How to Get the Most Out of the iPad

Your 'magical' device makes for a great productivity and entertainment enhancer

ipad pro, caracteristicas

When Apple announced the iPad, Steve Jobs called it "magical." And in many ways, he was right. The iPad is a great device capable of such varied tasks as streaming movies, entertaining you with great games, becoming your digital library, or letting you browse the web on your couch.

How to Buy an iPad

The iPad comes in three different sizes: the 7.9-inch iPad Mini, the 9.7-inch iPad, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. You can also buy an older, refurbished iPad from Apple if you want to save a little money. You'll also need to decide on how much storage you'll need and whether you need a 4G LTE connection.

iPad Models

The 2018 iPad Pro models side by side
Apple, Inc

The iPad Mini model is usually the cheapest. It's also best for those who want to use the iPad while moving because its small size makes it easier to carry and operate.

The iPad Air model, which is also known only as the "iPad," is the next step up. It's slightly more powerful than the Mini and has a 9.7-inch screen instead of a 7.9-inch screen. Other than the size and a slight boost in performance, the Air and the Mini are about the same.  

The iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 9.7-inch and a 12.9-inch model. These models feature laptop-like performance and are great if you want to focus on productivity with your iPad. They can be great home iPads too. 

iPad Storage

A man sketching on an iPad Pro using an Apple Pencil
The newest iPad Pro models support up to 1 TB of storage, which rivals most laptops. Apple, Inc.

Buy a device with at least 32 GB of storage. The iPad Pro models start with 32 GB, which is enough for most people. The iPad Air and Mini models start with 16 GB and jump to 64 GB for the next highest model. The amount of storage you need depends on what you plan to use it for.

If you want to use it mostly as an e-reader and browsing the web, you won't need much. But if you're going to download a lot of movies or run larger apps for production, you'll want some extra space.

4G LTE or Wi-FI Only? 

wi-fi is better at some things in your car than bluetooth
Mark Mawson / Stone / Getty

With the ability to tether the iPad to the iPhone and use its data connection combined with so many Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops and hotels, it's easy to live without 4G. If you're using the iPad for work and know that you will be traveling a lot, the 4G connection may be worth it. Otherwise, you'll get all the use you need -- and save some money -- with a Wi-Fi-only model.

Getting Started With the iPad

Mature Couple Playing With iPad
Getty Images

Navigation on the iPad involves tapping and swiping the screen. Swipe the screen from left to right or right to left to move between pages. The Home button works as a "go back" button. So if you've launched an app by tapping it, you can get back out of the app by clicking the Home button. 

If you are in an app like the Safari web browser, scroll up and down by swiping up or swiping down. You can also get to the top of a web page or email message or Facebook newsfeed by tapping the clock at the very top of the screen. 

Search your iPad by swiping down in the middle of the screen when you are on the Home Screen. This gesture activates Spotlight Search, which can search for anything on your iPad and even checks the App Store, within apps, and the web.

Getting the Most Out of the iPad

Apple TV, Homepod, and iPad

Several significant features aren't readily apparent, such as being able to connect the iPad to your TV or how to use two or three apps simultaneously. You can also use your iPad like an iPhone to keep in contact with friends and family.

One of the most useful features of the iPad is Siri, which lets you use your voice to interact with the tablet. Apple's digital assistant can do things like open apps, remind you about tasks, or help you find restaurants when you're visiting a new city.

A Parents' Guide to the iPad

A mother plays with an iPad with her kids.
One of the best ways to use the iPad is to use it to interact as a family. Getty Images/Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury

The iPad can be both an entertainment tool for little ones and a great learning tool for kids of all ages. Secure your iPad so that your child won't run up high iTunes bills or modify or view sensitive information on the device.

The Best iPad Apps

Photo of iPad Pro with the icons of the featured apps on screen. Hand holding Apple Pencil hovering above one of the apps.
These are 10 of the best apps you can use on your iPad Pro in 2018.

Common apps that enhance your iPad experience include:

  • Google Maps: The Maps app that comes with the iPad is good, but Google's Maps are even better.
  • Crackle: It's like a mini version of Netflix without the subscription fees.
  • Pandora: Want to create a custom radio station? Pandora can do it.
  • Yelp: Yelp provides a search for nearby restaurants and shops and gives you user reviews so you can find the very best of them.