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The best Apple iPad apps of all time: Media players, graphics tools and more

7 months ago

It’s been 10 years since former Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad. The move firmly pushed tablets into the mainstream gadget conversation while leading many to ask, “What the heck is this giant iPod touch?” (Oh 2010, you sweet summer child.) In a review of the first-gen iPad that year, CNET described the device as “an elegant, affordable supergadget.” One of the main draws was how easy it was to access and navigate the apps on the 9.7-inch screen. 

Jobs said the iPad would define “an entirely new category of devices that will connect people with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.” He wasn’t wrong: 10 years later, the iPad’s portability, user-friendly interface and variety of apps have made it a favorite device in many homes, classrooms and offices. We use it for web surfing, reading, drawing, binge watching and sometimes even working. 

Read more: iPad 10.2-inch (2019) review: The case for the least expensive iPad

Apple separated iPadOS into its own platform last year, bringing the tablets closer to operating like a laptop — though for most people, the tablet isn’t ready to become a primary work device just yet. My CNET colleague Dan Ackerman dove into this topic in his commentary, Apple iPad at 10: Can we call it a computer yet?

Looking back on that first announcement (and how much we made fun of the name iPad), you can see the evolution of our expectations for the iPad and its apps. It briefly looked like the iPad would be the next frontier for magazines, with its large, high-resolution screen and interactive capabilities. That never came to fruition, but Apple is still betting on the format with Apple News Plus, a service for accessing top magazines and newspapers in one place for one monthly subscription fee. 

The iPad also held a lot of potential for mobile games and — unlike the expectations for magazines — that promise was fulfilled. Many of the most popular iPad apps today are games, and the Apple Arcade mobile game service now has more than 100 games you can download and play on the iPad and other Apple devices. 

We selected 25 apps that have turned the iPad into a useful tool for entertainment, reading, working and playing. Here are the top 10 — check out the rest in our full gallery of the best iPad apps of all time.


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