You’re going to college. That means huge lists of all the crap you need to start school of right. Not just books, furniture, clothing, mini-beer refrigerators, and all that junk, but also backpacks and probably some tech gear to get you through the semester.For most people, the MacBook Air is the best laptop on the market. But if you’re going to college, you might not even need a laptop anymore. We think a lot of college students can get by and just buy an iPad instead of a MacBook Air. Here’s why.
There Are So Many Apps Now It’s Ridiculous
People think that the iPad is only fit for consuming media, but that’s not true at all. Most college homework assignments can be done on an iPad.
Ok, so maybe you’re balking at the suggestion that you could get everything done on an iPad that you would need to do on a MacBook Air, but think about it. What do you really need to do on a MacBook that you can’t do on an iPad?
Make videos? There’s iMovie for iOS. Listen to copious amounts of music? Try Rdio or Spotify. Video games? There’s Infinity Blade, Fifa ’12, DeadSpace, Modern Combat 3, and 1000’s of other cheap titles on the App Store. Photography? Upload your pictures with the camera connection kit, edit them in Snapseed and upload them to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, or wherever you want.People think that the iPad is only fit for consuming media, but that’s not true at all. Most of your college homework assignments can be done on an iPad, and most of the time, it’s more fun to do them on an iPad. Unless you’re a Computer Science major who needs to program in C++, Visual Basic, XCode, and Java, then you can probably get all your homework done on an iPad.
You can check your email, write essays in Pages, create PowerPoints, record videos, print documents, make music, procrastinate by playing Kingdom Rush for hours, listen to new music, and watch movies, and Skype with your mommy all on your iPad. Just make sure to buy the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard to write your essays with, because no one wants to type a 2000 word essay on a virtual keyboard.
Textbooks Are Cheaper
One of the added benefits of buying an iPad instead of a MacBook Air is that if you buy or rent digital textbooks, your iPad will more than pay for itself. Seriously. eTextbooks are significantly cheaper than their regular dead paper brothern.
Even if only half of your textbooks available as eTextbooks there’s a good chance you’ll save more than $500 over your 4 year stay at college. An added bonus with buying an iPad and eTextbooks is you’ll have a lot less weight to carry around in your backpack.
If you’re investing in the iPad you’ll be carrying less crap in your bag which means less weight, less stress and a happier you.
Speaking of carrying less weight, the iPad is nearly 1lbs lighter than the 11-inch MacBook Air and 1.5lbs lighter than the 13-inch MacBook Air. Imagine waking up five minutes before class starts, rolling out of bed, and being able to just grab your iPad and bluetooth keyboard and running to class.
Anytime you need to go somewhere you can just grab your iPad and all of your homework, notes, and textbooks are right there with you so you can get a little bit of homework done while you’re waiting for your hamburger at Five Guys.
If you’re investing in the iPad you’ll be carrying less crap in your bag which means less weight, less stress and a happier you. You might not even need a backpack because your textbooks will be on your iPad, along with your notes and assignments.
When you think about everything an iPad can do compared to a MacBook Air, it hits you that $499 is crazy cheap. It’s worth it. And as a college student who will probably need to save all the pennies you can to afford nicer things like food, or wild weekend trips to Mexico, you’ll need that extra cash.
The baseline MacBook Air model costs $999, and most computer owners upgrade their machine every two years. You’ll probably want to upgrade your iPad every two years too. That means you’ll only spend $1000 on iPads instead of $2000 on MacBooks while you’re at college.
I loved my MacBook Air. It was thin, and tiny, and always down for a good time. The biggest problem with it though, was its battery life kind of sucked. Apple claims the 11-inch MacBook Air has a 5 hour battery life, but my experience was that it’s closer to 2.5 hours when you’re surfing the internet, writing, and listening to music – you know, actually using your computer.
The iPad on the other hand has a freaking amazing battery. It’s ready to party all day long and you won’t have to carry around the charging cable. More often than not, I would sit through classes with my MacBook just praying that my battery would make it through the entire class.
With the iPad, a full charge will get you through all of your classes, allow you to play games during lunch, and still have a ton of juice left over at night. It takes longer to charge than a MacBook Air, but you can just plug it in when you go to bed and it will be full before you wake up in the morning.
Maybe colleges have improved since I was on campus, but free campus Wi-fi can be spotty at times, which is a big pain if you’re trying to get some homework done and upload it to Blackboard, or send a professor an email, or say hi to that hot girl from BIO 183 on Facebook.
The MacBook Air doesn’t have a 4G antenna built in, so you’re at the whims of your university’s infrastructure. If you’re in class and the wi-fi is down, too bad. No grade for you! But if you have an iPad with 4G data, you’ll be able to connect to the internet whenever you need to (as long as someone keeps paying your bill).
The multi-tasking limitations of the iPad might help you stay focused and keep your grades up.
Here’s one area where you might not have thought that the iPad will help you. iOS still isn’t great at multitasking. You can’t switch between apps quickly so it makes it really hard to do multiple things at once. That’s actually an asset when you’re in college where you’re supposed to be learning and actually paying attention to what professors say.
