Best free iPad apps 2021: the top titles we’ve tried

DMCA / Correction Notice
- Advertisement -

Free apps sometimes have a bad reputation, but there are tons of gems that are so good you won’t believe they’re free. We’ve scoured the App Store to find the best, and sorted them into handy categories, which you can find on the following pages.

- Advertisement -

Feather This On the page you’ll find the best app of the month – our top new or updated picks to try, and check back each month to find a new option to test. After that, it’s the best entertainment app out there (certainly the best reason to own an iPad…) and there are a variety of categories on the following pages to tickle your fancy.

Free App of the Month: Serial Reader

serial reader Wants you to read the classics. You can argue that you don’t have time to wade through Odyssey or War and Peace, but Serial Reader begs to differ, and cleverly cuts such tomes — and hundreds more you can choose from — into bite-sized pieces. You can explode into pieces on a daily basis.


Each ‘issue’ takes approximately ten minutes to read and is reached at a user-defined time with an optional notification. It’s a clever system that really reads to you. And the reading experience is solid too, with all the usual layout and typography options you’d expect.

Generously, you get it all for free, but pay $2.99/£2.49/AU$4.49 for premium and you get additional features, including cloud sync, ‘read ahead’ for future issues, highlights and notes, series Includes the option to pause and add your own. Own EPUB.

Best Free Entertainment Apps for iPad

- Advertisement -

Our favorite free iPad apps to have fun with your iPad, whether shopping, coloring, reading, watching TV or using Twitter.

Reading List – Book Tracker

Reading List – Book Tracker This is ideal if you buy a lot of books and then forget instead of reading them. You add books to your virtual library by scanning barcodes or linking them to a web search result list. Then they lurk in the sidebar.

One tap on any entry and you can read its various descriptions as you go to Amazon or Google Books. By adding user-defined categories, you can manage large collections, or even have the reading list act as a wish list for titles you haven’t purchased yet. Basic progress tracking is also in the mix.

For free, the app is completely single-device, with no iCloud sync. But looking at the other features, it seems like a generous freebie for those who want to keep track of the books they’re reading.

Sandbox – Physics Simulator

Sandbox – Physics Simulator A delectably noodle mix of creation and raging destruction. This gives you a blank screen and a bunch of icons, inviting you to select a material and draw components to fill the void. You can build levitation stone structures that can be filled with soil and seeds, at which point flowers will begin to grow.

Alternatively, you can find out what will happen when lightning explodes fireworks powder, or when you drop a bomb on your beautiful creation. Hint: Nothing good is ever good for the things you make. But the sandbox itself is good enough. Sure, it’s a far cry from real life, and its old-school pixel art aesthetic screams retro. But as a way to experiment and unwind—whether you cool things down or blow them away—it’s an excellent iPad freebie.

music harbor

music harbor Apple Music and other streaming services deals with the difference: keeping track of your favorite artists, rather than just playing their tracks.

You can import artists from your local library or streaming service. Imports appear as disc-shaped buttons. Tap on one and the artist/band page will display releases in reverse-chronological order, along with a button to zip to Google News Search based on relevant keywords.

Elsewhere, the sidebar provides quick access to the latest and upcoming releases, music videos, and concerts. Go Pro ($5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99) and you can filter releases by kind, adjust the appearance of the app, and filter concerts by proximity. Even if you don’t, it’s important to keep an eye on artists and bands.

Photo Flashback!

Photo Flashback! Remembers services like TimeHop that serve up photos you took years ago to date. Here, however, the focus is entirely on the content of the photos in your iPad and iCloud Photo Library.

Upon launching the app, you’ll see a selection of the day and can choose to add the current year via a quick visit to the app’s settings. To see other dates, tap Calendar. In the window that appears, each date lists the number of photos available, as well as a small preview of one of them.

Photo Flashback! One of those free apps that’s generous to the point that you wonder what the catch is. But it’s not – it’s a great and completely free way to relive favorite memories.

wallpaper app

The Wallpapers app gives you endless wallpapers for your iPad. The designs are procedurally generated based on around 15 different styles, which are accessed by horizontal swipes. Within each style, you’re previewed variations by tapping on the left or right half of the screen. Swipe up and you get more controls for finely adjusting brightness and color within the current design.

