TechRadar

New iPhone 8 images show fingerprint scanner will be built into the screen

Some years Apple does a decent job of keeping its upcoming handsets secret, but this year isn’t one of them. We’ve had a steady stream of leaks and today there’s both a CAD image and shots of the iPhone 8 in a case, revealing that – as has been rumored – the fingerprint scanner will seemingly be built into the screen.

That’s worth emphasising, as some earlier leaks suggested the scanner might find its home on the back of the phone, and while leaked dummy units of the iPhone 8 show an absence of visible scanners, they were made based on diagrams which may not have had every marking in place, so left the possibility of a rear-mounted scanner open.

These leaks though leave less in doubt. The CAD image was shared by Benjamin Geskin, who’s been leaking a lot of iPhone 8 stuff. The design here shows an all-screen front, albeit with a cut-out at the top for the front-facing camera, while on the back there’s that vertically aligned dual-lens camera that we’ve seen so much of.

Circles aren't scanners

There’s also a circle, which you might reasonably think is the fingerprint scanner, but according to Geskin it’s simply the location of the Apple logo.

And backing that up, Slashleaks has posted images of a dummy iPhone 8 unit in a case – with no fingerprint scanner cut-out on the back.

Of course, there’s no guarantee any of this is accurate, but case manufacturers may have got an early look at the phone and are likely to be at least reasonably confident in the design before building cases for it.

For now, we still can’t totally rule out the possibility of a rear-mounted scanner, or a return of the home button below the screen. But, while an under-screen scanner once seemed unlikely, it’s now looking like the most probable outcome.

  • A more affordable iPhone 7S might also be on the way

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Best free iPad apps 2017

OK – you’ve probably noticed on the Apple App Store that iPad apps cost more – sometimes a LOT more – than their iPhone equivalents. But trust us, it’s worth the extra cash.

Many of the best free iPhone apps cost money in their iPad incarnations, and the quality level of what’s still free for the tablet is often ropey. But among the dross lie rare gems – iPad apps that are so good you can’t believe they’re still free.

Of those we unearthed, here’s our pick of the best free iPad apps. Note that apps marked ‘universal’ will run on your iPad and iPhone, optimising themselves accordingly.

On the iPhone, Prisma has become many people’s go-to app for transforming photos into tiny works of painterly art. Bafflingly, an iPad version of the app has yet to materialize, so fortunately Pixify is on hand to plug that particular gap.

In fact, in many ways Pixify is superior to Prisma. It has the same level of immediacy: load a photo and select what artwork you’d like it to resemble. But the app also provides a modicum of control over the output, in you being able to adjust brush sizes and how heavily the painterly style is applied.

The one downside on iPad is the final rendered image displays quite small on the screen. And even the $0.99/99p/AU$1.99 IAP, which unlocks higher-resolution artwork to export, doesn’t affect this oddity.

Making apps approachable is a good thing on mobile, but sometimes photo editors go a bit far, flinging all kinds of detritus into the mix (stickers; gaudy frames; a million indistinguishable filters).

With Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, you instead get a more sedate and distinctly professional offering – although one that nonetheless retains plenty of immediacy.

The basic toolset includes cropping, rotation, a bunch of measured and genuinely useful presets, and an editor for adjusting tones, vignettes, colors and lens issues. Edits aren’t burned in and so you can experiment and revert as you wish. When you’re done, you can send the result to your Camera Roll.

If you’re an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber, you also get DNG support, and selective adjustments. But even as a pure freebie, Lightroom’s a must-have for any iPad owner interested in improving their photographs.

MediBang Paint feels like one of those apps where you’re always waiting for the catch to arrive. Create a new canvas and you end up staring at what can only be described as a simplified Photoshop on your iPad. There are loads of drawing tools, a layers system (including photo import), and configurable brushes.

Opening up menus reveals yet more features – rotation; shapes; grids – but palettes can also be hidden, so you can get on with just drawing. Judging by the in-app gallery of uploaded art, MediBang is popular with manga artists, but its tools are capable enough to support a much wider range of digital painting and drawing styles – all without costing you a penny.

There are two ways to approach Seaquence, where the first is as a really bizarre interactive album. Select a track and a bunch of little creatures swim about on the screen, which results in spatialized sound mixes. (Stick some headphones on to hear how their movements affect the placement of sounds being played.) You can manually fling the creatures about, or tap-hold to remove them.

But Seaquence also enables you to edit. Add a new creature and it’ll instantly change the track. Tap a creature and you can delve into a scale editor, sound designer, and a sequencer for adjusting the notes of the current loop.

A $6.99/£6.99/AU$10.99 IAP opens up a bunch of pro features; but for free, Seaquence is entertaining whether you’re just listening and occasionally bothering the digital sea life, or figuring out how to construct your own tunes.

If you often find yourself rooting around the web for images to use in projects, Google Images will do. But it can be tricky to know whether you have the rights to use whatever you download – and you very often don’t.

Pixabay does away with such concerns through its images being released under Creative Commons CC0. In plain English: you can do whatever you like with them.

The downside is the selection can be sparse for niche subjects, and quite a lot of the vector art is of poor quality. But for general imagery to add to a brochure or website when you’re lacking a budget for pictures, there are plenty of decent photographs to choose from, easily accessible from the app’s straightforward search.

On an iPhone, music-making app GarageBand is mightily impressive, but on iPad, the extra space proves transformative. In being able to see more at any given time, your experience is more efficient and enjoyable, whether you’re a beginner tapping the grid view to trigger loops, a live musician tweaking a synth on stage, or a recording artist delving into audio waveforms and MIDI data.

Apple’s app also cleverly appeals to all. Newcomers can work with loops, automated drummers, and piano strips for always staying in key. Pros get seriously impressive track controls with configurable effects, multi-take recording, and Audio Unit support for bringing favorite synths directly into GarageBand.

If you don’t feel terribly creative sitting in front of a PC, GarageBand’s the perfect way to unleash your Grammy-winning songwriter in waiting.

Instapaper acts as a time-shifting service for the web. You can send pages to it from any browser (PC, Mac or mobile), whereupon Instapaper strips away everything bar the content. When you open the app, it’ll quickly sync your article collection. You can then read anything you’ve stored in a mobile-optimized layout that’s entirely free from cruft.

On an iPhone, Instapaper is handy for commuters wanting to catch up on saved pages while belting along on a train. But on iPad, the larger display transforms Instapaper into a superb lean-back reading experience – your own personal periodical that’s free from the gimmickry and iffy curation found in glossier fare, and that’s instead all about the content.

You won’t trouble Hollywood with PicsArt (or PicsArt Animated Gif & Video Animator to use its unwieldy full name). However, it is a great introduction to animation and also a handy sketchpad for those already immersed in the field.

A beginner can start with a blank slate, paper texture, or photo background, on to which an animation frame is drawn. Add further frames and previous ones faintly show through, to aid you in making smooth transitions.

Delve further into the app to discover more advanced fare, including brush options and a hugely useful layers system. When done, export to GIF or video – or save projects to refine later. That this all comes for free (and free from ads) is astonishing.

Although Photoshop started out as a tool for retouching imagery, plenty of people use it for creating art from scratch. It’s presumably that line of thinking that led to Adobe Photoshop Sketch, an iPad app that enables you to draw with virtual takes on ink, paint, pastel and markers.

The tools themselves are broadly impressive and configurable. You can adjust brushes in all kinds of ways, and then utilize blend modes and layers for complex art, and grids/stencils when more precision is needed.

Export feels a bit needlessly restrictive – you’re mostly forced to send drawings to Adobe’s Behance network – even Photos isn’t an option. 

Also, while tools work well individually, they don’t really interact, such as when dragging pen through a glob of paint. Still, for free, Adobe Photoshop Sketch gives you a lot – and even if you don’t use the app for finished art, it works (as its name suggests) as a pretty neat sketchpad.

There are quite a few apps for creating ambient background noise, helping you to focus, relax, and even sleep. White Noise+ is perhaps the best we’ve seen – a really smartly designed mix of sound and interface design that is extremely intuitive yet thoroughly modern.

It works through you adding sounds to an on-screen grid. Those placed towards the right become more complex, and those towards the top are louder. Personalized mixes can be saved, or you can play several that are pre-loaded.

For free, you do get an ad across the bottom of the screen, only five sounds, and no access to timers and alarms. But even with such restrictions, White Noise+ is pretty great. Throw $2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49 at it for the extra features and noises, and it borders on exceptional.

Although Apple’s Notes is far more capable than it used to be, it can feel a touch sterile. Notebook mirrors a lot of the functionality of Apple’s app, while injecting a touch more tactility and fun.

Your notes are grouped into little notebooks, which when opened display as a grid of sticky notes. Individual notes can have a bespoke background color and contain text, imagery, audio recordings, checkboxes, and scribbles. The drawing tools lack the ruler from Notes but offer far more colors and tooltip sizes. Back in the notebook, notes can be grouped and browsed through with subtle flicks.

Export is weak and sync rather annoyingly requires an account with the developer rather than iCloud; but for a freebie note-taker on a single iPad, Notebook fits the bill.

Often, third-party apps improve on bare-bones equivalents provided as the ‘official’ take on a product, but Wikipedia is an exception. This freebie app for browsing the online encyclopedia is excellent on iPad – and probably the best option on the platform.

The Explore page lists a bunch of nearby and topical articles; after a few uses, it’ll also recommend things it reckons you’d like to read. Tap an article and the screen splits in two – (collapsible) table of contents to the left and your chosen article to the right. Articles can be searched and saved, the latter option storing them for offline perusal.

It’s a pity Wikipedia doesn’t rework the Peek/Pop previews from the iPhone version (by way of a long-tap), but otherwise this is an excellent, usable encyclopedia for the modern age.

On the desktop, Adobe Illustrator is more about enabling creative types to work up pin-sharp illustrative fare than freehand drawing. But on iPad, Adobe Illustrator Draw concentrates on doodling. You can experiment with five highly configurable brush tips, which feel great whether drawing with a stylus or a finger.

But dig deeper into the options and the professional sheen of this app becomes apparent. There are perspective grids, a layers system for mixing and matching artwork and imagery for tracing over, and stencils you temporarily overlay when extra precision is needed.

Completed images can be exported to Camera Roll or the clipboard, and Adobe Creative Cloud users can also send art to Photoshop or Illustrator with layers preserved.

A straightforward vector export option would be nice, although that’s perhaps too big an ask for a free app designed to suck you into a larger ecosystem.

Given the acres of space you get on an iPad display, it’s a bit odd that Apple’s own clock only provides a single timer. Fortunately, MultiTimer – as its name suggests – goes somewhat further by offering multiple options.

In fact, depending on the layout you choose, you can have twelve timers all ticking away at once. Each one of them can have its own icon, color and default time assigned, for those people who need to simultaneously exercise, boil eggs, and cook a turkey.

Smartly, the app works in portrait or landscape, and if you want a timer you can see clearly across the room, a single button press zooms it to fill almost the entire screen.

Should you want a bit more flexibility by way of multiple or custom workspaces, there’s a single IAP to unlock those features. 

It’s fair to say that Music Memos is primarily designed for the iPhone, enabling musicians to quickly capture a song idea, which can later be expanded on. But if you’re in a studio – home or otherwise – strumming away on a guitar, and with an iPad nearby, the app can help you compose your next chart-troubler on a much more user-friendly screen size.

You kick things off by tapping a circle in the middle of the screen, whereupon Music Memos starts recording. Tap again to stop. The app then attempts – with some degree of success – to transcribe the chords played, and enables you to overlay automated bass and drums.

It’s when tapping the audio waveform in the recordings list that the iPad’s value becomes clear – you get the whole screen to see your in-progress song, which is great for playing along with or when considering further tweaks. And with iCloud sync, you can always record on iPhone and peruse later on iPad.

A halfway house between full-fledged writing tool and capable note-taker, Bear provides a beautiful environment for tapping out words on an iPad.

The sidebar links to notes you’ve grouped by hashtag. Next to that, a notes list enables you to scroll through (or search) everything you’ve written, or notes matching a specific tag. The main workspace – which can be made full-screen – marries sleek minimalism with additional smarts: subtle Markdown syntax next to headings; automated to-do checkboxes when using certain characters; image integration.

There’s not enough here for pro writers – they’d need on-screen word counts, customizable note column ordering, and flexibility regarding notes nesting. Also, for iCloud sync, you must buy a $1.49/£1.49/AU$1.99 monthly subscription. But as a free, minimal note-taker for a single device, Bear more than fits the bill.

Fancy creating a slice of dubstep, hip hop, or deep house? Largely bereft of musical talent (or just feeling a bit lazy)?

Don’t worry – Remixlive has you covered. Using the app, you select a genre (others are available via IAP – and some extras are even free), and then superstardom is just a case of triggering loops by tapping large colored pads.

The app’s pretty much idiot-proof – pads are labelled, everything’s always in time or in tune, and you can record your efforts by tapping a big REC button. Lovely.

But if you fancy going a bit further, the app’s happy to oblige: there’s a mixing desk for adjusting levels, live effects, and an editor to mix and match pads from different genre sets. Want to import/export your own sounds? Grab the relevant IAP ($5.99/£5.99/AU$9.99).

The web’s pretty great, apart from the bits that aren’t. And those bits are the manner in which your journey online is monitored by countless trackers. They look into what you’re viewing and where you’re going, aiming to serve up targeted ads. Beyond privacy issues, these trackers can slow down web pages and even crash browsers.

Enter: Firefox Focus. The app itself is a brutally stripped-back, privacy-oriented browser. You go online, tracker-free, do whatever you want, and then stab Erase to delete your session. Which probably sounds ideal for nefarious purposes, but this is mostly great for basic efficiency, and also handy if someone wants to quickly get online using your iPad but not leave their accounts live when handing your device back.

Beyond this, Firefox Focus can also integrate with Safari, blocking trackers and web fonts from that browser and, potentially, increasing its performance.

If you’ve any interest in wildlife films, Attenborough Story of Life is a must-have. It features over a thousand clips picked from Attenborough’s decades-long journey through what he refers to as the “greatest story of all…how animals and plants came to fill our Earth”.

The app is split into three sections. You’re initially urged to delve into some featured collections, but can also explore by habitat or species, unearthing everything from big-toothed sharks to tiny penguins skittering about. Clips can be saved as favorites, or grouped into custom collections to later peruse or share with friends.

Some of the footage is noticeably low-res on an iPad – there’s nothing here to concern your Blu-Rays, and that’s a pity. Still, for instant access to such a wealth of amazing programming, this one’s not to be missed.

For reasons unknown to us, Prisma’s not on iPad, but Matissa provides a similar take on transforming photos into works of art. You know the drill: load a pic, select a filter, watch as the app turns it into something that looks more akin to paint on canvas, share, print, rinse and repeat.

Matissa’s filter selection is quite diverse, even if the results aren’t as convincing as Prisma’s. Still, there are some interesting ‘dynamic’ styles, which animate the end result, in a flickering loop that’s oddly hypnotic.

Everything does feel a bit too much like a blown-up phone app, though, and we wish Matissa could delve into shared albums rather than just Camera Roll. Still, it’s free, it works, and it does the job if you want to add a little art to your snaps.

The iPad and App Store combine to create an extremely strong ecosystem when it comes to art apps, but that's not terribly helpful if you don't have an artistic bone in your body.

Fortunately, there are apps like Fingerpaint Magic that enable a much wider range of people to create something visually stunning.

As you draw, feathers of color explode from your fingertip, bleeding into the background in a manner that feels like you're drawing with an alien material atop viscous liquid. You can adjust your brush and color – 'neon' from the former coming across like sketching with fire.

Artwork can be further enhanced using mirrors or background filters prior to export. The process is at once aesthetically pleasing, fun and relaxing.

A single $0.99/£0.99/AU$1.49 IAP unlocks a set of premium brushes, but Fingerpaint Magic's free incarnation has more than enough to unleash your inner artist, regardless of your skill level.

Sago's range of straightforward, play-oriented educational apps tend to go down well with tiny humans, but Sago Mini Friends and its lack of a price tag should also please your wallet. It's a generous and heart-warming game in terms of content too, promoting empathy, sharing and creativity through play.

On selecting a cartoon character, you knock on doors to colorful houses and play little mini-games, such as dress-up, taking a bath, and having a snack. In the last of those, feed too many items to one character and the other looks sad, hopefully prompting your own tiny person to figure out that sharing is a good thing.

On iPad, Sago Mini Friends shines, with its bold colors and smartly designed interface. There's no advertising, nor any IAP, meaning toddlers can play in safety without interruptions.

The App Store's awash with alternate cameras with editing smarts, but MuseCam warrants a place on your iPad's home screen nonetheless. As a camera, it's fine, with an on-screen grid and plenty of manual settings. But on Apple's tablet, it's in editing that MuseCam excels.

Load a photo and you can apply a film-inspired filter preset (based on insight from pro photographers), or fiddle around with tone curves, color tools, and other adjustment settings.

The interface is bold, efficient, and usable, making it accessible to relative newcomers; but there's also enough depth here to please those wanting a bit more control, including the option to save tweaks as custom presets.

IAP comes in the form of additional filters, but what you get for free is generous and of a very high quality, making MuseCam a no-brainer download.
 

On YouTube alone, something like 60 hours of new video is uploaded every minute of the day. So keeping track of the best video from across the web is impossible.

Hyper aims to cut through the dross, serving up a daily selection of videos selected by a team of award-winning filmmakers.

The app can download videos overnight for offline playback, and presents your daily selection as a Harry Potter-like magazine page, video loops playing behind bold headlines. Simply tap to play, drag across videos to scrub, and tap to pause. On supported iPad hardware, click the home button and you can continue watching the current video with Picture-in-Picture mode.

