75 best iPad apps for designers

Apple’s tablet is becoming a serious tool for content creation. We reveal the best iPad apps for design, creativity, inspiration, and organisation.

Unlike the iPhone, Apple’s tablet has enough screen space to enable more complex interactions. It’s therefore no surprise that many within the design industry are using iPads for research, organisational tasks, finding inspiration, and even creating work.

But how do you find the best apps to help you in your day to day design work out of the hundreds of thousands of free and paid-for apps? To save you the hassle, we’ve gathered together 75 of the very best creative apps in the Apple’s App Store. You’re sure to find something that meets your needs to download today!

01. Hopscotch (free)

Best iPad apps
Hopscotch teaches kids to code in a fun and playful way

Hopscotch is an iPad programming language that teaches kids to code in a fun and playful way. Making it easy for youngsters to create and publish programmes, Hopscotch allows the, to be able to make digital stuff just as easily as they make tangible real-world stuff.

Crafted by five New York City based web designers, they founded Hopscotch so they could build the toys they wish existed when they were growing up. Already gaining five star reviews across critics and users alike, Hopstoch is much more than child’s play.

02. Unstuck (free)

Best iPad apps
Face every challenge life throws at you with Unstuck

If you’re ever facing one of life’s challenges, iPad app Unstuck may be able to help. Unstuck offers up personalized digital tools and community to help you get from stuck to unstuck, no matter what the challenge may be.

First is helps you figure out why your stuck, work, home, etc. Then it identifies the type of stuck moment you’re having and offers tried and tested tricks and tips to solve it. Genius!

03. Drawnimal ($1.99/£1.49)

Best iPad apps
Teach your kids the alpahabet with this adorable app from designer Lucas Zanatto

Help teach your kids the alphabet with this adorable new app from designer and animator Lucas ZanattoDrawnimal aims to motivate children to draw around the device and encourages them to think outside of the box.

Helping them to leave the digital screen, it shows children how to draw the main features of animals with animations to help them to learn the alphabet. Drawnimal is available for iPhone and iPad, with over 30 different animated animals and sounds. You can also switch between four different languages.

04. Photo Album  ($4.99/£2.99)

Best iPad apps
Creating traditional albums, photo collages and mood boards with Photo Album

The clue is in the title here. Photo Album is a photobook app, developed by Appsicum. This nifty little tool automatically creates albums, based on GPS location data, ratings, tags, date, etc. And tags can be read from other popular software like Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, iPhoto and the Microsoft photo app.

As well as creating traditional photo albums, you can also use Photo Album app to conveniently create collage, mood boards and photobooks with minimal effort.

05. WebNote (free)

WebNote by Hopin Inc is a free, web-browsing and content cataloging app for iPad and iPad Mini that allows users to bookmark, collect, and share digital content with a quick double-tap and swipe.

Content captured can be maintained exclusively private to the user or shared via Twitter, Facebook, or among one’s Webnotes contacts. The next time you come across something that you’d like to keep or share, just double-tap, select your social network of choice, and slide to send. Simple!

06. ColorStrokes HD for iPad($2.99/£1.99)

Colorstrokes HD is optimized for iPad and iPad Mini

Remember our step-by-step tutorial that taught you how to add colour to a monochrome image? Well, this iPad app does exactly that. ColorStrokes HD lets you put colour back into your black-and-white photos from the comfort of your tablet.

You can do this in three ways. You can import your photo in grayscale, then use the Color tab to put the original colour back into the photo. Or, you can do the opposite; go colour to begin with and then use the grayscale feature to remove the colour. Finally, you can add colour to your photo that was never there to start with using the paint tab, where you can choose from 22 different colours.

There are several levels of adjustment for everything from brush size to grayscale hue, and you can add an Instagram-style effect to the image once you have finished editing it. You also have the usual options to share your masterpiece via email or social media.

Watch this! Demo clip of the iPhone version of ColorStrokes:

07. iMockups ($6.99/£4.99)

iMockups is a genuinely useful tool for web designers

iMockups enables UI designers to quickly create wireframe mockups for websites and apps. There are iPhone and iPad templates, and you drag page elements such as tabs, text areas and images to the workspace from the sidebar, and resize them to create your mockup.

Created exclusively for the iPad, iMockups is simple to use but has all the functionality that creative professionals need. If you’re a website or app designer who creates wireframes, this is well worth looking into.

08. Step ($1.99/£1.49)

The interface brings the shots you capture front and centre for easy editing

Step makes it easy to create animated GIFs and Quicktime movies in a stop-motion animation style by slotting a number of shots closely together on a loop, to artistic or witty effect.

As well as the obvious Record, Play and Delete modes, there is also an options to choose the frames per second, as well as a choice of shutter timers up to once every five minutes, so you can opt to capture, say, moving shadows.

Watch this! Step in action:

You can share your creations as either GIFs or an iOS-friendly movie, although you can only share GIFs through email, and movies using email or Facebook. Twitter doesn’t get a look in, however.

You’ll also have to be patient when it comes to exporting larger projects. We captured a stroll around the city with more than 450 frames at 15fps but, annoyingly, it crashed midway through uploading.

09. FxCamera (free)

FxCamera allows you to record a voice caption for your photos and share it on Facebook

This free photography and photo-effects app has one very special feature. ‘Voice Picture’ enables you record a voice message at the same time as you are taking photos. This is done via the on-screen shutter button which, when swiped to the right and held down, allows you to create a kind of spoken caption for your image. You can even share Voice Pictures on Facebook through FxCamera.

Of course, FxCamera offers much more than Voice Picture. There is a variety of camera effects to choose from including vintage, fisheye, and symmetrical, and you can use it as a normal camera and improve your images with its auto enhance feature. On top of this there are several post-processing effects to choose from, in the familar style of Instagram and other camera apps.

