The 30 Best Uses for the iPad

How to Use the iPad

Woman laying on couch using tablet
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Can't decide if the iPad is worth it? Are you wondering what to do with the iPad? How to use an iPad is an easy question to answer. Between its ability to stream movies to its ability to play great games to the thousands of apps available in the Apple App Store, you may be surprised about how many great uses there are for the iPad.

The Best iPad Uses

1. Surf on the Couch. Let's start with the most obvious use for the iPad.

Have you ever been watching TV and wondered where you'd seen a particular actor before? Or perhaps a show lets loose with a strange fact and you wanted to know if it was actually true. Having IMDB, Wikipedia and the rest of the web at your fingertips from the comfort of your couch can be a wonderful thing.

2. Check Facebook, Twitter and Email. The iPad also makes a great way to keep up with all of your friends. And if you like to update Facebook or tweet during shows, it can be the perfect companion. You can even connect your iPad to Facebook, which will make it easy to share everything from websites to photos. Are you nuts for Twitter? There are a number of dedicated Twitter clients, and like Facebook, you can connect your iPad to your Twitter account.

3. Play a Game. With each generation, the ability to game on the iPad gets better and better. The iPad 2 included the front-facing and back-facing cameras, which made playing augmented reality games possible.

The iPad 3 brought the gorgeous Retina Display, which allows higher resolution graphics than most game machines. Recently, Apple has added a brand new graphics engine called Metal, which takes games to the next level. And while you may get a lot of other use out of the iPad, gaming is definitely the most entertaining.

If you don't know which games are worth playing, check out what I think are the best iPad games around. (Did you know you can play AR games on your iPhone, too?)

4. Read a Book. The ability to read eBooks from Apple's iBooks, Amazon's Kindle, and Barnes and Noble's Nook certainly make the iPad one of the most versatile eReaders on the market. The iPad isn't the lightest eReader, but it's easier to read in bed on the iPad than a traditional notebook computer.

5. Help in the Kitchen. The size and portability of the iPad make it great for any room in the house, including as a handy helper in the kitchen. While the iPad can't yet do the cooking itself, there are plenty of other uses for the iPad in the kitchen. We can start with recipes from great apps like Epicurious and Whole Foods Market. The App Store has dozens of recipe managers that can keep your recipes neat, organized, and just a tap away. Heck, you can even manage your gluten sensitivity with apps like Is That Gluten Free?

6. Family Entertainment. When you combine Apple's rigorous inspection of each app with the parental controls found in their iOS devices and the thousands of great games and apps on the iPad, you get the perfect family entertainment system.

The iPad is great for family vacations when you need to entertain the kids in the backseat. Not only will they get access to movies, they can play games for far cheaper than most portable gaming machines.

7. Listen to Music.  Even if you don't have a large music collection loaded on your iPad, there are plenty of great ways to stream music to your iPad, including the ability to create unique radio stations that are customized to the music you love. The iPad has good speakers, but more importantly, it also supports Bluetooth. This makes it a great match with wireless headphones, and with many new television soundbars supporting Bluetooth, the iPad can essentially become your home stereo.

8. Take Photos and Record Video. The back-facing camera on the iPad is surprisingly good.  It's not quite as good as the iPhone 6 or 7, but the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro cameras can compete with most other smartphone cameras. But what really makes the iPad a great camera is the beautiful 9.7-inch display. For the record, yes, you could use the 12.9-inch display, but... Come on. It's big, bulky, and blocks the view from all around you. Anyway, you'll know you have a great shot lined up on it, and you don't have to miss the action because you are staring at a tiny screen.

9. Connect the iPad to Your TV. The iPad has a lot of great entertainment value, including the ability to stream HD video and play high-quality games. But what about watching it on the big screen? There are several methods to hook your iPad up to your HDTV, including using AirPlay to wirelessly connect the iPad to Apple TV. And most solutions work with both video and sound, so you can really get the full HD experience.

10. Say Goodbye to Premium Cable. Have you ever wanted to ditch premium cable? The ability to stream NetflixHulu Plus, and HBO directly to your HDTV means you can replace your premium channels without being forced to watch movies on a smaller screen. And considering the amount of television available on those services, some people could dump cable completely.

11. Say Hello to Premium Cable. While cord-cutting is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the availability of HBO Now without a cable subscription, cable is still the most popular way to tune in to our favorite shows and movies. Many cable providers now offer an app that will let you watch some shows live on your iPad, which turns your tablet into a portable television. Also, a number of broadcast channels have their own apps, so you can watch the latest episode of a show even if you forgot to DVR it.

12. Edit Photos and Video. The iPad can take a great photo, but even better, it can easily edit that photo. The built-in editing features allow you to crop the photo, brighten it or bring out the best color. But you aren't stuck with the editing features of the Photos app. There are a number of great photo-editing apps on the App Store, and plenty of filters you can download to extend the Photos App. Even more, the iPad can do a great job at editing video. The iMovie app is available for free to anyone who has bought an iPad or iPhone in the last few years, and in edition to basic video editing, iMovie comes with fun themes and templates, so you can put music to your video or even create a fictional movie trailer.