Chances are even Hyper's considered selection won't always be to your tastes, and it's often a bit too US-oriented; but Hyper is nonetheless a great place to start your daily trawl through online video, and frequently serves up interesting things to watch.

Slash Keyboard is a custom iPad keyboard that makes sharing online content easier. Tap the slash key for a list of commands, which you can filter by typing a letter or two, and then enter search terms and prod a result to insert it into a document.

This makes it a cinch to quickly find and add links (Wikipedia articles; SoundCloud songs; App Store products; and so on) to notes, documents and social media posts. Additionally, Slash Keyboard speeds up typing with gestural single-finger scribbles in a manner similar to Swype and SwiftKey.

It’s not a perfect app by any means, as links are US-focused and sometimes use a proprietary link shortener rather than giving you the entire URL. Also, long-pressing the top row of letters cuts off the menu displaying related special characters.

But Slash's usefulness counters such drawbacks, and it's at the very least worth considering as an occasional alternate keyboard when wanting to link to a bunch of things you've found online.
 

As iOS has evolved, Notification Center has become a far more useful and robust part of the iPad experience. It can now house all kinds of useful information, which is accessible via a single downwards swipe. The idea behind Cheatsheet is to create a place for tiny things you need to remember, such as luggage combinations, phone numbers, and Wi-Fi passwords.

The Cheatsheet app enables you to configure your list of items and their sort order; a custom icon can also be assigned to each one. On iPad, the screen is big enough to show two rows of 'cheats', meaning the widget rarely takes up much space.

Note that for free, you get all of this without even any ads, but there's a single IAP ($2.99/£2.99/AU$4.49) to extend Cheatsheet further; this gives you extra icons, iCloud notes sync, a custom keyboard, and an action extension, along with allowing the developer to eat.
 

People grumble that the iPad's 4:3 display is sub-optimal for watching television (even though it's way better than 16:9 for almost everything else), but we still think it's a great device for catching up on shows or enjoying the latest movie. And with iTunes Movie Trailers, film buffs can check out what's coming in cinemas.

The main interface is a bunch of featured film posters. You can filter these by genre, search for something specific, or explore the charts. Tap a film and you get a giant splash of art, an overview, and access to available teasers and trailers.

The result is an uncomplicated app that's perfect for sitting back with your iPad and gorging your eyes on the best upcoming filmmaking around, and when you find a movie you'd like to see in full you can share it to email, Notes, or the app's built-in Favorites list.
 

There are loads of apps for making basic edits to photos and slapping on some words, but Little Moments stands out primarily through being rather jolly (if a little twee at times) and being extremely easy to use.

Load in a pic (or use the camera to shoot a new one), and you can quickly add a filter, adjust things like saturation and contrast, overlay some text boxes, and get creative with quotes and stickers.

Weirdly, the last two of those things are pixelated when browsing through the app, but look just fine when added (and sadly many of the categories also sit behind in-app purchases).

But everything else about Little Moments is a joy, from the non-destructive adjustments (unless you select a new filter, whereupon everything resets) to the friendly, intuitive interface.
 

Part meditative relaxation tool, part sleep aid, Melodist is all about creating melodies from imagery. All you have to do is load something from your Camera Roll, and the app does the rest.

On analyzing your photo or screen grab for changes in hues, saturation and brightness, a music loop is generated. You can adjust the playback speed, instrument and visual effect (which starts off as a lazily scrolling piano roll), along with setting a timer.

Although occasionally discordant, the app mostly creates very pleasing sounds. And while it’s perhaps missing a trick in not displaying your photo as-is underneath the notes being played (your image is instead heavily blurred as a background), you can export each tune as audio or a video that shows the picture alongside the animation.

These free exports are a pretty generous gesture by the developer; if you want to return the favor, there’s affordable IAP for extra sounds, animation and MIDI export.

One of the great things about the app revolution is how these bits of software can help you experience creative fare that would have previously been inaccessible, unless you were armed with tons of cash and loads of time. Folioscope is a case in point, providing the basics for crafting your own animations.

We should note you’re not going to be the next Disney with Folioscope – the tools are fairly basic, and the output veers towards ‘wobbling stickmen’.

But you do get a range of brushes (of differing size and texture), several drawing tools (pen, eraser, flood fill, and marquee), and onion-skinning, which enables you to see faint impressions of adjacent frames, in order to line everything up.

The friendly nature of the app makes it accessible to anyone, and there’s no limit on export – projects can be shared as GIFs or movies, or uploaded to the Folioscope community, should you create an account.

After years of eyesight deterioration, John Hull became blind in 1983. Notes on Blindness VR has six chapters taken from his journal of the time. Each is set in a specific location, marrying John’s narrative, binaural audio, and real-time 3D animation, to create an immersive experience of a ‘world beyond sight’.

Although designed as a VR experience, this app remains effective when holding an iPad in front of your face, moving the screen about to scan your surroundings. The mood shifts throughout – there’s wonder in a blind John’s discovery of the beauty of rain, disconnection when he finds things ‘disappear’ from the world when sound stops, and a harrowing section on panic.

Towards the end, John mulls he’s “starting to understand what it’s like to be blind,” and you may get a sense of what it’s like, too, from the app, which ably showcases how to craft an engaging screen-based experience beyond the confines of television.

Among the various finger-painting apps for iPad, Nebula is one of the weirdest. You draw by dragging two fingers on the screen, which results in a set of neon lines atop the background. Twisting your fingers changes the nature of the futuristic ribbon you’re creating, and subsequent taps and twists add to its length.

Using the app’s settings, you can play with the thickness and density of the lines and switch between angled and wavy compositions. The results are very abstract whatever you do, but Nebula’s a fun app for creating something visually different on your tablet.

There’s no saving your work in the free version, though (beyond snapping a screen grab) – you’ll need the $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 Tools IAP for that, which also adds symmetry functionality and high-resolution PDF export.

The thinking behind Auxy Music Studio is that music-making – both in the real world and software – has become too complicated. This app therefore strives to combine the immediacy of something like Novation Launchpad’s loop triggers with a basic piano roll editor.

For each instrument, you choose between drums and decidedly electronic synths. You then compose loops of between one and four bars, tapping out notes on the piano roll’s grid. Subsequent playback occurs on the overview screen by tapping loops to cue them up.

For those who want to go a bit further, the app includes arrangement functionality (for composing entire songs), along with Ableton Link and MIDI export support. Auxy’s therefore worth a look for relative newcomers to making music and also pros after a no-nonsense scratchpad.

It’s become apparent that Adobe – creators of photography and graphic design powerhouses Photoshop and Illustrator – don’t see mobile devices as suitable for full projects. However, the company’s been hard at work on a range of satellite apps, of which Photoshop Fix is perhaps the most impressive.

Built on Photoshop technology, this retouching tool boasts a number of high-end features for making considered edits to photographs. The Liquify tool in particular is terrific, enabling you to mangle images like clay, or more subtly adjust facial features using bespoke tools for manipulating mouths and eyes.

Elsewhere, you can smooth, heal, color and defocus a photo to your heart’s content, before sending it to Photoshop on the desktop for further work, or flattening it for export to your Camera Roll. It’s particularly good when used with the Apple Pencil (still a funny name) and the iPad Pro, such is the power and speed of that device and input method.

The idea behind Canva is to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to creating great-looking layouts based on your photos. Select a layout type (presentation, blog graphic, invitation, and so on) and the app serves up templates to work with.

These are mostly very smart indeed, but the smartest thing about Canva is that these starting points can all be edited: swap out images for your own photos, adjust text boxes, and add new elements or even entire pages.

Because of its scope, Canva isn’t as immediate as one-click automated apps in this space, but the interface is intuitive enough to quickly grasp. Our only niggle is the lack of multi-item selection, but with Canva being an online service, you can always fine-tune your iPad creations in a browser on the desktop.

Many of us are caught in high-stress environments for much of our lives, and electronic gadgets often do little to help. Apple has recognised this, promising a breathing visualization tool in iOS 10. In the meantime, Breathe+ brings similar functionality to your iPad.

You define how long breaths in and out should take, and whether you want to hold your breath at any point during the cycle. You then let Breathe+ guide your breathing for a user-defined session length.

The visualization is reminiscent of a minimalist illustrator's take on a wave rising and falling on the screen, but you can also close your eyes and have the iPad vibrate for cues. For free, there are some ads, which aren't pretty, but don't distract too much. For $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99, you can be rid of them, along with adding themes and usage history stats.

Between quickly trimming a video in Photos and immersing yourself in the likes of iMovie sits Splice. This is a free video editor that on the surface looks accessible – even simplistic – but that offers surprising depth for those who need it.

To get started, you import a bunch of clips. These can be reordered, and you can for each choose a transition if you don’t want standard crossfades. Access an individual clip and a whole host of additional tools becomes available, including text overlays, speed adjustment, and animation effects. It’s also possible to layer multiple audio files, including on-board music and narration.

For more demanding wannabe directors, Splice might still not be enough – in which case, head towards a more powerful product like Pinnacle Studio Pro or iMovie. But for everyone else, it really hits that sweet spot in being straightforward, approachable, and powerful.

With a native weather app bafflingly absent from iPad, you need to venture to the App Store to get anything beyond the basic daily overview Notification Center provides. Weather Underground is the best freebie on the platform, offering a customizable view to satisfy even the most ardent weather geeks.

Current conditions are shown at the top, outlining the temperature, precipitation likelihood, and a local map. But scroll and you can delve into detailed forecasts, dew point readings, sunrise and sunset times, videos, webcams, health data and web links. The bulk of the tiles can be disabled if there are some you don't use, and most can be reordered to suit.

Although not making the best use of iPad in landscape, the extra screen space afforded by Apple's tablet makes the Weather Underground experience a little more usable than on iPhone, enabling faster access to tiles. And for free, it's a top-notch app, although you can also fling $1.99/£1.99/AU$2.99 at it annually if you want rid of the unobtrusive ads.

Formerly known as Replay, Quik is a video editor primarily designed for people who can’t be bothered doing the editing bit. You select photos and videos, pick a theme, and sit back as Quik pieces together a masterpiece that can subsequently be saved and shared.

For tinkerers, there are styles and settings to tweak. Post-Replay, the app offers its 28 varied styles for free, and you can delve into the edit itself, trimming clips, reordering media, adjusting focal points, and adding titles.

Alternatively, the really lazy can do nothing at all and still get results – every week, Quik will serve up highlights videos, enabling you to relive favorite moments. These videos are quite random in nature, but are nonetheless often a nice surprise. Still, anyone willing to put in the slightest additional effort will find Quik rewards any minutes invested many times over.

Although envisaged as a freely open system of communication, the harsh reality is the web has plenty of roadblocks. Often, these are geographical in nature, thrown up by governments or corporations, in order to stop people living in certain places being able to see certain things. VPNs enable you to get around such restrictions and Opera VPN gives you the means to do so for no outlay whatsoever.

The app installs quickly and is simple to use. You can select a region and optionally block adverts and web trackers. When connected, it’ll also tot up how many ads and trackers have been blocked.

In use, we found Opera VPN broadly reliable, stable and fast enough to view all kinds of content, including video within certain popular geo-locked apps. There are some moral questions lurking – Opera reportedly sells anonymized user data, and, bizarrely, is considering adding adverts in the future (despite Opera VPN’s ad-blocking stance). In the meantime, it’s a solid download if you need a VPN for nothing.

We’ve always found the Remote app a bit of an oddball. On the one hand, it’s sort of iTunes for iPad, streaming your Mac or PC’s library to your device. On the other, it’s also a means of controlling an Apple TV.

In the former case, it’s fine, if a bit slow to load large libraries. Still, the interface is in many ways superior to Music’s, which now seems determined to sideline anything that isn’t Apple Music.

As for controlling an Apple TV with a massive glass-screened tablet, that might seem ridiculous until you’ve grappled with the Siri Remote. After that point, you’ll be glad to have Remote installed, enabling you to navigate your Apple TV and quickly input passwords, rather than getting frustrated to the point of wanting to hurl everything you’ve ever bought from Apple into the heart of the sun.

There’s a tendency for relaxation aids to be noodly and dull, but TaoMix 2 bucks the trend. You get the usual sounds to aid relaxation (wind, rain, birds, water), but also an interface that nudges the app towards being a tool for creating a kind of ambient personal soundtrack.

The basics are dead simple: tap the + button, select a sound pack, and drag a sound to the canvas. You then manually position the circular cursor within the soundscape, or slowly flick so it lazily bounces around the screen, your various sounds then ebbing and flowing into the mix.

This makes TaoMix 2 more fun to play with than its many rivals. Of course, if you just want to shut the world out, that option exists too: load a soundscape you’ve previously created, set a timer, and use TaoMix 2 to help you nod off.

Should you want something other than what’s found within the generous selection of built-in noises, packs are available for purchase (including whale sounds, ‘Japanese garden’ and orchestral strings); and if you fancy something entirely more custom, you can even import sounds of your own.

It says something that what once required a powerful desktop computer and a copy of something like After Effects can now be achieved using a freebie app on your iPad. With Vimo, you load a video and can add to it a bunch of animated effects and ‘motion stickers’.

What makes this app all the more impressive is the level of control it affords. You’re not limited to some kind of canned wiggly motion that doesn’t fit your video. Instead, you drag across the timeline to play through your video and can at any point pause to rotate and move placed stickers. Vimo then figures out all the complicated bits — paths, keyframes, and so on — before you share your creation with friends.

There’s IAP to remove an (unobtrusive) Vimo watermark and buy new stickers, but the free app includes plenty of content to make even the dullest home video a bit more animated and a lot more fun.

Although it’s apparently designed for kids aged 9-11, Seedling Comic Studio comes across a lot like a free (if somewhat stripped back) take on iPad classic Comic Life. You load images from your Camera Roll (or take new ones with the camera), arrange them into comic-book frames, and can then add all manner of speech balloons, filters and stickers.

Decided that your heroic Miniature Schnauzer should have to save the world from a giant comic-book sandwich? This is your app! Naturally, there are limitations lurking. The filter system is a bit rubbish, requiring you to cycle through the dozen or so on offer, rather than pick favourites more directly, and a few of the sticker packs require IAP.

But for no outlay at all, there’s plenty of scope here for comic-book creation, from multi-page documents you can output to PDF, to amusing poster-like pages you can share on social networks. And that’s true whether you’re 9 or 49.

Although Photofy includes a decent range of tools for performing typical edits on photos – including adjustments, cropping, saturation, and the like – this app is more interested in helping you get properly creative.

Within the photo editing tools are options for adding in-vogue blurs and producing collages; and in ‘Text & Overlays’, you’ll find a wealth of options for slapping all kinds of artwork and text on top of your photographic masterpieces.

The interface works well through bold, tappable buttons and chunky sliders (although it takes a while to realise the pane containing the latter can be scrolled). And although some filters and stickers require IAP to unlock, there’s loads available here entirely for free. (Also, Photofy rather pleasingly gives you alternatives for its watermark, if you don’t want to pay to remove it, but aren’t too keen on the default. Nice.)

With a noodly soundtrack playing in the background, WWF Together invites you to spin a papercraft world and tap points of interest to learn more about endangered species. 16 creatures get fuller treatment – a navigable presentation of sorts that hangs on a key characteristic, such as a panda’s charisma, or an elephant’s intelligence.

These sections are arranged as a three-by-three grid, each screen of which gives you something different, be it statistics, gorgeous photography, or a ‘facetime’ movie that gives you a chance to get up close and personal.

Apps that mix charity and education can often come across as dry and worthy, but WWF Together is neither. It’s informative but charming, and emotive but fun.

Rather neatly, stories can be shared by email, and this screen further rewards you with origami instructions to make your own paper animal; once constructed, it can sit on the desk next to all your technology, reminding you of the more fragile things that exist in our world.

GarageBand offers a loop player, but Novation Launchpad was doing this kind of thing years before, and in a manner that's so intuitive and simple that even a toddler could record a track. (We know — ours did.)

The app comprises a set of pads, where you choose a genre, tap pads, and they keep playing until you tap something else in the same group. Performances can be recorded, and you can also mess about with effects to radically change the output of what you're playing.

Whether you're a musician or not, Launchpad is a great app for making a noise. And if you fancy something a bit more unique than the built-in sounds, there's a $6.99/£6.99/AU$10.99 in-app purchase that lets you import your own samples.

The iPad’s well catered for in spreadsheet terms with Google freebie Sheets and Apple’s Numbers, but the reality is the business world mostly relies on Microsoft Excel. Like Microsoft’s other iOS fare, Excel is surprisingly powerful, marrying desktop-style features with touchscreen smarts.

You can get started with a blank workbook or choose from one of the bundled templates, which include budget planners, schedules, logs, and lists. Wisely, the app has an optional custom keyboard when you’re editing cells, filled with symbols, numbers, and virtual cursor keys. This won’t make much odds if you’re armed with a Bluetooth keyboard, but it speeds things up considerably if you only have your iPad handy.

You might be wondering what the catch is, and there aren’t many if you own a standard iPad or a mini. Sign in with a free Microsoft account and you’re blocked from some aesthetic niceties, but can do pretty much everything else. If you’re on an iPad Pro, however, Microsoft demands you have a qualifying Office 365 subscription to create and edit documents, but the app at least still functions as a viewer.

You might argue that Google Maps is far better suited to a smartphone, but we reckon the king of mapping apps deserves a place on your iPad, too.

