Apple's iPad is just a week away from hitting UK shelves. The highly-anticipated slate PC is loaded with all kinds of features you've probably heard about, but look a little deeper, and its extra abilities might surprise you. We look at 10 ways to get more from your iPad.
3. Connect more than a camera
Apple's iPad Camera Connection Kit (UK pricing TBC) 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 adaptor.
You can even attach different devices - such as a keyboard and speaker set - at the same time.
4. 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 co-exist, 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 optimised 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 (customised 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.
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