10. Book Creator ($4.99/£2.99)

Book Creator for iPad allows you to simply make an interactive ebook

Book Creator for iPad allows you to place text, videos, audio and images in a book layout, which can be exported to read in iBooks or even sold in the iBookstore. It uses the ePub standard, so the books will even be compatible with other reading software, and will be supported in the future.

Book Creator is nowhere near as professional a tool as iBooks Author, but as a simpler, more beginner-friendly way of creating books, it’s carved out its own niche. And it’s perfect for picture books, or something similarly focused on media, rather than text.

11. ColoRotate ($4.99/£2.99)

ColoRotate is a useful colour-matching tool

When you open ColoRotate, you’re presented with what appears to be a giant spinning 3D radish. With dots on.

Developer IDEA claims the tool is based on “neurological studies of how colours are seen and processed by our eyes and brain”. So basically, you plot colours on the 3D shape (the dots), the vertical dimension represents lightness and darkness, the horizontal dimension saturation, and the circumference of the radish contains all the colours of the colour wheel. This helps you visualise all the colours and their relationships to others.

Once you get your head around ColoRotate it is a powerful tool

A ‘Precise’ view lets you control hue and tint in multiple colour spaces such as RGB, CMYK, or HLS. There’s also the ability to generate random schemes when you need a bit of inspiration. The fact it can connect to Photoshop to automatically change foreground/background colours and add swatches is a further boon.

ColoRotate isn’t a lighthearted colour app, but once you get your head around it, it’s a very powerful tool indeed.

12. Retromatic ($1.99/£1.49)

The vintage editing app is quick and easy to use

’50s-inspired iPad app Retromatic enables you to import your photos, cut them out using an instant alpha tool, and then apply vintage effects to them. It’s a basic tool, but it’s quick and easy to use.

Once imported, you can apply one of 18 (similar) filters and add one of 14 backgrounds. You can also add text (limited to iOS fonts only) and also a variety of eclectic clip art.

13. Marksta ($1.99/£1.49)

Images: © John D McHugh

Like many creatives, photojournalist John D. McHugh is sick and tired of people ripping off photos he’s posted online. So he’s created an app that enables you to watermark your work, adding your copyright information or logo direct from your iPhone before uploading them to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or other sites. It’s very user-friendly, with a choice of fonts for your text, and the fact that the app’s been designed by a pro photographer shines through.

14. Visualator (free)

Create beautiful abstract imagery with Visualator by Computer Arts

Made by our sister site Computer ArtsVisualator is an art iPhone and iPad app generator that allows you to create stunning abstract imagery. The program enables you to play with colour, shape, and form to produce vibrant collages, that you can then incorporate into your design work. Take a look at this helpful tutorial to see exactly what you can do with it.

15. App Cooker ($39.99/£27.99)

Create your own app icon and share it to get feedback

App Cooker is a rapid prototyping tool that runs on your iPad. It enables you to design and create interactive prototypes that can then be shared using a variety of options, including Dropbox.

Its mockup tool is absolutely brilliant. Not only does it support linking and gestures, but you can add a multitude of components to your screens. App Cooker gives you access to Apple UIWidgets, a wireframing kit, bitmaps, shapes, text, and even your own images. For the truly inspired, it also includes a drawing tool. All in all, we can’t recommend this app highly enough.

16. Wunderlist HD for iPad (free)

Wunderlist is another app that can turn a lurking iPad into a helpful additional computer, dedicated to managing your life

Managing to-dos is one of those things that can be arduous if you’ve the wrong app. Wunderlist makes such things simple, syncing tasks across platforms. “It really helps me to stay organised and capture ideas on the go,” raves user experience designer D. Keith Robinson. “It’s essentially become my back-up brain.”

Designer’s pick – D Keith Robinson

D Keith Robinson

Wunderlist HD was the choice of D Keith Robinson, a designer currently living in San Francisco and working asDesk.com’s director of user experience. In Robinson’s time as a designer he has worked in web, creative and user-interface design, for companies large and small. Robinson also has experience as a developer, project manager, game designer, and more.

17. DesignPad (free)

DesignPad comes from the creators of QuarkExpress

Quark – maker of veteran desktop publishing software QuarkXPress – is behind this layout creation tool, which is part-sketchbook, part-wireframe design tool, and part-layout starter kit. This app isn’t meant for making finished layouts ready for repro, but you can knock together a wireframe-style page layout with pictures and text in minutes, email yourself the QuarkXPress version, then fine-tune it in Quark’s professional desktop publishing software.

18. Design Spring (free)

Our own app features fabulous imagery and great inspiration

Whether you’re a designer looking for inspiration, an art director trying to find someone to commission, or you just like looking at fabulous imagery, Creative Bloq’s own, free iPad app Design Spring has something for you.

Updated daily, the app it couldn’t be simpler to use. You run Design Spring, it downloads images, you swipe through and look at them. Want to look up close? Just tap and zoom in. Like the cut of an artist’s jib? Go straight to their Twitter feed or website. Easy!

We’ve also put in an option to select your favourite images, plus the ability to sort by category and a colour search. If if you’d like your work featured on Design Spring, email jim.mccauley@futurenet.com.

19. Foldify ($1.99/£1.49)

Foldify lets you create, print and fold 3D figures on your iPad. Created by Pixle, the app includes loads of free content so you can create cool papercraft figures with precious little artistic skill required. A real-time 3D preview mode helps ensure your little character is spot-on before printing. You can print wirelessly using Airprint, and share your creations with other users.