13. Share Photos and Video. You aren't stuck with Facebook or Instagram for your only ways to share photos and videos. The iCloud Photo Library includes shared albums. This makes it easy to create a private album with just your friends or family and share both photos and videos to it.

14. Create a Printed Photo Album. What about those friends and family who aren't so tech savvy? You aren't limited to just taking photos on an iPad. You can also create your own photo album and have it printed and shipped to you. The iPhoto app includes the ability to edit photos, create albums and have them professionally printed.

15. Scan Documents. Your use of the camera isn't limited to just taking family photos, selfies or shooting video. You can actually use your iPad as a scanner. The scanner apps do all of the hard work for you, cropping the photo so just the document shows up and focusing the camera so that the text is legible. Some scanner apps can even fax the document or will let you digitally sign it before printing it out.

16. Type Up Documents. Word processing isn't just for PCs. Microsoft Word and Pages are both great word processors available for the iPad. And if you don't like the idea of typing on a touchscreen, there are certainly options. Not only are there plenty of wireless keyboards and keyboard cases available for the iPad, you can even attach a regular wired keyboard.

17. Voice Dictation. One of the overlooked benefits of having Siri is the ability to dictate to the iPad. And this isn't just limited to word processing apps or creating an email. You can use your voice to message your friends or even to search the web. Any time the iPad's on-screen keyboard pops up, you can choose to use your voice instead of your fingertips.

18. Personal Assistant. Speaking of Siri, she really does make an excellent personal assistant. While it may seem odd giving your iPad requests, Siri can be used to set reminders and schedule events and meetings. She can even help you get reservations at your favorite restaurant or retrieve the latest sports scores.

19. Business. The iPad is increasingly being used in business. One of the most popular ways the iPad is being used is as a point-of-sale device, with a number of great services that will let you take credit cards or payment via PayPal. And with Microsoft Office on the iPad, you can use your tablet for spreadsheets and presentations.

20. Second Monitor. Here's a neat trick: using your iPad as a second monitor for your laptop or desktop PC. Through apps like Duet Display and Air Display, you can use your iPad as if it were an extra monitor connected to your PC. These apps work by connecting with a software package you download to your PC and then sending the video signal to your iPad. And the best use your iPad's connection cable to eliminate lag.

21. Control Your PC.  Not happy with just the idea of your iPad being a second monitor for your PC? You can take it one step further by taking full control over your PC from your iPad. The advantage of this is that you can effectively use your powerful desktop PC from the comfort of your couch, basically turning it into a laptop.

22. Video Conferencing. Did you know that not only does FaceTime work on the iPad, it's actually better on an iPad because you have a bigger display. This gives you a great way to video conference with friends, family or even for your business. But you aren't limited to just FaceTime for video conferencing. You can also use Skype, which supports both voice and video calls.

23. Make Phone Calls and Send Text Messages. Not only can you use iMessage to send and receive text messages, there are a number of other texting options available for the iPad. If you have an iPhone, you can not only place calls on your iPad, you can actually receive them, too. If you don't have an iPhone, you can still use your iPad as phone with apps like Skype.

24. Employ Siri in a less serious waySiri's uses go beyond productivity. It can do everything from answering a math question to calculating a tip. There are a lot of funny questions you can ask her, and if you are on a diet, Siri can even look up the number of calories in the dish you are thinking about ordering. And if you ask her, she'll even tell you what song is playing in the background.

25. Take a Class. Want to learn something? Whether you need a tutor for school or a class to replace school, the iPad has you covered. The Khan Academy has a simple goal of providing free online education that covers both K-12 all the way through college-level courses. And beyond video classes, there are a number of apps that can help your child get a jump on education.

26. Portable TV. This little-known use for the iPad can be great for parents that often find themselves at soccer games and tennis matches but might want to catch up on their television. Beyond just streaming videos through Netflix or similar apps, you can actually watch your own television using Sling Media's Sling Box. This device hooks into your cable at home and then 'slings' it across the Internet, allowing you to view your TV from your iPad and even change channels remotely.

27. GPS. A great use for the LTE model is as a GPS replacement. With an Assisted-GPS chip, the iPad can keep you from ever being lost. And the Maps app includes hands free turn-by-turn directions. Don't like Apple's Maps? You can still download Google Maps from the app store. And even if you don't have the LTE model, these apps can be a great way to look up directions before you get into your car.

28. Be a Musician. For musicians, there are a ton of helpful apps that range from a digital piano to a guitar effects processor. You can even turn your iPad into a DJ station. Not a musician but want to be one? You can even use the iPad to learn an instrument thanks to nifty gadgets like ION's Piano Studio.

29. Computer Replacement. Between its ability to use Facebook, read Email, and browse the web, the iPad can replace the laptop for many people. With apps like Apple's Pages and Numbers, Microsoft offering Office for the iPad, and the ability to connect a keyboard, the iPad can completely replace the laptop for many people. In fact, a growing number of people are finding the iPad to be the only computer they need.

30. Control a Robot. The coolest use for an iPad? Controlling a robot. Double Robotics has created an iPad robot, which is essentially an iPad stand with wheels that you can control remotely. This essentially allows you to video conference on the move. But before you get too excited, the whole setup will run you $1999.