What is iPad Continuity (AirDrop Handoff)? How Do I Use It?

AirDrop Handoff Adds Continuity Between the iPad, iPhone and Mac

checking email on iPad

One of the things that makes Apple, well, Apple, is the attention they give to detail. This attention to detail has never been more evident than with the iOS continuity features. What is continuity? The technical name for it is AirDrop Handoff. Essentially, it uses AirDrop's ability to quickly and securely transfer files wirelessly between devices to create a seamless work transition from one device to the next. 

Continuity allows you to start an email on your iPhone and finish it on your iPad or start working on a spreadsheet on your iPad and finish it on your MacBook. And it goes beyond work. You can even start reading website on your iPhone and easily use AirDrop Handoff to open it on your iPad.

AirDrop Handoff Requires Bluetooth To Be Turned On

AirDrop utilizes Bluetooth to transfer files between devices, so you will need Bluetooth turned on in order to use AirDrop Handoff. If you experience any problems using the continuity features, you should check the Bluetooth settings.

  1. First, go into the iPad's settings
  2. Bluetooth should be the third setting from the top on the left-side menu. If it is on, it should read "On" right beside the setting. If it is off, tap the menu item to bring up the Bluetooth settings.
  3. In the Bluetooth settings, simply tap the on/off switch next to "Bluetooth". There is no need to pair any devices for AirDrop Handoff.

There really isn't a need to turn on AirDrop Handoff. This is a feature that is on by default, but if you have any problem getting it working and you have checked the Bluetooth setting, it is a good idea to check the AirDrop Handoff setting. 

  1. Go to the iPad's settings. 
  2. Tap "General" in the left-side menu to bring up general settings.
  3. Tap "Handoff & Suggested Apps" to view the Handoff settings.
  4. Tap the slider next to Handoff to turn the feature on or off.

The only other requirement for AirDrop Handoff is for all devices to be on the same Wi-Fi network. If you have multiple Wi-Fi networks in your home, for example, if you have a Wi-Fi extender, you should ensure all devices are connecting to the same network. 

How to Use AirDrop's Handoff Feature

The beauty of continuity is that you don't need to do anything special to hand off your work. The iPad, iPhone, and Mac work together to make this a seamless transition. The only thing you need to do is open up your device. 

A screenshot of the handoff icon on a locked iPad screen.

If you are composing an email message on your iPhone and you want to open it on your iPad, simply set your iPhone down and pick up your iPad. The mail icon will appear on the bottom-right corner of the iPad's lock screen. You can open the mail message by placing your finger down on the mail icon on the iPad and sliding it up towards the top of the display. This will open Mail and load the mail message currently in progress. 

Remember, the continuity features work through the lock screen. If you are currently using the iPad or you routinely bypass the lock screen, you will need to first suspend the iPad by clicking the suspend/wake button and then click the home button to get to the lock screen.  

Picking up where you left off on the Mac works in a slightly different manner. There's no need to go to a "lock screen" on the Mac. The icon for the app you are in on your iPad will simply appear on the left side of your Mac's dock. You can simply click it to continue working on your Mac.