Since the last year, iPad is obvious the hottest commodity, this is what some have called “the devil’s toy design,” triggered an unprecedented discussion and pursuit of the consumer and other products for the continuing iPad2 crazy occasion, it quietly changed people’s live, work patterns and relationships.
Did you know that you can stream movies from your PC to the iPad, use it as a secondary monitor, connect USB speakers and keyboards, and browse Web sites with actual tabs? Here’s how to get the most from Apple’s iPad. The iPad is loaded with all kinds of features you’ve probably heard about, but look a little deeper, and its extra abilities might surprise you. Some of these secrets are enabled through apps, while some are built into the device already.
Connect More Than a Camera
Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit does so much more than its stated purpose. Instead of just transferring photos and videos from your camera or SD card, the adapter’s USB port attaches a range of devices. Many USB keyboards work. The iPad presents a warning that the device isn’t supported (shown left), but if it doesn’t draw much power, you can ignore the message. Volume and media keys usually work, and you can even use desktop commands such as Command-Z. (Don’t forget that the iPad also officially supports Bluetooth keyboards and Apple’s iPad Keyboard Dock). USB audio devices can work, too–including speakers, headsets, and microphones. If a device draws too much power and balks (as when I connected a Zoom H2 mic and Logitech V20 PC speakers), no problem: just attach the device to a powered USB hub, and connect the hub to the Camera Connection Kit adapter. You can even attach different devices–such as a keyboard and speaker set–at the same time.
Jailbreak for More Features
Apple maintains obsessive control over the iPad, making it less like a computer and more like a media player. But you have an alternative: Jailbreak the iPad, and you can run third-party apps that weren’t approved by Apple.
If you’re willing to jailbreak your iPad (which means voiding your iPad warranty and taking full responsibility for anything that may go wrong), then you can also use the Camera Connection Kit to read USB sticks and SD card directories. (Without jailbreaking, you can already import SD-card videos and photos or attach a Compact Flash reader). With a bit more fiddling, you can read files from an external USB hard drive. Those are a lot of unnecessary hoops to jump through for such basic connectivity, but it is at least possible. Again, jailbreaking is best left for the tech-oriented or the adventurous.
You would connect the iPad to a computer, run Sprit and then be able to install apps through the Cydia interface. Cydia and iTunes apps coexist, so you can install apps like Backgrounder and Multiflow to enable multitasking (letting you listen to Pandora while working in other iTunes-purchased apps, say). Of course, multitasking is coming officially in OS 4.0. Notes: ProSwitcher (arguably the best jailbreak multitasking app for the iPhone) didn’t appear to be optimized for the iPad (yet) at the time of writing. For jailbreak apps, sticking to those that have been reworked for the iPad will help avoid–though not guarantee against–unnecessary hassle.
Other jailbreak apps include iPad-ready versions of Wi-Fi Sync (wireless iTunes syncing), Winterboard (customized themes), and Dashboard (OS X-style widgets). You can also use your iPad with a mouse, run game console emulators and hand controllers, and otherwise do things Apple doesn’t allow. Benefits will grow as the iPad jailbreaking community expands.
Turn Your iPad into a Secondary Desktop Display
With its big, high-resolution display, it’s a shame to just park an iPad when switching to a computer. Instead, Air Display ($10) makes your iPad a second screen for your Mac, extending the desktop. The tool has just been submitted to the App Store and should be released soon; I checked out a beta.
You install a utility on the computer and connect with the Air Display System Preference. (It’s Mac-only at launch, but a Windows version is coming.) The iPad then behaves just like an extra screen. You reposition it in the Displays System Preference like a real monitor, in a portrait or landscape view. Although it lags a little when showing video, it refreshes quickly enough for most work. You can even tap on the iPad to click.