It all started with the iPad Pro (2021). Apple put its M1 chip, which powers Mac computers, into an iPad, leaving everyone to wonder what Apple would do with all that power and performance.
Of course, the iPad Pro (2021) isn't the only iPad that has the M1 treatmen, as the iPad Air 5 also has the powerful chip powering its brain. If you want to try your best to push the M1 to its limits on your best iPad, here are the greatest apps to run on an M1 iPad.
What difference does the M1 make?
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You may be wondering what exactly makes the M1 better for a particular app, and the answer is a little complicated.
In my iPad Air 5 review, I mention that the limitations of the iPadOS software do prevent the M1 chip inside from reaching its full potential. If you had an iPad Air 4, and all the apps you run aren't giving you any problems (and they likely aren't), the M1 in the iPad Air 5 isn't going to make much of a difference. But, that doesn't mean the M1 chip doesn't have some advantages.
Due to its sheer power and performance benefits, any iPad with an M1 chip is going to be able to handle apps that take a lot of CPU performance and especially apps that take lots of GPU to run. That's where you're going to notice the most difference.
Adobe Premiere Rush
Editing video — especially high-res files — is one of the most taxing things you can do on any device, and doing it on an iPad can be really hard. Still, the M1 chip in the newest iPad Pro and iPad Air make editing video on a tablet a much smoother experience.
Adobe Rush is basically a stripped-down version of its popular editing software for Mac and PC called Premiere Pro, but even though it may not have all the features of the Mac software, it's still the best video editing software you can get your iPad.
The user interface is fairly easy to navigate and still offers all the features you could want while editing a video, like color correction, audio mixing, the ability to add titles and transitions, and so much more. You'll likely forget that you aren't on a desktop because the app has everything you need.
While the focus for Adobe Premiere Rush is predominately on preparing social media videos, that doesn't mean the software is only for amateurs because it lets you move content back and forth between Premiere Rush and Premiere Pro. This makes it an excellent way for video editors to get some work done on their latest project when they can't be at their desktops.
Just remember, because it is an Adobe product, you do need to get a subscription, which you can bundle with other Adobe software, or just get Premiere Rush itself.
When it comes to editing video on your iPad, Adobe Premiere Rush has all the features and tools you need to make any video.
As you can imagine, editing photos also takes quite a bit of processing power. I'm not talking about just applying filters or cropping a photo, but extensive and precise edits like color grading, editing the light curves, and even digitally enchanting a photo. I use Pixelmator to edit my photos on my Mac and iPad Air 5, and the M1 is particularly helpful when editing photos en mass.
With Pixelmator, you'll get access to single-tap color correction presets and facial editors that can easily erase imperfections, blemishes, unwanted objects, and so much more. Plus, you'll even have the option to edit photos that are up to 100MP in size, which means even if you're shooting in a high-quality camera, you should be able to edit those photos right on your iPad.
Heck, Pixelmator doesn't just stop at editing photos; you can also paint mages directly onto your iPad using your Apple Pencil, turning your tablet into a digital canvas.
Pixelmator updated all its software for the M1 chip early on, which has made Pixelmator one of the best apps you can get for your M1 iPad. Edit all the high-quality photos you want, and even paint your own creations!
I know you think I'm crazy for putting this on the list, but hear me out. If you're a spreadsheet wizard, you know just how much Excel can slow down your computer or tablet once you really start making charts, graphs, and tables for everything. It takes a decent amount of CPU power to run lots of spreadsheets, but more important than that, the M1 chip in your iPad will help run Excel much more smoothly when you're multitasking.
Yes, Apple's own spreadsheet program, Numbers, does still exist, but Microsoft is still the king of spreadsheets. Plus, Excel is so widely used on iPad that Microsoft actually went out of its way to make its iPad version of Excel the absolute best that it can be, making it one of the best iPad apps in general.
Make charts and graphs with ease and display your data however you see fit. It's a great app to use while in split-screen mode on your M1 iPad
Codea is a really cool app that is aimed at helping you learn about coding, app design, and game design on iPad. It uses the Lua programming language and is specifically made to be a friendly and inviting coding editor.
The M1 chip is particularly nice to have when playing around in Codea because you can just tap and drag elements to change how the code interacts, and you'll see those changes in real-time. That takes a decent amount of processing power to make that experience smooth and seamless.
Of course, Codea won't have you making a top-selling game on the App Store right away, but it's an amazing tool to help you understand the fundamentals of game design and 3D graphics. If you're at all interested in what designing apps is like on the iPad, there's no better software than Codea to get your feet wet.
Codea is a beautifully-designed crash course in game design and 3D graphics. It's best on an M1 iPad for the smoothest experience.
You're probably starting to see a theme in this list, but creative work tends to take a lot of GPU power, which the M1 excels at offering on the iPad. Procreate has long been one of the best apps for drawing or creating digital art, and it runs amazingly well on an M1 iPad.
Whether you love painting, sketching, or drawing, Procreate has all the tools you need to turn your M1 iPad into the ultimate artist's canvas. With highly advanced tools like the dual-texture brushes and expert smudging tools, you can create truly beautiful works of art that look like they were actually painted.
It's versatile, too, allowing you to export your creations in PSD, native .procreate, TIFF, transparent PNG, multi-page PDF, or even web-ready JPEG file formats. Plus, the project tracking feature lets you record your progress as a time-lapse video that you can share with others, which is perfect for social media posts — people love speed painting!
If you're planning on doing some digital art on your M1 iPad, Procreate is one of the most powerful sketching, painting, and illustration apps that you can buy.
Call of Duty: Mobile
While not all mobile games need a ton of power to run smoothly, certain mobile games (typically ones from the big game development studios) can be power hogs making them run a little choppy on older chipsets. My M1 iPad Air 5 has been able to handle any game I throw at it, including the impressive Call of Duty: Mobile.
When playing Call of Duty: Mobile on your M1 iPad with a game controller in your hand, it's easy to forget you're not playing the game on an actual console.
With classic modes such as Team Deathmatch, Domination, and Kill-Confirmed on iconic maps such as Shipment, Raid, and Standoff, as well as 100 player Battle Royale mode, Call of Duty: Mobile really is a AAA gaming experience. Plus, it's multiplayer, meaning you can compete with your friend or people from around the world.
Want the Call of Duty experience you get on the console on your M1 iPad? Call of Duty: Mobile delivers it all!
The M1 is great when you need power
You probably noticed a recurring theme on our list — the apps that need the most CPU and GPU performance are the best on the M1 iPad. There's a reason people love to gush about the M1 chip, whether it's in a mac or an iPad, and that's because when you need the power, it can deliver.
This list isn't the end of it either. Even apps that might not need the power of an M1 chip may see some performance enhancements running on a faster chip just because the power is there. So, open up all your favorite apps on your M1 iPad and see how they run — you may be surprised.
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Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.