As Steve Jobs introduced the iPad at a Apple event on January 27, 2010, he called it a "magical device." Yet the iPad's basic features, including Internet connectivity, web surfing and e-mail, were all easily available on competing technologies. That left critics wondering about the iPad's purpose. Since its launch, consumers and developers have shown great ingenuity in finding uses for the iPad for educational, entertainment, and utilitarian purposes.
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While the iPad may never fully replace a desktop or laptop PC, many users find that it excels at simple tasks like checking e-mail and web browsing, making it an excellent secondary computer. Some users have taken advantage of the iPad's slim, one-piece design, choosing to wall-mount the device to use as a browser in such unusual places as a kitchen cabinet, where it's handy for checking online recipes or listening to music while cooking.
The iPad has gained popularity as a control device for luxury home automation systems. For example, Solstice Multimedia, a home-automation control systems installer in Denver, Colorado, noted that the iPad has helped bring the cost of home automation down. In-wall touch-screen systems could cost more than £1,950; the £325 suggested price of the iPad has brought the cost down significantly while providing the same functionality.
One of the most common uses for the iPad is as an entertainment device. Online streaming entertainment providers like Hulu and Netflix have iPad apps that allow subscribers to stream high-definition content directly to their iPads via broadband or mobile Internet. Creative users have also more unconventional uses for iPads: Rana Sobhany, the world's first iPad DJ, mixes music, using a variety of music apps; cat owners have let their cats play games using the touch interface with entertaining results; others have even used the iPad as "mood lighting" by using lighting apps to cast light in a dark room.
The iPad's full-colour touchscreen and large on-board memory have helped it compete with dedicated electronic book readers such as the Amazon Kindle or the Barnes and Noble Nook. Apple's iBook application comes preinstalled on the iPad. Several ebook reading applications are also available on the App store.
The iPad's picture-driven touchscreen interface is easy to use and can be helpful for people with special needs, such as autism. For example, families with non-verbal children have found that apps like Proloquo2go, an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) app, have helped their children communicate their wants and needs, replacing card-based Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS).
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- Engadget, Joshua Topolsky; "Live from the Apple 'Latest Creation' Event"; January 27, 2010
- CNET, Brook Crothers: "iPad Caveat: Solutions Seeking a problem"; May 23, 2010
- CNET, Brooke Crothers: "Reader's Favorite Uses for the iPad"; June 13, 2010
- USA Today, Kim Komando: "Try These Cool Uses for Your iPad"; February 11, 2011
- Huffington Post, Catherine Smith: "The Most Surprising Uses for the Apple iPad"; March 23, 2011
- Denver Post, Andy Vuong; "Apple's iPad Being Used in New High-Tech homes"