and defer or re-assign them in batches. I think the developers at OmniGroup set this limit on purpose in an attempt to focus on the strengths of each platform, but I’d argue that there’s more than enough room on a 9.7“ and 12.9” iPad screen to pull off batch task management.

However, despite that criticism still holding true, I’ve been giving OmniFocus 2 another shot over the past few weeks — and I’ve been liking it! A big reason behind this second attempt is the iPad Pro. OmniFocus’ design looks so wonderfully clean, and the included Night Mode makes the app so unobtrusive that it’s easy to just keep it as an always-on companion in Split View on the iPad Pro. I really like working this way on the iPad. I have my main app on the left side and OmniFocus as a minimal Split View app on the right, allowing me to just jump from task to task very easily. This workflow will only get better ad more apps support Split View on iOS 9.

I’ve also tried a new approach to OmniFocus’ lack of batch task management: I’m using the Inbox a lot more and ignoring the Forecast view.

Every time I think of a little task I want done, I’ll throw it into the inbox without any due or defer dates. I’ll clear the inbox out whenever I have time, but I’m not too fussy about it any more. The act of capturing the task in OmniFocus is already enough to give me peace of mind.

Ignoring the Forecast view has been equally helpful in this second round with OmniFocus. I loved the idea of the Forecast view when I first saw it: seeing Past, Due, and upcoming tasks on a mini calendar seemed to mirror my thinking beautifully. However, I just can’t wrap my head around the way that the Forecast view treats deferred tasks (OmniFocus’ version of start dates). If a particular task’s deferred date comes and goes without my having completed it, it completely disappears from the Forecast view. However, based on my quick research, it seems this view is working exactly as OmniGroup intended, and it’s not likely to change any time soon. Knowing that, I’ve decided to stick to the Projects view and limit what I see by deferring everything I’m not actively working on. This keeps my Projects view clean and manageable, while still capturing any tasks for which the deferred date has come and gone. I realize how technical that can sound if you’re not am OmniFocus user yourself, but suffice it to say that his new approach allows me to watch one area (Projects) and reliably keep an eye on all of my upcoming and overdue tasks. That’s what I wanted out of the Forecast view, and I’ve managed to recreate it elsewhere within OmniFocus.

I do still wish that certain actions like assigning Projects and Contexts could be accomplished with fewer taks, but there are few other apps that blend into the background in Split View as OmniFocus 2 does, and that feature alone has been a great reason to revisit this app on the iPad Pro.

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