Are you new to the iPad? Here are some tips that will help you get more from this amazing device.
Get an Apple iPad dock.
It will hold your iPad at the perfect angle for use as a digital picture frame (more on this later), or for viewing any kind of information that you’d like to see at a glance (such as your calendar, or a weather map, or a webcam, or whatever). There’s a place in the back of the dock for connecting the charging cable that came with the iPad so while the iPad’s in the dock it’s also charging. In my experience, standing the iPad up in the dock makes a world of difference. It’s neater and more useful to have it standing up and visible than to have it lying down flat and buried under papers etc., and you’re more likely to use it if you can see it. It takes less room on the desk when it’s docked as opposed to lying down flat, and always being charged is a big plus. The only downside is that the Apple iPad dock is not designed with a lot of wiggle room, so while you can use it with an iPad 2 or “the new iPad” you cannot use it if your iPad has any kind of case on it at all. Personally, I’d rather use the iPad without a case anyway. You can get Apple’s iPad dock at the Apple Store for $29. Or, get it from Amazon.* Be sure to get a genuine Apple dock and not a knock-off. The knock-offs aren’t nearly as good.
Get some pictures onto your iPad and use it as a digital picture frame. The iPad’s screen is gorgeous, way better than most “real” digital picture frames. You already have the thing, so why not use it to show off your pictures? There are several ways to get pictures onto your iPad, including: use the camera, sync them from iPhoto on your Mac, save emailed photos (tap and hold on a photo in an email, then tap “Save Image”), open images in Dropbox (then tap the “Share” button and choose “Save Photo”). Use the Settings app to configure the Picture Frame, then put the iPad to sleep (or just wait for it to go dark). When you wake it up, don’t swipe to unlock. Instead, tap the flower icon (see below). That starts the slide show. Stop by tapping anywhere on the screen. Of course this is a lot better if you have the Apple iPad Dock to stand the thing up in.
Learn a couple of semi-advanced techniques. Here’s one: with the iPad awake, double-tap the Home button. The screen slides up, showing you the apps you’ve used most recently across the bottom. Swipe those apps from left to right, revealing the brightness slider. Adjust the brightness as desired then tap anywhere on the screen to make it slide back down. This saves you a trip to the Settings. (Bonus hint: keep the screen dimmed as much as you can and you’ll save the battery. You’ll also save your eyes. (If you’re not dimming your iPad at night you’re needlessly tiring out your eyes.) Here’s another: the iPad rotates the image on the screen when you rotate the iPad itself… but it can’t tell that you’ve spun the thing if it’s flat on the table. If your iPad doesn’t seem to rotate properly try tilting it up so it’s more on-edge. It will rotate then. (If it still doesn’t rotate, someone’s turned off rotation. Look in the Settings, under General for “Use Side Switch to:” and if it is set to “Lock Rotation” just slide the side switch the other way and you’ll be fine. If the setting says “Use Side Switch to: Mute” it means you have to look somewhere else for the rotation lock. Luckily, you already know how to do it: double-tap the Home button, swipe left to right, and at the very far left, just past the brightness slider, there will be a big button. If it has a picture of a lock on it, tap it to unlock it. There, that’s that.
Get “iBooks” from the App Store (for free), and after that get the iPad Manual (it’s also free).