20. Paper by FiftyThree (free)

Paper’s so lovely that it made us pile up and set fire to all our real pens and paper. True fact

“I don’t do any design work on my iPad,” says web designer and product company founder Elliot Jay Stocks, but it appears that Paper has at least set him on the path. “I’ve recently been using it to do some rough sketches. Previously, I’d toyed around with Adobe Ideas, but Paper’s friendly UI and life-like tools appeal to the illustrator in me. Even the roughest wireframes now look wonderful, thanks to the ink pen and the gorgeous watercolour brush!”

Paper by FiftyThree has recently had an update – read our review here.

Designer’s pick – Elliot Jay Stocks

Elliot Jay Stocks

Paper is the choice of Elliot Jay Stocks, a Bristol-based designer, speaker and author. He’s also publisher of 8 Faces, a print magazine for devotees of typography. Mire recently Stocks co-founded Viewport Industries with his friend and former colleague Keir Whitaker, and the two of them are currently working on a series of exciting projects aimed at web professionals.

21. PDF Cabinet ($2.99/£1.99)

PDF Cabinet is a fast and easy-top-use editor and organiser for the portable document format. Tap and hold a document to drag it into a folder, delete, print, or share it via email, wifi or Bluetooth. The app integrates with Mail and Safari, plus you can download documents directly from a URL and photos from your photo library.

22. FormIt (free)

A free iPad app that allows design professionals to to create and collaborate on design concepts, Formit comes from Autodesk, the 3D design company behind 3D tools Maya and 123D Catch.

The software supports a Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflow in the concepual stages of a project, and uses real-world site information using the iPad’s location services to support early design decisions with real building data.

FormIt supports RVT and SAT file formats, and desgns can be stored and shared in the cloud using Autodesk 360 cloud services.

23. Camera+ ($0.99/£0.69)

There are a lot of camera apps for the iPad – does Camera+ have what it takes to be the best?

iPad camera app Camera+ essentially does three things extremely well: capture, editing and sharing, and offers some terrific extras compared to the built-in Camera app. For example, if you have a new iPad (which has a proper movable lens system, and actually takes good photos), you can split the touch points for where you want the camera to focus and for where you want it to expose. You also get the option of shooting in burst mode (though the pictures are very low-res), shooting with a five-second time delay, or shooting automatically when the iPad detects it’s being held steadily.

When editing, there’s a good range of special effects you can apply, and you can stack up multiple effects – setting the intensity of each, or even brushing the effect on or off with a configurable brush tool. You can also apply Scenes, optimising the shot for modes such as Cloudy or Sunset, and the Clarity filter gives most photos an instant lift.

24. Color Thief ($1.99/£1.49)

Color Thief cleverly allows you to steal colours from an image to filter another

Here’s an intriguing variation on the numerous photo filter apps available for the iPad. Color Thief lets you use any photo on your device as a filter for any other. If you like how one photo feels, you can match its mood to other images – in theory, this gives you an infinite range of filters. Results are better with some shots than for others, but overall this app proves the adage that the simplest apps are the best.

25. iDraw ($8.99/£5.99)

iDraw is a fully-fledged vector editing tool for your mobile device

Rather than the drawing app its name suggests, iDraw seeks to be a fully-fledged vector illustration tool similar to Adobe software such asIllustrator and InDesign. You can edit designs created in iDraw in other vector applications by exporting them as PDF or SVG files. If you’re looking to create a quick document layout, flow chart, graph or any other vector-based image, then this is well worth checking out.

26. Flipboard (free)

Flipboard: reinventing RSS and social feeds as a beautiful iPad magazine. And making many magazines look comparatively rubbish

AKQA’s founder Ajaz Ahmed is a big fan of social news reader Flipboard, primarily because it succeeded in totally reinventing newsreader apps, making your feeds more enjoyable to consume. “That’s because of the rhythmic way it presents stories, rather than bombarding you,” he explains. “Flipboard is great because it is not chronological but more aesthetic and has a better flow, including feeds from all the sources that are important to you.”

Designer’s pick – Ajaz Ahmed

Ajaz Ahmed

Flipboard is the choice of Ajaz Ahmed, the founder and chairman of award-winningAKQA, the largest independent digital agency in the world. The company now employs more than 1000 staff across the US, Europe and Asia and AKQA is the company some of the world’s biggest brands turn to when they want to embark upon innovative digital advertising campaigns.

27. HTML Cheat Sheet ($0.99/£0.69)

A good tool for HTML beginners, you can even test code inside the app

Whether you’re a web design pro who needs a quick reference guide, or if you’re still a beginner to HTML, this app is a great buy. Fully searchable, its easy to use interface makes it a speedy way to find what you’re looking for. Written and reviewed by  developers who use HTML on a daily basis, it works offline, and you can even write and test your HTML inside the app.

28. Forger ($2.99/£1.99)

iPad apps
Forger is a digital sculpting application for the artist who wants to be able to sculpt anywhere. forger lets you sculpt when you’re on the move

This sculpting app comes with a selection of tools that makes freeform 3D modelling possible on the go. With a selection of premade base meshes, it’s fast to get started with, while saving is a doddle and you can export to your favourite desktop software once you’re done.
The GUI is simple but offers a wide assortment of tools that all work in a familiar way, including a set of texturing tools that let you project images onto your mesh.

29. TreeSketch 2.0 (free)

iPad apps
TreeSketch is a fully featured interactive 3D tree modelling application

Although it’s commercial uses are perhaps a little limited, TreeSketch is a fantastic little app that makes creating trees a doddle. You can define everything from the droopiness of branches to the size and quantity of leaves. There are numerous species to get started with and it’s incredibly fun drawing out the trunk shape with a finger-tip. The results are high quality and you can save, reload and export your fully textured trees from an object manager.