Apple’s own Maps app has improved, but Google still outsmarts its rival when it comes to public transport, finding local businesses, saving chunks of maps offline, and virtual tourism by way of Street View.

Google’s ‘OS within an OS’ also affords a certain amount of cross-device sync when it comes to searches. We don’t, however, recommend you strap your cellular iPad to your steering wheel and use Google Maps as a sat-nav replacement, unless you want to come across as some kind of nutcase.

The original Brushes app was one of the most important in the iPhone’s early days. With Jorge Colombo using it to paint a New Yorker cover, it showcased the potential of the technology, and that an iPhone could be used for production, rather than merely consumption.

Brushes eventually stopped being updated, but fortunately went open source beforehand. Brushes Redux is the result.

On the iPad, you can take advantage of the much larger screen. But the main benefit of the app is its approachable nature. It’s extremely easy to use, but also has plenty of power for those who need it, not least in the layering system and the superb brush designer.

Adult colouring books are all the rage, proponents claiming bringing colour to intricate abstract shapes helps reduce stress – at least until you realise you’ve got pen on your shirt and ground oil pastels into the sofa.

You’d think the process of colouring would be ideal for iPad, but most relevant apps are awful, some even forcing tap-to-fill. That is to colouring what using a motorbike is to running a marathon – a big cheat. Pigment is an exception, marrying a love for colouring with serious digital smarts.

On selecting an illustration, there’s a range of palettes and tools to explore. You can use pencils and markers, adjusting opacity and brush sizes, and work with subtle gradients. Colouring can be ‘freestyle’, or you can tap to select an area and ensure you don’t go over the lines while furiously scribbling. With a finger, Pigment works well, but it’s better with a stylus; with an iPad Pro and a Pencil, you’ll lob your real books in the bin.

The one niggle: printing and accessing the larger library requires a subscription in-app purchase. It’s a pity there’s no one-off payment for individual books, but you do get plenty of free illustrations, and so it’s hard to grumble.

For a long while, Paper was a freemium iPad take on Moleskine sketchbooks. You made little doodles and then flipped virtual pages to browse them. At some point, it went free, but now it’s been transformed into something different and better.

The original tools remain present and correct, but are joined by the means to add text, checklists, and photos. One other newcomer allows geometric shapes you scribble to be tidied up, but without losing their character.

So rather than only being for digital sketches, Paper’s now for all kinds of notes and graphs, too. The sketchbooks, however, are gone; in their place are paper stacks that explode into walls of virtual sticky notes. Some old-hands have grumbled, but we love the new Paper. It’s smarter, simpler, easier to browse, and makes Apple’s own Notes look like a cheap knock-off.

There are loads of iPad apps for reading and annotating PDFs, but LiquidText is different. Rather than purely aping paper, the developers have thought about the advantages of working with virtual documents.

So while you still get a typical page view, you can pinch to collapse passages you’re not interested in and also compare those that aren’t adjacent.

There’s a ‘focus’ view that shows only annotated sections, and you can even select chunks of text and drag them to the sidebar. Tap one of those cut-outs at a later point and its location will instantly be displayed in the main text. Smartly, you can save any document in the app’s native format, export it as a PDF with comments, or share just the notes as an RTF.

Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system.

Along with integrating with Safari, it can be used to hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. It's also cross-platform, meaning it will work with Windows and Android.

And since 1Password is a standalone app, accessing and editing your information is fast and efficient. The core app is free – the company primarily makes its money on the desktop. However, you’ll need a monthly subscription or to pay a one-off $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 IAP to access advanced features (multiple vaults, Apple Watch support, tagging, and custom fields).

We’re not sure whether Slack is an amazing aid to productivity or some kind of time vampire. Probably a bit of both. What we do know is that the real-time messaging system is excellent in a work environment for chatting with colleagues (publicly and privately), sharing and previewing files, and organising discussions by topic.

There’s smart integration with online services, and support for both the iPad Pro and the iPad’s Split View function.

Note that although Slack is clearly designed with businesses in mind, it also works perfectly well as a means of communicating with friends if you don’t fancy lobbing all your worldly wisdom into Facebook’s maw.

Podcasts are mostly associated with small portable devices – after all, the very name is a mash-up of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your favourite shows when armed with an iPad rather than an iPhone.

We’re big fans of Overcast on Apple’s smaller devices, but the app makes good use of the iPad’s extra screen space, with a smart two-column display. On the left, episodes are listed, and the current podcast loads into the larger space on the right.

The big plusses with Overcast, though, remain playback and podcast management. It’s the one podcast app we’ve used that retains plenty of clarity when playback is sped up; and there are clever effects for removing dead air and boosting vocals in podcasts with lower production values.

Playlists can be straightforward in nature, or quite intricate, automatically boosting favourites to the top of the list, and excluding specific episodes. And if you do mostly use an iPhone for listening, Overcast automatically syncs your podcasts and progress, so you can always pick up where you left off.

The prospect of drawing can fill people with terror, and so the idea of animation probably sends such folks fleeing for the hills. Animatic might calm their nerves, being the friendly face of iPad animation. Start a new project and you get a small canvas and a bunch of effective and broadly realistic tools – markers, crayons, pencils, biros – for scribbling with.

Once you’ve composed a frame, Animatic makes use of traditional ‘onion skinning’ techniques to help you produce smooth motion thereafter: up to three previous frames are shown in translucent fashion behind the one you’re currently drawing. Tap ‘Next’ and you’ll see your animation looping. Its speed can be adjusted, and you can export to video or GIF.

Beyond Animatic’s approachable nature, we’re big fans of its flexibility. You simply return to the main ‘My Animations’ screen to save (which we recommend doing often with lengthy projects, because a crash can take work with it), and can later edit any frame from any animation – nothing’s fixed forever.

And while, as the bundled examples suggest, you’re more likely to end up with Roobarb and Custard than Pixar’s finest, Animatic is a superb way to explore making drawings move – entirely for free.

The majority of comic-book readers on the App Store are tied to online stores, and any emphasis on quality in the actual apps isn't always placed on the reading part.

But with many more publishers embracing DRM-free downloads, having a really great reading app is essential if you're into digital comics. Chunky Comic Reader is the best available on iOS.

The interface is smart, simple and boasts plenty of settings, including the means to eradicate animation entirely when flipping pages.

Rendering is top-notch, even for relatively low-res fare. And you get the option of one- or two-up page views. For free, you can access web storage to upload comics. A single $3.99/£3.99/AU$5.99 pro upgrade adds support for shared Mac/PC/NAS drives.

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are becoming very popular, due to issues people increasingly face when browsing the web. A VPN can be used to circumvent region-blocking/censorship and security issues on public Wi-Fi. Such services can baffle people who aren’t technically adept, but TunnelBear is all about the friendlier side of VPNs. With bears.

After installing the app and profile, you’ll have 500 MB of data per month to play with. Tunnelling to a specific location is simply a case of tapping it on the map and waiting a few seconds for the bear to pop out of the ground.

Tweet about the product and you’ll get an extra free GB. Alternatively, monthly and annual paid plans exist for heavier data users.

The problem with modern telly isn’t finding something you want to watch, but figuring out where to watch it. There are so many streaming and download services that keeping track of shows is tough.

JustWatch speeds up the process: you tell it where you live and the services you use, and it lists shows and films you might like.

Various searches and filters are available, including one for price-cuts, to snag cheapo downloads and rentals. There are bugs and listing errors here and there, but for free this is a great starting point for figuring out where to find a potential new telly favourite.

We’re big fans of Duolingo on iPhone. Its bite-size exercises are perfect for quickly dipping into, when you’ve a spare moment to tackle a bit of language-learning. On iPad, the app is basically the same, and the screen’s relative acres make everything feel a touch sparse.

However, Duolingo remains the same impressive and approachable app, and the iPad’s form-factor lends itself to more extended sessions, which is great for when you want to properly crack the next challenge the app throws your way.

As ever, we remain baffled that this app remains entirely free. We’ve yet to find the catch.

Learning a musical instrument isn’t easy, which is probably why a bunch of people don’t bother, instead pretending to be rock stars by way of tiny plastic instruments and their parent videogames.

Yousician bridges the divide, flipping a kind of Guitar Hero interface 90 degrees and using its visual and timing devices to get you playing chords and notes.

This proves remarkably effective, and your iPad merrily keeps track of your skills (or lack thereof) through its internal mic. The difficulty curve is slight, but the app enables you to skip ahead if you’re bored, through periodic ‘test’ rounds. Most surprisingly, for free you get access to everything, only your daily lesson time is limited.

Maybe it’s just our tech-addled brains, but often we find it a lot easier to focus on an app than a book, which can make learning things the old fashioned way tricky. That’s where Khan Academy comes in. This free app contains lessons and guidance on dozens of subjects, from algebra, to cosmology, to computer science and beyond.

As it’s an app rather than a book it benefits from videos and even a few interactive elements, alongside words and pictures and it contains over 10,000 videos and explanations in all.

Everything is broken in to bite-sized chunks, so whether you’ve got a few minutes to spare or a whole afternoon there’s always time to learn something new and if you make an account it will keep track of your progress and award achievements.

We elsewhere say nice things about the official Twitter client, but Twitterrific is a better bet for the more discerning Twitter user. It has a beautifully designed interface that's a delight to use, helpfully merging mentions and messages into a unified timeline, saving you mucking about switching tabs.

Customisation options give you the means to adjust the app's visual appearance (and the app can optionally automatically switch to a dark theme at night), and powerful mute and muffle features block users and hashtags you want no part of.

Pay $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 and the app adds notifications, Apple Watch support, and translation support, along with removing ads.

It’s not like Microsoft Word really needs introduction. Unless you’ve been living under a rock that itself is under a pretty sizeable rock, you’ll have heard of Microsoft’s hugely popular word processor. What you might not realize, though, is how good it is on iPad.

Fire up the app and you’re greeted with a selection of handy templates, although you can of course instead use a blank canvas. You then work with something approximating the desktop version of Word, but that’s been carefully optimized for tablets. Your brain keeps arguing it shouldn’t exist, but it does — although things are a bit fiddly on an iPad mini.

Wisely, saved documents can be stored locally rather than you being forced to use Microsoft’s cloud, and they can be shared via email. (A PDF option exists for recipients without Office, although it’s oddly hidden behind the share button in the document toolbar, under ‘Send Attachment’, which may as well have been called ‘beware of the leopard’.)

Something else that’s also missing: full iPad Pro 12.9 support in the free version. On a smaller iPad, you merely need a Microsoft account to gain access to most features. Some advanced stuff — section breaks; columns; tracking changes; insertion of WordArt — requires an Office 365 account, but that won’t limit most users.

Presumably, Microsoft thinks iPad Pro owners have money to burn, though, because for free they just get a viewer. Bah.

According to the developer's blurb, Zen Studio is all about helping children to relax and focus, by providing a kind of finger-painting that can only exist in the digital realm. Frankly, we take issue with the 'children' bit, because Zen Studio has a welcoming and pleasing nature that should ensure it's a hit with every iPad user.

You start off with a grid of triangles and a column of colored paints. Tap a paint to choose your color and then tap individual triangles or drag across the grid to start drawing. Every gesture you make is accompanied by musical notes that play over an ambient background soundtrack. Bar the atmosphere being knocked a touch by a loud squelch noise whenever a new paint tube is selected, the mix of drawing tool and musical instrument is intoxicating. When you're done, your picture can be squirted to the Photos app, ready for sharing with the world.

This is, however, a limited freebie in some ways. You get eight canvases, which can be blank or based on templates. If you want more, you can buy an IAP to unlock the premium version of the app. Still, for no outlay at all, you get a good few hours of chill-out noodly fun — more, if you're happy drawing over the same canvases again and again.

As you launch Kitchen Stories, you catch a glimpse of the app’s mantra: “Anyone can cook”. The problem is, most cooking apps (and indeed, traditional cookery books) make assumptions regarding people’s abilities.

Faced with a list of steps on a stark white page, it’s easy to get halfway through a recipe, look at the stodge in front of you, reason something must have gone terribly wrong, and order a takeaway.

Kitchen Stories offers firmer footing. You’re first met with a wall of gorgeous photography. More importantly, the photographs don’t stop.

Every step in a recipe is accompanied by a picture that shows how things should be at that point. Additionally, some recipes provide tutorial videos for potentially tricky skills and techniques. Fancy some Vietnamese pho, but not sure how to peel ginger, prepare a chilli or thinly slice meat? Kitchen Stories has you covered.

Beyond this, there’s a shopping list, handy essentials guide, and some magazine-style articles to peruse. And while you don’t get the sheer range of recipes found in some rival apps, the presentation more than makes up for that — especially on the iPad, which will likely find a new home in your own kitchen soon after Kitchen Stories is installed.

The social networking giant has gone back-and-forth with its mobile apps, finally settling on this smart, native implementation.

Much like the slightly simpler iPhone equivalent, Facebook on iPad is such that you won’t want to use the comparatively clunky website again for seeing which of your friends really shouldn’t have internet access after midnight.

Safari’s embedded in iOS to the extent that there’s not a great deal of point in using any rival browser by default. But that doesn’t mean alternatives shouldn’t be considered at all.

Opera Coast is a case in point. The browser’s bookmarks pages house massive icons, and its search is fast and to the point.

With an interface that’s helpful and yet stays out of your way, Opera Coast therefore becomes an excellent lean-back browser for key sites you like to spend a lot of time with, leaving Safari for hum-drum day-to-day web browsing.

Beatwave is a simplified Tenori-On-style synth which enables you to rapidly build pleasing melodies by prodding a grid.

Multiple layers and various instruments provide scope for complex compositions, and you can save sessions or, handily, store and share compositions via email. You can also buy more instruments via in-app purchases.

Dropbox is a great service for syncing documents across multiple devices, and chances are you’re familiar with it already. On the iPad, we used to consider Dropbox essential as a kind of surrogate file system.

Even now that Apple’s provided easier access to iCloud Drive, Dropbox remains a useful install, largely on the basis of its widespread support (both in terms of platforms and also iOS apps).

The Dropbox app itself works nicely, too, able to preview a large number of file types, and integrating well with iOS for sending documents to and from the various apps you have installed.

In a sense Evernote is an online back-up for fleeting thoughts and ideas. You use it to save whatever comes to mind — text documents and snippets, notes, images, web clips, and even audio. These can then be accessed from a huge number of devices. (We suspect any day now, Evernote will unveil its ZX Spectrum app.)

The app itself could be friendlier, and there’s a tendency towards clutter. But navigation of your stored bits and pieces is simple enough, and the sheer ubiquity and reliability of Evernote makes it worthy of investigation and a place on your Home screen.

When the YouTube app presumably became a victim of the ongoing and increasingly tedious Apple/Google spat, there were concerns Google wouldn’t respond.

Those turned out to be unfounded, because here’s yet another bespoke, nicely designed Google-created app for iOS. The interface is specifically tuned for the iPad, and AirPlay enables you to fire videos at an Apple TV.

Amazon’s Kindle iPad app for reading myriad books available at the Kindle Store is a little workmanlike, and doesn’t match the coherence of iBooks (you buy titles in Safari and ‘sync’ purchases via Kindle).

However, Kindle’s fine for reading, and you get options to optimise your experience (including the ability to kill the naff page-turn animation and amend the page background to a pleasant sepia tone).

One for film buffs, Movies figures out where you are and tells you what’s showing in your local cinemas – or you can pick a film and it’ll tell you where and when it’s on.

This is a great case of an app that does something simple and useful, and that does it very well. Instead of combing through listings across various websites, everything’s there in a single app. You can also watch trailers, rate whatever you’ve seen, and add to a list anything you fancy checking out.

PCalc Lite‘s existence means the lack of a built-in iPad calculator doesn’t bother us. For anyone who wants a traditional calculator, it’s pretty much ideal. The big buttons beg to be tapped, and the interface can be tweaked to your liking, by way of bolder and larger key text, alternate display digits, and stilling animation.

Beyond basic sums, PCalc Lite adds some conversions, which are categorised but also searchable. If you’re hankering for more, IAP lets you bolt on a number of extras from the paid version of PCalc, such as additional themes, dozens more conversions, alternate calculator layouts, a virtual paper tape, and options for programmers and power users.

Airbnb makes travel affordable and social, as rather than staying in a hotel you can stay in someone’s house. Options range from crashing on someone’s sofa to renting a private island, or if you have a spare room you could even rent your own space out.

The iPad app is one of the best ways to browse it too, letting you search and book using an attractive image-heavy interface.

Although you get the sense eBay’s designers can’t get through a month without redesigning their app, it’s always far superior to using the online auction site in a browser.

eBay for iOS works especially well on an iPad, with images looking great on the larger screen, and browsing proving fast and efficient. Speedy sorting and filtering options also make it a cinch to get to listings for whatever it is you fancy buying.

Instagram might be the current online photo-sharing darling, but it’s clear veteran Flickr remains up for a fight. On iPad, it’s a lovely app, with a refined and minimal UI that makes browsing simple and allows photography to shine.

Another smart aspect of Flickr is its extremely generous 1 TB of free storage. You can set videos and photos to automatically upload, and they stay private unless you choose to share them.

There are compatibility issues with the most modern Apple toys as Live Photos end up as stills on Flickr. Even so, Flickr makes Apple’s free 5 GB of iCloud storage look pathetic by comparison; and even if you use it only as a belt-and-braces back-up for important images, it’s worth checking out.

SkyView Free is a stargazing app that very much wants you to get off your behind and outside, or at least hold your iPad aloft to explore the heavens.

Unlike TechRadar favourite Sky Guide, there’s no means to drag a finger to manually move the sky around – you must always point your iPad’s display where you want to look – but there’s no price-tag either. And for free, this app does the business.

