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The best Apple iPad apps of all time

On the iPad's 10th birthday, we look back at the apps that have made Apple's tablet a hit with people of all ages.

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Alison DeNisco Rayome
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1 of 25 Angela Lang/CNET

Netflix

The release of the first-gen iPad coincided with the expansion of Netflix's movie and TV streaming service. The Netflix app on our iPad allowed us to take our favorite shows with us everywhere we went, on a much larger screen than our iPhones offered -- truly a game changer that helped push us into the streaming era.

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2 of 25 Lori Grunin/CNET

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

With Lightroom, Adobe brought its desktop-standard photo editing to the iPad to use on the go. With a combination of free and premium features, Lightroom helps even professional photographers get work done on the tablet. A recent update lets iPad users directly import photos from a memory card. 

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3 of 25 Getty Images/ROBYN BECK

Flipboard

Flipboard is a curation tool that uses a combination of editors and algorithms to deliver news, videos and podcasts tailored to your interests. Founded in 2010, Flipboard was one of the first apps to take advantage of the iPad's magazine-esque layout. In the iPad app today, you can create Smart Magazines that bundle together articles and sources around your specific interests, like photography, technology or recipes. 

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4 of 25 Procreate

Procreate

An Apple Editor's Choice winner, Procreate is an art app made for the iPad and the Apple Pencil, featuring ultra-high definition canvases and hundreds of virtual brushes along with many design and animation tools. It's used by creative professionals, hobbyists and aspiring artists, who can import or export art as Adobe Photoshop files or in virtual any other format they'd like. 

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5 of 25 Getty Images/NurPhoto

Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle app for iPad helped open up the world of e-books, as it allowed us to buy them on Amazon and read them on the iPad, instead of on a Kindle. You can't buy books directly from the app on your iPad, but the Kindle books you buy on Amazon (or the Amazon app) will automatically appear in the Kindle app. 

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6 of 25 Vito Technology

Star Walk

Winner of the Apple Design Award back in 2010, Star Walk is an incredibly detailed astronomy app that allows real-time tracking of the night sky and its stars, constellations, planets and more. The iPad app showed the benefits and potential of the device's large, portable screen -- when you launch the app and point your tablet at the night sky, you'll see a labeled map of stars, planets, satellites and constellations from your location. 

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7 of 25 Ginger Labs

Notability

Another Apple Editor's Choice award winner. Notability is a comprehensive note taking app that lets you combine typed or handwritten notes and drawings with audio recordings -- taking advantage of the iPad's capabilities as a digital notepad. For an extra cost, it will even convert your handwritten notes to text. 

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8 of 25 Getty Images/Artur Debat

YouTube

It's another old standby, but the YouTube app on the iPad helped further the tablet's reputation as a mobile content consumption platform. YouTube had been one of the default apps on the iPad until iOS 6, when it moved to the App Store after Apple and YouTube parent company Google's license to include it in iOS expired. Almost a decade later, it remains one of the most popular apps for the iPad in the App Store. 

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9 of 25 1Password

1Password

Remembering individual usernames and passwords for the growing number of iPad and iOS apps is nearly impossible. 1Password -- named CNET's best subscription password manager -- has an iPad app that unlocks with Face ID, if you have an iPad Pro. It has an easy-to-use interface and will keep all of your passwords stored in one place. 

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10 of 25 FireCore

Infuse Pro 6

Infuse 6 allows you to watch almost any video format on your iPad, without needing to convert or transcode the file. The playback engine supports almost every video file, including MKV, MP4, AVI, ISO, DVD and BDMV. 

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11 of 25 TED

TED Talks

Browse through TED's library of thousands of inspiring and information talks on video free on the TED Talks app for iPad, originally released back in 2010. You can also get personalized recommendations, and download videos to watch later. 

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12 of 25 NASA

NASA

NASA's iPad app includes a large collection of images, videos, mission information, news, and International Space Station sighting opportunities -- letting you keep up with all of the latest from space at home.

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13 of 25 Apple

GarageBand

Turn your iPad into a recording studio complete with a collection of digital instruments, to make music anywhere you go. The latest version of the GarageBand app includes features for live loops and multi-touch gestures to play virtual instruments

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14 of 25 ComiXology

comiXology

The comiXology app is an e-reader specifically for -- you guessed it -- comic books. You can find more than 100,000 digital comics, graphic novels and manga from Marvel, DC, Image and more for purchase, or as part of a subscription service. The app's Guided View lets you experience comics in a more immersive way on your tablet. 

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15 of 25 LumaFusion

LumaFusion

The most popular mobile video editing app for iOS, LumaFusion proved that iPads can be great not just for watching videos, but for making them. The app is a multitrack video editor used by professional video producers, filmmakers and journalists. It has six video and audio tracks for photos, videos, audio, titles and graphics, and the ability to add and layer effects and color corrections -- all from your iPad.

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16 of 25 Microsoft

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel has been around since the 1980s, but its iPad app brings all of the functionality of the desktop version into a more portable format. Use the app to review your Excel files, and edit and analyze sheets and data. You can also make notes and highlight portions of your worksheets. 

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17 of 25

Duet Display photo

Duet Display is an app that turns your iPad into a second monitor for your laptop, desktop or phone. Designed by former Apple engineers, the app can turn your tablet into a productivity tool, with full gesture support and customizable shortcuts. It also creates a Touch Bar on your tablet. The app works completely via software, so no cables or dongles are needed -- and promises zero lag time.

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18 of 25

Disney Plus

Disney's $7-a-month streaming service Disney Plus launched in November 2019 to lots of fanfare -- and got 10 million subscribers in just one day. The platform, available as an iPad app, with a subscription, includes some 500 movies and 7,500 episodes of TV. Those include Disney classics as well as Star WarsMarvelPixar and the Simpsons -- not to mention new original show The Mandalorian, which introduced us to America's sweetheart, Baby Yoda

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19 of 25 Getty/John Fedele

FaceTime

When Apple's FaceTime app arrived on the iPad, it became the standard choice for many for video chatting with your grandparents. Use the app to make audio and video calls from your iPad or iPhone to other iOS devices, or to a Mac.

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20 of 25 Zynga

Words with Friends

Words with Friends took Scrabble into the digital age, allowing players to connect and play against others in the app to build words crossword-puzzle style. 

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21 of 25 Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Alto's Odyssey

The popular mobile game sequel to Alto's Adventure, Alto's Odyssey features beautiful scenery and weather effects, as you explore dunes, canyons and ancient temples. The iPad's larger screen makes it a great match for the impressive game, which has won a number of design and game awards. 

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22 of 25 Pixelmator

Pixelmator Photo

Pixelmator Photo is a photo editor for the iPad that rivals Photoshop, and at $5, costs less. It includes a number of desktop-class photo edit tools, machine learning-enhanced film emulation presets, and a Repair tool to remove unwanted objects from photos. 

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23 of 25 iA

iA Writer

Perfect for the easily distracted, the iA writer app provides an incredibly simple, clean user interface for getting writing done. It offers a focus mode to help you get more done, along with accessible plain text files that are shareable between different apps and platforms.  

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24 of 25 The New York Times

The New York Times

The New York Times was one of the first companies to receive an iPad after the device was announced in 2010, and served as an early example of a print publication shifting the focus to digital. 

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25 of 25 Duolingo

Duolingo

Duolingo is a language learning app with a colorful interface and short, game-like exercises that are perfect for the iPad. You can learn any of the 35 languages offered at the same time. 

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