It’s hard to believe, but the very first iPad was launched four years ago today. While tablet computers had been around for a while, nothing had truly captured the public imagination until Apple’s iPad. And back in 2010 we certainly didn’t know that the iPad would revolutionize everything from education to how we watch TV.
Since the initial launch on April 3, 2010, Apple’s tablets have gone through several evolutions, each more powerful than the last. The first model didn’t even have a camera, but the new iPad Air has two cameras, a Retina display, a much faster processor, and is thinner and lighter than its predecessor… while still selling for the same price.
Of course this is always true of consumer electronics — each new version improves on its predecessor, and naturally we all want the latest and greatest. But what if the budget just won’t stretch far enough to upgrade to the latest model? If you have Apple’s first iPad and are suffering from a little tech-envy when you see an iPad Air or an iPad mini, don’t despair. While it may not be as sleek as the newest model, that doesn’t mean that your iPad doesn’t have any utility left in it!
What Can You Do with a Four-Year-Old iPad?
Apple’s first tablet still works for email and the Web, which if we’re honest with ourselves is mostly what we’ve always done with it (unless you spend all of your time playing games). The iPad Air might launch that web page a tiny bit faster, but your old one isn’t so slow that you can go out for a cup of coffee either. An old iPad and a new iPad are basically tied on this point.
Facebook and Twitter still work too — there’s no reason that you have to upgrade to a new iPad to get your social networking fix, though again it’s a little easier to post and share things on the newest iOS 7.1 devices since it’s built into the operating system instead of requiring the use of a separate app.
Another popular use for Apple tablets is as a second screen when you’re sitting on the couch watching movies and TV. More and more networks and individual shows are launching apps that tie in with each episode, offering a more social viewing experience and exclusive content like extra video clips and behind-thescenes interviews and footage. The same holds true here as with the Web and email — while the newer iPad will definitely be faster, you’re still going to get basically the same second screen experience with either one.
While you can’t use all the latest apps because you can’t upgrade the first iPad beyond iOS 5.1, that doesn’t mean that your old apps will stop working, or that you can’t add additional ones. If you want a new game, for example, you can still shop in the App Store, and when you make your selection you will be prompted to download the last available version that is compatible with your device.
Pass The First iPad Along
Give it to your kids. They’re probably clamoring to use a tablet a great deal of the time anyway, so why not let them use the older model? This is especially helpful if you haven’t been able to resist an upgrade for yourself, since once you choose this route the kids aren’t likely to ever give it back to you — they’ll be far too busy with educational apps and games to listen to you asking for them to return your tablet. And no matter how careful they promise to be, kids are kids, and accidents are bound to happen. If a tablet is going to suffer an unfortunate end being dropped, cracked, or even dunked in a puddle, better it be an old device than a new one!
You can also give an older iPad to your parents or grandparents. They’re less likely to be attracted by the shiny newfangled electronics than we are, but that doesn’t mean that they still won’t find a tablet useful for keeping in touch with the grandkids by email or Facebook, even if they can’t use FaceTime because the first generation iPad lacks a camera.
Going on vacation? Unless you truly need a tablet while you’re on vacation, you might consider taking the older one with you instead of the shiny new one. If it gets lost or stolen while you’re on your trip, it wouldn’t be quite so devastating — though this only works if you were planning to take along a separate camera to capture all of your memories.
Take It Off the Shelf
While a first- or second-generation iPad may not be as fast or as sexy and the latest iPad Air, it still has a great deal of utility. Considering the general durability of Apple products, that four-year-old iPad likely works just as well as it did when it was first unboxed all those years ago. It’s perfect for catching up on email and surfing the web, or for use as a second screen device, and it can still run the vast majority of the iOS apps in the App Store, even if it can’t necessarily handle the latest version of those apps. Older tablets are also perfect hand-me-downs to your kids or to your parents if you have been bitten by the “gotta have the newest one” upgrade bug.
Just because we as consumers have been trained to always want the latest and greatest upgraded model, that doesn’t mean that we actually need it — and that trusty iPad 1 has quite a bit of life left in it, so there’s no real reason to race down to the Apple Store and replace it. The time will come when it completely stops working due to accident or loss, and that’s when you need a new one. But think how much better the iPad 8 will be just a few years in the future — it will probably read our minds and make coffee at the same time!