There are minimal ads, a noodly atmospheric soundtrack, an optional augmented reality view (to overlay app graphics on to the actual sky), and a handy search that’ll point you in the direction of Mars, Ursa Major, or the International Space Station.

Tens of thousands of recipes at your fingertips (as long as you have a web connection) ensure Epicurious is worth a download for the culinary-inclined.

The app even composes a shopping list for recipes; it’s just a pity it doesn’t include measurements for those of us who use that new-fangled metric system.

This official WordPress app has a reputation for being a bit clunky, but it’s fine for authoring the odd blog post on the go, along with making quick edits to existing content and managing comments. It also offers both text-based and visual approaches to crafting posts, so you’re not stuck with HTML.

Truth be told, we’re always a touch suspicious of apps that claim to test your connection speed, but Speed Test SpeedSmart seems to do a decent job.

It’s also handy to have installed for when your broadband goes all flaky and you need to record the figures for a subsequent moan at your ISP.

Find my iPhone would perhaps be better named ‘Find my Apple stuff’, because it’s not just for figuring out where a missing iPhone is – it can also track iPads, iPods and Macs. The app is simple, elegant and, generally speaking, provides an accurate location for devices. It also enables you to remote-lock or wipe a device.

While perhaps less practical than on the iPhone, Find My Friends on the iPad nonetheless works well, enabling you to track any pals that are happy with you digitally stalking them. The iPad’s large display improves the app’s usability, simultaneously displaying your friend list and a map.

Choosing between Pocket and Instapaper for your read-it-later service is a bit like trying to figure out which of your equally lovely kids is the best. Like its rival, Pocket makes it simple to stash web pages for later, stripping them of cruft, leaving only images and text.

This content can then be digested in an easy-to-view layout that’s not desperately trying to punch adverts into your eyeballs. Instapaper probably has the lead on minimalism and typography, but Pocket’s colourful interface is a bit more welcoming, and we prefer it when it comes to saving videos.

TED describes itself as “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”. The app pretty much does as you’d expect – you get quick access to dozens of inspiring videos. However, it goes the extra mile in enabling you to save any talk for offline viewing, and also for providing hints on what to watch next if you’ve enjoyed a particular talk.

Every now and again, we get a little bit twitchy at global marketplaces. Certain online stores are getting too big, to the point they’ll probably soon attempt to embed a ‘buy now’ button inside your brain. Etsy feels like little guys fighting back.

It’s a storefront for handmade, vintage and creative goods. Instead of polished iPad stands fresh from Jony Ive’s pencil, you’re more likely to find something beautiful made out of driftwood. The app’s interface is clean and simple, making browsing a treat; and you can of course flag shops and items as favourites, and receive notifications when an order ships.

We tend to quickly shift children from finger-painting to using much finer tools, but the iPad shows there's plenty of power in your digits — if you're using the right app.

Autodesk SketchBook provides all the tools you need for digital sketching, from basic doodles through to intricate and painterly masterpieces; and if you're wanting to share your technique, you can even time-lapse record to save drawing sessions to your camera roll. The core app is free, but it will cost you $4.99/£4.99/AU$7.99 to unlock the pro features.

The description for Cove is rather noodly — all about self-expression and creating soundtracks to capture your mood. In reality, it’s a somewhat controllable instrument for creating ambient music loops. You start with a mood (which determines the scale), ‘base’, ‘melody’ and a filter (effect).

You can then play your creation, or save it alongside a kind of diary entry, noting how you feel. Unlike many simple iPad music apps, Cove does enable you to create discordant output, but beyond the hippy vibe, there is the potential here to fashion great beauty.

It’s as ugly as they come, but XE Currency is the best free currency app you’ll find. You define which currencies you want to see, along with the number of decimals to show. Double-tap a currency and you can set it as the base currency by tapping 1.0 in the calculator, or do bespoke conversions by typing any other value.

In theory, we should be cheerleading for FaceTime, what with it being built into iOS devices, but it’s still an Apple-only system. Skype, however, is enjoyed by myriad users who haven’t been bitten by the Apple bug, and it works very nicely on the iPad, including over 3G.

Unlike on the iPhone, where Skype clearly wants to be a Windows Phone app, the iPad version feels a lot more like a restrained desktop app. Usefully, Skype works well in Split View, too, so you can message people while referring to an open document or web page.

If you’re still convinced the iPad is only a device for staring brain-dead at TV shows and not a practical tool for education, check out iTunes U. The app enables you to access many thousands of free lectures and courses taught by universities and colleges, thereby learning far more than what bizarre schemes current soap characters are hatching.

For instructors, it’s similarly a boon, enabling them to build lessons, collect and grade assignments, and have one-to-one or group discussions. It’s also an app that gels well with Apple’s modern design sensibilities, the interface getting out of the way and letting content shine through.

Output your iPad’s audio to an amp or a set of portable speakers, fire up TuneIn Radio, select a station and you’ve a set-up to beat any DAB radio. Along with inevitable social sharing, the app also provides an alarm, AirPlay support, pause and rewind, and a ‘shake to switch station’ feature – handy if the current DJ’s annoying and you feel the need to vent.

Social network Pinterest is one of the very few to challenge the big guns in the industry. It provides a means to find and share inspiration, working as a place to collect and organise the things you love. The iPad app has an elegant interface that pushes inspirational imagery to the fore, just as it should.

One for the graphic designers out there, desktop publishing giant Quark’s DesignPad is an astonishingly useful app for figuring out layouts on the move, or knocking about ideas in meetings. Plenty of ready-made documents can give you a head-start, and your finished work can be exported as a PNG or emailed for use in a QuarkXPress document.

Because of its single-app nature and big screen, the iPad’s become a tool many people prefer to a PC or Mac for email. However, if you’re reliant on Gmail, Apple’s own Mail is insufficient, not providing access to your entire archive nor Gmail’s features. Google’s own app deals with such shortcomings and looks as good as Apple’s client.

If we’re honest, we rather liked the original version of Haiku Deck, which stripped back presentations, only enabling you to add to each slide a single image, a heading and a sub-heading. The minimalism’s gone (Haiku Deck now includes charts, graphs, bulleted lists and other ‘improvements’), but it’s still fun and easy to use, which is the main thing.

Apple's Photos app has editing capabilities, but they're not terribly exciting — especially when compared to Snapseed. Here, you select from a number of from a number of tools and filters, and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image. You get all the basics — cropping, rotation, healing brushes, and the like — but the filters are where you can get really creative.

There are blurs, photographic effects, and more extreme options like 'grunge' and 'grainy film', which can add plenty of atmosphere to your photographs. The vast majority of effects are tweakable, mostly by dragging up and down on the canvas to select a parameter and then horizontally to adjust its strength.

Brilliantly, the app also records applied effects as separate layers, each of which remains fully editable until you decide to save your image and work on something else.

The iPad is the perfect mobile device for composing music, with its fairly large display and powerful innards. This has resulted in a range of involved and impressive music-creation tools, such as Korg Gadget. Sometimes, though, you yearn for something simpler for making some noise.

This is where Figure comes in. Within seconds, you can craft thumping dance loops, comprising drum, bass and lead parts. The sounds are great, being based on developer Propellerhead Software’s much-loved Reason. They can be manipulated, too, so your exported loops sound truly unique.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/tablets/70-best-free-ipad-apps-2013-692418

Best iPad apps 2017: download these now

It’s the apps that really set iOS apart from other platforms – there are higher quality apps available on the App Store for the iPad than any other tablet. So which ones are worth your cash? And which are the best free apps?

Luckily for you we’ve tested thousands of the best iPad apps so that you don’t have to. So read on for our selection of the best iPad apps – the definitive list of what applications you need to download for your iPad now.

  • Haven’t bought an iPad yet and not sure which is best? We’ve got them listed on our best iPad ranking – or you can check out the best tablets list to see the full range available now.

If you are looking for games, then head over to Best iPad games – where we showcase the greatest games around for your iOS device. Or if you’re using an iPhone 7 (or one of its excellent brethren) head over to our best iPhone apps list.

There are so many amazing music-making apps on iPad that it’s hard to choose between them. With Audiobus 3, you sort of don’t have to, because it acts as a kind of behind-the-scenes plumbing.

Virtual cabling might not sound sexy, but it hugely boosts creative potential. You can send live audio or MIDI data between apps and through effects, mix the various channels, and then send the entire output to the likes of GarageBand.

Much of these features are new to Audiobus 3, and this latest update also adds Audio Unit support, enabling you to open some synths and effects directly in the app.

With support for over 900 iOS products in all, Audiobus 3 is an essential buy for anyone serious about creating music on an iPad.

Young children love wooden puzzles, where you plug a load of letters into letter-shaped holes (with a little luck, ones that actually fit). The thing is, those puzzles never change, whereas Endless Alphabet has over a hundred words to play with.

On selecting a word, a horde of colorful monsters sprints across the screen, scattering the letters, which must then be dragged back into place. As you do so, the letters entertainingly grumble and animate. Once the entire word’s complete, a short cut-scene plays to explain what it means.

From start to finish, Endless Alphabet is an excellent and joyful production. The interface is intuitive enough for young toddlers to grasp, and the app’s tactile nature works wonderfully on the iPad’s large display.

The ‘pro’ bit in Redshift Pro’s name is rather important, because this astronomy app is very much geared at the enthusiast. It dispenses with the gimmickry seen in some competing apps, and is instead packed with a ton of features, including an explorable planetarium, an observation planner and sky diary, 3D models of the planetary bodies, simulations, and even the means to control a telescope.

Although more workmanlike than pretty, the app does the business when you’re zooming through the heavens, on a 3D journey to a body of choice, or just lazily browsing whatever you’d be staring at in the night sky if your ceiling wasn’t in the way.

And if it all feels a bit rich, the developer has you covered with the slightly cut down – but still impressive – Redshift, for half the outlay.

Generally speaking, music apps echo real-world instruments, as evidenced by the piano keyboards found in the likes of GarageBand. KRFT is different – along with creating loops and riffs (either by bashing out a tune on a grid of pads, or tapping out notes on a piano roll), you also create the play surface itself.

Designing your instrument in KRFT is all based around shapes and icons – diamonds trigger loops, dials adjust sound properties, and squares can be set to trigger several loops at once.

Admittedly, staring at a blank canvas can intimidate, because you must consider composition and instrument construction as one. But KRFT bundles several inspirational demos to show what it can do – and they’re so much fun they might be worth the entry fee on their own.

Billing itself as a kind of 3D sketchbook, isolad is designed for people who want to quickly draw isometric artwork. Its toolset is simple – you get a line tool for connecting magnetic dots, a shape fill tool, undo, panning and zooming.

That might sound reductive, but isolad’s straightforward nature means anyone can have a crack at doodling the next Monument Valley, and you end up focusing more on what you’re creating rather than being deluged by a load of tools you’ll never use.

Future updates promise the addition of selections and layers, but for now isolad’s elegant simplicity is enough to make it a winning app.

The idea behind Printed is to transform your photos into vintage printed art. You load a photo (or choose from one of the demo images), press a filter, and are suddenly faced with something that could have fallen out of a 50-year-old book, or been posted on a wall many decades ago.

But Printed is more than a tap-and-forget filter app: beyond the filter selection are tools for adjusting dot pitch, brightness, borders, and color saturation.

There are some shortcomings: changes to settings are initially displayed as a thumbnail you tap to approve, which only then gets rendered at full-size (whereupon it may look different from how you thought it would); and landscape orientation appears to have been an afterthought.

But on a large iPad display, the actual filters – which are excellent – are shown off to their fullest, in all their retro dotty glory.

If you’re the kind of person who likes spinning virtual decks, you’ll tell right away with djay Pro that you have in your hands something special. On the iPad – and especially on an iPad Pro – the app has room to breathe, lining up all kinds of features for being creative when playing other people’s music.

You get four-deck mixing, a sampler, varied waveform layouts, and useful DJ tools like cue points and beat-matching. There are also 70 keyboard shortcuts for quickly getting at important features, such as matching keys and adjusting levels.

For a newcomer, it’s perhaps overkill, and the similarly impressive djay 2 is cheaper. But if you’ve got the cash, djay Pro is a best-in-class app suitable for everyone – right up to jobbing DJs.

Even iPads with the largest amount of storage can’t cope with a great deal of on-board video. Infuse Pro is designed to access your collection, without any of it needing to be on your device.

The app connects to local drives and cloud services, and plays a wide range of file types, including MOV, MKV and VIDEO_TS. If the files are named sensibly, Infuse downloads cover art and can optionally grab soft subtitles. The interface throughout is superb.

On iPad, you also get full support for Split View and picture-in-picture, so you can pretend to work while watching your favorite shows. And if you continue on another device – this universal app is compatible with iPhone and Apple TV – cloud sync lets you pick up where you left off.

Reasoning that sketchbooks aren’t complicated, and so nor should your iPad be, Linea offers a friendly approach to digital sketching. The main interface puts all of the app’s tools within easy reach – colors on the left, and layers and brushes on the right. Scribble nearby and they get out of the way, or you can invoke full-screen with a tap.

There’s Pencil support, but no pressure sensing by other means. Also, although some of the pens offer blend modes, the end result still looks quite digital rather than realistic. Even so, Linea’s straightforwardness and smart design tends to make it a joy to use, even if the app lacks the range of some of its contemporaries.

If you find iMovie isn’t quite doing it for you from a video editing standpoint, take a look at LumaFusion. This multitrack editor is designed with the more demanding user in mind, and is packed full of features to keep you editing at your iPad rather than nipping to a Mac or PC.

The main timeline provides you with three tracks for photos, videos, titles and graphics, and you get another three audio tracks for complex audio mixes involving narration and sound effects. Should you wish to take things further, LumaFusion includes a slew of effects and clip manipulation tools seemingly brought over from the developer’s own – and similarly impressive – LumaFX.

Occasionally, the app perhaps lacks some of the elegance iMovie enjoys, and LumaFusion is certainly a more involved product than Apple’s. But if you want fully-fledged video editing on your iPad, it’s hard to think of a better option.

On iPhone, Hipstamatic lets you switch between a virtual retro camera and a sleek modern camera app. On iPad, it all goes a bit weird, with the former option giving you a camera floating in space, and the latter making you wonder why you’d use a tablet for taking snaps.

But Hipstamatic nonetheless gets a recommendation on the basis of other things it does. Load an image from your Camera Roll, and you can delve into Hipstamatic’s editor. If you’re in a hurry, select a predefined style – Vintage; Cinematic; Blogger – and export.

Should you fancy a bit more fine-tuning, you can experiment with lenses, film, and flashes. And plenty of other adjustments are available, too, such as cropping, vignettes, curves, and a really nice depth of field effect.

 Wikipedia is, in reality, a massive web of articles, but when browsing, it looks more like a sea of links. WikiLinks rethinks exploring Wikipedia through the use of spider diagrams, providing a clever visual overview of the relationship between subjects.

On iPhone, you switch between views, but the app makes use of the iPad’s larger display by splitting it in two. On the left is your mind map, which grows as you tap on new articles. On the right is your current selection to peruse.

As a reader, WikiLinks is less remarkable – article sections irritatingly begin life collapsed, and it all feels a bit cluttered. But when using Wikipedia for research, no other app is so helpful in enabling you to see the links between the site’s many pages.

Even iPads with the largest amount of storage can’t cope with a great deal of on-board video. Infuse Pro is designed to access your collection, without any of it needing to be on your device.

The app connects to local drives and cloud services, and plays a wide range of file types, including MOV, MKV and VIDEO_TS. If the files are named sensibly, Infuse downloads cover art and can optionally grab soft subtitles. The interface throughout is superb.

On iPad, you also get full support for Split View and picture-in-picture, so you can pretend to work while watching your favorite shows. And if you continue on another device – this universal app is compatible with iPhone and Apple TV – cloud sync lets you pick up where you left off.

One of the geekier apps around – but also one that showcases the range of a fully equipped iPad – iStat 3 is all about remote-monitoring Macs, PCs and servers.

Setup is almost comically simple: launch iStat Server on a computer, then install iStat 3 on your iPad. If the devices are on the same network, everything should start communicating; if not, enter some network details and you should be good to go.

iStat itself is all about graphs and histories. It’ll show all kinds of wiggly lines and numbers to represent CPU, memory, disk space, network usage, fan speeds, and temperatures. You can check out what’s happened over the past hour, day, week, month, or year, along with performing a ping or traceroute.

Naturally, this kind of thing largely lends itself to professional users, but there are home applications, too – for example, keeping an eye on a home server that sends media around your house – and iStat’s user-friendliness makes it approachable for anyone.

It’s fair to say that the original WAVESTATION was one of the weirder synths that showed up in the 1990s. It worked by combining and sequencing multiple waveforms, allowing you to morph and mix what you heard by twiddling a joystick. The result was a synth where you could conceivably fashion an engaging loop simply by holding down a single key.

As ever, the digital recreation is authentic, but KORG iWAVESTATION adds further smarts by way of enabling editing of sounds through the touchscreen. You also get a delightful pad-based controller option for tapping out sounds.

There are some drawbacks, though, in this not being the most intuitive of synths to dig deep into, and the morphing joystick not being available on all screens.

 However, if you want an iPad synth that sounds like nothing else out there, and with a huge library of noises to explore, iWAVESTATION is an excellent choice.

Carl Burton’s Islands: Non-Places is listed in the App Store as a game, but don’t believe a word of it. Really, this ten-scene artistic endeavor is a surreal, mesmerizing semi-interactive animated film.

