8 Useful iPad Features You May Not Even Know You Have

These features are intended to make aging easier.
Alistair Berg via Getty Images

Sure you’ve semi-figured out Siri and maybe even have mastered FaceTiming with the grandkids. But Apple would like you to know that you’ve just discovered the tip of the iPad iceberg. Here are some other lesser-known features that Apple thinks will make life a little more technologically easier for users, especially those older than 55.  

1. Siri is more than just a pretty voice who calls home for you.

She will provide a list of restaurants near you when you tell her “I’m hungry,” and she also can help with daily chores. You can tell her to “tell Jane I’m running late” or “remind me I have to take Mom to the doctor’s on Tuesday.” Siri can send messages, place phone calls, and even tell you jokes.


2. Give your fingers a break and let Dictation do your typing.

Tap the microphone button on the keyboard, say what you want to write, and your words will be converted into text. Use it to type an email, note, or web address.


3. No need to walk around with a magnifying glass.

Magnifer is la digital magnifying glass. Use the camera on your iPad to increase the size of anything you point it at, so you can see the details more clearly. Use the flash to light the object or snap a photo to get a static close-up. 

Then there is Zoom, a built-in screen magnifier. Turn Zoom on for full-screen or picture-in-picture view, allowing you to see the zoomed area in a separate window while keeping the rest of the screen at its native size. You can adjust the magnification between 100 and 1,500 percent. Zoom works with VoiceOver, so you can better see — and hear — what’s happening on your screen.

4. Speaking of VoiceOver ...

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that lets those with impaired vision “see” the screen.  With VoiceOver enabled, triple-click the Home button to access it and hear a description of everything happening on your screen, from battery level to which app your finger is on. Touch or drag your finger around the screen and VoiceOver tells you what’s there. 

5. Blow up that type like you mean it.

Activate the Larger Dynamic Type feature to increase the size of the text within apps. It works with Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Music, Notes, and Settings, and even some third-party apps. You also can choose bold text to make the text heavier across a range of built-in applications.


6. Use Speak Screen to read your email, iMessages, web pages and books.

Turn on Speak Screen and swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers, or just tell Siri to “Speak Screen” and have all the content on the page read to you.


7. Hearing loss can be accommodated.

There are Made for iPhone hearing aids, which you can control from your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. They can help you have better conversations in loud places. Turn on the Live Listen feature and move your iPad toward the people you’re speaking with. Live Listen uses the microphone to pick up what they’re saying more clearly.

Watch movies, TV shows, and podcasts with closed captions. Look for the CC icon.

When you’re using headphones, you may miss some audio if you’re hard of hearing in one ear because stereo recordings usually have distinct left- and right-channel audio tracks. Mono Audio plays both audio channels in both ears, and lets you adjust the balance for greater volume in either ear, so you won’t miss a thing. (Settings > General > Accessibility) 

8. Helping people age in place.

With the Home app, you can have control of your home with HomeKit accessories. Turn on your lights by saying “Siri, turn on my bedroom lights” or see who’s at the front door from your iPad. 

The Home app lets you set scenes that enable multiple accessories to work in combination with a single command. For example, you can create a scene named “I’m home” that turns on the lights, unlocks your doors, and turns up the thermostat.

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