Designer’s picks – Rob Redman

Rob Redman

Forger and TreeSketch 2.0 were the choices of Rob Redman, a 3D artist and founder of Pariah Studios. Specialising in hard surface modelling, texturing, animation, lighting and photorealistic rendering. His previous clients included Ministry of Sound, Games Workshop, Katy Perry and The Who.


30. Capture Pilot (free)

You can remotely view, zoom, rate, tag, and pan high resolution images during a shoot

“There have been surprisingly few apps I find useful for my photography needs apart from one that is an absolute game changer” says photographer Henry Hargreaves. “Capture Pilot, which runs along side Capture One Pro, allows the iPad to mirror images that you are tethering form your camera to your computer.

“It helps to get the clients away from your computer; you can just set them up on the couch with a coffee and iPad and enjoy the freedom it brings. It also allows you to work remotely – you can trigger the shutter and work closely with your subject without having to be near your computer or camera.”

Designer’s pick – Henry Hargreaves

Henry Hargreaves

Capture Pilot was the choice of Henry Hargreaves, a New Zealand still life, art and fashion photographer working out of his studio in Brooklyn, NYC. He is known for fun, creative, provocative and memorable images, with his previosu clients including Ralph Lauren, Stefan Sagmeister, Boucheron, V and New York Magazine.


31. Diet Coda ($19.99/£13.99)

iPad apps
Diet Coda is a powerful, feature-packed web editor with an easy-to-use touch interface

Diet Coda allows you to access files on your FTP/SFTP servers and edit them pretty much as you would on a desktop. For those who use Coda on the Mac this is the perfect companion for making quick fixes to your websites on the go.

32. Silkscreen (free)

iPad apps
Every time you hit save on your Mac the updated preview is sent to your iPhone

Silkscreen lets you quickly view files on your iPad or iPhone. With more people designing for mobile devices, it’s good practice to check how your design actually looks on that device. This allows you to see early on in the design process what will and won’t work on the smaller screen.

33. Instapaper (free)

Save web pages for later offline reading, optimized for readability on your iPad screen

Throughout your working day it’s likely that you’ll come across numerous articles to read, but not enough time to read them. This is a way to save those articles and read them at a later date. While there are similar services out there, Instapaper gives you much more control over how you categorise and share these articles.

Designer’s picks – Tom Brooks

Tom Brooks

Diet Coda, Silkscreen and Instapaper were the choices of Tom Brooks, a freelance web designer, based in Oxford. Since graduating from UWE and going freelance Tom has worked with numerous small businesses and individuals as well as various agency projects for companies such as Shire, POhWER and Yahoo.


34. Ignition ($129.99/£89.99)

iPad apps
Ignition is a one-time purchase that runs on both your iPad and iPhone and works with LogMeIn software on your computers

This app is just like being in front of your computer, with all functions available to use. For that reason alone this is definitely a must-have app. Not only does it allow you to access your files from any wifi hotspot, it also allows you to manage files.

The monitor activity is also a great feature if you’re worried about your employees goofing off whilst you’re away from the office. Using ignition from your iPad, you can access your computer’s webcam remotely using Skype, photo booth or any software that displays your webcam on screen. To do this, open Skype camera settings to see what’s happening in your office from anywhere around the world.

35. AirVideo ($2.99/£1.99)

iPad apps
Air Video is a great solution to watch your AVI, DivX, MKV and other videos

AirVideo allows you to stream almost any video file from your PC/Mac to your iPad. It’s no secret that there are video formats which are not supported on the iPad. The cool thing about AirVideo is that it uses live conversion to stream videos files, which you wouldn’t normally play on your iPad. You don’t need to wait for the entire video to be converted either – you can start watching immediately.

This is an app for those of you who have a massive media collection, as movies take up a lot of space on your already shrinking storage capacity. With AirVideo you can access your entire movie collection at the touch of a button.

Designer’s picks – Raam Joshi

Raam Joshi

Ignition and AirDisplay were the choices of Raam Joshi, a web designer, internet marketer and creative director. He specialises in almost all areas of the web with a keen interest in user experience and interfaces.



36. Adobe Proto ($9.99/£6.99)

iPad apps
Adobe Proto lets you create wireframes of websites and apps right on your tablet

There are quite a few wireframing tools available for iPad, but alongside the aforementioned iMockups, Proto from Adobe really stands out. What we love about it is its gestures – you can really quickly wireframe a site or app and get your idea across to someone in no time at all.

37. Adobe Collage ($9.99/£6.99)

iPad apps
Adobe Collage lets you assemble creative moodboards combining images, drawings, video and text

When starting a creative project of any kind, a mood board is essential to get a flavour for the look and feel before you really put anything substantial together. Collage enables you to bring in images from your camera or those from Creative Cloud or Google Images; a neat tool for exploring these when on the move.

Designer’s picks – Rob Carney

Rob Carney

Adobe Proto and Adobe Collage were the choices of Rob Carney, who has most recently worked as the editor of Computer Arts magazine. As a writer, he has produced features and articles for the likes of Mac Format, Tap!, Practical Photoshop and Adobe Creative Juices.



38. Adobe Photoshop Touch($9.99/£6.99)

Given how hugely complicated Photoshop for desktop is these days, a part of us wishes Adobe Photoshop Touch wasn’t just for iPad

It may not be Photoshop CS6, and Adobe Photoshop Touch isn’t without its limitations – there’s no RAW import, and the maximum image export size is 1600-by-1600. However, it retains enough of its desktop cousin’s features (and places them in a sleek, pared-down, tablet-optimised interface) to make it an essential purchase, and one of the best iPad apps for designers.

