iPad apps that bring you joy (and productivity!)
February 7, 2019 7:22 AM   Subscribe

This "I love this iPhone app" question, but for iPads!

My laptop is dying by inches, and I can't afford another one -- but by a quirk of budget my (academic) job will buy me an iPad Pro. So I'm going to figure out everything I can do with a magic pane of glass! I'm a tablet novice.

Since I'll be using this for work, I'm especially interested in apps for research, reading, note-taking, document management, studying, and writing -- but like the iPhone question, anything you adore is welcome! What apps fulfill their purposes and delight you?
posted by Stevia Agave to Technology (9 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I love GoodReader for working with/organizing PDF documents. It will also open text and HTML files and syncs with all the major cloud storage providers (Dropbox, Google, Microsoft). And although I don't really use the features, it has annotation/markup ability.
posted by exogenous at 8:04 AM on February 7, 2019

I'll second GoodReader and also add Notability for note taking.
posted by tuxster at 8:13 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Libby app and a library card (or cards, which may apply to you as an academic)! Many library systems additionally give you access to Hoopla, Kanopy, Freegal, Lynda.com or Great Courses or similar, and other stuff.

Scrivener for iOS is pretty good for writing. Synch your files to Dropbox.

Evernote and Dropbox, so you can keep your notes/files cloud-organized and accessible from other computers in case of emergency or a future laptop. I haven't used Google Drive extensively with my tablet but I've had no problems using Docs and Sheets lightly.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:22 AM on February 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Gladys is an iOS app that functions as a "shelf" to hold things--links, images, text snippets, messages--until you decide later where they need to go. Sounds perfect for when you are in the middle of gathering research.

Drafts is an app that lets you start typing some text and decide later what you what to do with it--copy to clipboard, send message or email, tweet, perform a Google search, add it to Dropbox, create a reminder or open in another app.

This January 2018 episode of Mac Power Users Podcast covers iPad productivity so you may find some gems there.
posted by Gino on the Meta at 9:20 AM on February 7, 2019

Notion! It’s a great note taking system.

I use PaperShip to sync with Zotero to keep track of PDFs and journal articles I read.

Goodreader is also really.. good

I do a lot of sketching/diagramming, and Concepts is wonderful for this.
posted by suedehead at 10:47 AM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another vote for GoodReader and recommending OneNote
posted by doctord at 1:11 PM on February 7, 2019

I've used good reader in the past but for PDFs I prefer PDF Expert or LiquidText

If you have to create/modify Office documents the iOS Office Apps are pretty decent

I like to organize thoughts with a mind mapper - specifically MindNode, though iThoughts can export more formats

I will heartily nth Gladys, it lives on my dock and I use t every day

I like Pythonista (though I wish it had more up-to-date libraries).

I spend a fair bit of time in shells (my 11" iPad Pro is my daily driver, it replaced a gen 1 12.9") and I really like Blink. ssh & mosh support

I live out of dropbox folders - I adopted early and hard when there was nothing else approaching a filesystem cache for mobile devices and my employer makes it an important part of our workflow

Lastly..... Safari is an interesting thing for me. Web apps aren't always great but I spend a lot of time interacting with Jupiter notebooks. They live in a dropbox folder & I run the notebook server on a virtual machine "in the cloud" behind nginx with a cert from let's encrypt. It's relatively cheap (I pay for a vm & domain anyway) and extremely useful. This (and The Old Reader - and rss reader) mean that Safari is far and away the most used app on the machine I do most of my work on.
posted by mce at 4:34 PM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

For iPads that work with the apple pen (not necessarily iPad Pro, I have a normal 2018 one): Myscript Nebo is the best for handwriting recognition and turning it into typed text that you can export. I use it a lot for note taking. It also recognizes some simple shapes which means I can quickly draw something schematic, like a workflow, by hand and then turn it into a properly shaped diagram. There’s also Calc by the same company, basically a calculator with handwritten input. And you can turn handwritten equations into latex! They’re not perfect, but they’re pretty awesome.
posted by meijusa at 12:03 AM on February 9, 2019

That's a good point meijusa. I have heard great things about Nebo and I have, in fact, purchased it.

I didn't list it as one of my go-to's mostly because my handwriting is so bad it's accuracy isn't high enough to be useful for me. My girlfriend swears by it though. And doodling with it on the bus or otherwise "recreationally bored" has helped the legibility of my handwriting noticeably.

An off label use to be sure but still worth the price of admission for me. And I hear that it's pretty good and pretty fast if you don't have handwriting that looks like you wore a cast on your dominant hand/arm more years than not between 6 & 16.

A couple other omissions from my first list:
  • Skype. I need to us it for work and the iOS app is way less shitty than the OSX application
  • Buffer is a vim port with some nice features. iVim has some other features.... but only if you're in a position to compile it yourself
  • I live in Montreal but my French is appalling. Chrome for "auto translating" web pages has been a godsend for filling gaps in my vocabulary
  • RealVNC's VNC Viewer is very nice and has an input mechanism I like but doesn't handle VNC-over-ssh so great. Remoter Pro lacks the pointing device finesse but is flawless over ssh
  • Dash for offline documentation. If this is a thing you need, then this is the best option for that thing

posted by mce at 6:45 AM on February 9, 2019

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