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Get work done with these iPad apps for productivity

You can use an iPad app for productivity tasks like managing your contacts, filling out your calendar, collaborating on emails, and more to streamline your work.

For nearly a decade, the iPad has been a critical part of my daily workflow. From managing my inbox to coordinating my schedule and writing countless stories, notes, touching up photos, and even editing videos -- I've done it all on the iPad. As the hardware and software have improved, the amount of work I could get done on the tablet has only increased. Even though it took nearly a decade for the iPad to get its own operating system, the key to using an iPad as a work computer has always been apps. 

Not just apps from Apple, but third-party apps from developers who have remained committed to providing high-quality tools for iPad users. Below, you'll find just a handful of iPad apps that make using the tablet for school and work-related tasks possible. 

Features: Yearly cost of $40 for premium content | Calendar app | Manage your contacts

Flexibits moved its apps over to a subscription model, with a yearly cost of $40, but it now includes two of the company's apps: Fantastical and Cardhop. The former is a calendar app that is truly a joy to use, and Cardhop takes a similar approach to help you manage your contacts. 

Fantastical is one of the best calendar apps available for the iPad. It combines your tasks and calendar entries into one app, and it's easy to use thanks to features like being able to create a new entry just by typing a single line of text. For example, if you enter "Meeting with David next Thursday at 3" the appointment will be created without any further effort on your part. 

You can use either app for free with some features reserved for a premium account. 


  • Two apps in one 
  • Combine tasks and calendar entries into one app


  • The best features are reserved for a premium account

Features: Starts at $6.39 a month per user | Email templates | Snooze emails 

After years of using Apple's Mail app, I've finally made the switch to Readle's Spark mail app across all of my devices. With features like the ability to schedule when an email is sent, email templates, or snooze emails for action at a later time it's been invaluable for me. 

But for business and enterprise users, there are more valuable features like the ability to create a team and work on composing emails together, with each person participating from their own devices. There are various pricing tiers, based on how much you plan on using the Teams feature. If you have a small team, you likely won't have to sign up for a subscription. 


  • Various pricing tiers 
  • Schedule or snooze an email 


  • You may have to store your email account passwords on Spark's servers which isn't ideal

Features: $2.99 for an individual or $4.99 for a family of five | Encrypts your passwords | Receive alerts if an account is compromised 

1Password creates unique passwords for your online accounts, stores them all, and enters them automatically for you in apps and websites. It comes with a 30-day free trial, after which you can sign up for a monthly subscription.


  • Convenient and secure access to your passwords 
  • Supports almost all operating systems and browsers 


  • Can be overwhelming to use and navigate at first

Features: $29.99 | Export into Word or HTML | Sync work with third-party services

I've tried many writing apps over the years, and I always come back to iA Writer. It's a simple, straightforward text editor that supports the Markdown syntax. You don't have to use Markdown to write, but it makes it easier to export your documents for Word or even in HTML. You can sync your work through iA Writer's built-in support for third-party storage services.  


  • Easy to use 
  • Support for Markdown language 


  • Could use more organizing tools 

Features: $79.99 a year | Open ZIP files | Sign and fill out forms 

PDF Expert is more than just a PDF reader. This single app lets you edit PDF files, including images and text, along with annotating and marking up a document. I use it to sign documents, fill out forms, and open ZIP files (seriously, it's the most reliable app for opening ZIP files I've used on the iPad). 

If you deal with a lot of PDF files, then PDF Expert is the way to go. It's free to download and use for basic tasks, but you'll need a Pro subscription ($49.99 a year) if you want to edit PDFs and sign documents. Here's a breakdown of features unlocked by the subscription.


  • Free version 
  • Edit PDF files 


  • Expensive subscription 

What is the best iPad app for productivity?

Our recommendation for the best iPad app for productivity is Flexibits' Fantastical and Cardhop. Both apps combined allow you to utilize many features like calendars and tasks, as well as manage your contacts. 



Purpose and features

Fantastical and Cardhop


Manage tasks, calendar entries, and contacts

Spark Mail


Everything email, including scheduling or snoozing an email and helpful email templates



Manage and protect your passwords

iA Writer


Helps you focus on your writing with simple and useful features like Markdown language 

PDF Expert


Edit PDFs and ZIP files and sign documents 

Which productivity app is right for you?

Every app in this list includes at least some free functionality. I suggest downloading all of them and tapping or swiping your way through them. Get a feel for the app, its design, and its approach to its core features. If you don't like the overall experience, keep searching. There are countless high-quality iPad apps in the Apple App Store. 

Choose this app...

If you want...

Fantastical and Cardhop

The best overall option

Spark Mail

An alternative app to Apple Mail


A better way to store and remember your passwords

iA Writer

A helpful and distraction-free text editor 

PDF Expert

Something to edit PDFs

How did we choose these productivity apps?

I've used a large number of iPad apps over the last decade. Some were good, others have been great. I tried to approach this list by looking at those apps that only meet the latter requirement. Of course, apps like Slack and Zoom are great, but they're more common than ever. Each one of these apps fits a specific role and provides a unique experience that improves upon what Apple includes in iPadOS on its own. 

How can an iPad increase productivity?

With the addition of Apple's M1 Processor to more recent iPad models, the iPad is arguably just about the same as a Macbook or iMac these days in terms of speed and capabilities. You can use an iPad on the go much more easily than a computer, and since the iPad is compatible with the Apple Pencil, the possibilities are endless in the amount of work and what kind of work you can do on your iPad.

What is the best free iPad app for productivity?

Fantastical and Cardhop are the best free iPad apps for productivity. Although the premium subscription will cost you $40, you can still get some great features with the free version. 

PDF Expert also has a free app version for basic tasks. 

How much are iPad productivity apps?

You'll find these apps to range in pricing from free to upwards of $80 annually. Thankfully, some of these apps include family plans, where you can pay much less per month and still receive the same features--think 1Password, where a family of five can use it for under $5 per month. 

Are there alternative productivity apps to consider?

Here are a few other options to look into:

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