Creative Tools: iPad

May 19, 2010 | 11 Comments

After a month with the iPad, I’ve found it’s more useful in my creative workflow than I imagined it would be. Here are my favorite apps on the iPad for my creative processes:

SImplenote (iTunes)
This is one of the two apps that makes the pad most useful for me. Simplenote is my primary writing app, useful for capturing drafts (which I’m doing at this very moment). But, it also serves as a giant reference library. I have five years of book/research notes or brainstorms that I’ve collected with me at any time. And they all sync with Notational Velocity on my MacBook Pro. SimpleNote makes all my notes available on my iPhone too, but they are more useful on the iPad.

Instapaper Pro (iTunes)
The second killer app for me is Instapaper. I won’t even consider a Twitter or newsreader app that doesn’t have built in instapaper support. I toss articles and blog posts from twitter and my rss feeds into Instapaper all the time. It’s my own newspaper.

Kindle (iTunes) / iBooks (iTunes)
The iPad has, grudgingly, replaced my Kindle. The Kindle, in my opinion, is a better reading experience, and offer less to distract me. But it doesn’t make sense to carry both. I prefer the Kindle app over iBooks because of my library, and because all of my notes and highlights sync back to the Amazon website for my reference.

Articles (iTunes)
Articles is a wikipedia client that I use almost everyday. I can hardly watch a movie or show without consulting Articles to learn more about an actor or related topic as I watch. I realized just how true this is when I was at a movie theater this weekend and wanted to look at Wikipedia a few times, but didn’t want to disrupt those around me.

NewsRack (iTunes)
NewsRack is a nice looking reader with, of course, Instapaper support. It syncs with Google reader, and therefore with NetNewsWire on my laptop, so that I can always pick up where I left off. And…it’s a universal app and works well on the iPhone as well.

OmniGraffle (iTunes)
I have a longer post coming about OmniGraffle, but in short, it’s my favorite app for sketching out ideas visually.

Photogene (iTunes)
I’m not happy with the selection of image editors available on the iPad so far, but Photogene is the best I’ve found. Mostly, I need it for cropping and resizing images I might want to use in a blog post.

Markup (iTunes)
I wanted a basic FTP/editor for the ability to edit code in a pinch. But, I also wanted one that would let me upload an image to my server for a blog post. I also looked at Gusto, but Markup was first to the app store with image uploading, so it became my choice. For now.

Gowalla (iTunes)
How is this a creative tool? Since I often work on the go, I sometimes use Gowalla to see where others I know are already at work. Creativity loves company.

Dropbox (iTunes)
I don’t need to explain right? You are using Dropbox, aren’t you? If not, you should!

Penultimate (iTunes)
I don’t use this as much as I thought I would, but it stays on my home screen. If I can’t set my iPad down to easily type, I use this to quickly scrawl some thoughts with one finger and send them to myself for later use.

1Password Pro (iTunes)
Essential. Passwords for all my sites and all my clients’ sites are with me anytime I need them. Essential.

TextExpander (iTunes)
The only iPhone native app on my iPad. The only time I open it is to sync my snippets so that they are available to me in Simplenote. (And don’t miss this TextExpander coupon, good until June 15.)

At Bat 2010 (iTunes)
I’m sure this makes me more creative and productive. I’m just sure of it.

Oh the Places You’ll Go (iTunes)
I love Seuss, and this story inspires me as much as it does my little ones. Maybe more.

I’d love to hear your list too. What are you using?

  • (Preface: I’ll soon be getting an iPad)
    It’s interesting… at first the obvious thoughts to me were along the lines of, “How can this replace XYZ in my workflow?” For example, I thought it might replace my paper notes with an app like Penultimate.

    But now I kind of think, while the impulse to try the new stuff out (sheerly because it’s new) is strong, that I’m going to look more for things that allow me to do accent the things I already use. A Wikipedia app and Dropbox for accessing information that helps me work in a way I prefer, instead of replacing a method in itself. It seems like you are discovering something similar here.

    … My general feeling is the opposite for music making apps though – there are huge gains in that area.

  • This is an outstanding list. In terms of a creative tool for the iPad, take a look at A very cool workflow by a longtime Apple guru.

  • Greg

    Thanks for the tips. I am a sucker for a good app 🙂 with that said I checked out Articles and found it didn’t have very good reviews. At least the most current ones. Can you let us know how you use it and maybe take a look at some of those reviews and let us know if they are valid? Thanks!

  • John

    I’ve found that the iPad has taken a prominent place not just in consuming, but in capturing ideas at the beginning of the creative cycle. I’ve been drafting a lot of text on it.

    I’m curious how it will be for you as far as music goes…I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  • John

    Lamike, thanks for the link.

    Greg, I can’t speak for those reviewers, by my experiences haven’t been the same as theirs. I don’t have to reopen for a new search, and it hasn’t been slow in my experience.

  • Mike

    Curious to hear how you’re using omnigraffle.

    Almost scared to though…because I’m sue I’ll end up dropping e $50 for it after that

  • Greg

    I also am eager to read how you use Omnigraffle. 50 bucks is a lot of money. I am still made at the Omni folks for not doing OmniFocus. I LOVE OmniFocus but have been using ToDo on the iPad and have to say it is pretty good. Plus I am sure they are probably going to put a hefty price tag on OmniFocus for the iPad even if we already have it for our iPhones. Anyway…I look forward to your Omnigraffle review!

    Also can you expand a little more on how you use Articles? Can you store ‘articles’? Do you always need to be online to use it?

  • Greg

    OH…one more thing…a quick tip for anyone thinking of getting Omnigraffle. Try and get the 60 gift card set from Costco (4 $15 gift cards). You can pick it up for like 55 bucks so you can at least save a little off on your Omnigraffle purchase and still have a wee bit left over for something else too 🙂

  • Greg,
    Articles apparently caches your last few pages, but I’m rarely offline, so I’ve not worked about it. I use it for it’s most basic purpose…learning something new via wikipedia, but in an attractive format that works well on the iPad.

  • Greg,
    While it doesn’t look as nice, Wikipanion Plus for the iPad might be what you are looking for. I love the regular (free) version for the iPhone; the Plus version (for either device) stores articles locally to read while offline.

  • For someone like me, who is going back and forth on whether to buy an iPad to use for my creative work (largely writing, photography and some video), your posts on it as a tool are very, very useful. So thank you for that.