The iPad has become a household name. You’ll find that most people either own an iPad, or know what it is. After all, Apple has sold more than 84 million iPads since the device first debuted in 2010.
iPads used to be for technology minded people, but Apple’s tablet is so easy to use that its been embraced by everyone – even young children. Still, there’s one subset of the population that has historically had a harder time adjusting to new technology – our parents and our grandparents.
If you have a technophobic relative that you want to gift an iPad to, don’t worry, there are some steps you can take to make the tablet easy to use right out of the box. Follow these tips and mom or grandpa will be downloading apps, surfing the web, sending emails, and video chatting in no time at all.
The first step is to choose an appropriate iPad. There’s the newest iPad and the iPad 2 (add in the iPad mini after tomorrow) plus multiple storage options and the choice between Wi-Fi or 3G.
If cost is a restriction, you’ll want to take a look at Apple’s iPad 2 or the new iPad mini. These come with a lower price tag, but have all of the basic features of the fully loaded third generation iPad.
A Retina iPad is well worth it if you can afford the extra $100 price tag, because text on the Retina screen is easier to read (being both sharper and crisper), an important factor if sight is an issue. The third generation iPad is also a better choice if your relative plans to take pictures with it because it has a much improved camera.
If all you need is a device for emailing, chatting, and the occasional game, stick with the lowest amount of storage. If you think your relative might like to download and watch videos or access a hefty music or photo collection, consider one of the iPads with a larger storage capacity. 32GB at $599 is a good compromise between price and storage space.
Finally, if your relative doesn’t have regular access to Wi-Fi, 3G or LTE connectivity is a must. It’s also a great option if said relative travels a lot, or needs something that is absolutely ready to go out of the box. It’s more expensive, but access anywhere may be an important feature, and it also provides more accurate GPS for travel purposes. It’s also the simplest solution when it comes to connectivity.
Both AT&T and Verizon have similar plans data plans, but for someone with minimal usage, a Verizon iPad is the better choice with 1GB for $20, opposed to 250MB for $15 at AT&T.
Whichever iPad you choose, make sure you get Apple Care. It’s $100 and covers accidental damage for an extra year (two years total). This is well worth the cost if there’s ever an accident, and there’s nothing worse than investing in an iPad, breaking it, and not being able to afford the repairs.
If the person you’re buying the iPad for already has an email address, make sure to add it to the iPad. If not, create one. Gmail is a great email provider, and it’s easy to set up. From there, just tapping the mail icon will allow them to access emails, and learning to send replies will take just a few minutes. You’ll also need to create an iTunes account using the email address and attach it to the iPad, so that FaceTime and iMessage are accessible.
It’s a good idea to add in all of your contact information as well as anyone else in the family. Add in friends and family’s email addresses, connect them to FaceTime, and add them in to iMessage to make communication a simple task. You will have to do some leg work when it comes to explaining iMessages and FaceTime, but they are relatively simple to use. It’s just a matter of tapping and writing, or tapping to initiate a call.
Turn on Wi-Fi sync and set up iCloud as well, to make sure everything gets backed up wirelessly. That way there won’t be any problems with lost data, and your relative won’t need to learn to sync the iPad with a computer. Make sure to turn on Find My iPad at this point too.
You can turn on restrictions on the iPad if necessary, and though these are oriented at children, some can be useful. For example, my own mom moves and accidentally deletes apps sometimes, a problem that’s solved by turning off deleting apps in the restrictions menu of the general options. It’s also a good idea to turn off in-app purchases at first, until the user becomes more familiar with the iPad.
Privacy options are also best to set ahead of time. You can prevent apps from making changes to content like contacts and calendar, or enable it. You can also enable or disable location services and prevent changes to important accounts like mail.
If your relative has vision, motor, or audio handicaps, the iPad can compensate for these. Apple has world class accessibility options, and you can turn on options like extra large text to make reading easier, VoiceOvers, Zoom, and Assistive Touch.
The App Store can be complicated, so make sure that you install all of the basics on the iPad. Here are some must haves:
- Weather+ (Free) – This is a simple app that displays the current weather along with a weekly forecast.
- Words with Friends (Free) – Get the free version of this app so mom or grandma can play along with the rest of the family. Other social games might be fun too – try to find apps that match interests.
- Skype (Free) – Unless everyone in the family uses Apple, get Skype in order to stay in touch via computer and smartphone.
- Facebook (Free) – Most people use Facebook, and this is a great way for everyone to keep in touch. It’s also a great platform for photo sharing.
- iBooks (Free) – This is a must for any reader. If the person you’re getting the iPad for already uses Amazon and the Kindle, make sure to get the Kindle app.
AirPrint is a great feature, and this is also something you should consider setting up. There are a lot of cheap printers you can get these days that can connect to the iPad, and it makes printing anything from pictures of grandkids to recipes a breeze.
If typing on the iPad’s digital keyboard is a problem, it’s worthwhile to invest in one of the many Bluetooth keyboards that are available. For example, try the ClamCase.
Make sure to organize apps in an intuitive way. Make it easy to access frequently used programs, and put social networking apps like Facebook, FaceTime, and iMessage right on the main screen.
There may be a slight learning curve to the iPad, and it will take a few lessons, but after you get the tablet set up and teach your parents or your grandparents how to use the device, the return will be well worth it.
If it becomes too much, you can always sign the receiver up for lessons at the local Apple Store. Lessons are thorough, inexpensive, and the perfect solution for learning how to use Apple’s tablet.