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Issue #79: My favorite iPad apps of 2021

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It’s 2022, and you just know you’ll mistype that as 2021 for a couple of months. This issue is still in 2021, though because I wanted to share my favorite apps of last year. That’s not to say that all of these apps were actually launched last year, rather the ones I’ve used, and enjoyed, the most. There are no games on this list, and I’ve also decided to cut out streaming services like Netflix and Apple Music, for example, as well as default apps. I’ve also limited this list to eleven apps because why not?

Okay, let’s get started.

Apps are listed from A-Z.


2022 might be the year when I decide to give Apple’s own Keychain feature a proper go, but until then, 1Password is a must for me. I’ve got everything in there, from logins and credit cards, to license keys and personal data on my family. I’m using 1Passwords Teams with my co-workers, and the new sharing link feature is really great. Furthermore, I do wish that the browser extension was integrated in a better fashion on the iPad, compared to macOS, but that’s just the nature of extensions in Safari. Luckily, you don’t have to use it, you can just as well use the native password feature, as long as you’ve enabled 1Password.

There are plenty of alternatives to 1Password out there, but every time I start looking at them, I feel that it’s not worth moving over. If all you need is stored logins across your devices, chances are you’ll do just fine with Apple’s Keychain feature. For anything beyond that, 1Password is the one to beat.

🔐 1Password on App Store


Oh, I’m going to get some crap for this one, I’d wager. Canva is an app to create, well, many things. There are a bunch of templates to create anything from Instagram stories for your inspirational quotes, to presentations and book covers. Now, I don’t use that at all, but I do use Canva to create quick images for various posts, with my templates. All of this could just as well be done in, say, Affinity Designer, but that’s a much larger undertaking. Updating the issue number in a pre-defined template and exporting it for my archive takes less than 30 seconds with Canva, and this is where it shines, for me. As with so many things, this is a tool, and what you do with it defines its value.

🖼 Canva on App Store

Carrot Weather

The snarky Carrot bot is a long-time favorite of mine. I’m sure the actual weather data in Carrot Weather is comparable to many other apps and services, since there aren’t that many sources to pick from, but for what it’s worth, Carrot Weather gets it mostly right where I live. Great widgets for at a glance information, and the opportunity to tweak what you’ll see in the app keeps this one ahead of the pack.

Oh, and the snark, I love me some snark, set to max.

🌩 Carrot Weather on App Store

Dark Noise

I’ve relied on Dark Noise, an app that plays, well, white noisy things, for my writing quite a bit. There’s something truly soothing with a distant rain and thunder, or that science fiction sound of the engines from the Starship Enterprise (or something). It’s a nice app, well-designed, and easy to use. I like it a lot.

🔊 Dark Noise on App Store


There are two photo related apps on this list, and the first one is where I edit everything a shoot and publish. Yes, everything goes through Darkroom, sometimes using a filter, at other times it’s just me tweaking something. When you look at Darkroom and its settings, it doesn’t look all that different compared to the competition, but actually using this app gets such good results. And, if it’s a series of photos you’re editing, you can apply your tweaks to multiple photos at once. Batch processing has been such a time-saver, and it’s oh so snappy on my M1 iPad Pro. I really can’t recommend Darkroom enough, it’s just great.

🎞 Darkroom on App Store

GoodNotes 5

GoodNotes is my note-taking app of choice, as you probably know by now. It’s great, and has seen several updates over the year. I use it for meeting notes, as well as when studying. If you feel that the default Notes app isn’t enough for your Apple Pencil note-taking needs, this is the app I’d urge you to try.

📝 GoodNotes 5 on App Store

Inspect Browser

While there are no development apps on this list, that doesn’t mean I haven’t used any, and thus needed to debug some weird CSS thing in the web browser. My favorite app for that is the Inspect Browser, a web browser app that has a web inspector. And just like the web inspector for just about any macOS web browser, you can edit HTML and CSS inline to try things out. It just works as you’d expect, and yes, that’s enough, and a must for someone in my line of work.

🕵️ Inspect Browser on App Store

Pixelmator Photo

The second photo app on this list is Pixelmator Photo. It’s quite a capable app, with a ton of settings to fine-tune your photos, but I prefer Darkroom for that. When it comes to touching up, or downright removing, things in a photo, Pixelmator Photo is in a league of its own, though. That, and exporting photos in the size I need, is what I use this app for. I wish it was a bit more akin to Pixelmator Pro for macOS, but alas, that’s not the route the team has taken, and thus this app isn’t as useful as it could’ve been.

✏️ Pixelmator Photo on App Store

Scanner Pro

There is a ridiculous amount of scanning apps, and you can even scan straight into the default Notes app. Me, I scan my receipts (mostly) with Scanner Pro, and I have been for years. It’s got a pretty good paper recognition algorithm, so there’s not much editing in terms of cropping to be done. Scanner Pro also supports scanning images after the fact, which is useful if you just snapped a photo of that particular receipt.

I hadn’t intended to include this app, but a recent feature makes the app label scans after your usage, which I found pretty clever. So, okay, I guess an old scanner app that hasn’t seen that many big updates lately is still relevant.

🧾 Scanner Pro on App Store


I’m writing this in Ulysses. I wrote both manuscripts I finished last year in Ulysses. I’ve written hundreds of newsletters in — you guessed it — Ulysses. It’s just a great writing app if you’re into Markdown, and the export features are great. Ulysses does come with a pretty hefty yearly subscription, but I don’t mind. If you’d calculate cost per word, it’d be ridiculously small, so who am I to complain?

⌨️ Ulysses on App Store


Yoink, a file drawer app that I reviewed pretty recently, is a somewhat recent acquaintance. Since I’ve started using it, it’s been a staple in my workflow, and it was one of the big surprises for me last year. After all, the Files app is constantly improving (albeit not by much), so you could just get away with using that, but Yoink still manages to be relevant. Well done.

👌🏻 Yoink on App Store

Wow, that was harder than I thought! I feel bad for leaving out a couple of apps here, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

What are your favorite apps of 2021? I’d love to hear from you, so don’t hesitate to send me a tweet or two.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