Time to dust off: Apple often no longer offers the latest operating system for old devices, but you don't have to let that stop you
It's been 12 years since Apple released its first iPad.
The company is now selling the ninth generation of the iPad and the fifth generation of the iPad Air. At the same time, many of the older models no longer offer the latest functions, but they can perform many practical tasks.
Although Apple no longer equips older models with the latest operating system, a lot can still be done with the tablets.
From a second screen for the Mac to smart home control, a lot is possible with just a few simple steps.
Second screen on Mac
SideCar makes it easy to use iPad as a monitor on Mac.
However, the system function has only been available since iPadOS 13. If you have an older tablet (or iPhone), you can use the Duet Display app from former Apple developers (15 euros).
The current version requires iOS 10.3, which works on iPads 4th generation and higher and iPad Mini 2nd generation and higher.
However, the App Store has a predecessor for older operating systems.
According to the manufacturer, iOS 7 is enough. In our test with iOS 9 and macOS Big Sur, however, the app crashed every now and then.
On Mac, install Duet's free macOS app, which connects to the iOS version.
Connect the iPad with a cable and start the app.
From the Mac menu bar, open Control Center, click the onscreen button (the two rectangles) and choose Duet.
In the macOS settings under »Displays > Arrange« you specify on which side the display is positioned or whether you want to mirror the Mac content.
Configure the second screen in the macOS settings
On iPad, mouse clicks are just a tap away.
The provider only delivers extended gesture control with Duet Air.
This solution also offers the option of using the iPad wirelessly as a Mac display.
But it is much more expensive: it costs 26.49 euros per year via in-app purchase.
You drive cheaper with Astropad Standard, it costs 29.99 euros once and turns the iPad into a graphics tablet.
You need at least iOS 9.1, which is supported by all iPads from the second generation.
Smart home control center
If you don't have a HomePod or Apple TV, you can use an iPad as the control center in your smart home.
Not only can you use it to operate the HomeKit devices, but you can also give guests access to lamps, heating, etc. via their own Apple devices, even if you are not at home.
You can also control the smart products when you are out and about using the iPad you have left at home.
The iPad (not the iPhone!) can basically be used as a control center since iOS 10.
However, Apple recommends using the current system versions.
According to user reports in forums, difficulties can arise when controlling devices if you mix an old iOS and new iPadOS in the smart home.
However, we are much more critical of the lack of security updates in old systems for devices that are supposed to offer access to home technology even when you are away.
You can still install the current iPadOS 15 on the eight-year-old iPad Air 2, iPad 5th generation, and iPad mini 4.
Activate Apple's Smart Home in the settings behind the account name, "iCloud > Home" - which of course only makes sense if you have HomeKit products.
In order for the tablet to do its job, the iPad must be switched on, logged into your WLAN and registered with your Apple ID.
In the iPadOS settings under »Home«, switch on the function »Use this iPad as a control center«.
You make the further configuration in the Home app: Go to the house icon in "Home", then to "Settings of the home".
Here you invite people with Apple devices to also be allowed to control.
Tap on an added person to allow more rights like remote access.
Of course, guests can also control your smart products directly via the old iPad.
To do this, place the important devices and scenes as favorites on the overview page of the Home app: Go to a room, press and hold a device and then tap the setting wheel.
Here you will find the »Show in Favorites« button.
To prevent guests from using other functions of the tablet, restrict the application with »Guided Access«.
(See more HomeKit setup tips here.)
Media controller and player
Start your movies, navigate your music library, browse through photo collections.
Using an old iPhone or iPad, you and your roommates access the media that is on a NAS or in the iCloud, for example.
You can also AirPlay the content to an Apple TV or a Mac.
TV hardware manufacturers also sometimes offer iOS apps for remote control, for example Amazon for Fire TV or LG for Blu-ray players.
You can not only use the iOS device as a remote control for media control, but also (also via AirPlay) as a player, namely if the media are stored directly on it.
Transfer pictures from your Mac using iPhone sync.
To do this, connect the iOS device to the Mac, confirm the "Trust" messages.
In the macOS Finder, switch to the iPhone and go to »Photos«.
Check the synchronization box and select the desired file folder or the photos library.
Below that, you can limit the transfer to selected albums and include videos.
Finally, click on »Apply«.
The pictures can then be found on the iPhone in the Photos app.
Films are also best transferred to the iPhone via the Finder, but in the »Files« tab directly into an installed media player.
The VLC player, for example, is free, works with iOS 9 and understands many video formats.
In the »Network« tab you can access a file server in the household or open network streams.
This also gives you access to your content in iCloud Drive or in Dropbox.
But an old device is also practical as a music player connected directly to the stereo system or an active speaker, after all, a headphone jack was standard before the iPhone 7.
As a Spotify subscriber, you can even control your music remotely: log into the Spotify app with your access data on the old device, the player on the stereo system.
On your current device in the same WiFi, in Spotify when playing, tap the device icon and select the music player.
Unfortunately, this does not work for Apple Music, the remote app only connects to a Mac or PC.
When hung on the wall, an iPad can become a digital picture frame.
The photos app of iOS or iPadOS already offers the most important slide show functions.
Switch to an album, for example to your favourites.
On older systems, you now have to manually select images and then tap the "Forward" arrow.
In newer ones go directly to the three dots above.
Now you will find the »Slide Show« button.
When viewing photos and videos, tap the screen.
»Options« now appears.
Here you can change the fade effect and the display speed and switch on an endless loop with »Repeat«.
You can also use these functions for shared albums.
However, you only see newly added pictures when you start the slide show again.
To make sure your iPad doesn't run out of juice, keep it plugged into the power adapter.
We therefore recommend using a device with at least iOS 11.3, which means that the model will be available for sale in 2013 or later.
Here you benefit from a charge management function if the device is permanently connected to the socket.
Actually designed for point of sale, it saves battery power by reducing the maximum charge level if necessary, according to Apple.
If the tablet is no longer permanently plugged in, the battery charges again as usual.
If you let the picture show run around the clock, you will incur electricity costs of around 15 euros per year - highly dependent on the display size and the brightness setting (read here how you can find power guzzlers among Apple devices. ).
In addition, the consumption increases your CO2 footprint and runs counter to other energy saving efforts.
So use the function only occasionally - and as a light source in a corridor.
If you wanted to buy a digital picture frame anyway, you save the money and resources for new hardware by using the iPad.
Even if the performance and battery capacity of an older iOS device are unsatisfactory, it can still be used for reading books.
Installing as few apps as possible and turning off functions (background updates, notifications) not only reduces the risk of distraction for you or your children, but also saves a little bit of energy.
Leave Airplane mode on most of the time.
However, some booksellers will throw a spanner in the works: For Kindle, Tolino and Onleihe we didn't even find an old app version in the app store of a device with iOS 9.
You either need an iPhone or iPad with at least iOS 12.1 or you need to find another source for your reading material.
Simply send PDFs and books in ePub format without copy protection to the device via AirDrop and open them, for example, in Apple's iBooks app from iOS 9. For Mobi files, use the free KyBook 2 app (pro version €2.99). ), which is content with iOS 8.1.
It also offers access to freely accessible e-books.
If you want to use the iPad for recipes in the kitchen, secure it with a waterproof and dustproof cover.
You could still find what you are looking for on Ebay if there is nothing left for your model from the classic dealers.
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