iPad Resources

I shared some iPhone resources in January 2010, and now I’m ready to share some iPad resources.

I bought an iPad 2 when it came out in March (32 GB, black, Wi-Fi only), and I’m glad I did. Here are some resources that may help you use the tool more efficiently.

1. iPad Apps

The iPad comes with several built-in apps, and over 65,000 apps are available through the iTunes Store.

Here’s a screen-shot of my apps (in addition to the built-in apps) as they appear in iTunes (click on the image to enlarge):

1.1. My Favorite Reading Apps

There are many other useful apps that I’ve chosen not to use for various reasons (e.g., PIM, news, sports). I use my iPad primarily for reading, and these reading apps are my favorites:

  1. BibleReader. I reviewed this app in January 2010, and I’m still enjoying it. I use it almost every day, and I use it to read the Bible during sermons. I love using this app to access the original languages (with parsings and lexicons), several fine English translations (I usually use the NIV 2011 or ESV), and the ESV Study Bible.
  2. Instapaper ($4.99). When I come across an article that I want to read carefully but don’t have time to read at that moment (e.g., something I see in Google Reader, a website, or an email), I save it to Instapaper and read it later. Here’s how I save it: If I’m in Google Reader or on another website, I simply click my “Read Later” bookmark, which automatically saves it in my Instapaper account; if I’m reading an email, I simply forward the email to my personalized Instapaper email address that saves it in my Instapaper account. Ingenious. I’ve been using this app a lot. More instructions here.
  3. PDF Expert ($9.99). There are three good PDF markup apps, and I’ve been extremely pleased with PDF Expert. I have a lot of books and articles in PDF format, and I can easily mark them up with highlighting and notes with this app. I can even mark up PDFs that are locked—something I can’t do on my computer using Adobe Acrobat Professional. To add PDFs to my iPad, I move PDFs on my computer to a designated Dropbox folder and then sync PDF Expert with Dropbox. (If you don’t have a Dropbox account, you can create one for free. Great tool. Includes a Dropbox app.)
  4. iBooks. An elegant reading experience. Here’s a video preview.
  5. Kindle. A delightful reading experience, though not as nice as iBooks. Kindle is more versatile than iBooks because (1) you can access your Kindle books on your computer  and (2) Kindle has a much larger bookstore. When I debated whether to buy a Kindle or an iPad, I chose the iPad because it can do so much more. The Kindle is for the Kindle like “The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs.” An iPad can handle Kindle books with the Kindle app, but the Kindle can’t handle apps like BibleReader, PDF Expert, iBooks, and Logos.
  6. ESV Bible. Simple and well-designed.
  7. Logos. I anticipate this being one of my favorite apps in the near future, but I almost never use it now because I can’t highlight the text or add notes to resources. (Very frustrating!) I’m waiting for Logos to enable those features to sync with Logos 4 across all platforms. Logos is working on this and has promised that these features are on the way.

1.2. Other Readings Apps

I asked some friends to share feedback on a draft of this post, and they recommend some apps that I haven’t tried:

  1. Reeder for iPad ($4.99). This syncs with Google Reader and is supposed to be a much better reading experience than using the Google Reader app. It can cache articles for off-line reading, and it easily saves articles to Instapaper.
  2. NetNewsWire for iPad ($9.99). Similar to Reeder for iPad.
  3. Flipboard. This streamlines your Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, and other social media in a magazine layout. Here’s a video preview.
  4. GoodReader for iPad ($4.99) and iAnnotate PDF ($9.99). These are two other options for reading and marking PDFs.
  5. Pages ($9.99). Word processor for document editing.
  6. Vyrso. Logos Bible Software just announced that they are teaming up with Vyrso to make up to 25,000 Christian trade books available this year. Logos explains, “Both Logos and Vyrso are tied to your Logos.com account, which means all your Logos books work in Vyrso. In addition, all your Vyrso books will work in Logos 4 and on Biblia.com.”

