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What to do with an old iPad (or iPhone): 10 DIY uses

You can count on death, taxes, and a steady stream of shiny new Apple devices vying for your money. We upgrade even when the old one works perfectly fine. Which poses the question: What to do with the old one? 

Your old device contains a lot of personal information. Be sure you thoroughly erase everything before selling it or trading it in for a discount. Tap or click here for the important steps you need to take to be sure all your personal data is off that old device for good.

Instead of getting rid of it, there are lots of other ways to upcycle your Apple tablet or phone — and keep using it on a daily basis. You may not need every app in its arsenal, but that slick screen and slender design can be handy for a variety of tasks.

While I focus on an older iPad, keep in mind your old iPhone can handle much of the same tasks. 

1. Make it a car dashcam

With the right brace or holder, you can install your older iPad or iPhone into your car. This can serve as a hub for music and entertainment, and if you position it right, you can use that device as a dashcam.

Dashcam apps constantly record what’s happening outside your car while you’re driving. This evidence is crucial in case of an accident. Most apps are designed for phones, but a tablet usually can use the exact software. Tap or click here for the best free dashcam apps.

2. Make it a reader

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The iPad can access almost any supplier of ebooks, including Kindle, Nook, and Apple’s own Apple Books. The iPad screen is backlit, so it isn’t ideal for extended reading, but the display is incomparable. Just turn down the brightness to make it easier on the eyes.

Best of all, there are thousands of free ebooks available from your local library to NASA. Tap or click here for the links you need to start downloading free ebooks for your tablet, phone, or computer.

3. Turn it into a security cam

With its powerful processor and built-in cameras, an old iPad can keep an eye on your home at all times. You can download the Skype app and set it up to automatically accept incoming video calls so you can check on things while you’re out.

For more sophisticated surveillance, you can find special home security apps. A popular option is Presence, which streams live video to a remote device and sends motion-detection alerts. You can keep an eye on your front door, use it as a nanny cam, or check in on your pets when you’re traveling.

Still getting used to the new iOS 13? You’re not alone. Tap or click here for nine features you’ll use all the time.

4. Use it to stay connected

The iPad was practically designed for video chats. It’s light, with two cameras and a sizable screen. For free calls, you can use the FaceTime app that is already installed, as long as the other person is an Apple user, too. You can also download a video conferencing app like Zoom or Skype.

Like what you’re reading? Try my free Apple-only newsletter. Tap or click here to get it now. 

5. See your favorite memories

Within the Photos app, Apple allows you to generate and play slideshows of any photo album, local or on the cloud. To turn an old iPad into a permanent decoration, go to Settings, tap Do Not Disturb and toggle it on. This step will silence any calls or notifications that would otherwise distract from photo-viewing.

Then go back to Settings, tap Display & Brightness, then set Auto-Lock to Never. This will keep your screen continuously on. Finally, go back to Settings, tap Accessibility then Guided Access, which you can toggle on. This allows you to lock your iPad to the photo app.

One thing that will ruin your new slideshow is an album full of annoying duplicates. Tap or click here for an app that helps you clear them out.

6. Control your TV

iPads can be easily used to control other devices across the Apple ecosystem. Controlling your other Apple products, like an Apple TV or your iTunes library, can be done by way of downloading the appropriate app from the App Store. (In this case, the Apple TV app or Apple’s iTunes Remote app.)

Many streaming services like Netflix and Hulu support casting content from your iPad to a streaming device, smart TV, or computer. This makes it easy to start watching something on your iPad and smoothly transition to another screen when needed.

Can’t decide between all the streaming options? Check out this handy streaming TV comparison guide to easily figure out what’s best for you. 

7. Organize and play your music

iPads make comprehensive music-streaming hubs. Whether you choose to store your music locally or use a streaming service, iPads can transmit music to various devices over Bluetooth and using AirPlay. If you have a relatively modern speaker system, your iPad can probably stream music to it. 

8. Make it your kitchen companion

Leaving an iPad in the kitchen as a dedicated recipe-station is surprisingly useful. Fitness apps like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt allow users to store recipes as well as track the nutritional makeup of their creations. There are endless apps built around the idea of discovering new recipes, like Tasty. Or apps all about cooking simple, healthy meals like Fork Over Knives. 

9. Give it to the kids

There are almost a million games available for iPad that children can entertain themselves with. Tap or click here for a list of 10 free classic games available on iOS.

In addition to games, there is a huge number of streaming services available on iPad that offer kid-friendly content. Apple also has a robust set of parental controls to help keep track of how much time your kids are spending on the device, as well as restrict the content they can access. Tap or click here to learn to set up parental controls. 

10. Use it as a second monitor

If you have a Mac and a supported iPad running iPadOS 13 or later, Apple’s Sidecar lets you use the iPad as a second screen. Sidecar can be used wirelessly and can be accessed by clicking the AirPlay icon in the menu bar on your Mac and selecting your iPad.

This will extend your Mac’s screen onto your iPad. By checking the blue rectangle on the AirPlay menu, you can instead mirror your Mac’s screen.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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