Each ‘non-place’ is somewhere you’d usually ignore or stay only on a very temporary basis, but here, the mundane is subverted through unusual and unexpected juxtapositions.

You’ll find yourself staring at a luggage carousel, before the bags begin a lazy Mexican wave. Elsewhere, palm trees ride mall escalators, while a run-of-the-mill seating area is suddenly flooded, a warning siren slicing its way through inane background chatter.

The result is frequently disorientating, but Islands also has the capacity to surprise, and is often oddly beautiful.

There are plenty of apps out there that attempt to transform images into something that might once have appeared on the screen of an ancient piece of computer hardware, but none match Retrospecs.

You either take a photo or load an image from your iPad and then select a preset. You get everything from the chunky character-oriented Commodore PET, through to relatively powerful fare such as the detailed 16-bit graphics of the SNES and Atari ST.

From an authenticity standpoint, Retrospecs wins out, but the app also affords plenty of tweaking potential. You can switch modes for those machines that offered multiple resolutions, choose alternate dither patterns, and adjust contrast, vibrancy, and other settings. Best of all, you can use any of the existing presets as the basis for your own unique slice of retro-filter joy.

It’s concert time for the motley crew of Toca Band, in this toy designed to help kids explore music creatively. (And, um, adults who might get sucked in a bit.)

It’s all very simple: drag weird cartoon characters (each of which plays their own instrument) to spots on the stage, and they automatically jam along with the only song that Toca Band appears to know. Lob a musician at the star and they start a unique solo improv with a modicum of user control.

Toca Band is a very sweet app, which even toddlers should be able to grasp. A word of warning, though: that Toca Band riff will quickly become an earworm you’ll be hard pressed to remove. 

iA Writer provides a writing environment suitably focused for iPad, but that also makes nods to the desktop.

The main screen is smartly designed, with a custom keyboard bar offering Markdown and navigation buttons; if you’re using a mechanical keyboard, standard shortcuts are supported.

Further focus comes by way of a typewriter mode (auto-scrolling to the area you’re editing) and graying out lines other than the one you’re working on.

Elsewhere, you get an optional live character count, iCloud sync, and a robust Markdown preview. We’d like to see a split-screen mode for the last of those (as per the Mac version), but otherwise iA Writer’s a solid, effective and affordable minimal writing app for iPad.

1972’s ARP Odyssey was a classic of the era, and reborn in 2015 with a smart new design and modern connectors. Now, the duophonic synth is on iPad and, if anything, the digital incarnation beats the hardware original.

With ARP ODYSSEi, you still get the many synthesis controls of the real-world kit, allowing for a huge diversity of sound. The sliders are a mite fiddly, but any frustration is mitigated by the wealth of presets and ability to save your own.

The best bit, though, is the programmable arpeggiator, which transforms sounds into rich, exciting loops. Sadly, the feature is omitted from ODYSSEi’s Korg Gadget incarnation, but as a standalone synth for iPad, this one’s hard to beat.

Editing PDFs somehow feels like it should be the preserve of desktop software, but PDF Expert makes such tasks a cinch on an iPad.

You can grab PDFs from iCloud or Dropbox, and then get to work rearranging pages, adding new content, creating notes, completing forms, making highlights, and even doodling with your finger.

As a reader, the app is impressive, too, ably dealing with large PDFs. There’s also a text-to-speech mode that reads documents at a speed of your choosing, highlighting words as it goes.

The app also wisely integrates the kind of smarts found in the developer’s own Documents app, so you can use PDF Expert as a central repository for your iPad PDFs, filing, merging, archiving, and sharing them as needed.

We're not sure what makes this edition of the famous mockney chef's recipe book 'ultimate', bar that word being very clearly written on the icon.

Still, Jamie Oliver's Ultimate Recipes is certainly a very tasty app. The 600 recipes should satisfy any given mood, whether you're after a sickeningly healthy salad or fancy binging on ALL THE SUGAR until your teeth scream for mercy.

Smartly, every recipe offers step-by-step photos, so you can see how badly you’re going wrong at any point. And when you've nearly burned down the kitchen, given up and ordered a pizza, you can watch the two hours of videos that reportedly tell you how to "become a real kitchen ninja".

Note: this doesn't involve wearing lots of black and hurling sharp objects at walls, sadly.

Music-creation apps can overwhelm, even when trying to be friendly. Lily neatly takes a rather more playful – if slightly twee – stab at having you make tunes.

You start by selecting a color and shape. The former dictates an instrument and the latter the number of leaves on your lily. Tap + to open the flower, and then the flower itself to access a pulsating playback head.

You then tap spaces to lay down notes, which can be shifted entire octaves by prodding adjacent vertical lines. Repeat the process with more lilies and you'll soon have an oddly delicate cacophony serenading your ears.

Lily's a very sweet app. It's perhaps a touch too abstract to be as immediate as it wants to be, but all becomes clear with a little play. We do wish songs could be saved (although you can export a recording) – the lives of these lilies are all too fleeting.

So, you’ve picked up an iPad synth to compose music, play live, or bound about like a maniac, pretending you're on stage at Glastonbury. Fortunately, Poison-202 is ideal for all such sets of circumstances.

The moody black and red graphic design is very 1990s, but it's Poison-202's sounds that hurl you back to the halcyon days of electronic music. Aficionados of The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and Orbital will be overjoyed at the familiar (and brilliant) sounds you can conjure up simply by selecting presets and prodding a few keys.

And if you're not satisfied by the creator's (frankly awesome) sound design smarts (in which case, we glare at you with the menace of a thousand Keith Flints), all manner of sliders and dials enable you to create your own wall-wobbling bass and ear-searing leads.

There are iPad synths that have more ambition, and many are more authentic to classic hardware; but few are more fun.
 

For free, Ferrite Recording Studio provides the means to record the odd bit of audio, bookmark important bits, and mash together a few such recordings into something resembling a podcast. But pay the $19.99/£14.99 IAP and this app gives desktop podcast-creation products a run for their money.

Using the smartly designed interface, you can import clips and sounds from various sources, craft multi-track edits that make full use of slicing, fading, ducking, and silence stripping, and add professional effects to give vocals that bit of extra punch.

On an iPhone, this is an impressive app, but on iPad, the extra screen space you get makes for significantly faster editing of your audio and a far superior user experience compared to the cramped screen.

Rather than be all things to all people, Zen Brush 2 is a painting app with a sense of focus, emulating the feel of an East Asian ink brush. It's therefore suited to flowing, semi-abstract artistic effort with your finger to offer a digital take on calligraphy.

On iPhone’s teeny screen this app feels a little redundant, but it comes alive on the iPad's larger display, especially if you have a stylus. The selection of tools is intentionally limited to keep you focused, but you can still swap between a red and black brush, experiment with alternate brush sizes or dryness values and swap out the underlying canvas.

There is a sense of give and take about Zen Brush 2's level of realism: strokes are applied wonderfully, but inks don't interact with each other nor the paper beneath. Still, the strong sense of character gives artwork created in Zen Brush 2 a unique feel and it's a relaxing, almost meditative, app to spend time with.
 

The iPad Google Maps app has a perfectly serviceable (if, in recent updates, somewhat fiddly) Street View mode, and so the notion of paying for an app to browse such panoramas may seem strange. But Streets 3 proves itself to be interesting and genuinely entertaining.

Although you can browse locations in Streets 3 by dragging a map and dropping a pin to define a location, the app speeds things along with a gallery. This showcases famous sights and places, including museums, zoos, and even the Large Hadron Collider.

Using the old arrows movement system (rather than the newer Google Maps swiping model) makes for fast, efficient navigation.

Usefully, a little extra context is provided about the famous sites, so you can learn rather than just gawp; and favorites can be stored for return visits. None of which perhaps cements Streets 3 as essential, but it's certainly fun for the armchair tourist.
 

There are loads of great painting apps for illustrators and artists, but Amaziograph tries something a bit different, introducing you to a world of tessellation and symmetries. This makes for an app that has plenty of potential for professional use, but also one that anyone can enjoy.

To begin, you select a style. The simplest is a split-screen mirror, but there are also kaleidoscope-like options, and those that create tiled, repeating patterns. It's then a question of scribbling on the canvas, and watching a pattern form before your eyes.

The toolset is quite basic (with a bafflingly overthought color palette selector), but Amaziograph chalks up a big win when it comes to flexibility.

At any point, you can adjust the settings of the current grid, or choose a different symmetry/tessellation type. This propels the app far beyond 'toy' territory, opening up avenues for creativity regardless of your level of artistic prowess.

As a combination clock and weather app, Living Earth works well across all iOS devices, but use it with an iPad in a stand and you've got something that'll make other clocks in the immediate vicinity green with envy.

As you might expect, your first job with the app is to define the cities you'd like to keep track of. At any point, you can then switch between them, updating the main clock and weather forecasts accordingly. Tap the weather and you can access an extended forecast for the week; tap the location and you get the current times and weather for your defined locations.

But it's the Earth that gets pride of place, taking up the bulk of the screen. It shows clouds by default, although weather geeks can instead choose colors denoting temperature, wind speed or humidity values. Then with a little swipe the globe rotates, neatly showing heavily populated locations during night time as lattices of artificial man-made light.

Whether you need a few minutes of peace or help to fall asleep after hours of stress, Flowing offers meditative splashy reflection. Choose from six scenes, plonk headphones on and then just sit and listen to gorgeous 3D audio recordings of streams, waterfalls and rivers.

Should you feel the need, noodle about with the parallax photo – although that’s frankly the least interesting bit of the app.

There is room for screen interaction though – the slider button gives you access to a mixer, to trigger ambient soundtracks by composer David Bawiec, and add birdsong and rain; while the Flowing icon houses guided meditations by Lua Lisa.

There’s also a timer, so you can fall asleep to a gently meandering brook without it then burbling away all night. In all, even if you don’t make use of every feature, Flowing is an effective, polished relaxation aid.

Animation can be painstaking, whether doing it for your career or just for fun. Fortunately, Stop Motion Studio Pro streamlines the process, providing a sleek and efficient app for your next animated masterpiece.

It caters to various kinds of animation: you can use your iPad’s camera to capture a scene, import images or videos (which are broken down into stills), or use a remote app installed on an iPhone. Although most people will export raw footage to the likes of iMovie, Stop Motion Pro shoots for a full animation suite by including audio and title capabilities.

There are some snags. Moving frames requires an awkward copy/paste/delete workaround. Also, drawing tools are clumsy, making the app’s claim of being capable of rotoscoping a tad suspect. But as an affordable and broadly usable app for crafting animation, it fits the bill.

Scanners for iPad have come a long way from their roots as souped-up camera apps, and Scanbot 6 is making a play to be the only one on your iPad – by doing way more than just scanning.

The basics are ably dealt with – the app automatically locates documents in front of your iPad’s camera (assuming there’s contrast with the desk underneath), and you can crop, rotate, color-adjust, and save the result.

Buy the Pro IAP, though, and Scanbot becomes far more capable. It’ll run OCR text recognition on any document, and attempt (with a reasonable degree of success) to extract details for single-tap ’actions’, such as triggering a phone call or visiting a website, based on what it finds.

There are annotation and PDF signing tools, and the means to reorder pages in multi-page documents. So rather than being a tap-and-done scanner, this app keeps helping once the scans are done, making it an essential purchase for the office-oriented. (We do miss the smiling robot icon, though – the new one is so dull.)

For the majority of iPad users, Apple’s iMovie is the go-to app for cutting footage and spitting out a movie. However, Pinnacle Studio Pro is a great option for anyone who wants a more desktop-like video editing experience.

The interface is efficient, enabling you to pre-trim clips, and quickly navigate your in-progress film by way of a standard timeline, or quickly jumping to scenes by tapping clip thumbnails. Additionally, there are tools for complex audio edits across three separate tracks, and adjusting a clip’s rotation.

The only downside is an initial feeling of complexity and an ongoing sense of clutter – this isn’t an especially pretty app. However, it is a usable, powerful and effective one, and that more than makes up for any niggles. 

Another example of a book designed for kids that adults will sneak a peek at when no-one's watching, Namoo teaches about the wonders of plant life. Eschewing the kind of realistic photography or illustration you typically see in such virtual tomes, Namoo is wildly stylized, using an arresting low-poly art style for its interactive 3D simulations.

Each of these is married with succinct text, giving your brain something to chew on as you ping the components of a plant's cells (which emit pleasingly playful – if obviously not terribly realistic – sounds and musical notes) or explore the life cycle of an apple.

Wikipedia is one of the most amazing resources around, but it looks like a dog's dinner. You might find certain subject matter thrilling, but your eyes will glaze over before you get through half an article on an iPad. V for Wikipedia rethinks this entire experience, unassumingly describing itself as "a nice reader for Wikipedia".

Every aspect of V for Wikipedia feels like output from a careful, considerate designer. There's a smart nearby places view, where lines snake from an overhead map to Wikipedia article titles awaiting a tap, search results include brief synopses and images, but best of all, the articles themselves look great – more like a book to lean back and read than a website you'd prefer to flee from.

There are plenty of apps that enable you to plonk text over photos, but Over excels when it comes to control. Load a photo (or start with a blank canvas) and you can add words, stickers and additional imagery, gradually fashioning a card, poster or slice of social media genius.

For free, you get the basic app, but a one-off IAP unlocks handy additional features, such as drop shadows and adjustments. In combination with editable layers and saved projects, these things make Over resemble something you’d find on the desktop, albeit with the kind of intuitive and immediate interface you only find in the best iPad apps.

On the desktop, Scrivener is widely acclaimed as the writer’s tool of choice. The feature-rich app provides all kinds of ways to write, even incorporating research documents directly into projects. Everything’s always within reach, and your work can constantly be rethought, reorganised, and reworked.

On iPad, Scrivener is, astonishingly, almost identical to its desktop cousin. Bar some simplification regarding view and export options, it’s essentially the same app. You get a powerful ‘binder’ sidebar for organizing notes and documents, while the main view area enables you to write and structure text, or to work with index cards on a cork board.

There’s even an internal ‘Split View’, for simultaneously smashing out a screenplay while peering at research. With Dropbox sync to access existing projects, Scrivener is a no-brainer for existing users; and for newcomers, it’s the most capable rich text/scriptwriting app on iPad.

At the last count, there were something like eleven billion sketching apps for iPad, and so you need something pretty special to stand out. Concepts shoots for a more professional audience – architects, designers, illustrators, and the like – but in doing so presents a far more flexible product than most.

When scribbling on the infinite canvas, you’re drawing vector strokes, which can be individually selected and adjusted. The tools area is customizable and colors are selected using a Copic color wheel.

Pay the pro IAP and you unlock all kinds of features, including precision tools and shape guides, endless layers, and the means to export your work as high-res imagery, SVG, DXF or PSD. In use, whether using a finger or stylus, Concepts is elegant and usable but powerful.

So for free, this is an excellent tool for wannabe scribblers, and for the price of a couple of coffees, a high-end digital sketchbook suitable for professionals. Sounds like a bargain either way to us.

Your eyes might pop at the price tag of this iPad synth, but the hardware reissue of this amazing Moog was priced at a wallet-smashing $10,000. By contrast, the Model 15 iPad app seems quite the bargain. To our ears, it’s also the best standalone iOS synth on mobile, and gives anything on the desktop a run for its money.

For people used to messing around with modular synths and plugging in patch leads, they’ll be in heaven. But this isn’t retro-central: you can switch the piano keyboard for Animoog’s gestural equivalent; newcomers can work through straightforward tutorials about how to build new sounds from scratch; and those who want to dive right in can select from and experiment with loads of diverse, superb-sounding presets.

From its earliest days, the Mac was in part a product of Steve Jobs’s obsession with typography. Although iOS includes a large range of fonts, your iPad lacks the extensibility of a Mac, which is where AnyFont comes in. Using the app, you can load new fonts from a PC or Mac by way of iTunes or import from Dropbox. Said fonts then become available in the likes of Pages, Keynote and Microsoft’s Office suite.

There’s no bulk import via Dropbox; and the app must create a separate profile for each imported font. These limitations initially irk, but also force a sense of focus, having you import only the fonts you really need rather than a collection of thousands.

Relaxation aids have a tendency to be a bit ‘right on’, but Windy frames itself as part story, part artwork, and comes across as elegant and interesting rather than preachy. You get six scenes to explore and each offers a parallax image to drag about and a piece of text to read.

But it’s the audio experience that really grabs hold. Each scene features a unique 3D wind recording, which sounds superb through decent headphones. Using the app’s settings, you can mix in rain, water, birdsong and cricket noises. The composition you create plays indefinitely, or you can set a timer, to help you nod off to your custom soundscape.

There are plenty of apps that enable you to add comic-like filters and the odd speech balloon to your photos, but Comic Life 3 goes the whole hog regarding comic creation. You select from pre-defined templates or basic page layouts, and can then begin working on a Marvel-worrying masterpiece.

Importing images is straightforward, and you get plenty of control over sound effects and speech balloons. For people who are perhaps taking things a bit too seriously (or actual comic creators, who can use this app for quick mock-ups), there’s a bundled script editor as well.

Oddly, Comic Life 3’s filters aren’t that impressive, not making your photos look especially hand-drawn. But otherwise the app is an excellent means of crafting stories on an iPad, and you can export your work in a range of formats to share with friends – and Stan Lee.

It’s been a long time coming, but finally Tweetbot gets a full-fledged modern-day update for iPad. And it’s a good one, too. While the official Twitter app’s turned into a ‘blown-up iPhone app’ monstrosity on Apple’s tablet, Tweetbot makes use of the extra space by way of a handy extra column in which you can stash mentions, lists, and various other bits and bobs.

