The Best Free Productivity Apps for the iPad

Become More Productive on Your iPad

If you are going to get the most out of your iPad, chances are you are going to end up spending a little money in the app store. But lurking between the iWork suite and cool apps like Things are a whole host of free productivity apps that will let you squeeze out the most from your iPad without squeezing your wallet.  

These apps include great ways to take notes -- whether you want to type them out, record them or write them by hand -- and great ways to enhance your productivity on the iPad, including a free photo editor, a dictionary and even a way to easily transfer files from your PC to your iPad.   You can even use the world's most popular office suite on the iPad.

How to Become the Boss of Your iPad

1
Microsoft Office for the iPad

PowerPoint-for-iPad-hero.png
Microsoft, Inc.

While Microsoft offers a subscription plan for more advanced features within the Office suite, there's a lot of key functionality available for free.  If you mainly want to do some light editing of Word or Excel documents or adjust a frame in your PowerPoint presentation, you won't need to pay a dime.  And for those that need to unlock more features, the price is well worth the features offered in Office for iPad.

2
iWork

iWork
Apple, Inc.

Apple made the iWork suite of productivity apps free to anyone buying a new iPad or iPhone, which instantly makes them the best free apps for getting something done on the iPad. The iWork suite includes Pages, a word processor, Numbers, a spreadsheet, and Keynote, which is great for creating and viewing presentations.  If you would rather skip Microsoft Office, or need functionality that can only be unlocked with the subscription, iWork is a great alternative.

3
Evernote

Evernote

Easily the best note taking app on the app store, Evernote will not only store out the notes you tap onto the onscreen keyboard, but also the notes you record with your voice. You can even store photos and synchronize your notes to your Mac or Windows-based PC. You can even geotag notes to make them location-based.

Tips on How to Get More Out of Evernote

4
Dropbox

Dropbox for iPad

If you are going to be productive with your iPad, you will probably need to get some files from your PC or Mac onto your iPad. That's where Dropbox comes into the picture. Perhaps the easiest ways to gain access to your word processor documents and spreadsheets, Dropbox gives you up to 2 GB of free space before you need to upgrade to a premium account.

Download Dropbox from the App Store

5
Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation

If you find yourself often needing to spit out a lot of words, but don't do as well with the iPad's keyboard, you'll find a free alternative in Dragon Dictation. The speech-to-text app can be used for "typing" up a quick e-mail, "writing" a chapter in your novel or just telling everyone what you are up to on Facebook or Twitter.

6
MyScript Calculator

myscript.png

A conventional calculator is great for doing quick arithmetic, but what if you want to multiple 26 by 42, divide the answer by 8 and then add 4? You can do it on a calculator, but it's much easier to just write out the entire calculation at one time rather than calculating it one piece at a time. That's what MyScript Calculator does: it takes a handwritten calculation and does the math for you.

7
Remember the Milk

Remember the Milk

Scribbling in a quick note not enough? If you need a full-fledged task manager capable of creating to-do lists, Remember the Milk is the app for you. The easy-to-use interface makes note-taking easy, and the cloud-based design means you can type up the note on your PC and then view it on your iPad.

8
Use Your Handwriting

Use Your Handwriting

Speech-to-text isn't the only quick and easy way to leave yourself a note on the iPad. You can also go the old fashioned route and just write it by hand. Use Your Handwriting puts those kindergarten years of painstakingly drawing out capitol and little-case ABCs to good use by letting you scribble in a quick note to yourself. And with Use Your Handwriting's ability to note when you are getting close to the edge and moving over to give you more space to write, you'll actually find yourself getting the word out a lot quicker than you might think.

Did You Know: You Can Also Use Voice Dictation on the iPad

9
Mint Personal Finance

mint.png

If you want to get a handle on your personal finance, Mint is a great place to start. Mint grabs financial data from sites like your bank and your credit cards, arranges it into categories and puts it all into one place. This makes it a great way to set a budget for certain activities such as going out to eat or making finance goals like saving a certain amount of money each month. Best of all, the service is free. And as a cloud service, you can log in via the web or via your device, which makes it easy to check your finances from your PC or your tablet.

Check Out Mint.com for More Information

10
TouchCalc

Touchcalc

Whether you need a little bit of multiplication and simple division or you are trying to turn 248 into a binary number, TouchCalc has you covered. This simple productivity app can be a life saver if you need access to scientific functions, and programmers will like the different logical operators like AND, OR, XOR, etc. TouchCalc even has a statistics mode that will calculate mean, median, variance, standard deviation and range.

11
Microsoft Outlook

Outlook users on the desktop have been shortchanged on the iPad, where Microsoft's mail program had a very limited feature set.  But that recently changed, and Outlook has gone through a big makeover, with the end result making it one of the better email apps on the App Store.  And best of all, it is free.  If you love Outlook on your PC, you'll want to check it out on your iPad.

12
Wikipanion

If your job entails doing research, you probably get a lot of mileage out of Wikipedia. But as great of a quick resource as Wikipedia can be, it's not always quick and easy to find the information. That's where Wikipanion can help. A great search tool for Wikipedia, this app will also let you quickly navigate the page to get to the information you need.

13
Dictionary.com

How many people can brag about carrying around two million words in their tote bag? That's just they type of ability the Dictionary.com app will give you, though unless want to be considered some type of book geek, you might not want to actually brag about it. The Dictionary.com app doesn't require an Internet connection to check out words, so you'll always have quick access to check your spelling, check the meaning of an unfamiliar term or just look up synonyms in the thesaurus. You can even tap the microphone and speak the word you are looking up.

14
Pocket

Ever come across an interesting article or website but didn't have time to really enjoy it? Pocket is the best way to save these websites for later, because with Pocket, you don't need an internet connection to read a website. When you pocket an article or video, it saves it across all of your devices, making it easy to find again no matter where you are at or which device you have on you.

15
Mindjet

This neat little app is great for doing simple flow charts and organizing tasks. And the easy interface makes mapping out the chart a breeze. Simply type the task into the hierarchy and then swipe in the direction where you want a related task to appear. You can even synchronize your flow charts and visual maps through Dropbox.

16
Photoshop Express

We all know that the iPad 2 doesn't take the the greatest pictures, but its amazing how much you can clean them up with Photoshop Express even if you don't buy the extra "reduce noise" feature. For those that need some basic effects processed on an image, Photoshop Express can do the trick. It includes sharpen and soften, saturation, brightness, cropping and even a few custom borders.

17
iTranslate

We might not quite be up to Star Trek standards, but the universal translator concept got a little bit closer when iTranslate hit the app store. Serving up over 50 languages, iTranslate even has some popular languages with free voices, which means you can hear how to properly pronounce the words rather than just reading the text. It even has built in voice recognition, though you'll have to buy transactions to get access to that feature.

18
Wi-Fi Finder

The iPad has a lot of great offline features, but it's best when you are online. If you want to keep your productivity high, you'll want to be online as much as possible, and knowing where the closest Wi-Fi hotspots are can help you do just that. This app provides a great way to keep your bandwidth usage low on your 3G plan so you can use the cheaper plan, or just avoid paying for the plan in the first place by going Wi-Fi only.