Video editor, graphic and web designer Nicholas Patten says he particularly likes “how it allows the user to still use layers and control opacity levels and blend modes”. And the fact that it costs less than a pub lunch doesn’t hurt either.

39. Adobe Ideas ($9.99/£6.99)

Adobe Ideas: providing all of the colours (but, sadly, none of the skills) to enable you to draw pretty flowers

Suitably named, the thinking behind Adobe Ideas is to get visual brainwaves down rapidly. The app provides a simple but effective toolset for outlines, thumbnails and rough drawings, and you can draw over the top of images (photos, screen grabs) should you wish to. Usefully, exports are vector-based and so can scale indefinitely. It’s a great app for fast sketching of any ideas and designs.

40. Touch Draw ($8.99/£5.99)

TouchDraw is the perfect app for crafting vector hillsides. It’s also not bad for logos and floor plans, if hillsides aren’t your thing

Although seemingly in a similar space to Adobe Ideas, TouchDraw is a more full-featured vector-drawing app. While it’s suited to illustration, it also enables you to create libraries of reusable shapes or use bundled examples; TouchDraw is therefore suitable for working up flow charts, graphs, diagrams and floor plans along with logos and other imagery. However, Patten believes it’s the interface that makes it one of the best iPad apps: “I like how the toolset doesn’t take up much space, giving you more room to edit the image.”

41. Palettes Pro ($5.99/£3.99)

Palettes Pro might have an interface that breaks your eyes, but it’s great for rapidly creating colour schemes

Although the previous three products showcase how the iPad can enable you to create artwork, some apps turn your device into a focussed environment for critical ancillary tasks. For example, Palettes Pro provides the means for creating myriad colour schemes, either from scratch, through the use of colour models, or by grabbing colours from photographs and websites. “I really like the way it enables easy colour capture, and how it gives you the ability to build themes for anything you like,” says Patten.

42. Spatik ($1.99/£1.49)

Spatik: for those times when you want to automate sharing, like you’re living in the future with a robot butler

Patten’s snuck one of his own creations into our list of the best iPad apps – he’s the co-creator and CEO of Spatik. However, the recommendation itself is sound. The app enables you to combine services that help you share into a single app. “Spatik has all of my RSS feeds to design articles, inspirational sites and tutorials, and I use it to organise my daily tweets,” Patten says, explaining the the app was designed to “make it easier to set-up daily tweets in a timely fashion”.

Designer’s picks – Nicholas Patten

Nicholas Patten

Photoshop Touch, Ideas, Touch Draw, Palettes Pro and Spatik were the choices of Nicholas Patten. Based in New York City, Patten is a video editor, graphic and web designer, and product manager ofDirectMarkets. You can follow Patten on Twitter here, and you can also check out his very own iPad app, Spatik (which he cheekily worked into his list…).


43. FontBook ($5.99/£3.99)

Beautiful typography? Check. New iPad? Check. An absurd amount of time wasted with FontBook? Definitely

‘Comprehensive’ is perhaps the best word to describe FontBook, which documents over 100 type foundries, representing 1650 type designers, constituting 35,000 fonts. Over-the-air updates ensure the data is always up to date, but award-winning designer Dan Mall is most impressed by the manner in which the app enables you to explore typefaces: “There are resources online for browsing type categorically, but this app lets me browse non-linearly, which makes for a completely organic discovery experience,” he says.

44. Bjork: Biophilia ($12.99/£8.99)

Biophilia fuses art, interactivity and music, and probably makes traditionalists running record labels cower in fear

The iPad has made some of those working in traditional media rethink how creative output should be presented – books, movies and music are all being reconsidered by people in the field that have an experimental bent. Bjork’s app marries music with art, in what Mall calls “an excellent example of making music an interactive experience”. He adds: “It’s a different way of thinking about what a visual and auditory touchscreen experience can be.”

45. Adobe Edge Inspect (free)

Edge Inspect, previously enables you to pair devices with a computer and browse in sync

Mobile is increasingly important in the web design space, but testing websites on mobile devices can be a tedious experience. Edge Inspect, previously called Shadow, enables you to pair devices with a computer, and browse in sync, along with editing pages using remote inspection. “Edge Inspect makes development across multiple devices much easier,” explains Mall. “The ability for every device to update changes in sync is absolutely priceless and saves hours of debug time.”

Designer’s picks – Dan Mall

Dan Mall

Fontbook, Biophilia and Edge Inspect were the choices of Dan Mall. The award-winning designer has in the past worked for Happy Cog and Big Spaceship and is currently founder and design director at SuperFriendly. Dan is also a technical editor at A List Apart, and – via his love/obsession for typography – he is also the co-founder ofTypedia and swfIR.


46. LiveView (free)

LiveView shows your Mac’s screen on an iPad, so you can prototype interfaces (or, in this case, actually start making one).

Many modern designers are immersed in designing for mobile, but smartphones and tablets boast wildly different resolutions to desktop monitors, and so it can be tough to visualise how work will look on device screens. LiveView is one of the best iPad apps for quick ‘n’ dirty simulation, which mirrors your computer screen on a connected iPad. “It’s the one iPad app I can’t live without,” says senior designer Claudio Guglieri. “After trying dropping files on Dropbox, emailing screenshots and using Image Capture, this is by far the best app I’ve used to see what I design, at the correct scale, on an iPad.”

Designer’s pick – Claudio Guglieri

Claudio Guglieri

LiveView was the choice of Claudio Guglieri, a senior designer at Fi (Fantasy Interactive) in New York City, and is also a ‘free time’ Flash developer. Claudio’s work can be found on the Fi website, and you can also find a selection of his latest projects on his Dribbble page. If you’d like to keep up with what Claudio’s doing day to day, then you should also check out his Twitter page.

