When the iPad was first revealed back in 2010, many people only saw it as purely a device to consume content on. Some of us saw differently. Even before I was able to get my hands on one, I already knew developers were going to seize the opportunity to turn this wonderful device into a productivity powerhouse.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just an Instagram junkie looking for something new, there’s guaranteed to be something in the App Store that you’re bound to love.
In this round-up, we’ll help you find the right app you need, whether it be for work or play.
Let’s be honest, quite a few of us just aren’t ready to part with our laptops and desktops as our primary photo editing devices. You demand the most out of your software to showcase your hard work, and Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom applications still reign supreme.
So how does the iPad fit into all this? As a touch-screen enabled external monitor, of course! Look no further than Air Display as your go-to solution.
Air Display on the iPad works beautifully as a reference screen and dashboard for the most demanding of desktop creative applications. One thing I love to do is to use Lightroom 4.0 on my new iPad while editing photos in Photoshop on my Macbook Pro. If you’re working with both a new iPad and OSX Lion, you also have the option to enable HiDPI mode which is considered Apple’s solution to delivering OSX content at Retina-like resolutions.
Developer: Avatron Software Inc.
As the App Store’s #1 Top Free App, Paper by FiftyThree has proven to be quite an impressive and well-optimized app that focuses on a minimalistic and lag-free approach to your typical feature-rich creativity apps.
Paper is absolutely perfect for a photographer to sketch out storyboards and concept illustrations when planning photoshoots.
Of all the note-taking and illustration apps I’ve ever used, Paper is second only to Procreate when providing the most natural handwriting experiences I’ve ever had on a tablet. Even with its limited and missing features as well as in-app purchases totalling to $8 to have all 6 tools, I find Paper to be worth every penny simply based on the overall experience alone.
Price: Free ($7.99 optional IAP)
Considered by many as Adobe Lightroom for mobile devices, Process offers a great set of tools in a well thought out UI for fine-tuning and editing photos.
Though iPhoto is great for managing multiple photos and making a few minor tweaks to them, Process excels in deeper, non-destructive, image editing with hardware-accelerated processing for instant results. Whether you want to make quick adjustments or want to create more advanced layered effects and filters, Process gives you every tool to make it happen, outputting all your work at full resolution.
Developer: Alaric Cole
Some might dismiss Percolator as a novelty app only capable of taking your photos and applying cutesy circular effects on them, but I’ve found Percolator to be quite awesome at creating truly interesting results after spending enough time with it.
You won’t find any fancy curves adjustments, layers, and professional tools here. Percolator does one thing, and one thing only, and it does it really well. The interface is minimal and gives you just enough without getting in your way.
Spend some time playing with the different effects and settings on one image and see just how many interesting results you can get. Who knows, maybe you’ll even produce something good enough to print and frame!
Developer: Tinrocket, LLC
Before I happily jumped into the Instagram bandwagon, I fell in love with a vintage filter app called Plastic Bullet. Sure, you’ll certainly have no difficulty finding truckloads of photo filter apps on the App Store, but very few actually deliver quality vintage filters like Plastic Bullet does.
What’s so great about Plastic Bullet? Randomized, BELIEVABLE, filters. You will never have the same result no matter how many times you have it generate new filters for you. The heart-shaped “favorites” button will become your new best friend here, allowing you to save any creation you want at up to 3000×3000 pixels!
It will always be a fun surprise seeing what new effects Plastic Bullet will come up with next. If you’re more into much older looking vintage filters (think 1940’s), pick this one up.
Developer: Red Giant Software
Have you ever thought about creating fun pseudo-holographic photo effects with long-exposure photography? Neither have I. That’s until I discovered Holo-Paint, of course.
The way it works is you start off customizing settings in Holo-Paint which allow you to create your own 2D or 3D “holographic” text. It then gives you pertinent information regarding what settings you need to have on your camera. Finally, you jump in front of your camera, iPad in hand, and Holo-Paint gives you audible cues you need to follow so your timing is spot-on as it generates the light patterns that your camera captures as you slowly paint with (the iPad’s) light in however fashion you like.
It takes a while to get used to, but the end result is usually always worth it.
Developer: Garry Somerville
Adobe Nav was released in 2011 in a trio of companion apps along with Adobe Eazel and Color Lava. It works as a control panel that connects to the desktop version of Adobe Photoshop and lets you customize the panel layout to your liking. You can also browse and reorder up to 200 open images in Photoshop, which I found incredibly useful. Anyone that has tried to manage multiple images in Photoshop alone will quickly find value in this single feature the more they use Adobe Nav.
Developer: Adobe Systems Inc.
Blurb, most popular for their online book creation and distribution service, now has an app that functions mainly as a social media service allowing you to present your photography in “stories” which you arrange yourself within the app. You also have the option to add audio clips to your stories should you ever feel the need to add that extra depth to them.
The quality of stories that others have uploaded is quite impressive. The community seems to be made up of serious enthusiasts that understand the value in visual narrative. If you’re looking for an alternative to popular social networks like Instagram, be sure to check Out Blurb Mobile!
Developer: Blurb Inc.
500px is a wonderful photo sharing social network for professional and serious photographers. As a big fan of Flickr I have found 500px to be very similar, only with a much higher standard of quality in the images that they feature. In it, you’ll find countless sources of inspiration, no matter what kind of photography you’re into.
iMotion HD is one of many stop-motion camera apps in the App Store. With features like remote triggering, onion skin, intervalometer controls, and manual focus, it offers a balance of great UI design and functionality. Full export features are unlocked with a $1.99 in-app purchase, but the app is free otherwise.
If you’ve never made yourself a stop-motion video before, this is a wonderful app to start with. With no limits to the size of the movies you want to make, iMotion HD is guaranteed to be a fun experience for many.
Price: Free ($1.99 IAP)
These are just a few of many great apps for the iPad that will suit just about anyone looking to get the most out of their photography. We hope you’ve found an app or three that will help you expand your boundaries and boost your creative process!
Those with the new iPad will love showcasing all your high resolution photos on that shiny new Retina Display, especially if you’re a professional photographer showing clients your portfolio!
Be sure to check back often. As more new apps become available, we’ll be sure to have even better round-ups in the future!