my favourite ipad apps for school, entertainment, and productivity!

16 Jan

So you got an iPad for Christmas. Or maybe you decided to buy one on a whim because it was shiny and is oh so fancy. Or maybe you got one so you can read or watch stuff in bed lying down (so useful, really!).

I’ve had my iPad 2 for nearly 10 months now and I use it everyday and love it just as much as I did when they announced it. I admit that I made fun of it when the original iPad was announced. It looks like a big iPhone. Why would anyone ever buy it? And then I played with it in store and saw the potential. This is cool. It’s light. It’s fast.

Wondering how to use your iPad? This is how I use mine.

  • Taking notes in class
  • Recording lectures (sometimes if I feel like I’m gonna fall asleep)
  • Web browsing on the sofa, in bed, at school, hotels, hostels – wherever I have a Wifi connection or feel like connecting it to my iPhone
  • Reading digital magazines, books, articles, and newspapers
  • Watching TV at the dinner table where the actual TV is out of sight
  • Editing photos uploaded directly from the memory card
  • Facebook…

To name a few.

The purpose of this blog is to showcase some of the apps I use on my iPad which I’ve found to be really useful and am quite fond of. I’ve broken down the apps into categories and have only included some of my favourite apps with links to the iTunes store in the app title or links to relevant blog posts in the descriptions.


  • UPAD– $4.99 (trial version available for free “UPAD Lite”)
    • This is my favourite school app. I use it for pretty much everything. I can take notes on it with my stylus or type them out if I want to as well. You can mark up PDFs using the stylus (or alternatively your finger) by just writing on top of it. Backup and restore is available and you can export the marked up documents to PDF, email and Dropbox as well as Google Docs. Once in a while, something I wrote on an earlier page will show up on a page later and I haven’t quite figured out why but it’s rare. I use this to read PDFs as well because I can mark it up however I want unlike GoodReader where highlighting can be a pain.
  • Notability– $.99 (price fluctuates often)
    • I recently started using this one again because I forgot my stylus at home and needed to take notes. This program is great for regular typing of notes. I can arrange my notes into subjects and type away. Another  really cool feature of this app is you can record the lecture while typing and when you playback, you can actually select text and the recording will skip to the section and play what you heard while writing that exact line. Pretty cool, right?
  • Quickoffice (for now) – $19.99 (can probably be found for a cheaper price because price changes every few weeks). Also available for iPhone but I don’t see why you would buy it.
    • A basic wordprocessing program for the iPad. I opted to not buy pages, numbers or keynote because of the price and value pack savings of the Quickoffice suite. I actually do not use it very much and when I have it’s ok. I’ve only put it on this list because it’s the only word processing program I have. This might change in the next week or so when a new app is released on the App Store which I describe when I have a chance to play around with it.


  • AppStart– Free
    • I highly recommend this app for new iPad owners. There is a lot of information about using your iPad and a lot of suggested apps (similar to this post but way more exhaustive).
  • AppShopper– Free. Also available for iPhone.
    • I wrote a post about this a couple months ago so I will just link to it here. I use it for price comparisons, price watches  and app price activity. *Edit: Just realized I did not include the link. Link now included!
  • Flipboard– Free. Also available for iPhone.
    • I love this app! I use it to read my daily blogs and articles online. There are a ton of suggested reads which collate articles from different sites as well as single sites.

Entertainment (Games, Photos and Videos)

  • Ticket to Ride– $6.99. Pocket version available for iPhone at a much cheaper price.
    • This is a fun multiplayer game. The original board game is very popular and the iPad version is easier to play because it keeps track of your points and scoring. My friend and I played this game often when we were killing time travelling on our Europe vacation. On a train playing Ticket to Ride (Europe version).
  • Snapseed– $4.99 but is offered for free once in a while. Use Appshopper to get notifications when it goes on for free! Also available for iPhone. Android version is on its way in the near future.
    • Love this app for photo editing! I haven’t touched Photoshop or anything other basic editing software since. It has a lot of really cool features that turn blah photos into really nice ones. You can do basic editing as well as applying filters like vintage, “drama”, tilt and shift (make things look mini) and more.
  • Netflix– Free. Available for iPhone and Android.
    • Great if you have a Netflix account already. Also, check out the Hotspot shield post I wrote to gain access to the American Netflix with more videos.
  • Grooveshark Mobile– Free. Can be used on any smartphone!
    • While not a true app, it is a web app that plays pretty much any song you want. Want to listen to a song? Search it on the site and enjoy!
  • Zinio– Free. Also available for iPhone and Android.
    • I’ve written about this one in the past because it’s pretty cool. You can read magazines using this app and they often have sales on magazine subscriptions. If you sign up now (I think the promo ends in May), you can get $25 credit towards magazine subscriptions. Try a magazine you’ve always wanted to but didn’t want to pay for it. See this post here for detailed instructions on acquiring the credit via Zinio.


  • Dropbox– Free. Also available for iPhone and Android.
    • Cloud based storage. You get 2GB free when you sign up and can get more by doing small “tasks” on the site. I use this everyday for schoolwork. It’s great for class lectures when I have to download the lectures from Vista on my laptop. I keep all of my school document on it as well so I can work on it when I’m on my laptop, on my iPad or at the computers at school. Also, if you want to sign up for it, click here. If you use this link, I get 250mb more space and so do you!
  • Talkatone– Free. Also available for iPhone.
    • Somehow my Google Voice was activated and I’ve had free US and Canada calling through Google for the past couple of years. You can link your Voice account to Talkatone and call for free to the US and Canada as long as you have wifi (or data if you want to use it…). We called home several times when traveling in Europe using this app for free!

4 Responses to “my favourite ipad apps for school, entertainment, and productivity!”

  1. kiran January 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Thank-you for this. I’m going to put some of these on my mom’s ipad.

    • shannon January 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

      i’m glad you liked it! 🙂


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    […] my favourite iPad apps  […]

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