47. iMockups ($6.99/£4.99)

A top-secret prototype taking shape in iMockups. (Oh, okay – it was a quick grab taken specifically for this feature.)

iMockups turns wireframing into a tactile activity, enabling you to drag app or website components around and resize them with ease. “It’s one of the best iPad apps for quickly creating wireframe prototypes,” says designer Si Jobling. “It’s extremely simple to use with its intuitive UX and I find the app invaluable for focusing on a site’s foundations, free from detail. Built-in linking functionality is also a nice touch, allowing you to create interactive prototypes.”

48. Gusto ($9.99/£6.99)

Gusto’s not exactly Dreamweaver, but then it costs about a fiftieth of the price of Adobe’s app

You’d have to be mildly insane to consider creating an entire website on an iPad, but when you’re out and about and need to do some emergency editing, Jobling reckons Gusto is the best code editor on the iPad: “I love to have the ability to quickly write code and deploy it straight to the web without being near a desktop. With code highlighting for all popular languages and multiple-site support, Gusto’s the wisest £7 any web developer can spend.”

49. Prompt ($7.99/£5.49)

The polished, excellent Prompt, clearly showcasing Panic’s desire to take over the iPad indie web design app market as it has on OS X

Heading further into techie territory than Gusto, Prompt is an SSH client, which developers Panic describe as “clean, crisp and cheerful”. Jobling’s a big fan: “Panic’s first iOS app is a must-have for any web developer. Connect to a server and manage it from anywhere. It’s perfect for those quick fixes or moments of inspiration.”

Designer’s picks – Simon Jobling

Simon Jobling

iMockups, Gusto and Prompt were the choices of Simon Jobling, online architect at Premium Choice. However, he’s also keen to “push the boundaries of additional media forms, introducing multimedia to practical commercial environments”. Si has also been called a thought leader and early adopter. You can follow him on Twitter, too.


50. Sketchbook Pro ($4.99/£2.99)

Apparently, Autodesk didn’t get the memo that the iPad is only for consumption

Sketchbook Pro is perhaps the most refined and polished iPad drawing app for creating finished artwork. The toolset is robust and the interface is very well designed. “I use it regularly to concept and scamp or just doodle,” says Winter. “It has an intuitive interface that makes good use of the iPad’s functionality. It lags a bit when drawing, but overall it’s a sound bit of kit, and I find it far more flexible than Adobe Ideas.”

51. SkyGrid (free)

SkyGrid: the perfect newsreader for when words are a bit much – just look at all the pictures instead

There are plenty of newsreaders on iOS, each attempting to carve its own niche. The aim behind SkyGrid is to enable you to fine-tune the news you receive, ensuring that your time is taken up reading content that you care about. “I love this app,” gushes Sapient Nitro’s associate creative director Ben Winter. “SkyGrid enables you to customise and share the topics that interest you – mine revolve around design, technology and advertising,” he says. “It’s a simple, visual way of staying up-to-date with my news.”

52. PicFrame ($0.99/£0.69)

PicFrame: for those times when just one photo on the screen really isn’t enough

There are a lot of fairly gimmicky photo apps for the iPad, but sometimes a polished example can win over designers and also be useful in a manner that the original developer probably didn’t envision. PicFrame is a case in point. “It’s a simple idea, enabling you to combine your favourite images, or images that inspire you, into a collage or framework,” says Winter. “And its photo effects, frame shapes and sharing options make it great for creating moodboards.”

53. Draw Something ($1.99/£1.49)

Draw Something! Because if you draw nothing, you’ll be considered really rubbish at this game

You might be wondering why a game’s managed to sneak its way into our list of top iPad apps for designers. But then its name perhaps reveals the reason – after all, what kind of game could be better for designers than one where you have to draw something? “When it comes to play time, I’m addicted to this game,” admits Winter, who adds that he also likes its social nature.

Designer’s picks – Ben Winter

Ben Winter

Sketchbook Pro, SkyGrid, PicFrame and Draw Something were the choices of Ben Winter. With a background in fine art, Winter has spent over a decade working as an art director and creative director for various agencies. He’s currently at SapientNitro, where he’s associate creative director.


54. Dropbox (free)

Dropbox: almost like having a file system welded to your iPad

It could be argued that the file system is beginning to become burdensome and is indicative of a bygone age of computing. But when you’re juggling dozens of files across many apps, it’s more essential than archaic. The iPad doesn’t provide access to any kind of file system, and so Dropbox acts as an alternative – many apps support it, and it’s also a great way to share content between PCs, Macs and iPads. “It’s essential on all our devices,” says web design guru and Happy Cogfounder Jeffrey Zeldman.

55. iBooks (free)

Apple’s iBooks – handy for buying and reading books, but also as a sneaky place to dump PDFs

Apple’s attempts to replicate iTunes for books became iBooks – an app with a store bolted on its back. However, the app is also a very capable PDF reader, and so even if you never buy a book from it, iBooks is worth downloading. Zeldman considers it essential, primarily for reference purposes: “iBooks provides instant access to my giant library of design and development books by Peachpit/New Riders, O’Reilly, Five Simple Steps, and A Book Apart,” he says.

56. Simplenote (free)

Simplenote – a much better app than Notes, or, for that matter, Reallyreallydifficultnote

Apple’s Notes app is a bit on the basic side, and so Zeldman recommends replacing it with Simplenote, which brings with it tags, pins, versioning and sharing. “I use it to create, save, and sync texts of any length,” he says. “Simplenote’s big advantages are focussing on doing one thing really well – which it nails – and saving as plain text. This makes Simplenote much less problematic than other apps, whether I’m copying boilerplate into a business email or transferring content between print and web tools.”

