Apple is renowned for making silky smooth software for the iPhone and iPad in iOS. However, a lot of clever features, or ‘easter eggs’, aren't well publicised, so remain undiscovered by many owners. See also: New iPad review.

We’ve put together a list of 10 neat things that the iPad can do that you might not know about. These make the tablet much easier, enjoyable and more efficient to use. Contributing author: Jim Martin.

App multitasking

If you’re frustrated with double tapping the Home button to switch between apps, there's a faster way. Simply touch the screen with at least four fingers and swipe to the left or right to switch between active apps. The apps are arranged in the same order you'd find them in the multitasking list after double-tapping the Home button, with the most recent at the far left. Visit iPad 4 release date, specs and rumour round-up.

iPad gesture

Multitasking bar

If you do want to see the multitasking bar, perhaps to close some apps, you can still avoid the Home button. Swipe upwards from the bottom of the screen with four fingers an the multitasking bar will appear. You can swipe downwards to close it again.

Access the home screen without the Home button

Yet another Home-button-avoidance tactic can be employed to return to the Home screen from within an app. Pinch all your fingers together (you can use four fingers if you like), and the app will disappear and reveal the Home screen.

Access the Camera Roll from the Camera app

If you've just taken a photo or video in the Camera app, you can preview it instantly without tapping the little Camera Roll icon at the bottom-left corner. Simply swipe with one finger to the right and the last photo or video will slide into view. You can keep swiping left to see previous images.

Accurately scrub or scroll audio and video

It’s seriously frustrating when you're trying to find that specific place in a video or podcast, as the scrubbing control is so coarse. However, Apple added variable scrubbing speed control without much fanfare, so chances are, you wouldn't know it was there. When you tap on the playhead marker, which indicates how far through the track or video you are, drag your finger towards the bottom of the screen. The further away from the playhead, the finer control you get when you then move your finger left or right.

When replaying a video you've recorded with the camera, this technique doesn't work. However, if you tap and hold the playhead it expands the thumbnail view at the top, giving you better scrubbing accuracy.

Take a screen grab

Ever wanted to capture what's on your iPad's screen to share it with friends, or merely keep something for posterity? If you press the Sleep and Home buttons simultaneously, a full-screen image will be saved to your Camera Roll. You'll know a screenshot has been taken as the screen will flash white and a shutter sound will play.

Quickly scroll to the top of a list or web page

Unlike a desktop computer, you can't grab the scroll bars on an iPad to quickly get to the top of a page in Safari. What you probably didn't know is that if you tap right at the top of the screen on the status bar, the page you're browsing will automatically scroll back to the top. The same trick works in other apps, such as Twitter.

Split the keyboard in half

If you want to type with your thumbs while holding the iPad without having to stretch for the keys in the middle you can split the keyboard in half. Tap and drag the close keyboard key (bottom right) upwards. The keyboard can be moved up and down the screen.

iPad split keyboard

Save time when typing with hidden keyboard keys

Another feature that you may not have discovered, except perhaps by accident, is that some keys on the onscreen keyboard have extra keys attached. These are displayed if you tap and hold them. For example, if you need to write a French or Spanish word but use an English keyboard, simply tap and hold a vowel to reveal alternatives with accents.

Similarly, if you're entering an email address, tap and hold the '.' key to show a variety of endings including and .com.

Use emoticons easily

Finally, if you like using smiley faces and other emoticons, add the Emoji keyboard. Go to Settings, General and then Keyboard. Tap International Keyboards and find Emoji in the list. Tap it to add it, and you'll then find there's a new globe key when you next see the onscreen keyboard. Tap it to show the other keyboards you've installed.

iPad Emoticons