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Smartphones & gadgets

Upcycle your tech: 8 clever uses for an old iPad

The iPad was introduced as something of a miracle device, more comfortable than your phone and more convenient than your computer. The tablet quickly gained tons of fans who couldn’t imagine living in a world without it.

Now that we’re all spending more time stuck at home, you’re going to want to add at least one to your arsenal of entertainment options. But, finding the right iPad for you can be an overwhelming process. Tap or click here for our iPad buying guide.

Some people are such big fans they even buy a new model every couple of years, leaving older iPads to collect dust. But it doesn’t have to be that way, there are plenty of great uses for those older models. Here are eight clever uses for an older iPad that will work just as well as newer models.

1. Stay connected while social distancing

Many Americans are staying home more than ever as we ride out this coronavirus pandemic with social distancing. That doesn’t mean you have to end all communications with people in your life, you just have to keep a safe distance.

The best way to stay in touch with family and friends during these troubled times is to video chat with them. Older iPads are perfect for this. You can either use the FaceTime app that is already on your gadget if those you want to speak with also have an Apple device. Tap or click here to find out how to make group calls on your Apple device.

Or, you can download a video conferencing app like Zoom or Skype. Either way, you’ll be able to speak with everyone who’s important in your life with a more personal touch than just by a phone call.

2. Digital photo frame

Within the Photos app, Apple allows you to generate and play slideshows of any photo album, local or on the cloud. By changing certain settings on your iPad, you can turn your device into however much of a dedicated digital photo viewer as you’d like.

First, turn on Do Not Disturb mode: From Settings, tap Do Not Disturb and toggle it on. This will silence any calls or notifications that would otherwise distract from photo-viewing.

The next step is to turn Auto-Lock off. Here’s how: From Settings tap Display & Brightness, then set Auto-Lock to Never. This will make it so your screen never goes to sleep. Finally, turn on Guided Access: From Settings, tap Accessibility then Guided Access, which you can toggle on. This allows you to lock your iPad to the current app.

3. A nice big remote

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 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.

4. Music server

While it may seem a little obvious, iPads of all ages and models make fantastic music-streaming hubs. Whether you choose to store your music locally or use a streaming service, iPads can transmit music to various devices both over Bluetooth and using AirPlay. Chances are if you have a relatively modern speaker system, your iPad can stream music to it.

5. Kitchen recipe and videos

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 also endless numbers of apps built around the idea of discovering new recipes, like Tasty. Or apps all about cooking simple, healthy meals, like Fork Over Knives.

The easiest method of all is to store recipes on Apple’s Notes app. Notes can be opened side-by-side with YouTube or the web browser of your choice as you search for the best recipes while taking whatever notes you might like.

6. eReader

Whichever digital ecosystem you use for ebooks, you can access on your iPad. Apple’s answer to digital books is Apple Books, from where you can browse the store to find new books, access everything you’ve read and want to read from Apple, as well as listen to audiobooks. But Amazon’s Kindle app and the Google Books app are both available on the App Store and offer similar features.

7. Toy for the kids

There are millions of 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.

8. 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.

Whether you’ve just bought an iPad, you’re thinking about buying one or have one collecting dust, these clever uses can save you time and money. Once you’ve found a good use for an older iPad, you’ll be sure to want to secure your device. Tap or click here for important iPad settings to change.

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