The Best iPad Apps for 2021

Transform your iPad into a filmmaking studio, workstation, comic book reader, or painter’s canvas with our expertly curated list of apps for work or play.

The right app can transform the iPad, the tablet of tablets, into nearly anything you desire. Whether you opt for the traditional iPad, iPad mini, or iPad Air, there’s an app that lets you work or play with little or no compromise.

Looking to get things done while working from home? The iPad becomes a mobile office suite when you must step away from the desktop or laptop. Trying to figure out what to stream this weekend? The iPad morphs into portable television for checking out the newest shows and movies when the kids hog the flat screen. Looking to paint, draw, or illustrate? With the right apps and the Apple Pencil, there’s never been a more powerful, more affordable graphic design tool than the iPad. And the list goes on. With so many options at your fingertips, how do you find the apps worth downloading?

Look no further than this roundup. PCMag’s staff has tested dozens upon dozens of iPad apps and highlighted the best of the best. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you could dig through the depths of the App Store for user reviews, but that demands a lot of time. Instead, you should sit back and relax with this guide.

What You’ll Find in This Guide

Our guide features native iPad apps that deliver unique and compelling tablet-based experiences; these are not iPhone apps running on a larger screen. We’ve also included links to in-depth reviews where available. Rest assured that even those apps that haven’t been fully reviewed are included because they’ve impressed us after some serious hands-on time.

What You Won’t Find in This Guide

The Best iPad Apps doesn’t include preinstalled apps or games. The former aren’t included because default apps are easy to find—they already live on your iPad’s home screen. The latter aren’t included because we’ve given the best iPad games their own dedicated article.

Looking for apps for your other devices? We’ve got you covered there, too, with our roundups of the best Android apps and best Android games.

Adobe Illustrator

Excellent (4.0)

Illustrator on the iPad is Adobe’s only dedicated vector graphics app available for Apple’s tablet. When Adobe first launched Photoshop for the iPad, some felt it lacked too many features to be truly useful. With the new Illustrator on the iPad, Adobe didn’t want a repeat of the critiques that greeted Photoshop’s iPad release. After addressing more than 1,200 requests from beta testers, Adobe released Illustrator for iPad chock full of features that let you masterfully design on the go.

Adobe Lightroom

Good (3.5)

Adobe Lightroom is the go-to digital photo workflow and editing application for many of today’s professional photographers. That said, there are times when you might prefer to edit photos sitting on a sofa or a train seat rather than at a desk. The Lightroom iPad app lets you do just this, and work directly with raw camera files, perform local adjustments, and use lens-profile corrections. Lightroom has evolved into a powerhouse among mobile photo-editing apps.

Adobe Photoshop Mix

Excellent (4.0)

Adobe has numerous photo-related apps in the iTunes app store, but Photoshop Mix is especially interesting. It brings some of Photoshop’s most powerful tools into an easy-to-use iPad app. Photoshop Mix appeals to a broad cross-section of users, from those who simply want to create collages to hardcore Photoshoppers who want to add iPads into their workflows.

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