Unlike most free wallpaper apps, the output is optimized specifically for your iPad – although you can long-press the Save button to export wallpapers for other screen sizes.

The entire production looks elegant, perfectly matched to the host hardware. And although it probably won’t be suitable for every iPad owner—especially if you’re willing to use photography for screen backgrounds—it’s a perfect download if you’re looking to rock your home screen with something arty and sophisticated.

Sofa: Downtime Organizer

Sofa is a free iPad app that’s all about organizing your downtime by making lists. Tap the + button and you can choose a category, search for something, and then add it to your collection. Using the sidebar, you can categorize the items you add as you wish.

Since Sofa uses existing online data for the items you add, it will automatically import cover art and synopses. Especially for movies, music, and podcasts, it works very well as a means of reminding yourself about the things you plan to watch — and what you’ve already seen and heard. Is.

The app for books and games is less impressive, but given the lack of a price tag (IAPs are for additional themes), and iCloud support for syncing data between devices, Sofa is a solid choice when you’re looking to plan media. Want to have a fast, simple tool for the game you would like to experience in the future.


Netnewswire is an RSS reader – a news aggregator that lets you subscribe to website feeds, and stream headlines and articles directly to the app. In fact, for many, it is the newsgroup, which has been a big name in various forms since 2002.

This latest incarnation is open source and hence free of price tag. It is also free from ads, IAP and cruft. It’s less flashy than paid fares like Unread and Reader, but it has an elegant simplicity that sits well when you want an instant no-nonsense experience that’s still friendly and usable.

Though gunning for efficiency, this app gives you all the most important features: direct feed subscription, Feedly/Feedbin sync, dark mode, reader view, and feed import/export. In fact, it’s so good that it might take you away from its premium-priced contemporaries.

Google News

Google News may seem redundant in the age of Apple News, but it serves a purpose. Like Apple’s counterpart, this free news app for iPhone learns as you use it, aiming to deliver stories that will interest you. And just like with Apple News, you can flag specific publications and topics you love to read.

Where Google News differs from Apple is with the ‘Full Coverage’ button. Tap it and you can view a story in a range of publications, and a report timeline – useful in an age of increasingly partisan coverage.

Plus, there are plenty of other reasons to make the app one of your favorites for news: fast access to a list of stories from any source; means of concealing a publication; regularly updated briefings; an optional daily news email; And a stripped-back, cruft-free reading experience.

gif wrapped

GIFwrapped is designed for the GIF obsessed. If you can’t get through an entire social media message without welding a looping animation, this is the app for you.

Universal search gives fast access to more GIFs than you might have imagined to use in multiple lifetimes, even if you put in a lot of effort. It’s also possible to import your own bursts and Live Photos. Everything you find can be saved to your local library; The GIF can then be shared from the app itself, or GIF wrapped can be shared in Messages using the iMessage app.

For other use-cases, hiding a GIF wrapped in Slide Over seems to work particularly well. And if you go too deep into the app, the cheap subscription removes IAP ads, powers search, and lets you remove watermarks from shared GIFs.

Lake: Coloring Books

Lake: Coloring Books seem ideally suited for iPad owners who love dabbling in coloring—especially if they also have an Apple Pencil. The One A Day feature offers a daily freebie for 60 days, and each of the various coloring books also offers a free image for you to try your hand at.

The coloring experience is solid. Friendly tool panels sit at the edge of the screen. You can quickly swap out palettes or switch from brush to spray can. If you don’t want to go over the lines, a single button press gets you there too.

In addition to writing inside someone else’s lines, you can create your own with a blank canvas option, and your masterpieces can be saved to a gallery so you can show them online later.

Image credit: The Iconfactory


Twitterrific is a client of Twitter that wants you to use the social network on your own terms. This means you get many customization options – and a richer user experience – than using the official Twitter app.

On the iPad, this is pretty obvious when you search for the tabs at the top of the screen. You…

- Advertisement -

Stay on top - Get the daily news in your inbox

Recent Articles

Related Stories