Elsewhere, this latest release might lack a few toys Twitter selfishly keeps for itself, but it wins out in terms of multitasking support, granular mute settings, superb usability, and an interesting Activity view if you’re the kind of Twitter user desperate to know who’s retweeting all your tiny missives.

This music app is inspired by layered composition techniques used in some classical music. You tap out notes on a piano roll, and can then have up to four playheads simultaneously interpret your notes, each using unique speeds, directions and transpositions. For the amateur, Fugue Machine is intuitive and mesmerising, not least because of how easy it is to create something that sounds gorgeous.

For pros, it’s a must-have, not least due to MIDI output support for driving external software. It took us mere seconds to have Fugue Machine working with Animoog’s voices, and the result ruined our productivity for an entire morning.

(Unless you count composing beautiful music when you should be doing something else as ‘being productive’. In which case, we salute you.)

There’s a miniature revolution taking place in digital comics. Echoing the music industry some years ago, more publishers are cottoning on to readers very much liking DRM-free content. With that in mind, you now need a decent iPad reader for your PDFs and CBRs, rather than whatever iffy reading experience is welded to a storefront.

Chunky is the best comic-reader on iPad. The interface is simple but customisable. If you want rid of transitions, they’re gone. Tinted pages can be brightened. And smart upscaling makes low-res comics look good.

Paying the one-off ‘pro’ IAP enables you to connect to Mac or Windows shared folders or FTP. Downloading comics then takes seconds, and the app will happily bring over folders full of images and convert them on-the-fly into readable digital publications.

You’re probably dead inside if you sit down with Metamorphabet and it doesn’t raise a smile — doubly so if you use it alongside a tiny human. The app takes you through all the letters of the alphabet, which contort and animate into all kinds of shapes. It suitably starts with A, which when prodded grows antlers, transforms into an arch, and then goes for an amble. It’s adorable.

The app’s surreal, playful nature never lets up, and any doubts you might have regarding certain scenes — such as floaty clouds representing ‘daydream’ in a manner that doesn’t really work — evaporate when you see tiny fingers and thumbs carefully pawing at the iPad’s glass while young eyes remain utterly transfixed.

Pop music is about getting what you expect. Ambient music has always felt subtly different, almost like anything could happen. With generative audio, this line of thinking became reality. Scape gives you a combined album/playground in this nascent genre, from the minds of Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.

Each track is formed by way of adding musical elements to a canvas, which then interact in sometimes unforeseen ways. Described as music that “thinks for itself”, Scape becomes a pleasing, fresh and infinitely replayable slice of chillout bliss. And if you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can sit back and listen to an album composed by the app’s creators.

Illustration tools are typically complex. Sit someone in front of Adobe Photoshop and they’ll figure out enough of it in fairly short order. Adobe Illustrator? No chance. Assembly attempts to get around such roadblocks by turning graphic design into the modern-day touchscreen equivalent of working with felt shapes — albeit very powerful felt shapes that can shift beneath your fingers.

At the foot of the screen are loads of design elements, and you drag them to the canvas. Using menus and gestures, shapes can be resized, coloured, duplicated and transformed. Given enough time and imagination, you can create abstract masterpieces, cartoonish geometric robots, and beautiful flowing landscapes.

It’s intuitive enough for anyone, but we suspect pro designers will enjoy Assembly too, perhaps even using it for sketching out ideas. And when you’re done, you can output your creations to PNG or SVG.

Typography is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And so while there are excellent apps for adding text to images, you might want more help, rather than spending hours fine-tuning a bunch of misbehaving letters. That’s where Retype comes in.

You load a photo or a piece of built-in stock art, and type some text. Then it’s just a case of selecting a style. The type’s design updates whenever you edit your text, and variations can be accessed by repeatedly prodding the relevant style’s button. Basic but smart filter, blur, opacity and fade commands should cement Retype’s place on your iPad.

Even though the iPad is an immensely powerful mobile device, there’s no getting away from it sometimes being fiddly for performing complex tasks; this is all the more frustrating if said tasks are something you must do regularly. Fortunately, Workflow is here to help.

It includes over 200 actions that work with built-in and third-party apps, enabling you to fashion complex automation that’s subsequently activated at the touch of a button.

To help you get started, the gallery houses dozens of pre-built workflows, and for added flexibility, you can access those you create or install from inside the app, via the Today widget, or by way of a custom Home screen app-like shortcut.

iPads have opened up a world of creative possibilities for guitarists by way of apps that ape all kinds of amps and stomp boxes. But AmpliTube Acoustic does something new. The clue’s in the title — this is a tone studio created for acoustic guitars, and designed to be used with the iRig Acoustic clip-on microphone.

Highlights include a particularly lovely 12-string simulator, and the ‘bass maker’, which adds low-end to your strumming. Of course, electric guitarists can also use the app, for clean tones and effects, and developer IK Multimedia has, as usual, issued a limited freemium version that acts as a demo of sorts.

There are plenty of great distraction-free writing apps for iPad, but Ulysses for iPad adds serious management and editing clout to the mix. The idea is you use the app for all your writing — notes; in-progress text; final edits; and export. Items in your library can be manually sorted, grouped and filtered; text can be processed to PDF, DOCX, TXT, Markdown, HTML and ePub.

But what’s most astonishing is how the app’s interface mirrors its Mac counterpart’s, and yet still feels entirely at home on the iPad. (And for iPad Pro users hankering after a top-notch writing app to use in Split View, look no further).

The lofty boast with RealBeat is that you can use the app to make music with everything. The remarkable thing is, you really can. The app has eight slots for samples, waiting for input from your iPad’s mic.

You can record snippets of any audio you fancy: your voice; a spoon smacking a saucepan; a pet, confused at you holding your iPad right in front of its face. These samples can then be arranged into loops and songs using a familiar drum-machine-style sequencer and pattern editor.

Completed masterpieces can be exported using Audio Copy and iTunes File Sharing, and the app also integrates with Audiobus.

On the desktop, Panic's Transmit is a perfectly decent FTP client. But when it was first released for iPad, Transmit felt rather more like the future. It was smart and elegant, utilising all of the then-new iOS features, such as Share sheets.

Even today, its interface seems a step beyond its contemporaries — the vibrant icons and dark lists look gorgeous and modern. Most importantly, the app remains very usable, with an excellent drag-and-drop model, smart previews, and support for a huge range of services, including local shared Mac folders.

Calling Editorial a text editor does it a disservice. That’s not to say Editorial isn’t any good as a text editor, because it very much is. You get top-notch Markdown editing, with an inline preview, and also a TaskPaper mode for plain text to-do lists.

But what really sets Editorial apart is the sheer wealth of customisation options. You get themes and custom snippets, but also workflows, which can automate hugely complex tasks. You get the sense some of these arrived from the frustrations at how slow it is to perform certain actions on an iPad; but a few hours with Editorial and you’ll wish the app was available for your Mac or PC too.

Previously known as iDraw, Graphic is now part of the Autodesk stable. Visually, it looks an awful lot like Adobe Illustrator, and it brings some suitably high-end vector-drawing smarts to Apple’s tablet.

All the tools and features you’d expect are present and correct; and while it’s admittedly a bit slower and fiddlier to construct complex imagery on an iPad than a PC, Graphic is great to have handy when you’re on the move. Smartly, the app boasts plentiful export functions, to continue your work elsewhere, and will sync with its iPhone and Mac cousins across iCloud.

Depending on your age and media preferences, Molecules by Theodore Gray might appear to be the future of books, a modern take on a CD-ROM, or something that’s escaped from a Harry Potter movie. At its core, it is, of course, a textbook. But this is a textbook that begs to be explored, primarily due to dazzling your senses with dozens of animated photographic objects that you can interact with.

This is a trick publisher Touchpress has used before, but it never really gets old. Spinning objects beneath your fingers adds a playful side to a subject that could be considered quite dry; this is further enhanced by videos you can drag to scrub through, and molecule simulations.

The simulations are perhaps the smartest aspect of the app, not because they’re the most visually exciting, but because of what they represent. In dragging their component parts around and seeing how molecules react to changes in temperature, you’re suddenly very aware these aren’t static building blocks, but are always alive and in motion.

A printed tome can only hint at such things, but this digital volume brings a level of intrigue and immersion paper simply cannot match – making it well worth the higher cost.

One of the curious things about the iPad is the absence of major Adobe apps from the App Store. The creative giant instead seems content with smaller, simpler ‘satellite’ apps, assuming users will continue to rely on the desktop for in-depth work. Pixelmator thumbs its nose to such thinking, reworking the majority of its desktop cousin (itself a kind of streamlined Photoshop) for the iPad.

Given the low price tag, this is an astonishingly powerful app, offering brushes, layers, gorgeous filters, levels editing, and more. You need to invest some time to get the most out of Pixelmator, but do so and the app will forever weld itself to your Home screen.

There are loads of sketching tools for iPad, but it feels like Procreate is the one really forging ahead, bringing artists a well-balanced mix of power and accessibility.

If you want to keep things simple, Procreate gets out of your way. The toolbar doesn’t distract, and the only on-screen controls are handy sliders for brush size and opacity; but even these can all be auto-hidden after a user-defined period, leaving the entire screen to display your masterpiece.

Whether drawing with a finger or a stylus, Procreate proves responsive and feels surprisingly tactile. The tool selection is straightforward but offers real depth, not least in how you can really delve into brushes and mess about with their characteristics.

But the app has also taken to heart the fact it’s running on a touchscreen. To straighten a stroke, you simply hold its end point for a second. Undo and redo are merely a two – or three – finger tap away. And the strength of layer effects is determined by swiping across the canvas, in a pleasing and precise manner.

If you’re the kind of person who watches a plane fly overhead and wonders which airline it is, where it’s going, and where it’s been, you should download Plane Finder immediately. On launch, the app figures out where you are, loads a map, and gets to work showing planes zooming about the place.

If you live near an airport, this will evoke a combination of excitement and terror once you realise just how many steel tubes with wings are being hurled across the sky.

Plane Finder absolutely revels in this plane-based geekery. An augmented reality mode has you wave your iPad in front of your face to track the positions of planes in 3D. (Go outside for best effect — it’s a bit weird having plane info splattered across office walls.) There’s a time-travel mode, so you can watch a previous day’s flights in fast-forward, and filters and alerts help you drill down into any specifics you happen to be interested in.

There’s even a practical edge to the app, with arrivals and departures boards when you tap on an airport, although we will admit in that case it’s probably a bit quicker to just visit the relevant website.

There are plenty of apps that provide the means to turn photos into messages and poster-style artwork. Elsewhere in this list we mention the excellent Retype, for example. But if you hanker after more control, Fontmania is a good bet.

This isn’t the most complex or feature-rich app of its kind, but it is extremely pleasing to use. On selecting your photo, you can add a filter. Then it’s down to business with typography. The ‘Art’ section houses frames, dividers, shapes and pre-made ‘artworks’. The ‘Text’ section is for typing out whatever you like, and you can choose from a range of fonts.

Really, it’s the interface that makes Fontmania. The simple sidebar is clear and non-intrusive, providing quick access to tools like Color and Shadow. All items added to the canvas can be manipulated using standard iOS gestures, avoiding the awkwardness sometimes seen within this sort of app.

Perhaps best of all, though, Fontmania is a pay-once product. Download and you get access to everything, rather than suddenly discovering a drop shadow or extra font will require digging into your wallet again.

iPad video editors tend to have a bunch of effects and filters lurking within, but with VideoGrade you can go full-on Hollywood. On launch, the app helpfully rifles through your albums, making it easy to find your videos. Load one and you get access to a whopping 13 colour-grading and repair tools.

Despite the evident power VideoGrade offers, the interface is remarkably straightforward. Select a tool (such as Vibrance, Brightness or Tint), choose a setting, and drag to make a change. Drag up before moving your finger left or right to make subtler adjustments.

Smartly, any tool already used gets a little green dash beneath, and you can go back and change or remove edits at any point.

All filters are applied live to the currently shown frame, and you can also tap a button to view a preview of how your entire exported video will look. Want to compare your edit with the original video? Horizontal and vertical split-views are available at the tap of a button. Usefully, favorite filter combinations can be stored and reused, and videos can be queued rather than laboriously rendered individually.

Freed from the confines of pesky reality and plastic, building blocks have become hugely popular in the digital realm. Tayasui Blocks isn’t Minecraft, but does have some of that giant’s elegance and social smarts.

Straightforward tools enable you to add and colour blocks and layers. Blocks almost stomp into place, emitting a pleasingly chunky sound effect; and if you find quietly deleting errors dull, you can lob a bomb or shuriken at errant cubes.

Tayasui Blocks is gesture-aware. You can zoom, move and spin your creation, making it simple to add blocks to any surface. And the aforementioned social aspect works very well, offering downloads of existing models and uploads of your own. (Wisely, the app knows if you make very minor alterations to someone else’s design and blocks attempts at sharing.)

During testing, we found the odd bit of lag with very large, complex builds (a blocky Death Star even made an iPad Air 2 stutter), and optional stickers (mouths, eyes, and the like) seem broadly pointless. Otherwise, this is a first-rate, elegant and simple building-block toy for your tablet.

Korg Gadget bills itself as the “ultimate mobile synth collection on your iPad” and it’s hard to argue. You get well over a dozen varied synths, ranging from drum machines through to ear-splitting electro monsters, and an intuitive piano roll for laying down notes.

A scene/loop arranger enables you to craft entire compositions in the app, which can then be shared via the Soundcloud-powered GadgetCloud or sent to Dropbox. This is a more expensive app than most, but if you’re a keen electronic-music-oriented songwriter with an iPad, it’s hard to find a product that’s better value.

There are quite a few apps for virtual stargazing, but Sky Guide is the best of them on iPad. Like its rivals, the app allows you to search the heavens in real-time, providing details of constellations and satellites in your field of view (or, if you fancy, on the other side of the world).

Indoors, it transforms into a kind of reference guide, offering further insight into distant heavenly bodies, and the means to view the sky at different points in history. What sets Sky Guide apart, though, is an effortless elegance. It’s simply the nicest app of its kind to use, with a polish and refinement that cements its essential nature.

Every now and again, you get an app that ticks all the boxes: it's beautiful, audacious, productive, and nudges the platform forwards. This perfectly sums up Coda, a full-fledged website editor for iPad.

The app's graphic design borrows from the similarly impressive Transmit for iOS, all muted greys and vibrant icons. It's a style we wish Apple would steal. When it comes to editing, you can work remotely or pull down files locally; in either case, you end up working in a coding view with the clout you'd expect from a desktop product, rather than something on mobile.

Naturally, Coda is a fairly niche tool, but it's essential for anyone who regularly edits websites and wants the ability to do so when away from the office.

Mind-mapping is one of those things that's usually associated with dull business things, much like huge whiteboards and the kind of lengthy meetings that make you hope the ground will swallow you up. But really they're perfect whenever you want to get thoughts out of your head and then organise them.

On paper, this process can be quite messy, and so MindNode is a boon. You can quickly and easily add and edit nodes, your iPad automatically positioning them neatly. Photos, stickers and notes can add further context, and your finished document can be shared publicly or privately using a number of services.

When you’re told you can control the forces of nature with your fingertips that probably puts you more in mind of a game than a book. And, in a sense, Earth Primer does gamify learning about our planet. You get a series of engaging and interactive explanatory pages, and a free-for-all sandbox that cleverly only unlocks its full riches when you’ve read the rest of the book.

Although ultimately designed for children, it’s a treat for all ages, likely to plaster a grin across the face of anyone from 9 to 90 when a volcano erupts from their fingertips.

For most guitarists, sound is the most important thing of all. It’s all very well having a massive rig of pedals and amps, but only if what you get out of it blows away anyone who’s listening. For our money, BIAS FX is definitely the best-sounding guitar amp and effects processor on the iPad, with a rich and engaging collection of gear.

Fortunately, given the price-tag, BIAS FX doesn’t skimp on set-up opportunities either. A splitter enables complex dual-signal paths; and sharing functionality enables you to upload your creations and check out what others have done with the app.

With visible pixels essentially eradicated from modern mobile device screens, it’s amusing to see pixel art stubbornly refusing to go away. Chunky pixels are, though, a very pleasing aesthetic, perhaps in part because you know effort and thought has gone into the placement of every single dot. For our money, Pixaki is the only app worth considering for iPad-related pixel art.

It’s simple and elegant, with straightforward tools, an extremely responsive canvas, global and document-specific palettes, and multiple brush sizes. Extra points, too, for the opacity slider’s handle being a Pac-Man ghost.

You might argue that Google Maps is far better suited to a smartphone, but we reckon the king of mapping apps deserves a place on your iPad, too. Apple’s own Maps app has improved, but Google still outsmarts its rival when it comes to public transport, finding local businesses, saving chunks of maps offline, and virtual tourism by way of Street View.

Google’s ‘OS within an OS’ also affords a certain amount of cross-device sync when it comes to searches. We don’t, however, recommend you strap your cellular iPad to your steering wheel and use Google Maps as a sat-nav replacement, unless you want to come across as some kind of nutcase.

Adult colouring books are all the rage, proponents claiming bringing colour to intricate abstract shapes helps reduce stress – at least until you realise you’ve got pen on your shirt and ground oil pastels into the sofa.

You’d think the process of colouring would be ideal for iPad, but most relevant apps are awful, some even forcing tap-to-fill. That is to colouring what using a motorbike is to running a marathon – a big cheat. Pigment is an exception, marrying a love for colouring with serious digital smarts.

