If you’re like many other people who received an Apple iPad or iPad mini this year for the holidays, let me first congratulate you. It’s always fun to get a shiny new gadget and as an iPad owner for almost two years now, I can tell you that you will most likely be able to put it to good use. Everybody always seems to figure out a way to make their iPad uniquely theirs. I’m writing this to help you kickstart the process so you can get straight to using your iPad efficiently and the way you intended. Here’s five ways to get the most out of your iPad.
Buy a case.
Chances are you are going to travel with your iPad on a regular basis, which puts it in danger of scratches and drops. Depending on how insane your family or household is in general, it might also be in danger there as well. Unlike laptops, which by design shields the display when it’s closed, the glass on tablets is always fully exposed. There are plenty of cases out there. Otterbox cases usually provide the absolute best protection while making your iPad look totally bulky and ugly, Spigen has been known for having the best clear screen protectors, and Apple of course has its magnetic Smart Cover, which I can recommend to almost anyone for a great combination of form and function. A quick search on Amazon for “iPad cases” or “iPad mini cases” will give you a wide range of additional options as well.
Definitely make sure upon setup that you enable iCloud; it’ll make your life much easier. It’s particularly great for storage and backups of data in various apps, plus it’ll back up your entire device automatically and wirelessly when you plug it in to charge. You get 5GB of cloud storage free, which is typically enough for most people. If you have additional Apple devices like an iPhone, iPod touch, or Mac, it can keep your photos, music, and apps in sync across all of them as an added bonus. If you didn’t already turn on iCloud during the iPad setup, you can go to the Settings app to turn it on there.
Download the best apps.
You got your new iPad at a perfect time. Since it’s the end of the year, Apple has a full list of what it considers the absolute best apps and games of 2012 available to browse in the App Store. We have a brief summary to get you started. If you also have an iPhone, be on the look-out for apps with a “plus” icon next to the price. That means it’s compatible with both iPad and iPhone, which can help keep any content in sync and sometimes save you from spending additional money on a duplicate app. Aside from the Best of 2012 list, if you’re a true beginner, you may want to explore some apps made by Apple like Pages, GarageBand, iBooks, and iPhoto.
Don’t get struck by Lightning.
If you have an iPad mini or a fourth-generation iPad, you have the new Lightning connector, which replaces the wider 30-pin connector of previous generation models. If you owned an older iPad and bought all your accessories for it, the chances are slim that they will be compatible with your new iPad. To alleviate this issue, you have two options. As difficult as this sounds, I recommend buying new accessories especially if you plan on buying more Apple products in the future — it’s something you’d have to do eventually. If you really would prefer making your new iPad work with older accessories, Apple sells a Lightning to 30-pin adapter for $29.
Consider buying a stylus.
At the launch of the original iPhone in 2007, Steve Jobs famously asked the rhetorical question, “Who wants a stylus?” while bashing the concept of one. Today, pretty much all touchscreen products worth buying don’t require a stylus. However, depending on your needs you may want one as an accessory. Do you take written notes on your iPad or frequently switch between paper and tablet? Are you a creative professional or simply enjoy drawing and making art? If you answered yes to either question, a stylus might be worth considering. The Griffin stylus pictured above is the one I see in public most often. There’s also Studio Neat’s fatter and arguably more comfortable Cosmonaut stylus or LunaTik’s Touch Pen for a pen/stylus combo, a personal favorite of mine.
Hopefully now you’ve learned some new tips and you’re ready to get on your way enjoying your new iPad or iPad mini. Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments section below.