57. Evernote (free)

The latest version of Evernote comes with Retina support for the new iPad, making notes at least 50 per cent shinier

“Evernote came first and is the fuller-featured app,” says Zeldman, comparing it to Simplenote. “It saves texts, photos – anything, really – and syncs across all your devices.” With an increasing number of iOS apps adding Evernote support and a client existing for pretty much every major platform, Evernote proves to be a useful and accessible dumping ground for any information you need regular access to.

58. Camera (free, preinstalled on iPad)

The Camera app is great for shooting and trimming video clips

“Vimeo and iMovie are a powerful duo, but actually Apple’s humble Camera app is often sufficient for quick HD video editing needs,” thinks Zeldman – and he has a point. Shoot a movie and then tap its thumbnail; you can them trim it directly inside the Camera app, and share it via email, YouTube or the clipboard. There’s also an AirPlay button for sending the video to an Apple TV.

Designer’s picks – Jeffrey Zeldman

Jeffrey Zeldman

DropBox, iBooks, Simplenote, Evernote and Camera were the choices of Jeffrey Zeldman. Probably the most well-known figure in the web-standards movement, Zeldman is also an author, designer and the founder of Happy Cog design studios. Through his online magazine A List Apart Zeldman also published one of the most influential articles on the movement towards responsive web design.

59. Filterstorm ($3.99/£2.49)

Bird with pointy beak says: “Buy Filterstorm, because it’s a really great app for editing photos”

Although a version of Photoshop now exists for the iPad, Filterstorm’s elegant, touch-optimised interface and low price should still tempt you, according to web designer Shane Mielke: “I’d say the app is for ‘power’ Photoshop users. It has advanced image-editing features like layers, masking, channels, and a clone-stamp tool to remove unwanted items from any image.”

60. Snapseed ($4.99/£2.99)

Snapseed: only you can decide whether to make your photos approximately 72 per cent more ominous

Snapseed is another photo editor, largely focussed on filters and adjustments. Helpfully, it also supports a range of formats, including JPEG, TIFF and RAW. “It has a unique touch-based interface that gives you lots of creative control for modifying images and photos, such as textures and blurs,” says Mielke. “It’s a perfect app for taking an average image and making it look like a dramatic piece of artwork.”

Designer’s picks – Shane Mielke

Shane Mielke

Filterstorm and Snapseed are the choices of Shane Mielke. He’s a designer and creative director at 2Advanced, where he spends his time working on web development, design, motion and photography.


61. DropCloud for Cloudapp($0.99/£0.69)

DropCloud: upload to and download from your CloudApp account, without dropping anything, despite the name

CloudApp is a service that enables you to rapidly share files – all you need to do is drag them to the menu bar and paste a link. But when you’re out and about, having a client that provides straightforward access to uploads is a must. “I’m a huge fan of CloudApp, which I mostly use to upload project screenshots for clients,” says graphic designer Brian Hoff. “It’s great to be able to access and manage all of my uploads on my iPad.”

62. iA Writer ($0.99/£0.69)

iA Writer strips back text editing in bare-bones fashion. It’s sort of like Microsoft Word’s svelte, monochrome nemesis

Word processors on the desktop have in many cases turned into something more akin to desktop publishing tools. That’s fine if you’re trying to create a pretty leaflet and someone’s set fire to your copy of InDesign, but it’s not much cop for writing. iA Writer is the extreme opposite of such products: an overtly minimal app for entering text and little more. “It’s great for jotting down notes or writing Markdown, and I love that it syncs with Dropbox – I never need worry about accessing all of my notes,” says Hoff.

63. Tweetbot ($2.99/£1.99)

There are two words that may well encourage you to splash out on Tweetbot for iPad: ‘mute filters’

Designers like to lurk on Twitter, firing 140-character nuggets of brilliance into the digital ether. The default Twitter client on the iPad isn’t bad, but many people hanker for something better, hence Tweetbot. “My iPad during the day acts as a mini-monitor, with Tweetbot’s streaming keeping me in the loop with Twitter,” reveals Hoff.

Designer’s picks – Brian Hoff

Brian Hoff

DropCloud, IA Writer and Tweetbot are the choices of Brian Hoff, a graphic designer based in New York. He mostly works on websites, user interfaces and brand identities, concentrating on “solving problems by balancing usability and accessibility with memorable, timeless designs”.


64. Ego for iPad ($2.99/£1.99)

Numbers, numbers, and more numbers! Just don’t get too obsessed with checking them every few seconds, okay?

The web is often about numbers: how many people have visited your website; your current Twitter follower count. Ego for iPad supports eight popular services and gives you a beautiful interface for quickly checking numbers and also delving deeper into your stats. “It’s a central place to show me how well I’m doing in terms of my website analytics, Twitter followers and general feed statistics,” explains web designer Anthony Woods. “It has a clear interface, showing what is important, and gives me the data I need in order to go forward.”

65. Moodboard ($4.99/£2.99)

Oddly, ‘design websites’ is Moodboard’s fourth option on this intro board. Number one? Plan a dream wedding!

Although we earlier mentioned PicFrame as an app for creating moodboards, Moodboard is, as its name suggests, dedicated to this task. “It’s an excellent app for prioritising inspiration,” thinks Woods, who uses it for creating all kinds of boards: “Some are just for inspiration, and others are for specific projects I am starting on.” He also uses it to present to clients a design’s direction.

66. Dribbblr (free)

If you’re after a client for rapidly searching Dribbble, we can safely say Dribbblr is bbbrilliant

Dribbble is a hugely popular service among designers, and this client enables you to browse work on the site and, if you’re ‘drafted’, also follow your favourites feed. “Without this app, I would be lost,” claims Woods. “The daily inspiration I find for icons, textures, web design elements and interfaces is what helps me improve as a designer and to challenge myself. Dribbble has a fantastic community of designers that helps inspire our industry.”