1.3. Two Organizational Suggestions

Here are two practices I’ve found to be helpful:

1. Delete apps you won’t use. Don’t simply delete them from the screen on your iPad, but delete them from iTunes: select Apps > right-click an app > Delete. (Navigate to “Apps” listed on the left pane under “Library”—not the “Apps” tab for your iPad, which appears under “Devices.”)

2. Organize your apps by using folders. (It’s easier to do this in iTunes than on your iPad.)

These instructions on how to do this on an iPhone work for an iPad as well. I’ve done this for both my iPhone and iPad, and I’ve been able to fit all my apps on a single screen using thirteen folders along with the home bar at the bottom of the screen (which can include up to six items, including folders). Here’s what my iPad’s home page looks like:

I could surely improve this organization, but it’s working well for now. Here are screen shots of what’s in each folder (not every icon is an “app”; some icons are bookmarks that go directly to a specific website in Safari):

After reading a draft of this post, my friend Matt Perman explained how he takes a different approach:

I organize my apps slightly differently. You’ve made everything fit on a single page, which maybe solves the problem I was solving, just in a different way. I found that for the apps I use most often I didn’t like having to use two clicks to access them each time (one to open the folder, then a second to open the app). So what I do is keep my most-used apps outside of folders, just having them there at the top level. Then I keep my less used apps in folders, which are organized in categories. It’s not perfect, but I’ve found it to be helpful. This is analogous (though not in all ways) to how the Mac itself is set up: you have whatever apps you want right in the dock, and then if you click in to the “applications” folder, every app is there.

I learned some good things from the categories you used for organizing your apps. I especially liked the people and places categories. Here are my categories (which still aren’t as organized as I would like):

  1. news
  2. ministries
  3. education
  4. social networking
  5. travel
  6. productivity
  7. commerce
  8. utilities
  9. weather
  10. lifestyle
  11. health
  12. entertainment

2. iPad Filtering and Accountability

What I wrote about the iPhone also applies here.

I’ve decided to enable Safari on my iPhone and iPad so that I can use more of the apps (e.g., the Kindle app along with the Google apps—Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Tasks). But I’ve taken some precautions:

  1. I never clear my history in any apps, and I’ve asked my wife to check them spontaneously.
  2. I have accountability partners.
  3. I’m straight up with the men from my church in my small group.
  4. I use OpenDNS Deluxe. OpenDNS can block sites at the router level, so it automatically blocks sites regardless of whether you’re connected via desktop, laptop, iPod Touch, or iPad. It is not tied to a particular browser. My iPad can access the Internet only via Wi-Fi, so when I use it at home (which is where I usually use it), every site I visit is logged on OpenDNS.

3. Other iPad Suggestions

  1. Use Google Sync if you use Gmail and Google Calendar and if you organize your contacts in Gmail. Google has created apps specifically for iPad.
  2. Use a case. Rather than using Apple’s Smart Cover, I use a Marware C. E. O. Hybrid folio (more info). It’s more sturdy, less conspicuous, and more versatile.
  3. Use a clear film to protect the screen and body. I’m pleased with ZAGG’s invisibleSHIELD.
  4. Use screen-capture by holding down the home button and quickly pressing the top sleep-button (or vice versa). It will snap a pic and automatically add it in your photos.
  5. Use a stylus (e.g., Hard Candy or BoxWave) and a handwriting app (e.g., Noteshelf) to write notes without a keyboard or paper. (I haven’t tried this, but some friends of mine do it.)


I’d warmly welcome feedback on these iPad resources, especially since I’m a new user.

  1. What are your favorite apps? What apps (other than games) would you recommend?
  2. Do you have any other suggestions?


  1. says

    Hey, Andy—good tips, and I’m happy my Instapaper tip has been such a winner for you!

    One more little pointer: you can and should make your own iOS icon for your blog by looking into your WPTouch preferences in WordPress. If you add my blog as a button on your homescreen you’ll see mine as an example. This is presuming you’re using WPTouch, but somehow I thought you were. If you’re not, your plugin may do the same thing.


  2. says

    Andy, thanks for your recommendations and suggestions.

    1. For reading apps, I prefer Google Books over Kindle because Google provides page scans, which makes resources easier to cite.

