Apple iPad Secrets (Part 1)

8/4/2013 9:15:14 PM

The iPad remains the world’s favorite tablet, and they has uncovered some lesser-known tips and tricks to get the most from it

As any Mac user will tell you, Apple is known for secreting hidden yet astonishingly useful features within its operating systems. Whether Apple's developers intend these features to be hidden is unknown, although the fact Apple tends to eschew instruction manuals is perhaps an explanation.

In this feature we look at around 1 5 lesser-known features of the iPad. Because all Apple's mobile devices share the same operating system with a little common-sense adaptation, you might find many tips work on the iPhone and iPod Touch too.

Remotely view the battery life of your iPad

Ever wanted to know what battery life is remaining in your iPad without actually finding it and checking? If the device is registered with the Find My iPad service (activated in the iCloud section of the Settings app), you can use a lesser-known feature of the Find My iPhone (sic) app on an iPhone or the website to see the info. Simply start Find My iPhone or visit the page at icloud. com, then wait for it to locate your equipment. Then tap/click the Devices button to see the devices list, then select your iPad, and at the top right of the screen in map view will be a small battery symbol showing how much charge is left, or a symbol indicating that the device is attached to its charger.

Using this technique, you can also discover the battery life of any other Apple hardware you have, like a MacBook.

At you can remotely view the battery life of any Apple device registered with the Find My iPhone service

See the full video frame when recording

When you use the camera app to record video, you won't see the entire frame, even though the full video frame will be recorded. What you see will have the sides clipped off. This happens because the iPad records video at 16:9 size ratio while the iPad has a squarer 3:2 screen ratio.

The solution when recording video is simple - just double-tap the screen. This will show the full frame. Black borders will appear at the top and bottom of the screen - a bit like watching cinematic movies on a TV - but these won't be recorded. Double-tap again to switch back to the clipped view.

Lock focus and exposure

While we're on the subject of video, it's worth mentioning that the latest iPad 3 is actually pretty good at recording the stuff. It features image stabilization, for example, which will remove any hand tremors when you're holding the device to record (although it can't perform miracles). It records at 1080p resolution.

To avoid the focus constantly hunting when you're recording, tap and hold the screen where your subject appears. This will force the iPad to lock focus and exposure and you'll see 'AE/AF Lock' appear at the bottom of the screen. The lock can be reapplied during recording in exactly the same way - just tap and hold a different area of the screen.

See how much data was used in Facetime

Got an iPad with 3G/4G but only a small data allowance? FaceTime calls can eat data, so it's wise to monitor how much. Start the FaceTime app, tap the All tab, then locate the most recent call in the list and tap the small right-facing arrow alongside its entry. You'll be shown all details of the call, including how long it lasted and the total megabyte (MB) count. According to some estimates, a rough rule is to allow between 3MB for every minute of the call, but one recent iPad-to-iPad FaceTime call I undertook consumed 103MB for a six-minute conversation - 17MB per minute!

You can see what apps on your iPad can open which types of files by clicking and holding on an email attachment

Stop music or video playing after a time

If you want to listen to music or watch a video on your iPad when dropping off to sleep, you can set a hidden timer than will stop playback after any period between one minute and 24 hours. Start the Clock app, and tap the Timer button at the bottom.

Then set a time on the dials and tap the Sounds button at the top left. You'll see a list of tones you can use, but scroll right down to the bottom where there'll be an entry that reads 'Stop Playing'. Select this and tap the Set button in the top right-hand corner of the pop-out menu. Click the Start button then switch out to the Music or Video app and start playback as usual.

You can cancel the timer at any time by switching back to the Clock app and tapping the Done button.

In addition to the default playback apps, this will work in some third-party applications that play audio and video, such as the YouTube app. To discover which ones it works with, you'll need to experiment by setting a timer for a minute and starting playback in the app.

Quickly type a full stop

You might already be aware that tapping the spacebar twice on the on-screen keyboard inserts a full stop and a space at the end of a sentence. However, instead of tapping twice, you can simply tap the spacebar with two fingers bunched together. This does the same job, although can take some practice to get right.

Shake your iPad vigorously and you'll be able to undo any mistype. Shake again and you can undo your undo!

Find out what apps understand what files

Ever wondered which apps installed on your iPad can read Word documents, for example, or are able to display PDFs? To find out, open an email that has an attachment of the kind you want to know about (if you can't find one, just send a new email to yourself with a file attached), then tap and hold the file attachment. A menu will pop up offering a choice of apps in which you can open the attachment, and which therefore can read that kind of file. With some popular types of file, like PDFs, there might be several apps that are compatible, and you might have to scroll left and right through the list to see them all by dragging left and right. Tap 'Cancel' when you've learned all you need from the list.

Repeat calendar events on the first or last day

The Calendar app lets you create events that repeat periodically on particular days in the month but it doesn't let you repeat events on the first Friday of each month, for example, or the last Saturday - dates that can vary depending on which month it is.

Assuming you use iCloud to synchronize and back up your data, the solution is to visit and use its browser interface to access your calendar. Perhaps surprisingly, this is more powerful than the iPad app.

Log in at using your Apple ID, then click the Calendar icon. Click the Plus icon at the bottom right to add a new calendar event. Fill in the calendar events as you would normally on an iPad.

Under the Repeat drop-down list, select 'Custom'. In the new dialogue box that appears, click the Month tab, then at the bottom click the radio button alongside 'On the' and select which day you'd like the event to repeat on. Click 'OK' when done.

If you have a Mac that's logged into the same iCloud ID as your device, you can use its Calendar app to do the same thing - switch to month view by clicking the tab at the top of the program window, then double click on the first day. You wish the event to happen to create a new event, then double-click the new event. After this, follow the steps above.

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