The 20 free iPad Air and iPad Mini apps you must download on Christmas Day

If you’ve woken up on Christmas morning to a tablet under the tree, here are Stuff’s pick of the top iOS apps to download - and they won’t cost you a penny

Apple is claiming it's an iPad Christmas, and app developers everyone are keeping their fingers crossed for a huge Christmas Day as new owners flock to the app store to load up their new gadget. With everything from robot unicorns to panda apps on offer, here's our pick of what you should download first. 


Absurdly addictive, Dots is an incredibly simple game that sees you join the dots on screen rather like a turbocharged Connect 4. It's a simple, easy to understand game, but give it a few minutes and you'll be hooked - and Christmas Day will disappear in a blur or bright colours and plinky plonk sound effects. There are lots of features to unlock, from a gravity version to special Chrismtas modes, all designed to keep you hooked.

Download here

Real Racing 3

If you think iOS games can't rival a console, then take a look at Real Racing 3, a superb, fully featured racing game. The graphics are stunning, and more importantly it's one of the most playable racers we've tried, with the tilt screen steering working brilliantly. There's a career mode to keep you going through the holidays, and regular updates, the latest of which has brought multiplayer racing in real time. 

Download here

WWF Together

Perfect for Panda fans everywhere, WWF Together is a stunning exapmple of how iPads can be used for education. It's an amazing interactive piece of work highlighting key endangered species, and letting users see some stunning photography and facts about each. It's already been chosen by Apple as one of their top apps of 2013, and we agree - go get it now.

Download here

Robot Unicorn Attack 2

As well as being possibly the best named game in existence, Robot Unicorn Attack 2 is a superb game that sees you guiding your unicorn across a variety of terrains. It's utterly absurd, but also brilliant - after all, who hasn't dreamed of riding a unicorn into battle.

Download here


Google's YouTube app was unceremoniously yanked from the iPad along with Maps, but it has come back leaner, faster and better. It's a superb little app, giving you access to everything in the YouTube world, from your favourites to your subscriptions, in a simple, easy to understand app anyone will be able to use - a real essential for any iPad owner.

Download here

Solar Walk 3D

One of those classic apps used to demo iPads, this app lets you, as the name suggests, walk through the solar system - with a mass of educational information on everything from planets to Nasa rovers. It looks stunning, with 3D walkthorughs, cutaways and loads of knowledge for the budding Brian Cox.

Download here


Apple’s own word processor received a huge overhaul this year, turning into an incredibly capable, Microsoft beating tool and integrates with Apple’s iCloud online storage. Brilliantly, for new iPad owners it's also free, so what are you waiting for...

Download here


While we're on the subject of Apple's apps, GarageBand is by far the best and easiest to use music creation app on the market. It also revived a huge overhaul this year, fully spruced up for iOS 7. It can now run unto 32 different tracks concurrently - not bad when you consider Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody only used 28.

Download here


If Garageband is just a bit too indie-rock, then hit the decks with Djay 2 instead. One of the first apps to take advantage of the iPhone 5s and iPad Air 64-bit processor, Djay 2 is phenomenally powerful, letting you mix together music, and can even automatically match the pitch so your mashups will sound better than ever. It's also pretty simple to use, so you'll be mixing the Christmas carols together in no time.

Just perhaps use the headphones, for the sanity of the rest of your family.

Download here


If arguing with the family has gotten too much, why not learn another language instead? A unique approach to learning a language, Duolingo lets you learn a language through playing games against others, and you can even help translate web pages as you learn. It's surprisingly good fun, and the perfect education app, as you'll quite often forget you're actually learning as you play.

Download here

More after the break...


We know, it got off to a bad start, but trust us - Google’s social network has come on in leaps and bounds, and on the iPad in particular, looks absolutely stunning. It still hasn't quite gotten the engagement of Twitter or Facebook, but it is well worth loading up - particularly as Google continues to improve it.

Download here


The best music service out there, and with an interface that makes it easy to explore every feature from the smaller screen, Spotify also now lets you listen for free on the iPad - hurrah! It's also a great looking app, with an excellent discover section, although its recommendations can be a little hit or miss at times.

Download here


Unashamed travel porn, Triptease is one of the best looking iPad apps on the market. It blends together stunning photography with user submitted reviews, and is quickly turning into an excellent resource for the discerning traveller - and a great way to waste time for the armchair traveller.

Download here

Flow Free

Astonishingly addictive, this simple little game is about creating an uninterrupted flow of colourful lines. Fiendishly difficult in later levels, it's a superb example of the kind if smart, simple to use apps that shows gaming is all about the mobile device rather than the console for many.

Download here

Sky Go

If you’re already a Sky subscriber, then this is a no-brainer. Sky’s TV app has gone from strength to strength, and the breadth of content it now offers is superb, particularly as you can get BBC, Channel 4 and 5 content alongside Sky’s own - making this simply the the best TV app out there.

Download here


While you're on a TV watching tip, Netflix is well worth a download, and new users get 30 days free to try out its vast catalogue of TV and films. It's also well worth checking out its exclusive new series, such as House of Cards and Orange.

Download here


An obvious choice, but if you're just using Facebook through your iPad's browser, stop what you're doing and go and get the app immediately. It's a very well designed, slick experience, and one Facebook has worked hard on - which shows.

Download here


Another obvious but essential download. Twitter's iPad app has made some tremendous improvements, and although we miss being able to access lists easily (if you're an addict, try tweetlist), this is a nice way to take part in the endless discussions about Christmas TV without having to actually speak to your family.

Download now


Amazon's Kindle reader is the go-to book reader for most people, with good reason. It's simple, easy to use and has a great catalogue - just be warned that on iOS, you'll have to go buy new books in a browser rather than from the app.

Download here

BBC iplayer

The original catch-up TV app, the iPlayer is the choice for the discrening bedroom iPad user, giving you full access to the BBC's online service, with the ability to download programmes for offline viewing - so no need to watch anything else even when you're on holiday.

Download here

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