67. Computer Arts Magazine (free container app)

Computer Arts: cheaper on the iPad than buying the dead-tree edition, and particularly lovely on the Retina display

Computer Arts is the leading magazine for designers, illustrators and creative professionals, and it’s available right on your iPad via Newsstand. “Computer Arts has become a graphical bible for inspiration in design, enabling me to advance my techniques in Photoshop, illustration, logo design and typography,” says Woods. “It has helped me turn flat designs into designs with more depth, personality and flare.” Once you’ve downloaded the free container app, individual issues are priced at: £4.99/$6.99/€5.99 with yearly subscription prices at £44.99/$64.99/€59.99.

68. Sorted ($0.99/£0.69)

Sorted: quite possibly an app designed specifically to gel with designers working in ‘Lahndahhhn’

Woods is another designer who uses the iPad to manage tasks, but Sorted is his app of choice for doing so: “In my job environment, everything is fast-paced, and deadlines are arranged and must be met. I use Sorted to help me on a daily basis sort what needs to be done and completed. With it being a lightweight app with no thrills and spills, it helps me prioritise, view and complete tasks in a timely manner.”

Designer’s picks – Anthony Woods

Anthony Woods

Ego, Moodboard, Dribblr, Computer Arts and Sorted are the choices of Anthony Woods, a web developer and designer who works at Glasgow-based Toltech.


69. Zite (free)

Zite: Another fab app for making a personalised magazine on your iPad, featuring only stuff you want to read

Staying on top of industry news is always a challenge, and IA/UX designer Anna Dahlstrom‘s favourite app for doing so is Zite. “It allows you to quickly scan news, and the feature to tell the app what I would like to see more of enables it to become much more tailored to my interests,” she says. “Another reason why I love it is the integration with other services that I use (Instapaper and Delicious), which means I can use Zite to bookmark items into the same places as when I’m using my laptop.”

70. HootSuite for Twitter (free)

HootSuite: looking a bit like TweetDeck has been repeatedly hit by a reverse ugly stick

Although Tweetbot is a first-rate Twitter app, it’s perhaps most geared towards people who only regularly work with a single feed. If you’ve multiple feeds and could also do with managing Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, HootSuite’s worth a look, thinks Dahlstrom: “The more people or topics you follow, the more useful HootSuite is for keeping on top of it all. It’s the kind of app that works really well with a touch-based interface – interacting with your different streams is easier when using swiping gestures instead of a mouse cursor.”

71. OmniGraffle ($49.99/£34.99)

You might choke on the price-tag, but OmniGraffle will get the last laugh when you’re using it daily

“OmniGraffle was the first app that made me wish that there was a really large version of the iPad,” jokes Dahlstrom on the charting and wireframing tool. “I use it quite a bit for work, particularly in the early phases of a project when we define the overall strategy and experience across platforms and channels. It’s a joy to use and great for being able to get really hands-on and up close with the objects that you manipulate on the screen.”

72. Keynote ($9.99/£6.99)

Keynote laughs in PowerPoint’s face – PowerPoint’s comparatively pixelated face. (Keynote’s got Retina support, see?)

“Keynote is another example of an iPad app that makes working and manipulating objects on it a breeze,” says Dahlstrom of Apple’s presentation tool. “Adding animations is simple and it’s a great tool to have in your bag, quickly allowing you to put a presentation or prototype together, or just to show a presentation, for that matter.”

Designer’s picks – Anna Dahlstrom

Anna Dahlstrom

Zite, Hootsuite, OmniGraffle and Keynote are the choices of Anna Dahlstrom. Originally from Sweden but now based in London, Dahlstrom is an IA/UX designer. She’s currently working at by Flock.


73. 1Password for iPad ($9.99/£6.99)

Handy hint for 1Password for iPad – don’t set your master password as ‘password’

It’s all very well doing the right thing and coming up with insanely complex passwords for website log-ins, but they’re then extremely tough to remember. 1Password provides the means to log-in to websites with a single tap and store information you don’t want others chancing across. “It’s one of the few apps I can’t live without, storing all my sensitive information in one place but syncing across multiple devices,” enthuses freelance designer John A. Jacob. Note that a universal ‘Pro’ version exists if you’ve also got an iPhone; it costs $14.99/£10.49.

74. Penultimate ($0.99/£0.69)

Penultimate might sound like a rubbish biro superhero, but it’s in fact a spiffy iPad note-taking app

While lacking the natural media input of Paper, Penultimate is nonetheless an excellent note-taking and sketching app. The feel of the tools is surprisingly tactile, and you can add new paper types(for gaming, music notation, and so on) via IAP or install your own custom designs. “It’s my go-to app whenever I need to take notes or quickly sketch something,” says Jacob. “It’s extremely easy to use and, importantly, you can save to Dropbox and resume work from another device.”

Designer’s picks – John A Jacob

John A. Jacob

OnePassword and Penultimate are the choices of John A Jacob, a freelance web designer with a passion for web standards and gaming.


75. Art Photo Sketch HD ($1.99/£1.49)

You can choose from a variety of filters, frames, and canvases including lined paper

This nifty little app turns your digital photos into sketches. There is a decent variety of effects to choose from, including watercolour, mosaic, bluebear, sketch art, and pop art. You can apply various canvas types, from lined paper to ancient stationery, and various options for frames. The user interface isn’t the best, but it does the job at hand well, and at an attractive price.

3 responses to “75 best iPad apps for designers

  1. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one today.

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