    2. I use OneNote to organize all my reading notes. I have a notebook for biblical studies with pages for each book of the Bible and sub-pages for each chapter; a ST notebook with a tab for each doctrine and pages for the major issues in each doctrine; a BT notebook with tabs for covenants, major themes, etc. The OneNote desktop application is far more powerful that then iOS OneNote app [for iPhone/iPod Touch], but the app enables me to take reading notes anywhere without having to transfer anything into my note-taking system later.

    There is a third-party app called MobileNoter for iPad that syncs OneNote with the iPad. MobileNoter is nicer in that it is designed for the iPad; it preserves the layout of your notebook pages; and it lets you ink and format text. But I found it a bit more buggy. The official app for MS is more limited, but its also stable.

    3. I put all my reading apps on the home screen, web apps one screen back, and mail/any other app with notification badges three screens back. And I turned off all notification alerts.

  3. says


    Great post and helpful advice. I’m motivated to look into Instapaper and maybe one of the handwriting apps.

    Those who like to keep a journal may want to consider iJournaler. I’ve been using it for a while now and like it. It has the look and feel of a leather-bound journal with pages (except you get to type rather than hand-write).

    I went with iAnnotate. Love it for grading book reviews and papers. Are there advantages to PDF Expert that would warrant the extra money?

    I opted for Safe Eyes since I already had an account for my computers. SE offers Internet filtering as well as accountability. The iOS browser continues to improve. However, there are disadvantages to turning off Safari.

    Finally, a thanks to Mark Ward about the tip for adding a WordPress blog as a button. I’m going to give it a try.


  4. says

    Thanks, Bob. I haven’t tried iAnnotate, so I can’t compare it to PDF Expert based on experience. Bring your iPad next time we get together, and we can try out each other’s PDF apps.

  5. says

    Thanks for the suggestions, especially regarding accountability. I would love to hear more about how you use open DNS and how you blacklist sites, etc.

    A word of caution for iOS users (iPhone/iPod touch/iPad). Some of the apps you have installed have unrestricted/unmonitored access to the Internet. Many apps that seem harmless have a browser built into them that enables when you click certain links. I think you have taken good precautions, but people who are heavily addicted or fairly tech-savvy can get around many of these things. Honesty with accountability partners is a key to all of this.

  6. says

    I was wondering if anyone has had success using Keynote or one of the office apps to develop good PowerPoint presentations on their iPad. Does it translate PowerPoint transitions very well?

    Trying to decide whether to get a MacBook Air or iPad.

  7. says

    Thanks for featuring us [Vyrso] in this post, Andy. It’s comprehensive and packed with useful tips. We’ll send out a tweet promoting it!

    I thought I’d also mention a few quick things:

    1. We’re giving away and iPad 2 at http://vyrso.com

    2. We’ve got 25 best-sellers at 50% off.

  8. Ben Straub says

    Hey Andy,

    I am sure you are probably familiar with the EBSCO databases (which are a great tool for research), but did you know that they just released an app last month (EBSCOhost)? I just put it on my iPod Touch and love it. It is the first build, so it is missing some helpful features and has some kinks to work out; but so far it has been great for on the go study. You need to validate the app through your institution’s EBSCO login, but from there you are good to go.

  9. Kerry McGonigal says

    Andy, I use my iPad (and Hard Candy stylus) extensively in giving written feedback to student preachers.* I have used NotesPlus, WritePad, Noterize, Moleskine, Note Taker HD, eNote Taker, UPAD, and Penultimate. But in my experience Noteshelf is the best. It has amazingly smooth handwriting recognition (like Penultimate), but it is feature-rich and allows you to export notes to Dropbox and Evernote.

    *Editorial note from Andy: Kerry is a college professor who teaches homiletics (among other things).

  10. David Wilson says

    Hi Andy,

    Great post. Do you have a good work flow for annotating PDFs and then getting them back into the Zotero setup you’ve blogged before? If I recall, Zotero names PDFs in a strange way that could be difficult to find on the iPad once moved. I’m trying to figure out how to seamlessly get PDFs to and from the device and back into an organized file system. Have you been able to do that with Zotero?


  11. says

    Thanks, David.

