Most of my work I perform on MacBookPro, but also I have a retina-iPad device which I never use for any type of graphic design, thus I am looking for solution to the underuse of this costly device.

My question is: What actual design related tasks do you perform on iPads?

I am interested in actual usage and not in theoretical ("you can use it for xyz").

  • 1
    note-taking during talks with customers doesn't count as design-related task, does it? :)
    – Vincent
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 11:25
  • @Bakabaka counts as well. actually, I dont use iPad at all for design, so I look for some usage related to design...
    – Ilan
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 11:27
  • 3
    Some people swear by the painting app Procreate as a way of sketching ideas, and I've heard of kickstarter projects trying to make sort-of pressure sensitive styluses to work with apps like Procreate. Though, if your problem is an expensive device that doesn't fit your workflow, maybe selling the device is better than twisting your workflow to fit around a device that doesn't fit it. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 12:06
  • @bakabaka what app you use for notes?
    – Ilan
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 13:43
  • @Ilan just the default, 'Notes'.
    – Vincent
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 14:48

8 Answers 8


I sketch a great deal... Prefer Adobe Ideas, Sketchbook Pro, Layers apps, and Pencil for that.

I explore web site wireframes..... iMockups app.

I'll, on occasion, do a little coding (nothing complex though) ... Codea app.

I write notes... Draftpad app.

I explore color... MyPantone app.

I accept credit card payments.. Square Register app.

I track my projects and to do items... Priorities app.

I test responsive web design... Safari

I test epub files.... iBooks

  • good call with the Square app.
    – BrianC
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 15:26

iPad apps can have very great focused/niche purpose, the appsfollowing have made it into my workflow.

iDraw: geometric hands on designs with shapes, great for wireframing, on the go or in the office.

Sketchbook Pro: Great for painting.

Adobe Ideas: Sketching thumbs and production illustration.

Sprite Something: Go to for pixel art creation

I found a stylus was integral for using these apps, one that is designed for sketching. I use the Pogo Stylus Sketch Pro


Interesting question!

I use it for a few tasks.

  1. Sketching. This has been covered well the other answers. Personally, I'm a fan of Paper for doing wireframe sketching.

  2. Second screen. AirDisplay is an app that let's you use your iPad as a second screen for your MacBook. It works over WiFi. Slick.

  3. My portfolio. My portfolio is a PDF that I load on the iPad to take to interviews/client meetings.

  4. Testing. As I build mobile apps and web sites, it's a good testing tool.

  • Incredible! Second screen! WOW!
    – Ilan
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 17:30

I don't use my iPad for actual designing. It is a great tool, however, to have at hand when doing an interview or just a get-together with a (potential) customer. Note-taking is fast and always legible later, and I like the ease with which I can browse the 'net for examples of web design.

And, of course, testing whether my websites display properly on the thing.


For starters, I have an iPad but find iOS tedious compared to Android. I mostly use my Nexus tablet in it's place. That said, they can basically serve the same purpose.


A lot of people I know play around with sketching on their tablet. For me, it's not as productive as paper sketches that get captured into Evernote when they're ready (more on that later).


If you work on interfaces, you need to be testing on an iPad. Whether you use it often or not, the market at large does. Like I said, I don't like iOS at all but I constantly check my digital work on it to see what my audience will see. Love it or hate it, device testing is a big part of the digital design process.


I held out for a long time. I carried around a print portfolio of my key work and process notes. People were always really impressed that I used such an old-world method of presentation: "A handmade portfolio!? Wow!".

But things changed when I tried handing over a tidy little tablet full of content (which I could update much faster) and let them flip back and forth while I chatted. The conversation was relaxed; things weren't so formal; the audience felt free to ask questions (not propose challenges or sit silently). The tablet was the way to go.

Note taking

Evernote rules. I use it to capture everything in meetings and while I'm brainstorming. I've turned a lot of my compatriots on to it. Many of them like to use a tablet with a keyboard when they take notes. I usually just tap away on my phone, but I use the Nexus or iPad from time to time (with a physical keyboard on rare occasions). On any of those devices, it's also a huge relief to just snap a picture of the whiteboard or a napkin sketch or even my less technophilic neighbor's paper notes.

The thing my phone and/or tablet have most dramatically transformed is my mountain of little paper scribbles. The back of my Moleskine used to be bursting with scraps; they were scattered on my desk or in drawers; in whatever containers my car offered. Good luck tracking that stuff down. I scribble things everywhere. Having a mobile device of any kind around with a camera allows me to snap a pic into Evernote and then toss all that detritus. Text in images is even rendered searchable in Evernote's database. Problem solved!


Depends on what you media is, as there are several apps out there for sketching and painting. I have seen some hyper-realistic paintings done using only an iPad. But for me, I think the iPad serves better as just a productivity tool. I can think of a hundred other types of media I would rather use for designing, painting, and sketching rather than an iPad. I can barely type on the things.


If you are an illustrator or love sketching Adobe has an app for the iPad, havent tested yet but worth a shot:

Adobe Ideas – Vector drawing and illustration and it is free.

There was an article on drawing apps from Creative Blog that you might find as a good read titled: "20 best iPad art apps for painting and sketching"

I would also like to note from past experience is that not every app will be available in your market.


Adobe NAV can be useful if you are capable of changing your current workflow.

With Adobe Nav — a companion app to Adobe Photoshop CS5 software (version 12.0.4 or later required) — you can now instantly transfer images from your iPad directly to Photoshop CS5 and use your iPad to browse and select open Photoshop documents and activate Photoshop tools. As long as you have a network connection between your iPad and your computer, you can take advantage of the two-way connection. Instantly share an image in your iPad photo library with Photoshop CS5. Browse, reorder, view, and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop documents on your iPad. Tap a document on your iPad to immediately make it active in Photoshop CS5. Use your iPad to easily share and review files you are working on in Photoshop CS5 while you’re away from your desk or computer. And customize the Photoshop CS5 toolbar on your iPad to easily access the tools you use most.

• Transfer images from your iPad directly into Photoshop CS5 for editing and retouching.

• Browse, reorder, view, and zoom in on up to 200 open Photoshop documents on your iPad screen.

• Tap any open document in Photoshop on your iPad to make it the active document in Photoshop CS5.

• Use your fingertips to select and activate Photoshop CS5 tools from your iPad screen.

• Customize the way the Photoshop CS5 toolbar appears on your iPad screen to make your most frequently used tools easily accessible. You can save one Adobe Nav toolbar configuration with up to 16 tools.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.