What is usually the first thing everyone that gets a new iPad wants to know? Which apps to get. But there are still some cool things that you can do with your iPad, even without buying a single app. I’m not talking about well-known features like Multitasking, Folders, Airplay, Airprint, or even the new HD Mirroring capability of the iPad 2. Instead, here are ten, hidden in plain sight, secret features of the iPad 2. You maybe aware of one or two, but let’s see if you knew about all ten.
Access Your iTunes Library Remotely
There are several ways you can access your media collection from your iPad. The first and easiest is to sync your library from iTunes. However, if you have enabled Home Sharing in iTunes on your Mac, you can also access your entire iTunes Library on your Mac while connected to the same Wi-Fi network. To access your Home Sharing library from the iPad you need to click on the Library tab in the iPod app. From here you select the iTunes Library you want to access (make sure you have Home Sharing turned on in iTunes on the computers you want to share from). Unfortunately it is an either/or situation. You cannot browse both your locally synced library as well as your remotely accessed library.
Capture Your Screen to Your Photo Library
This can come in handy if you want to send someone a screen shot of your latest high score, weather forecast, map directions, or preserve a crazy moment from a FaceTime chat. To take a screen shot, simply hold down both the Home and Sleep button at the same time. The screen should flash white and a shutter sound should be audible. An image of your screen will be saved to your Photo Library on the iPad. Use the Photos app on the iPad to review the screen shot you have taken.
Scroll to the Top of a Web Page
You will often find yourself reading through an article on a particular web site, and once complete, you want to get back to the top of the web page. Simply tap once on the top of the screen near the status bar and the page will automatically scroll back to the top. This works in many apps, too, like when you want to get to the top of your Twitter stream, for instance.
Find Text Anywhere On Web Page
When typing in a search term in Safari, notice the section titled “On This Page” towards the bottom of the search suggestions. Clicking on terms in this section will search only within the page. There is even a count of how many matches there are on the web page for that particular search term. By clicking on the search term in this section, a search bar will appear at the bottom of the screen with a “Next” and “Done” button. Unfortunately there is no previous button, but the search will cycle back to the first result after you click through the last available instance.
Join Wi-Fi Networks Without Asking
When roaming around town, I do not like it when my iPad asks me if I want to join some rogue network that happens to be nearby. Instead, I want my iPad to to remember and automatically join only the networks that I have specifically logged on to in the past. To accomplish this , simply switch off the “Ask to Join Networks” feature in the Wi-Fi section in the Settings App. The iPad will still automatically join any network you have joined previously, and you will still be able to manually add any new network configuration you may need moving forward.
Secret Keyboard Keys
With a virtual keyboard, each key may be more than it first appears. Simply press and hold certain keys on each keyboard and additional keys will appear. For instance, when entering a URL or email address, press and hold the .com key and you will be presented with .net, .org, .us and .edu optional keys (and other options depending on your country of residence). Press and hold any letter of the alphabet to reveal other languages variations of the same letter. This works with alternate punctuation as well. Press and hold the dash key to reveal the bullet and long dash keys. And if you are looking to enable the Emoji keyboard on the iPhone or iPad, check out the free Emoji app in the App Store.
Play Podcasts at Double Speed
As much as I like listening to Leo Laporte on TwiT, there are certainly times when I need to get through his shows a little faster as I am convinced that Leo has found some way to record more than twenty-four hours of audio in a given day. To that end, when listening to audio podcasts, you can click on the 1x and 2x buttons to speed up the audio playback to twice the speed, or slow it back down the normal speed. This only works in the iPod app, not when playing Podcasts directly from within iTunes, and not when playing podcasts from within the Remote app.
View PDFs Out Of The Box
Looking for a good app for reading PDFs on the iPad? Look no further than Apple’s own iBooks. To add PDFs to your iPad, simply connect the iPad to iTunes on your Mac and drag and drop PDFs directly from the Finder Application in OS X onto the connected iPad in iTunes on OS X. This is probably the quickest and easiest way that I have seen to get PDFs onto the iPad without having to sync or access the cloud through third party apps like iDisk, Dropbox or GoodReader. Alternatively, if you have PDF files as attachments in your e-mail, you can click and hold on the PDF which will allow you to open the PDF in iBooks. You can even use collections to manage your iBooks PDF library on the iPad.
Watch Feature Length Movies From SD Card
This feature requires the use of the iPad Camera Connection Kit and an SD Card. While you cannot play the movie files directly off of the SD card, you can import the movie files from the SD card onto the iPad and watch them in the Photos application. Make sure that you have two nested folders on the SD card labeled /DCIM/100VIDEO. Place all of your video files in this folder. Make sure that the movie format is compatible with the iPad. You may need to delete movies you have already watched, and you will not be able to see the name of the file itself in the Photos app. This is just one of seven additional features you get with iPad’s Camera Connection kit.
Enable Multitasking Gestures
When Apple released Xcode 4 to the Mac App Store, it also exposed the ability for anyone to enable the multitasking gestures on the iPad. Once enabled, you can use five fingers to swipe up and down to reveal the multitask bar, left and right to navigate through open Apps on the multitasking bar. You can also perform a five finger pinch to close the App you are in and return to the home screen. To enable multitasking gestures, you must first purchase Xcode 4 from the Mac App Store ($4.99) or simply download it from the Apple Developer Connection (ADC) if you are already a member. Then launch Xcode 4 and select the Organizer tool from the Window menu (or click Shift+Command+2). Attach the iPad to your Mac and click on the enable development button. Log on the the ADC and click through the error messages if they are presented. Finally, on the iPad go to the General setting in the Settings App and you will notice a new setting near the bottom labels “Multitasking Gestures”.
So there you have it. Ten features of the iPad that you may not have known you had before. Just because you want to do something you feel is unique on the iPad, your first recourse might not be the App Store. You may already be able to do exactly what you want with what you already have.