10 cool features to check out on your new iPad

We’ll walk you through a list of our favorite iPad features.


There’s no denying the excitement that comes with using a new iPad, or even exploring what’s new in a big software update. If you’ve managed to be patient enough to get all your settings in order (even if you haven’t, we won’t judge), there are so many great features to check out on your iPad.

A good place to start is the Tips collection. You should be able to find the Tips news hub in your default widget configuration, but if not, you can also find it in your app library under News & Reading.

There’s plenty to see and do, but here are our favorite fun features on iPad to get you started.

Organize your home screen widgets

When you finally reach your iPad home screen, you will notice the widget layout. By default, your iPad will include Clock, Notes, Calendar, Weather, and News. You can modify this layout to best suit your needs. Even if you’re happy with the default apps in place, long-press the app to see additional customization options, or hold and drag to rearrange the widgets.

If you want to edit widgets, swipe right on the screen and tap Edit. From here you can remove or add widgets, giving you quicker access to the e-book you’re reading or your favorite games or streaming services.

Check out Apple’s free trials


Apple Arcade offers a free trial with the purchase of a new device.


A new iOS device includes a free trial for Apple TV Plus and apple arcade — a CNET Editors’ Choice. So, in addition to downloading your favorite TV streaming apps, games, and linking accounts, you can try something new.

Apple Arcade is Apple’s $5 per month mobile gaming service. He understands more than 225 games you can play offline and more are added weekly. With a new iOS device, you can try Apple Arcade with a three-month free trial, plus a one-month free trial for new subscribers. Apple TV Plus is Apple’s subscription video service that includes original TV shows and movies like Ted Lasso, Schmidadon and The Morning Show.

Join the dark side

Apple will ask you if you want your device to be in light or dark mode during the initial setup, but you can always make changes to the Settings application. Faucet Display and Brightness to switch between modes, set custom schedules (like dimming your screen at sunset) and use True Tone, the feature that automatically adjusts your screen brightness based on current ambient lighting.

split screen

I love using a split screen to keep a reference image nearby when working on a design in the digital illustration app Procreate — another CNET Editors’ Choice Award pick. But you can use split screen with just about any combination of apps. A common use might be to open your calendar app while writing a to-do list in the reminders app. To start Split View, open an app, tap the little horizontal trio of dots at the top of your screen, and choose the layout you want.

Scribble for Apple Pencil


Scribble for iPad provides a smoother iPad experience when using an Apple Pencil.

Apple/Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

If you use an Apple Pencil with your iPad, the Doodle function, introduced in iOS 14, lets you do more without having to put down your pencil. The feature converts your handwriting, allowing you to write in text fields you would have previously typed. It’s a great way to take quick notes or put a personal touch on things. For example, if you’re drawing in Procreate and need a reference image, you can open Google, write down what you’re looking for (as you type it), and get the result (all without putting down your Apple Pencil).

Save time with Touch ID

If your iPad has a fingerprint sensor, you can enable Touch ID during the initial setup of your device. It’s not a requirement, but it can make logging in, as well as confirming purchases and downloads, a little faster. If you want Touch ID on your iPad, open the Settings app and choose Touch ID & Passcode. The device passcode is one of the first things you’re prompted to set up after turning on your iPad, but you can also change or disable the passcode here.

To set up Touch ID, tap Add fingerprint and follow the prompts. Then you can customize how you use your Touch ID, like unlocking your device and auto-filling the password.

Use Sign in with Apple

Sign in with Apple is a feature to know and use, rather than a setting to adjust on your device. The tool is another layer of defense for your security, such as adjusting your device’s privacy settings or using privacy tools like a virtual private network Where DuckDuckGo.


Add an extra layer of security by using Sign in with Apple.

Erika Garcia/CNET

When you create a new account for an app or website, you can choose Sign in with Apple instead of Sign in with Facebook, Google, or email. The tool creates a random email address that can only be used for a specific application. The app or website will use the generated email, but Apple will forward all correspondence to your real email, protecting your identity. You can reply to any emails you want without exposing your personal email address.

There is also the Hide my email option. Apple creates a random email address for you to use when signing up for any service – you’ll recognize it by the unique alphanumeric string followed by @privaterelay.appleid.com.

Speech to text

If your ideas flow faster than you can type them, iPad has a dictation feature that works on email, text, and notes. For example, you can open the Notes application and tap the microphone icon on the keyboard. Apple will ask you if you want enable dictation; faucet Yes. Now when you press the microphone when available on the keyboard, you can use text-to-speech. If you use text-to-speech in third-party apps, you may need to grant additional permissions.

To deactivate voice synthesis, open the Settings app and press Keyboards. Scroll down and disable Enable dictation.

Learn more about your photos


Tapping the information icon can help you learn more about your photos.

Screenshot by CNET

The iPad Photos app has a handy tool that works much like Google Lens. Open the photo app, choose an image and tap the little “i” in the top right corner. A panel will open and you can see details such as camera specification information, as well as when the photo was taken. You can also add a caption and the location of the image.

You can also learn more about the content of your photo. Tap the Search option in the info panel and your iPad will offer information from Siri, the web, and maps (if available).

For more information, see CNET’s list of best iPads in 2021, How? ‘Or’ What all iPads compare, and tips for your device.

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Margie D. Carlisle