I bought an iPad with visions of grandeur in my eyes last year. “I’ll use it for everything!” I thought. Of course this wasn’t the case, but it’s been remarkably useful all the same. If you’re a fan of Papers on the Mac then the iPad app won’t disappoint. Papers synchronizes your library between your laptop and mac seamlessly, and allows you to post notes in the document. Although this is nice, it’s not exactly exploiting the full functionality of the iPad (what good is a touch screen if you can only type in text?).

What broke the iPad open for me was Notability. This app lets you draw notes as if the iPad were a paper notebook. There are a ton of apps that do this (drawing on the iPad), but the features in Notability made all the difference. It organises your documents, allowing a much more natural structure than a physical notebook. You can also import your academic journals from Papers, where you can cut and paste, draw, and highlight to your hearts content. Notability also lets you zoom in when writing, which is a necessity to make sure you’re notes don’t look like a you wrote them drunk on the tilt-a-whirl. Given I’m reading too many papers these days, it’s great to have one place where I know I have both the paper itself, and any notes I’ve taken while reading it.

A must of course is a stylus, and I’d recommend either the Bamboo stylus (the industry standard, I have it and like it) or the any of the new cloth tipped versions (I picked up this guy the other week and love it, plus it’s cheaper).

The only thing missing from this would be a tighter integration between the two programs. So if you’re listening folks at mekentosj.com: you should totally buy Notability and make the process even more seamless.

Given the iPad costs ~$500, it’s worth getting all of the value you can from it.