The 9 Best Ways to Use the iPad Camera

Use your iPad camera for more than photos

The iPad's camera already has plenty of features that let you do cool things right out of the box. Along with taking pictures and recording video, you can read QR codes, scan documents, and measure objects in augmented reality with the Measure app.

The App Store offers software that finds even more uses for the iPad cameras, both front and back. Some, such as ProCam 6 and Filmic Pro, give you more control of camera settings while taking photos or capturing video.

The apps that follow all use the iPad camera to do something extra with the image, such as extract colors, equations, or edges or help you use the image to do something interesting, such as create a movie, draw, or manage a meeting.

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Create a Color Palette With Adobe Capture CC

Screenshot of Adobe Capture CC app, shows 5 colors on left extracted to make a palette from a photo of the Getty Museum Gardens.
What We Like
  • A versatile app that lets you use your camera to create custom tools and palettes.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires you to sign in with either a free Adobe ID, Facebook, or Google account.

Adobe Capture CC relies on the camera to deliver several services: to turn an image into vectors, patterns, brushes, or even a 3D object, among others. One of its best tricks is how it can create a 5-color theme from a photo. Move color dots on the screen to the colors you want as part of your palette if you don’t like the ones it auto-selects. The app is free and allows for up to 2GB of storage, with an upgrade to 20GB of storage per month available.

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Trace a Work of Art with Da Vinci Eye: Anyone Can Draw

Photo of Da Vinci app, showing a photo of cat on iPad screen, with paper and hand with pencil below, drawing the cat
What We Like
  • Smart, selectable use of the camera and opacity settings.

What We Don't Like
  • Make sure to position your iPad and drawing where they won’t be bumped or move. It can be a bit tricky to re-align things.

While it doesn’t draw for you, the Da Vinci Eye: Anyone Can Draw app may help you trace and sketch a bit better. You’ll need to place your iPad several inches above a piece of paper and then select an image to draw and position it on the screen. Adjust the opacity to see the original picture, your drawing, or a bit of both.

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Capture Whiteboards, Documents, and More With Microsoft Office Lens

Screenshot of export options for Microsoft Lens: mostly to other Microsoft apps, but also PDF, Photo, and Mail
What We Like
  • Recognizes edges and captures the content of documents and dry erase board images well.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't always convert handwritten letters accurately.

Use the free Microsoft Office Lens app to take a photo of a whiteboard, document, or business card. The app recognizes the edges of the object, removes glare, and lets you crop the image, add text, or draw annotations. You can then export it to several other applications, including OneNote, OneDrive, Word, PowerPoint, Photos, among others.

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Convert Physical Notes Into Virtual Ones in Padlet

Screenshot of Padlet, showing 4 sticky notes converted into resizeable digital notes
What We Like
  • Catscan may be the simplest way to make virtual notes out of small squares stuck on a wall.

What We Don't Like
  • Catscan isn't available in the desktop version if you work on multiple platforms.

Padlet offers a virtual wall on which you can arrange notes, links, images, video, and more, in a variety of layouts. And you can create a new board with your camera: Open the app, tap to add a new board, choose Catscan, and then take a picture of notes on a wall. Padlet turns them into virtual notes on a board that you can add additional content to as you resize or rearrange your entries. With the free version, the app includes ads and limits you to 10MB of files and three boards. An upgrade to Pro removes ads, increases storage to 250MB, and lets you create an unlimited number of projects.

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Point and Solve With Photomath

Screenshot of Photomath, showing how it recognized a written math equation, -7x^2 + 19x -12, and offers to solve it.
What We Like
  • A fantastic app for math homework help.

What We Don't Like
  • Keep an eye on the kids to make sure they work the problem first and then grab the app, not the other way around.

Stuck without a solution for a math problem? Open the free PhotoMath app and point the camera at an equation. The app will recognize numbers and variables and show you each step you need to reach the solution.

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Identify Stars, Planets, and More in Sky Guide

Screenshot of Sky Guide, showing augmented reality mode that overlays a star map with the camera image
What We Like
  • Night vision mode dims the screen and displays items with a faint red color.

What We Don't Like
  • Extended viewing of the night sky while holding an iPad in the air will build arm strength, but may also be a bit tiring.

Sky Guide displays stars, planets, satellites, and more on your iPad’s screen. Tap the compass and camera, then point your screen in any direction to see objects relative to your current position and orientation. The basic version includes a catalog of 2.5 million stars, or you can upgrade to Supermassive for an improved star catalog and support for high-definition zooming.

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Create Animated Movies With Stop Motion Studio

Screenshot of Stop Motion Studio coffee cup in the process being animated spinning
What We Like
  • Powerful step-by-step image capture.

  • Ability to display preceding image overlaid on current camera view (also known as “onion skinning”).

What We Don't Like
  • Timing is everything: It may take some experimentation for people to learn how much (or little) to adjust an object to achieve the desired animated movement.

Create stop-motion animated videos frame-by-frame with the camera on your iPad and the free Stop Motion Studio app. Cut, copy, or paste frames, add audio, and export in SD or HD formats. Upgrade to unlock the ability to add effects, import images, work with higher resolutions, and more.

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Find Your Type With What the Font

Screenshot of sign that shows "See Yukon!" in a font, with similar fonts listed below
What We Like
  • Finds matches for most widely-used fonts.

  • Shows alternatives even if an exact match isn’t identified.

What We Don't Like
  • You need to capture the font photo front-on and level. The app struggles to accurately identify fonts captured from a side angle or with a tile.

  • Results may not be spot-on.

Ever see a sign, ad, or book cover and wonder... what the font? This free app helps you locate many fonts that either match or are very close to the font found in your photo. The app includes links to, where you may purchase identified fonts (prices vary)

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Zoom Cloud Meetings: A Portable Conference App

Screenshot of Zoom meetings, that shows video, screen share, and whiteboard meeting options
What We Like
  • Zoom includes most of the features people will want in a mobile meeting app.

  • The ability to share a screen, real-time from an iPad is an impressive feature.

What We Don't Like
  • No way to apply the 40-minute time limit for group meetings to all meetings we attend and not just those where we use the free version of Zoom.

With excellent battery life and a large screen, the iPad works well for remote conferencing that uses the camera to let you see other people in your meeting. Zoom Cloud Meetings supports video, whiteboarding, and file sharing and also enables screen sharing from your iPad to other attendees.

The free version limits group meetings to 100 people and 40 minutes, although one-on-one meetings are not time-limited. Paid options remove these boundaries.

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