I recently got an iPad, and have discovered a whole new world of fun with apps. Here’s a few of the favorites I’ve stumbled on, in no particular order. What’s yours?

PenUltimate App Icon

1. Penultimate ($1.99)

I bought a stylus for my iPad just because of this app. I love it because it works great as a sketchbook. I can email a PDF to a client to communicate an idea, or send it to myself to explore my thoughts further or just squirrel it away for another day. It has a few different colors you can sketch in—black and two shades of gray, blue, red, and green and an eraser tool. You can choose from graph, lined, or plain paper and a couple of different pen widths. My other favorite feature of this app is you can save multiple notebooks. So I can store my own personal sketches and then have a separate one for each of my clients.

Scrabble App Icon

2. Scrabble ($9.99)

This classic board game comes to life on your  iPad. My favorite feature on this app is challenging my Facebook friends to a friendly duel of words in Scrabble. But, if you just can’t wait for some action, you can also play the computer. In one mode, you can pass your iPad around and play with friends in person or you can all bring your iPads together and do a “Party Play”. You can also duel it out on a local network. Ah, the crossword possibilities.

Netflix App Icon

3. Netflix (FREE – subscription required)

Since we have forgone our plethora of cable channels for economic reasons this app has made the switch from 200 channels to 20 a lot easier. Shows I wished I had watched or never even heard of I now enjoy watching via the iPad, instantly and commercial-free.

Starbucks Mobile App Icon

4. Starbucks Card Mobile (FREE)

Technically this is an iPhone app, but it works on the iPad. I love that I can reload my Starbucks card from here and not have to go to the website and type in my password every time. I can check my card balance and see if I’m close to getting a free drink. Or if you have an iPhone you can use it to pay.  It also helps me find the closest Starbucks. Anything that makes my life easier is awesome.

CNN App Icon


Again, now that we’ve downsized our cable this is surprisingly one of the channels I miss. I can catch up on the news by watching short videos or reading articles any time I want.

SoundNote App Icon
6. SoundNote ($4.99)

This is another great app for taking notes. You can record your voice, use a stylus to write, or type in notes with a keyboard. I primarily use it to record time spent on client’s projects, create to-do lists, or record random thoughts, etc. The only drawbacks are, it can be a little tiresome typing with the virtual keyboard and the audio portion doesn’t dictate what you’re saying. Overall though I’ve found this app very useful and I like the clean layout and design.

Dr. Seuss App Icon

7. Any Dr. Seuss Book (FREE-$3.99 a book)

Our family is big into Dr. Seuss so it only makes sense we’d be totally into the app. They have really brought the books to life with interesting voices, sound effects, and Ken Burns-style video compositions. These books have an autoplay feature that has come in handy on road trips or at friends houses when our 2 1/2 year old gets a little antsy. Or if you’d rather there is a “read to me” and “read it myself” mode. I love that you can tap on any parts of the pictures and then words relating to the subject you tapped on will pop up enabling my daughter to interact and learn the words.

Tom the Talking Cat App Icon
8. Tom the Talking Cat (FREE-$2.99)

This is super silly app but is a big hit with our daughter. Tom the Talking Cat will “listen” to what you say and repeat it back to you in his high pitched “kitty” voice. You can get the free version which is ad supported or an ad free version with a few extra features—where Tom tries to eat a bird, throw a pie at you, and scratches the screen.

PDF Reader Pro App Icon

9. PDF Reader Pro ($3.99)

I used this app the other day to present some logos to a client. It allows me to view any PDF on my iPad, and comes in really handy for me since I’m a graphic designer and use PDFs all the time. Some nice features are:

  • You can download PDF email attachments
  • Email PDFs directly from the application
  • Wifi web sharing (so you can easily transfer your PDF files)
  • The 4.1 version now supports highlights and annotations which is great for marking up a PDF with comments and communicating with clients.

Some cons to the app are the subtle contrast in colors don’t display real well and PMS/Pantone colors display way off so do rely on it for color accuracy.

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