On selecting an illustration, there’s a range of palettes and tools to explore. You can use pencils and markers, adjusting opacity and brush sizes, and work with subtle gradients. Colouring can be ‘freestyle’, or you can tap to select an area and ensure you don’t go over the lines while furiously scribbling. With a finger, Pigment works well, but it’s better with a stylus; with an iPad Pro and a Pencil, you’ll lob your real books in the bin.

The one niggle: printing and accessing the larger library requires a subscription in-app purchase. It’s a pity there’s no one-off payment for individual books, but you do get plenty of free illustrations, and so it’s hard to grumble.

We’re not sure whether Slack is an amazing aid to productivity or some kind of time vampire. Probably a bit of both. What we do know is that the real-time messaging system is excellent in a work environment for chatting with colleagues (publicly and privately), sharing and previewing files, and organising discussions by topic.

There’s smart integration with online services, and support for both the iPad Pro and the iPad’s Split View function. Note that although Slack is clearly designed with businesses in mind, it also works perfectly well as a means of communicating with friends if you don’t fancy lobbing all your worldly wisdom into Facebook’s maw.

Podcasts are mostly associated with small portable devices – after all, the very name is a mash-up of ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore your favourite shows when armed with an iPad rather than an iPhone.

We’re big fans of Overcast on Apple’s smaller devices, but the app makes good use of the iPad’s extra screen space, with a smart two-column display. On the left, episodes are listed, and the current podcast loads into the larger space on the right.

The big plusses with Overcast, though, remain playback and podcast management. It’s the one podcast app we’ve used that retains plenty of clarity when playback is sped up; and there are clever effects for removing dead air and boosting vocals in podcasts with lower production values.

Playlists can be straightforward in nature, or quite intricate, automatically boosting favourites to the top of the list, and excluding specific episodes. And if you do mostly use an iPhone for listening, Overcast automatically syncs your podcasts and progress, so you can always pick up where you left off.

We’re big fans of Duolingo on iPhone. Its bite-size exercises are perfect for quickly dipping into, when you’ve a spare moment to tackle a bit of language-learning. On iPad, the app is basically the same, and the screen’s relative acres make everything feel a touch sparse.

However, Duolingo remains the same impressive and approachable app, and the iPad’s form-factor lends itself to more extended sessions, which is great for when you want to properly crack the next challenge the app throws your way. As ever, we remain baffled that this app remains entirely free. We’ve yet to find the catch.

Learning a musical instrument isn’t easy, which is probably why a bunch of people don’t bother, instead pretending to be rock stars by way of tiny plastic instruments and their parent videogames. Yousician bridges the divide, flipping a kind of Guitar Hero interface 90 degrees and using its visual and timing devices to get you playing chords and notes.

This proves remarkably effective, and your iPad merrily keeps track of your skills (or lack thereof) through its internal mic. The difficulty curve is slight, but the app enables you to skip ahead if you’re bored, through periodic ‘test’ rounds. Most surprisingly, for free you get access to everything, only your daily lesson time is limited.

As you launch Kitchen Stories, you catch a glimpse of the app’s mantra: “Anyone can cook”. The problem is, most cooking apps (and indeed, traditional cookery books) make assumptions regarding people’s abilities.

Faced with a list of steps on a stark white page, it’s easy to get halfway through a recipe, look at the stodge in front of you, reason something must have gone terribly wrong, and order a takeaway.

Kitchen Stories offers firmer footing. You’re first met with a wall of gorgeous photography. More importantly, the photographs don’t stop.

Every step in a recipe is accompanied by a picture that shows how things should be at that point. Additionally, some recipes provide tutorial videos for potentially tricky skills and techniques. Fancy some Vietnamese pho, but not sure how to peel ginger, prepare a chilli or thinly slice meat? Kitchen Stories has you covered.

Beyond this, there’s a shopping list, handy essentials guide, and some magazine-style articles to peruse. And while you don’t get the sheer range of recipes found in some rival apps, the presentation more than makes up for that — especially on the iPad, which will likely find a new home in your own kitchen soon after Kitchen Stories is installed.

On opening Toca Nature, you find yourself staring at a slab of land floating in the void. After selecting relevant icons, a drag of a finger is all it takes to raise mountains or dig deep gullies for rivers and lakes.

Finishing touches to your tiny landscape can then be made by tapping to plant trees. Wait for a bit and a little ecosystem takes shape, deers darting about glades, and fish swimming in the water. Using the magnifying glass, you can zoom into and explore this little world and feed its various inhabitants.

Although designed primarily for kids, Toca Nature is a genuinely enjoyable experience whatever your age.

The one big negative is that it starts from scratch every time — some save states would be nice, so each family member could have their own space to tend to and explore. Still, blank canvases keep everything fresh, and building a tiny nature reserve never really gets old.

The fairly large screen of the iPad means you can access desktop-style websites, rather than ones hacked down for iPhone. That sounds great until you realise most of them want to fire adverts into your face until you beg for mercy.

Old people will wisely suggest ‘RSS’, and then they’ll explain that means you can subscribe to sites and get their content piped into an app.

Reeder 3 is a great RSS reader for iPad. It’s fast, efficient, caches content for offline use and — importantly — bundles a Readability view. This downloads entire articles for RSS feeds that otherwise would only show synopses.

Like on the iPhone, Reeder’s perhaps a bit gesture-happy, but it somehow feels more usable on the iPad’s larger display. And we’re happy to see the app continue to improve its feature set, including Split View and iPad Pro support, font options for the article viewer, and the means to sync across Instapaper content.

It says something about the flexibility of LumaFX that we initially thought it broken during review. It wasn’t — we’d in fact accidentally applied so many effects to a video that it ended up looking like a nightmarish Eastern European animation from 1977. We weren’t counting on a video app enabling rapid layering of advanced effects just by blithely tapping away, you see.

But that’s LumaFX in a nutshell — it makes mucking around with videos almost laughably simple. You can crop and fit videos in various ways, reorient those that are the wrong way round, change their speeds, adjust colours, and fiddle about with that effects catalogue. There are vignettes, blurs, and weird pixelation effects, all of which render almost absurdly quickly. It’s all rather brilliant.

Given the sheer photo-editing power available for nothing in Google’s excellent Snapseed, paid apps in this space need to be something special.

Enlight covers all the basics, much as you’d expect, with a range of tools for cropping, making adjustments, adding filters, and so on. Where it excels is in shooting for a more artistic and professional approach.

From an art standpoint, you get a bunch of painterly and classic film filters that really look the part. When it comes to professional retouching, you can process up to 50MP images on an iPad Pro, work with noise reduction, freeze areas of images when transforming them, and precision-mask any effect.

The first time you try any tool, a tutorial leads you through the process, but on the whole Enlight has the kind of interface that’s easy to click with.

The destructive nature of effects and editing is a pity – you can’t later adjust something you changed a while ago, only undo. But that’s the only niggle in this otherwise excellent photo editor for iPad.

Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. Along with integrating with Safari, it can be used to hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. It's also cross-platform, meaning it will work with Windows and Android.

And since 1Password is a standalone app, accessing and editing your information is fast and efficient. The core app is free – the company primarily makes its money on the desktop. However, you’ll need a monthly subscription or to pay a one-off $9.99/£9.99/AU$14.99 IAP to access advanced features (multiple vaults, Apple Watch support, tagging, and custom fields).

The vast majority of iPads in Apple’s line-up don’t have a massive amount of storage, and that becomes a problem when you want to keep videos on the device. Air Video HD gets around the problem by streaming video files from any Mac or PC running the free server software. All content is live-encoded as necessary, ensuring it will play on your iPad, and there’s full support for offline viewing, soft subtitles, and AirPlay to an Apple TV.

Perhaps the best bit about the software is how usable it is. The app’s simple to set up and has a streamlined, modern interface – for example, a single tap downloads a file for local storage. You don’t even need to be on the same network as your server either – Air Video HD lets you access your content over the web. Just watch your data downloads if you’re on 3G!

Dropbox is a great service for syncing documents across multiple devices, and chances are you’re familiar with it already. On the iPad, we used to consider Dropbox essential as a kind of surrogate file system.

Even now that Apple’s provided easier access to iCloud Drive, Dropbox remains a useful install, largely on the basis of its widespread support (both in terms of platforms and also iOS apps). The Dropbox app itself works nicely, too, able to preview a large number of file types, and integrating well with iOS for sending documents to and from the various apps you have installed.

Apple's own Calendar app is fiddly and irritating, and so the existence of Fantastical is very welcome. In a single screen, you get a week view, a month calendar and a scrolling list of events. There's also support for reminders, and all data syncs with iCloud, making Fantastical compatible with Calendar (formerly iCal) for macOS.

The best bit, though, is Fantastical's natural-language input, where you can type an event and watch it build as you add details, such as times and locations. On iPad, we do question the layout a little – a large amount of space is given over to a month calendar view. Still, in portrait or, better, Split View, Fantastical 2 is transformative.

GoodReader is the iPad’s best PDF reader, and also a means of editing documents on the move. Using the app’s excellent toolset, you can annotate documents and extract text. Pages within documents can be rearranged, and files split and combined.

Beyond working specifically with PDF, the app will preview many other file types, and includes the ability to archive and extract ZIPs, and connect to a wide range of online services. It therefore goes far beyond the likes of iBooks, becoming a handy tool for anyone who regularly works with PDFs and sends them on elsewhere.

You’re not going to make the next Hollywood hit on your iPad, but iMovie‘s more than capable of dealing with home movies. The interface resembles its desktop cousin and is easy to get to grips with. Clips can be browsed, arranged and cut, and you can then add titles, transitions and music. For the added professional touch, there are ‘trailer templates’ to base your movie on, rather than starting from scratch.

And should your iPad be powerful enough, this app will happily work with and export footage all the way up to 4K, which will likely make anyone who used to sit in front of huge video workstations a decade or two ago wide-eyed with astonishment.

There’s something fascinating about animation, and iStopMotion is a powerful and usable app for unleashing your inner Aardman, enabling you to create frame-by-frame stories. The camera overlay makes it easy to check your current scene against the previous one, and you can preview your work at any time.

There’s also time-lapse functionality built-in, and the means to use the free iStopMotion Remote Camera with an iPhone on the same network.

If you’re still convinced the iPad is only a device for staring brain-dead at TV shows and not a practical tool for education, check out iTunes U. The app enables you to access many thousands of free lectures and courses taught by universities and colleges, thereby learning far more than what bizarre schemes current soap characters are hatching.

For instructors, it’s similarly a boon, enabling them to build lessons, collect and grade assignments, and have one-to-one or group discussions. It’s also an app that gels well with Apple’s modern design sensibilities, the interface getting out of the way and letting content shine through.

Touch Press somewhat cornered the market in amazing iOS books with The Elements, but Journeys of Invention takes things a step further. In partnership with the Science Museum, it leads you through many of science’s greatest discoveries, weaving them into a compelling mesh of stories.

Many objects can be explored in detail, and some are more fully interactive, such as the Enigma machine, which you can use to share coded messages with friends.

What’s especially great is that none of this feels gimmicky. Instead, this app points towards the future of books, strong content being married to useful and engaging interactivity.

The idea behind Launch Center Pro is to take certain complex actions and turn them into tappable items — a kind of speed-dial for tasks such as adding items to Clear, opening a URL in 1Password, or opening a specific view in Google Maps. Although the list of supported apps isn’t huge, it’s full of popular productivity apps; and should you use any of them on a regular basis, Launch Center Pro will be a massive time-saver and is well worth the outlay.

It’s not like Microsoft Word really needs introduction. Unless you’ve been living under a rock that itself is under a pretty sizeable rock, you’ll have heard of Microsoft’s hugely popular word processor. What you might not realize, though, is how good it is on iPad.

Fire up the app and you’re greeted with a selection of handy templates, although you can of course instead use a blank canvas. You then work with something approximating the desktop version of Word, but that’s been carefully optimized for tablets. Your brain keeps arguing it shouldn’t exist, but it does — although things are a bit fiddly on an iPad mini.

Wisely, saved documents can be stored locally rather than you being forced to use Microsoft’s cloud, and they can be shared via email. (A PDF option exists for recipients without Office, although it’s oddly hidden behind the share button in the document toolbar, under ‘Send Attachment’, which may as well have been called ‘beware of the leopard’.)

Something else that’s also missing: full iPad Pro 12.9 support in the free version. On a smaller iPad, you merely need a Microsoft account to gain access to most features. Some advanced stuff — section breaks; columns; tracking changes; insertion of WordArt — requires an Office 365 account, but that won’t limit most users.

Presumably, Microsoft thinks iPad Pro owners have money to burn, though, because for free they just get a viewer. Bah.

There are loads of note-taking apps for the iPad, but Notability hits that sweet spot of being usable and feature-rich. Using the app’s various tools, you can scribble on a virtual canvas, using your finger or a stylus. Should you want precision copy, you can drag out text boxes to type into. It’s also possible to import documents.

One of the smartest features, though, is audio recording. This enables you to record a lecture or meeting, and the app will later play back your notes live alongside the audio, helping you see everything in context. Naturally, the app has plenty of back-up and export options, too, so you can send whatever you create to other apps and devices.

We mention Microsoft’s iPad efforts elsewhere, but if you don’t fancy paying for a subscription and yet need some spreadsheet-editing joy on your iPad, Numbers is an excellent alternative. Specially optimised for Apple’s tablet, Numbers makes great use of custom keyboards, smart zooming, and forms that enable you to rapidly enter data. Presentation app Keynote and page-layout app Pages are also worth a look.

For a long while, Paper was a freemium iPad take on Moleskine sketchbooks. You made little doodles and then flipped virtual pages to browse them. At some point, it went free, but now it’s been transformed into something different and better. The original tools remain present and correct, but are joined by the means to add text, checklists, and photos. One other newcomer allows geometric shapes you scribble to be tidied up, but without losing their character.

So rather than only being for digital sketches, Paper’s now for all kinds of notes and graphs, too. The sketchbooks, however, are gone; in their place are paper stacks that explode into walls of virtual sticky notes. Some old-hands have grumbled, but we love the new Paper. It’s smarter, simpler, easier to browse, and makes Apple’s own Notes look like a cheap knock-off.

In theory, we should be cheerleading for FaceTime, what with it being built into iOS devices, but it’s still an Apple-only system. Skype, however, is enjoyed by myriad users who haven’t been bitten by the Apple bug, and it works very nicely on the iPad, including over 3G.

Unlike on the iPhone, where Skype clearly wants to be a Windows Phone app, the iPad version feels a lot more like a restrained desktop app. Usefully, Skype works well in Split View, too, so you can message people while referring to an open document or web page.

Apple’s Photos app has editing capabilities, but they’re not terribly exciting — especially when compared to Snapseed. Here, you select from a number of tools and filters, and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image. You get all the basics — cropping, rotation, healing brushes, and the like – but the filters are where you can get really creative.

There are blurs, photographic effects, and more extreme options like ‘grunge’ and ‘grainy film’, which can add plenty of atmosphere to your photographs. The vast majority of effects are tweakable, mostly by dragging up and down on the canvas to select a parameter and then horizontally to adjust its strength.

Brilliantly, the app also records applied effects as separate layers, each of which remains fully editable until you decide to save your image and work on something else.

Soulver is more or less the love child of a spreadsheet and the kind of calculations you do on the back of an envelope. You write figures in context, and Souvler extracts the maths bits and tots up totals; each line’s results can be used as a token in subsequent lines, enabling live updating of complex calculations. Drafts can be saved, exported to HTML, and also synced via Dropbox or iCloud.

Initially, the app feels a bit alien, given that people have been used to digital versions of desktop calculators since the dawn of home computing. But scribbling down sums in Soulver soon becomes second nature.

We’re big fans of the Foldify apps, which enable people to fashion and customise little 3D characters on an iPad, before printing them out and making them for real. This mix of digital painting, sharing (models can be browsed, uploaded and rated) and crafting a physical object is exciting in a world where people spend so much time glued to virtual content on screens.

But it’s Foldify Dinosaurs that makes this list because, well, dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of making a magenta T-Rex with a natty moustache? Should that person exist, we don’t want to meet them.

When someone talks about bringing back the sounds of the 1980s, your head might fill with Human League and Depeche Mode, but if you played games, you’ll instead think of Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway, chip-tune pioneers whose music graced the C64, leveraging the power of the MOS Technology 6581/8580 SID (Sound Interface Device) chip.

SidTracker64 is a niche but wonderfully designed iPad app that’s a complete production package for creating SID tunes. It’s unashamedly retro in terms of sound, but boasts a modern design, with powerful editing and export functionality. If you’re only into raw chip-tune noises, Audiobus and Inter-App Audio are supported; but if you’re an old-hand, you’ll be delighted at the bundled copy of Hubbard’s Commando, ready for you to remix.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/tablets/top-230-best-ipad-apps-2013-681998

Moto E4 release date, news and rumors

Update: A new leak has revealed that the Moto E4 might launch on July 17 with a high price. It's also echoed all the previous spec rumors.

We’ve already had the affordable Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus this year, but an even cheaper pair of handsets look to be on the way, dubbed the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus.

And while a low price might be the main selling point of these successors to the Moto E3, it’s not the only thing they’re likely to have going for them, with rumors also pointing to a monster battery and respectable specs for the money.

Here’s a constantly updated rundown of all the news and rumors we’ve heard about the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus so far.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Motorola's ultra affordable new handset
  • When is it out? Possibly July 17
  • What will it cost? Maybe around $165/£125/AU$220

Moto E4 release date

The Moto E4 might launch on July 17 according to leaker Roland Quandt, and presumably the Moto E4 Plus would land alongside it. That date would make sense, as the Moto E3 was announced in July 2016.

