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Power Up Your iPad
Power Up Your iPad
Can your iPad work like a MacBook on the move? Our field expert finds out…
Adam Banks

Tim Cook once said the iPad could be a “replacement for a notebook PC”. Weird flex for a guy who makes the world’s leading notebook PC, but can it really be done?

Like learning a foreign language, I reckon the way to do this is by total immersion, so I cast aside my MacBook Pro, having set iCloud to sync my stuff. That includes the Documents folder for my macOS user account, so I can access work that isn’t already on iCloud Drive or Dropbox; iCloud is also set up on my iPad. I’m using my iPad 10.2–inch ($429, 128GB of storage), which I’ve equipped with a Smart Keyboard ($159) and Pencil ($99). Obviously, if you’re an iPad Pro user, you can use the Smart Keyboard Folio (from $179) and Pencil 2 ($129).

Essential iPad apps


Free apple.com/iwork

With Pages, Numbers and Keynote it’s easy to create neat documents on the touchscreen. Advanced features are limited. Office files can be imported, but you’ll need Microsoft apps for sharing with Office users.


From free products.office.com

Office Online (office. com) lets you open docs in a Safari window, with limited editing. Installing Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPadOS gives you desktop–like tools unlocked for Office 365 subscribers.


Free sparkmailapp.com

iPadOS Mail can handle Outlook, Gmail and more as well as iCloud: go to Settings > Passwords & Accounts > Add Account. But if you’re not a fan, Spark is a great alternative, with strong integration, team tools, and smart message prioritization.


$9.99 flexibits.com

Apple’s Calendar app makes syncing multiple calendars simple, but if you want something more or different, Fantastical is our favorite, with an attractive interface, neat navigation, and integration with Reminders and Shortcuts.

HOW TO Multitask in iPadOS

1 Show the Dock

The Dock appears on the Home screen. To unhide it while in an app, slide your finger up gently from the bottom of the screen, then let go. Pinned apps appear on the left, other apps currently in use on the right.

2 Slide Over

In an app, slide up the Dock, hold a second app’s icon, drag it off and let go. It forms a Slide Over at the left or right. Drag its top or side to swap sides, or off the edge; swipe in from that edge to restore it.

3 Split view

Alternatively, when dragging an app icon off the Dock, drag it all the way to the left or right of the screen. The main app shifts over, leaving a blank space; drop the icon into this to split the screen into halves.

4 Tweak the split

You can drag the divider to give an app more space, or drag it to the edge to hide it. Note that not all apps support Slide Over or Split View. A few, like Safari, support in– app Split View: see bit.ly/mfssis.

5 Three’s a crowd

In Split View, drag a third app icon onto either side to swap it in. To open it as a Slide Over, drag it onto the divider. Drag another app onto the Slide Over and you can flip between them by sliding the bottom bar.

6 Drag and drop

You can drag and drop items between apps, like selected text from Safari into a Note, or a pic from Photos into an email. Touch, hold and drag the item, using your other hand to switch apps if necessary.

Prop up your iPad anywhere


From $99.99 amazon.com

Turn your iPad into a laptop with an aluminium keyboard that clips to your iPad, iPad Pro and iPad mini with a stiff hinge. It’s more stable and versatile than folding cases or stands (though you’re limited to landscape).


$34.99 amazon.com

Sold in every fabric from plain grey to paisley elephants, this bean bag will support your iPad while you watch or work. Too bulky for travel (despite the handle), but great at home or for your hipster office breakout sofa.


From $44 amazon.com

Apple’s Smart Cover (iPad) or Smart Folio (iPad Pro) cover the screen and fold to stand up, but don’t provide much protection. This case has a slim hard shell and smarter origami, and can even enclose your Pencil 2.


$40 studioneat.com

This neat folding case with stand and leather strap turns an Apple Magic Keyboard (latest model only) into a portable iPad accessory. It’s ideal for the 12.9–inch iPad Pro, but supports any iPad in landscape or portrait.


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March 2020