The Best iPad Freebies

Download Free Books and Stream Free Movies on Your iPad

Did you know you can get a bunch of free stuff with your iPad? Sure, there are plenty of great free apps, and we'll go over those, but you can also get free books and even free movies. Now don't get me wrong, no one is going to give you Highlander, which was appointed best movie ever by the great Ricky Bobby, but free is free, right?

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Getty Images / Muriel de Seze

The iPad comes with a bunch of apps installed, but those apps aren't the only ones you can download from Apple for free. iBooks is a great example. This bookstore and e-reader are perfectly free and a must-have download for any iPad owner, but for some crazy reason, Apple doesn't install it by default.

But the best Apple apps just recently went free for anyone who bought a new iPad or iPhone anytime since late 2013. The iLife and iWork application suites contain iPhoto, iMovie, Garage Band, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. You might not need all of them, but most people will want to install at least one of these great apps.

And there's more. Apple has a Remote app to control iTunes or Apple TV, an AirPort utility for those who use AirPort for their Wi-Fi, and even an app version of the Apple Store.

Check Out the List of Free Apps Offered by Apple More »

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Thanks to Project Gutenberg, there are dozens upon dozens of free books available in iBooks. And I'm not talking trashy romance novels or pulp fiction that couldn't make it in the supermarket. I'm talking about literary classics like Pride and Prejudice, Grimm's Fairy Tales and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Project Gutenberg takes literary classics that are in the public domain and converts them to digital format, which means a whole library of great literature is just waiting to be read.

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There are a couple of ways to score free movies on the iPad. The easiest is Crackle. You are probably familiar with Netflix and Hulu Plus, but those services charge a monthly subscription fee. Crackle offers streaming movies with absolutely no fees. And there are some really great movies like The Fisher King, Carlito's Way and even newer movies like The Ides of March.

You can also get 5 free movies if you sign up for a Vudu account. You'll need to create an account linked to a credit card, so if that sort of thing makes you queasy, you may want to pass. But Vudu is one of the most popular video rental and digital movie purchasing websites, though not quite as well known as Apple and Amazon. You won't be able to pick just anything for your 5 free movies, of course, but they do have some good titles like Rudy, Rango, There's Something About Mary and Mona Lisa Smile, to give a selection across a wide variety of movies. And you can check the list for yourself on their account promotion page.

Don't Forget: You can Hook Your iPad Up to Your TV

Find More Ways to Steam Movies and TV to Your iPad More »

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There are also plenty of ways to listen to free music. The best and most popular is Pandora Radio, which lets you create your own custom radio station by inputting an artist or a song name. iTunes Radio is Apple's version of Internet radio, and while I wouldn't rate it above Pandora, it's a good choice for those who belong to iTunes Match. You can also check out Slacker Radio or iHeartRadio, both of which are a little different than Pandora and iTunes Radio. And all of these are, of course, free to download and free to listen. Some offer subscriptions to ax the ads, but none of them are so advertisement heavy that you'll feel forced to pay any money.

More Great Streaming Music Choices More »

Of course, there are a wide variety of other apps and games that you can download for free on your iPad. Some of these use in-app purchases to make their money, so they are only free if you want to use the "lite" version of the app, but many great apps offer a lot of features without forcing you to pay a dime.

And among the many free games that you can download are those who use the best "freemium" model, which allows you to spend your money on in-app purchases but doesn't force you into it. For example, Blizzard's Hearthstone is taking the card-battle genre by storm, and if you don't want to fork over any Washingtons or Benjamins, you don't have to. You'll still get access to all the cards, though it may take longer to win legendary cards.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of games that use the model to force you into paying for in-app purchases, so always be wary of games that stop being fun and start asking for money 1-2 hours into playing them.

Other apps tend to limit the features in a 'lite' version, adding the ability to unlock more features for an in-app purchase. These apps vary in utility, with many being quite useful without paying a dime and others only giving you taste of what you could do if you bought the extras.

Here are some great free iPad apps that you won't need to pay more to find useful:

  • Evernote. Of all the freebies available on the iPad, this one might be the most useful. Evernote is like the Notes app that comes with the iPad, only a lot better. Because it is on the cloud, it works across all devices, so you can keep everything synced up perfectly.
  • Dropbox. Speaking of on the cloud, if don't have any cloud storage, it's time to get some. Dropbox gives 2 GB of storage for free, which is great for keeping your photo collection available to your iPad without using up storage for it. Find out how to set it up on the iPad...
  • Calculator Pro. One of the best calculators available, most won't need more than the free features to get a lot of use out of this app.
  • Mint Personal Finance. Mint.com is one of the best ways to balance your budget and track your finances online, and it is also available in app form for the iPad.
  • Khan Academy. If you have kids or you are just curious about learning something, Khan Academy is a must-have download. It's basically a bunch of classes online that are absolutely free.
  • For all you social media friends and Facebook addicts out there, Flipboard will turn your social media life into a beautiful digital magazine. A very fun and engaging way to catch up with your friends or read the latest buzz.
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