That's the only launch rumor we've heard, but the larger handset has seemingly been certified by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission – a US regulatory body), so there’s a good chance they’re coming soon.

Moto E4 design and screen

Hottest leaks:

  • A metal back
  • 5.0-inch and 5.5-inch 720p screens

An exhaustive specs leak from WinFuture suggests that both the Moto E4 and Moto E4 Plus will have a metal back like the Moto G5, in place of the plastic on the Moto E3.

It adds that they will have a fingerprint scanner on the front, likely built into a home button below the screen, and that the Moto E4 will come in at 144.7 x 72.3 x 8.99mm and 151g, while the Moto E4 Plus is 155 x 72.3 x 9.55mm and 198g.

That would make the standard Moto E4 ever so slightly larger in all dimensions than the Moto E3, as well as being slightly heavier.

Apparently the standard Moto E4 will come in grey, gold and blue, with the Moto E4 Plus launching in just grey and gold colors.

According to the same source, the Moto E4 will have a 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 IPS LCD screen (a claim which has since been echoed), just like the Moto E3, while the Moto E4 Plus will up the size to 5.5 inches but won’t have a higher resolution.

TechRadar’s take: So far, all the design rumors come from one source, so we’d take them with a pinch of salt, but they sound believable.

Moto E4 camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • A 13MP camera and a huge 5,000mAh battery for the E4 Plus
  • An 8MP camera and a 2,800mAh battery for the E4

The same massive specs leak tells us that both phones will have 5MP front-facing cameras, but that the Moto E4 will have an 8MP rear one, while the Moto E4 Plus apparently has a 13MP snapper on the back.

The difference in battery is seemingly even bigger, and could make the Moto E4 Plus a far more exciting handset, as both this source and information from the FCC suggests that the Moto E4 Plus has a huge 5,000mAh battery, while the standard Moto E4 will apparently have just a 2,800mAh one, and in both cases the batteries are said to be removable.

We've since heard the same specs again leaked for the standard Moto E4.

TechRadar’s take: The only thing that sounds at all unlikely here is the 5,000mAh battery, but with two sources pointing to it even that might be true.

Moto E4 OS and power

Hottest leaks:

  • A quad-core chipset
  • 2 or 3GB of RAM

According to the FCC, a phone believed to be the Moto E4 Plus will have a MediaTek chipset, and that claim is echoed by WinFuture’s info dump, which says that both models will have a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6737M chipset.

Don’t expect a huge amount of power from them if that’s accurate, but then these are budget phones, and they look more promising on the RAM front, with the standard Moto E4 rumored to have 2GB (up from just 1GB on the Moto E3) and the Moto E4 Plus said to have either 2GB or 3GB, with the actual amount varying by region.

The same source says that both handsets will have 16GB of built in storage, along with a microSD card slot, and that in some regions they will have NFC.

Both phones are expected to run Android Nougat, specifically apparently Android 7.1.1, and in typical Motorola fashion this is likely to be more or less stock Android.

TechRadar’s take: The rumors suggest a slight spec boost over the Moto E3 and the latest version of Android on board, which is exactly what we’d expect.

Moto E4 price

The earliest price rumor puts the Moto E4 at around 150 euros (roughly $165/£125/AU$220) and the Moto E4 Plus at around 190 euros (approximately $205/£160/AU$275).

However, since then we've heard that the Canadian price of the standard E4 would be $249.99, which translates to roughly $185/£145/AU$250 – far higher than the approximately $130/£100/AU$170 launch price of the Moto E3.

TechRadar’s take: Those prices are only approximate, but either option would make the Moto E4 more expensive than the Moto E3, which makes sense, given the move to metal and the improved specs.

However, of the two leaks we'd guess the earlier, cheaper one is more likely to be accurate, as the latest leak points to a big price jump.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/moto-e4-release-date-news-and-rumors

Moto E4 might launch on July 17 with a surprisingly high price

There’s not much that we don’t now know about the Moto E4, assuming the rumors all prove accurate, but until today one thing that was still up in the air was the launch date.

Now, we might know that too, as leaker Roland Quandt posted on Twitter that it “supposedly ships” on July 17.

That would make sense, given that the Moto E3 launched in July 2016, though the Moto Z2 is rumored to land on June 8 and it seems a bit odd to launch the new phones a month apart – either leaving a bigger gap or launching them at the same time would surely make more sense, so we wouldn’t totally rule out a June launch for the Moto E4 (or a July launch for the Moto Z2).

Specs and prices too

Alongside the date, Quandt also posted a detailed specs list, there’s not really anything here that hasn’t been leaked previously, but it matches previous information about the E4, with claims of a 5.0-inch 720 x 1280 screen, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, a microSD card slot, an 8MP rear camera, a 5MP front-facing one, and – at least in some regions – NFC.

Quandt also claims that the Moto E4 will cost $249.99 in Canada, which amounts to roughly $185/£145/AU$250. That would make the E4 a fair bit more expensive than the Moto E3, which launched at around $130/£100/AU$170.

Hopefully that part of the rumor is wrong then, but if the launch date is right we should know soon.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/moto-e4-might-launch-on-july-17-with-a-surprisingly-high-price

Panasonic EX750 and EX600 TV series brings cinema experience to your home

At an event in New Delhi, Panasonic India has unveiled a new 2017 line-up of 4K Ultra HD TVs along with the UA7 sound system. The TV line-up comprises of EX750 and EX600 series, which consists of 4K TVs with screen sizes ranging from 43-icnh to 65-inch. With this launch, the Japanese conglomerate aims to capture 10% market share in the 4K TV segment by the end of FY17-18. 

Speaking about the particulars, the expensive and the most elegant of all is EX750 flagship model with 65-inch 4K Ultra HD screen. It will be selling for Rs. 3,10,000. Its new cinema display with 4K Hexa Chroma Drive Pro, Panasonic’s Original Revolutionary Colour Processing Technology, provides a vivid color reproduction with a wide color range, resulting in an ultimate 4K viewing experience as well as a theater experience. 

The EX750 is equipped with 550nits Super Bright Panel, HDR1000 and is powered by the same Studio Colour HCX2 processor. It consists of 4 HDMI Terminals, 3 USB ports. It comes with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi. The 'Switch Design,' with Swivel functionality, on the Panasonic 65” EX750 offers the perfect viewing angle and gives plenty of options of where you can place your television. Overall, watching on this 65-inch monster will be a treat to eyes. 

On the other hand, EX600 series consists of three models: 55-inch, 49-inch, and 43-inch screen sizes priced at Rs. 1,78,900, Rs. 1,41,000, Rs. 78,900 respectively. All of them are designed to provide Smartest user experience, allowing users to access all their entertainment content in one place. They house 3 HDMI ports and 2 USB terminals. The interior frame is elegantly crafted with a Switch Design pedestal that allows the stand width to be adjusted according to preference.

On purchase of EX750 65-inch, EX600 55-inch, and Ex600 49-inch models, you will get a new UA7 all-in-one sound system for free. 

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/panasonic-ex750-and-ex600-tv-series-brings-cinema-experience-to-your-home

Moto Z2 release date, news and rumors

Update: New images and rumors have revealed almost everything there is to know about the Moto Z2 Play.

Motorola ditched the Moto X for 2016 and instead gave us the Moto Z (along with the Moto Z Force and Moto Z Play).

This trio of phones each earned four-star reviews from us, and we praised the flagship Moto Z for its incredibly slim design, innovative accessories and fingerprint scanner that does more than just scan.

But as strong as the Moto Z is, it wasn’t quite deserving of five stars, so with that in mind we’ve come up with a list of things we want from the Moto Z2 that could bump it up a point.

You’ll find that on page two of this article, but first we’ve collected all the news and rumors on Motorola’s next flagship for your perusal, including leaks surrounding the Moto Z2 Play, which might launch alongside it.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? Motorola's next flagship
  • When is it out? Probably mid-2017
  • What will it cost? A lot, but possibly less than some high-end phones

Moto Z2 release date

There aren’t any release date rumors yet, but the Moto Z was announced on June 9 and new models of phones tend to be launched around a year later, so a June 2017 announcement is likely.

And our best guess right now is June 8, as while that hasn't been attached to the Moto Z2, an image of the Moto Z2 Play has leaked with exactly that date shown on the screen, and it's likely that the two phones would be launched together.

But that’s probably not when you’ll be able to actually buy it, as the original Moto Z didn’t hit stores until July 28 – nearly two months after its announcement. 

Trusted Twitter leaker Evan Blass has confirmed the Moto Z2 name in a tweet, but it's uncertain where he got the information from and he doesn't know anymore about the release date.

TechRadar's take: A June 2017 announcement is our best guess for now, followed by a late July or early September launch.

Moto Z2 screen

We haven't yet heard any news on the size or resolution of the standard Moto Z2's screen, but rumors and a leaked presentation slide suggest that the Moto Z Play will have a 5.5-inch 1080p display, while the Moto Z Force will have a tough ShatterShield screen.

Interestingly, no normal Moto Z2 is listed, which could mean we won't see one, but if we do we'd expect it will have a sharper screen than the Z2 Play.

The original Moto Z has a 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 display, and there’s every chance the Moto Z (2017)’s screen will be exactly the same size and resolution. Any smaller could be seen as a downgrade, while larger would perhaps make it a bit too much of a phablet for the company’s main flagship (though that didn’t stop the Moto X Style having a 5.7-inch screen).

As for the resolution, there’s really no need for more than a QHD display other than perhaps for VR. That could have a big year in 2017, thanks to the launch of Google Daydream, but we’re not convinced it will be enough of a factor to push the resolution of the Moto Z2 up.

TechRadar's take: We'd expect a roughly 5.5-inch QHD screen, just like on the original Moto Z, but there are likely to be improvements behind the scenes.

Moto Z2 design

Hottest leaks:

  • A metal shell

One of the key design aspects of the original Moto Z was its incredibly slim 5.2mm thick build. This gave it an eye-catching look, and meant it was slim enough that MotoMods could be added without leaving you with an overly chunky phone, but it also meant the 3.5mm headphone jack had to be removed, and that’s a decision that wasn’t so popular.

Therefore, there’s a chance that Motorola will thicken up the Moto Z (2017) in order to reinstate the port. A leak from Android Authority suggests the company will bring back the 3.5mm headphone port and take some design cues from the Moto G5 for the Moto Z2.

Leaked renders of the Moto Z2 Force suggest the phone will come with a band that goes around the edge of the device to allow for better radio access to the four antennas expected in the phone. You can see the renders from Android Authority and OnLeaks in the gallery below.

That exact same design has leaked once again, suggesting it's quite possibly accurate. For the standard Moto Z2, the design looks to stay similar with a metal frame and back, and, assuming it stays super thin, a camera lens jutting out on the rear.

credit @OnLeaks and @Slashleaks

We've finally seen what appears to be the Moto Z2 in the leaked shot above. As you can see for yourself, it looks a lot like the original Moto Z.

However, the fingerprint sensor takes after the concave design found on the Moto G5 and the rear dual camera system makes us think that Tango could be coming to this upcoming iteration.

The Moto Z2 Play, courtesy of another leaked image, looks somewhat similar, with a metal frame and back, a redesigned home button and a round camera lens – though only one lens, not two.

The Moto Z2 Play has been leaked again in a few other images (visible above), showing the same design in white/gold, black/grey and white/silver, but with one source adding that it will be just 6.6mm thick.

TechRadar's take: A similar but refined and possibly slightly thicker build is likely. Motorola probably won't bring back the headphone port though.

Moto Z2 camera and battery

Hottest leaks:

  • Fewer, larger pixels
  • OIS
  • A dual-lens camera

The Moto Z has a 13MP rear camera, but early rumors suggest that could be changing for the Moto Z (2017), as leaker @Ricciolo1 has tweeted that the Moto Z (2017) will have a lower megapixel count, but larger pixels and quality lenses, allowing for enhanced low light images.

The tweet adds that it will have laser autofocus and optical image stabilization – both of which are already features of the Moto Z.

Additionally, a recent leak appears to show off a dual camera system, which could bring some interesting portrait functions and potentially, Tango augmented reality tech. Though this may only make it to the main Moto Z2 and not the Moto Z2 Play.

We've also heard rumors that the Moto Z2 Play will have a single-lens 12MP camera with a dual-LED flash, a laser autofocus and the ability to shoot 4K video. The same source adds that there will be a 5MP front-facing camera with a single-LED flash.

Whatever happens we expect something will change, as while the original Moto Z has a good camera, it’s not a match for the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10, or indeed most of 2016’s flagships, as you can see in our best camera phone test.

We also hope for changes to the battery, as the Moto Z is far from long-lasting, thanks to a small 2,600mAh juice pack. The limited size may have been necessary to get the phone as thin as it is, but it holds the handset back, so is likely to be an area of focus for Motorola on 2017’s model.

We don't know what size battery the standard Moto Z2 will have, but the Moto Z2 Play is rumored to have a 3,000mAh one – which would actually be smaller than the Moto Z Play's.

TechRadar's take: We're sure Motorola will work to improve both the camera and battery for the Moto Z (2017). In fact, they're likely to be the areas that get the most attention, but it's too early to say exactly what the changes will be.

Moto Z2 OS and power

We know absolutely nothing about what will be powering the Moto Z (2017), but we can take an educated guess.

As a flagship phone it’s likely to use one of the best mobile chipsets available, which will probably mean the Snapdragon 835. 

There's some evidence for that chipset on the Moto Z2 Force, as it's rumored to offer speedy gigabit LTE for fast mobile data speeds, and the Snapdragon 835 is the only current Snapdragon chip to support that.

And as the original Moto Z has 4GB of RAM you can expect at least that much again, but it might jump to 6GB, as that looks set to be the next flagship standard.

Credit: TecDuos

We have heard some things about the power of the Moto Z2 Play though. That's said to have an octa-core Snapdragon 626 chipset, 64GB of storage space and 4GB of RAM – with evidence for that being shown in a leaked picture of the retail box.

All versions of the Moto Z2 will run Android of course, and given a likely mid-2017 launch they will probably be on Nougat – and a close-to-stock version of it.

TechRadar's take: A Snapdragon 835 chip and 6GB of RAM would be our guess for the main Moto Z2 – likely giving it the specs to rival other 2017 flagships.

Moto Z2 other features

MotoMods were one of the highlights of the original Moto Z, so we don’t expect they’ll be going anywhere. These are optional accessories that you can attach to the phone to add or improve features.

Current examples include a projector and an optical zoom lens, while a Tango mod, that would add augmented reality features like those found on the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro, is expected to land next year.

We’d also expect the fingerprint scanner to remain, and for it to usefully be able to turn the screen off, as well as waking it up, just as it can on the original Moto Z.

TechRadar's take: Don't expect too much in the way of new features, but improvements to existing ones, and plenty of MotoMods, are likely.

Moto Z2 price

For now, all we can do is look at the price of the original Moto Z, which started at $699/£499/AU$999 SIM-free. The Moto Z (2017) is likely to have a similar price tag, but if anything it could be more expensive.

As much as we like the Moto Z it’s far from a perfect handset. In fact, it has a number of significant missteps that we don’t want to see repeated in 2017. So, with that in mind, here’s what we want to see from the Moto Z (2017).

1. A bigger battery

The Moto Z’s 2,600mAh juice pack just doesn’t cut it, even compared to most rivals, which themselves don’t last as long as we’d like.

So for the Moto Z (2017) we want a larger, long-lasting battery, even if that means a thicker handset, which it probably will.

2. A fingerprint scanner that’s also a home button

The Moto Z has a speedy fingerprint scanner that’s especially useful, as it can be used to both sleep and wake the phone. But despite being below the screen and looking distinctly like a home button, it’s not, so we’d really like Motorola to combine the two for the Moto Z (2017).

If Samsung, Apple and any number of other manufacturers can do it, we’re sure Motorola can. But if it can’t then maybe the fingerprint scanner should be moved to the back, because it takes up a lot of otherwise seemingly wasted space below the display.

3. A headphone port

Motorola beat Apple to removing the 3.5mm headphone port, but while this is probably the future it’s not currently all that ideal, especially since Motorola seems to have removed it purely to make the Moto Z unnecessarily slim.

We don’t need our phones to be that thin, and being able to plug our headphones in without an adaptor would be much more useful, so how about bringing the port back for 2017?

4. No more camera bumps

The camera on the Moto Z sticks out a long way from the body, which is not the best look and means you can’t lie the phone completely flat.

As with so many other things, the decision to have a super-slim design is probably part of the problem, but slimmer isn’t always better.

5. Fewer fingerprints

As nice as the metal back of the Moto Z appears, it doesn’t stay that way for long, as it’s one of the biggest fingerprint magnets we’ve come across.

That’s a real shame, as simply picking the phone up can quickly ruin what’s otherwise a quality design. We’re happy for the Moto Z (2017) to have a similar overall look to the original, but one way or another Motorola needs to do something about the smudges.

6. A better snapper

While the Moto Z’s camera is far from bad, it’s also far from great, and with smartphone snappers becoming better all the time, Motorola is liable to be left behind in 2017 if it doesn’t do something about its flagship’s snapper.

Better quality shots, particularly in low light, is the bare minimum we want to see, but ideally the Moto Z (2017) will have some extra features too, like a dual-lens camera or an optical zoom.

7. Loads of MotoMods

MotoMods are one of the best things about the Moto Z, and we want them to play an even bigger role with the Moto Z (2017).

That means lots of them, with genuinely useful and interesting features, at reasonable prices. That could be a big ask, but with Motorola already talking about a Tango mod it’s clear the company is thinking big with them.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/moto-z-2017-what-we-want-to-see