    1. If you simply drag a PDF to an item in Zotero, Zotero does not rename the PDF, though there is an option to automatically rename the PDF if you right-click on the PDF and select “Rename File from Parent Metadata.” I prefer to name PDFs myself.

    2. I store my PDFs in Zotero. When I want to read and mark up one of those PDFs on my iPad, I do this:
    (a) copy the PDF from Zotero to a Dropbox folder on my desktop;
    (b) sync my iPad with that Dropbox folder;
    (c) read and mark up the PDF on my iPad;
    (d) sync my iPad with that Dropbox folder;
    (e) delete the PDF currently in Zotero;
    (f) move the updated PDF from the Dropbox folder to Zotero.

  12. Aaron Mahl says

    Andy, Have you used QuickOffice HD at all? I really like it. I sync it up to my Dropbox and can edit and create all MS office files. Do you have one you like better? It was $15 but well worth it as I have stopped using paper at work as much as possible.

  13. Aaron Mahl says

    Also, don’t know if you travel very much, but WorldMate is a good app. It organizes all your flight/rental car information and keeps you from having to print out itineraries. You just forward the e-mail itinerary to your WorldMate e-mail, and it automatically creates the travel agenda. Pretty cool.

  14. says

    I’m surprised about the recommendation for the invisibleSHIELD for iPad. I tried it once, and ended up returning it because I found that the “tackiness” of the surface didn’t lend itself too well to “sliding” your finger(s) across the screen (turning pages, handwriting, swapping Bejeweled gems…).

  15. says

    Hi Andy:

    Thanks for this and your earlier iPhone post.

    It’s great to have news options like NPR, USA Today, Fox News, and National Review, but for a distinctively Christian perspective on news and culture, I recommend adding WORLD Magazine’s new iPad app.

    For a limited time we are offering free sample issues from our archives just to give readers like you a chance to see what all our app can do. We’ll soon offer issues as they are published through a subscription app that’ll allow you to purchase individual issues or annual subscriptions from Apple or directly from WORLD. I hope you’ll give us a try. Since the app’s release, we’ve been listed consistently in iTunes’ top 20 hottest news apps.

    Here’s the link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/world-magazine/id424126267#

    Thanks for considering us.

    Mickey McLean
    Web Executive Editor
    WORLD Magazine

  16. Aaron Brown says

    When it comes to staying accountable and pure when using my Apple products, I’ve found that having my app store restricted has been essential. There are a ton of apps that either serve as a web browser or search engine that allow for unrestricted, and unfiltered Internet access. Some men (and women) are strong enough in this area to not allow that to be an issue, but I’m definitely not one of them. It didn’t take long before I discovered that being able to download any app that I wanted at any time was problematic for trying to maintain purity. I keep it restricted until I need to download or update an app, then I have my accountability partner temporarily unlock it, then he locks it again. Just thought it would be helpful to mention so that men and women that are new to the iPhone or iPad can head-off temptation!

  17. Ross Shannon says


    I have been using Reeder, though I miss the tagging feature as I’d been storing resources in Google Reader for years through tagging. A new app, Mr. Reader, allows syncing of tags, the addition of feeds, etc. It is excellent and looks to be one-upping Reeder in features. The reviews I’ve skimmed are solid. I commend it to you, especially as the developer is actively improving it. And it’s only $2.99.


  18. Mat Biggins says

    Another great app for reading blogs and news is Pulse. It works with several news outlets and syncs with Google Reader, so you can have all of your news and blogs in one place

  19. Cliff Allen says

    Hi Andy,

    What have you discovered is the best app for viewing flash content on your iPad?


  20. says

    Andy (and others):

    Since it’s now another four months since the last post, do you find the iPad has increased your productivity? How about with regard to writing – are you able to produce more output more efficiently?

  21. says

    Hello Andy,

    I’m a koine greek student in Brazil. I’d like to ask you a question. Can you type breath marks on your IPad? In fact, I have a greek keyboard installed on my IPad, but when I try to type the breath marks, they never stay above the vowels, but beside them. Do you have any idea how to make it?

    Thanks for your atention.


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