I hesitated for literally years about buying a tablet. Would I even use it? Was it worth the money?
Eventually, after a very tough November, I decided to bite the bullet and take advantage of the Black Friday sale to get my very own iPad mini 4.
I fell in love instantly.
My laptop is pretty old and heavy, and I love having a mix of games, blogging tools, books, media, and productivity tools in one small, light package. Here’s a quick run-down of my favourite apps, plus one I hate. I’ve excluded the obvious (Facebook, Twitter, and Netflix), but imagine they’re on the list too.
Lords of Waterdeep
I’m a big board game nerd, and Lords of Waterdeep is one of my all-time favourite games. The app version of the board game is only available on iOS, and I have an Android phone, so naturally it influenced my choice of tablet
I wasn’t disappointed: I love playing this either on my own or with friends in the pass-and-play mode. It’s great for travelling as it makes time go really fast. My aim is to be unbeatable, and the hard mode is still challenging. It’s a standard worker placement Euro-style game with a Dungeons and Dragons theme, and while I can take or leave the theme, I’m addicted to the mechanics. The base game costs £6.99, and if you want the expansions as well that’s around the same cost again.
Magazines are one of my guilty pleasures. My taste is pretty wide-ranging, from trashy women’s mags to monthly photography and computer ones. Since trashy mags add up quickly and the others are around £5.99 a pop, Readly at £7.99 a month is well worth it for me. I’ve tried it on Android too, but I love the animated page-turning effect on my iPad.
You can choose from over a thousand magazines covering everything from cooking to politics, favourite the ones you like, and download any to read for later. I started off with a free trial and was immediately impressed. You can start paying for it from within the app itself, but I’d recommend waiting for the email they send you when your trial is up which offers you a better deal.
If you want to give it a go, download Readly from the Play store, iOS store, or sign up at readly.com and use it in your web browser. If you’re feeling generous, here’s my aff link: https://get.readly.com/WFw_Pevpzg6sAZrr (but please rest assured I fully recommend this without my aff link too).
Kami is a really relaxing simple puzzle game. All you have to do is make the board all one colour. With chilled out background sounds and a light Japanese theme, this origami-style game is a simple joy to play. And it’s free, although if you get so frustrated that you want clues they will cost you.
This is an app that recently got bought out by Apple, who surprisingly went on to make it free. The idea is that you create a sequence of tasks you perform regularly and then Workflow automates them for you. These can be anything from calling a pizza place and having a reminder to pick it up, to zipping and emailing a file in one action, so it’s a case of putting your creativity to the test and seeing what you can make it do for you.
Blinkist is a really interesting idea: it’s like Cliff’s Notes for the modern age. Pick a theme, pick a work, and then read a succinct overview of all the main ideas and key points in a couple of paragraphs. It’s great if you want to learn something quickly or decide whether or not you want to buy the full version of a business book. You could probably also use it for interesting networking conversations or to fool people into thinking you’re well-read.
I remember my friend having this kind of thing on her family computer in the 1990s. Now it’s on a small screen and tappable/drawable. It’s colouring in: soothing in small doses and easy to use. Other colouring apps are available: the BBC has a good one that lets you choose different finishes, but the free bits are limited so I’ve chosen this one for the list. It’s a reasonable way to kill a few minutes or distract kids.
I’m a downlow Candy Crush player, which means I’ve never sent anyone an invite but I enjoying playing secretly.
In my defence, it’s free apart from optional in-app purchases, which I can’t comment on because I’ve never done.
I’m in various Slacks for work and projects, and the iPad implementation of it is really nice because the columns are swipeable. At the end of the day it’s still just a pimped out chatroom, but it’s colourful and friendly.
Duolingo is a really simple way to learn a new language in ten minutes a day. Your mileage may vary: it’s typically better for understanding a language fully rather than gleaning a few handy holiday phrases.
For when I introduce my cat to Ukrainians. pic.twitter.com/7yVY0BELRb
— Jenni Brown ? (@madebyjenni) May 21, 2016
All my social media scheduling goes through Buffer, and there’s a handy front page widget for it on iPad to tell me how many things I have in my schedule.
My all-time favourite to-do list app. It’s a must for me on Android so of course I had to link my account on my iPad too. For one idea on how I use it, check out Organisation Experiments: Food Edition, where I talk about my grocery shopping (no, really).
Another board game turned app. In Pandemic you have to wipe out various diseases spreading across the globe by strategic use of your characters’ skills. This is a co-op game so it’s interesting playing it alone, and I still need to work on my decision-making, but it’s a good way to pass a long stretch of time.
And one I hate…
It’s no secret that I love WordPress, and have done since it was first released. So it may come as a surprise to learn that WordPress in app form is something I hate on every platform. It just doesn’t have the features of full WordPress, although the iPad version is better than Android and it’s okay if you’re really desperate. WordPress just doesn’t need an app, because the mobile version is great. Just log in through a browser as normal and you’re good to go. App = uninstalled.
Do you use any of these? What are your favourite apps? What iOS apps am I missing out on?