One of the best uses for an iPad is looking at photographs, whether it's your own snaps or images from the web. But gazing at pretty pictures is not just about passing the time - you can also learn about the world.

If you're tired of constantly reading words to keep up with the day's events, try a more visual approach with the iPad's most popular photo news apps.

  • Guardian Eyewitness
    Price: Free
    Guardian News and Media Limited

    The Guardian has a daily feature called Eyewitness, where the British newspaper's center pages are given over to a single photograph. Usually a visual document of a topical news story, the photos cover anything from warzones to sports arenas, capturing big events and intimate portraits.

    The Guardian Eyewitness iPad app collects 100 of the most recent of these stunning photos and though some focus on life in the UK, most of the images are of international interest.

    As you browse turn on captions with one tap for a short summary of the image, plus a useful professional photography tip. If you really like a photo, you can permanently save it to your favorites folder.

    Subscribing to Eyewitness Extra for $1.99 per month gives you access to three exclusive pictures every day, plus series galleries to commemorate special events.


  • The Big Picture
    Price: $2.99
    Globe Newspaper Company, Inc.


    The Boston Globe has a similar, if more comprehensive, offering to Guardian Eyewitness called The Big Picture. Though it has more of a U.S. slant, the collection also casts its lens around the world.

    The major difference between the apps is that instead of a single image per day, The Big Picture delivers a new themed gallery with dozens of photos every couple of days. Themes vary from focusing on topical news stories to more general subjects like Daily Life.

    The other difference is the price. With all those images, you certainly get your money's worth for three bucks, though the app itself isn't as slick or feature-heavy as you might expect.

  • Reuters Galleries
    Price: Free
    Thomson Reuters


    Reuters Galleries is like a free version of The Big Picture. Each day usually features 10 new galleries arranged by topic with dozens of pictures per gallery. There's also an Editor's Choice gallery, where you can see a selection of the day's best pictures, plus occasional Featured Videos.

    The downside to Reuters Galleries is you only see collections from the last day or two. But if you plan on keeping up with your photo news every day, this is definitely a solid option.

  • Flipboard
    Price: Free
    Flipboard Inc.


    Flipboard is a beautiful way to keep up with your Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram networks, so it's no surprise that this highly visual app is good for browsing topical photos.

    The Photos section presents a variety of images trending across the web, along with others from selected sources, while Flipboard Picks provides a visual approach to browsing the latest news and entertainment.

  • National Geographic Today
    Price: Free
    National Geographic Society


    National Geographic Today brings a natural twist to the photo news app. Each daily dose of fresh new content is led by a sublime full screen photo, usually submitted by a member of National Geographic's MyShot community.

    Swipe across the image to reveal the rest of the days' beautifully presented articles, galleries and videos. You can easily spend an enjoyable and informative 30 minutes learning about the day's animals, artifacts, people and places, while the app stores an additional week's worth of material.

  • LIFE for iPad
    Price: Free
    Time Inc.


    If you think being topical is sooo last season, try the free LIFE for iPad app, which gives you access to the magazine's prized archive of historical photography.

    Arranged by subject, the app is great way to delve into the biggest stories, scandals and world-changing events of the 20th century. Many of the onscreen captions are taken straight from the original issue, while some of the photos are unpublished material that did not feature in the magazine.

  • News Booth
    Price: Free
    Rodskagg


    If you have enough of consuming photo news, why not try making it yourself - well, sort of. News Booth is a really fun app that turns your photos into a breaking news story, just like a still from a TV news broadcast.

    You can add your own headlines to run at the bottom of the screen then post your handiwork to Facebook and Twitter, or just save it to your iPad. It's a simple, silly and hugely entertaining app, especially if (like this reviewer) you enjoy creating fake headlines.