If you’re taking notes on your MacBook Air, you’re probably going to get bored and CMD+Tab over to Chrome and open up Facebook, or get lost on Buzzfeed for hours. But if you’re taking notes on an iPad + Apple Bluetooth Leyboard, there’s none of that. If you want to pay attention and get the notes you need, you better keep that notes app open or you’ll probably miss out.
A lot of people are going to slack off in class no matter what device they buy, but some students just need a little less temptation peeking through their computer screen to help them concentrate in class. If you think you’re one of them, then the multi-tasking limitations of the iPad might help you stay focused and keep your grades up.
Replacing a laptop with a tablet isn’t a new or radical idea, but it still hasn’t really caught on yet in a major way because there are some drawbacks. You can finally print from an iPad, but only on certain printers. Your college probably doesn’t have them, so you’ll either have to upload assignments to Dropbox and print them out in the computer lab, or print them from your printer at home.
File transfers still aren’t great on iPad. iOS 6 will let you upload files from the Safari browser, which is a much needed feature, but you don’t have access to the file system of an iPad, and will have to jump through a few extra hoops of placing your files in Dropbox or iCloud and then moving them where they need to go.
Storage on the iPad is fairly limited, and buying the higher end models with more storage will make you spend almost as much as you would on a MacBook Air. If you want to buy an iPad instead of a MacBook Air you’ll need to learn all about cloud storage solutions like iCloud, DropBox and Google Drive, and figure out the best ways to implement them.
Let’s be honest, unless your major is Computer Science or Nanobot Engineering or something like that, the you’re really not going to be doing that many crazy things with your computer. The iPad isn’t the perfect machine for every student, but it can handle the course work for most college students, and in the rare case that it can’t, your school has a computer lab.
The iPad is strong enough for university tasks, it’s more portable, has a better, battery, and is always connected to the internet, which is everything you could ask for if you want to succeed in college.
In this chapter, you’ll learn about some of the many ways the iPad can help you do your schoolwork.This chapter is from the book
In this chapter:
- Writing and printing on the iPad
- Using Notes
- Using Pages
- Using your iPad in class
- How to use the Internet for homework
Your iPad isn’t just an awesome gadget for games, music, movies, and the Internet. It’s also a powerful tool for doing your schoolwork. That may seem like less fun than some of the other stuff in this book, but if your parents bought your iPad, they’ll be glad they did if you use it for school, too. From writing papers to keeping track of your schedule to doing research online, you can use your iPad in almost every part of your academic life.
Writing and Printing on the iPad
Writing on the iPad involves a lot more than just tapping on the screen when the keyboard appears. It can include wireless keyboards, hidden special symbols, and, of course, lots of useful apps.
To start writing, though, you’ll need to decide what kind of keyboard you want to use. Two kinds of keyboards can be used with the iPad: the onscreen keyboard that pops up in lots of apps or an external keyboard. Some external keyboards connect using the Dock Connector, while wireless keyboards use Bluetooth to link to the iPad.
Which Keyboards You Can Use
Even though it would be nice—and a lot easier—you can’t just use any keyboard with your iPad. Most computer keyboards connect to the computer with a type of cable/connector called USB. Your iPad doesn’t have a USB port. Therefore, instead of plugging your computer keyboard into the iPad, you have to get a separate one.
Remember the Dock Connector, the port on the bottom of the iPad that you plug the cable into to sync? A few keyboards plug into that and then prop the iPad up for easy typing.
Apple makes the most popular one of these keyboards. It’s pretty nice, but because it’s a regular keyboard—and one with a very awkward shape—it doesn’t fold or bend and isn’t as portable as some other options.
The other option is a Bluetooth keyboard.
Bluetooth is a kind of wireless technology that lets your iPad connect to accessories such as speakers, headphones, and keyboards. Bluetooth keyboards are cool because they’re wireless, so the iPad doesn’t have to be right next to the keyboard. Some of them fold up, making them easier to carry, and others come with carrying cases and mount the iPad like a laptop.
Which kind of keyboard is best for you depends on what you like, what you can afford, and where you’re using the keyboard (the Dock Connector version might be better on a table, while the Bluetooth one could be better in bed or in your lap).
>>>step-by-step: Connecting a Bluetooth Keyboard to Your iPad
If you choose a Bluetooth keyboard, a few steps need to be followed to connect it. Before you begin, make sure your keyboard is near the iPad; Bluetooth can only connect devices that are within a few feet of each other. Also, make sure the keyboard has charged batteries in it. Now you can follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app on your iPad and tap General.
- Tap Bluetooth from the options available and then, on the Bluetooth screen, move the slider to On.
- Your keyboard (make sure it’s powered on) will appear in the devices menu. Tap it.
- A window will appear on the iPad with four numbers in it. Type them on your keyboard and then press Enter on the keyboard.
- If everything worked, the Devices menu should now show your keyboard and read “Connected.” If not, check the instructions that came with your keyboard and try again (or ask a parent for a little help).
Using the Onscreen Keyboard
External keyboards aren’t your only option, though. The iPad has an onscreen keyboard that can be a great option for writing. The iPad’s onscreen keyboard appears in any app where you can enter text, such as Mail, Notes, or Safari. There are a few tricks about using the onscreen keyboard you should know.
>>>step-by-step: Entering Numbers or Symbols
To enter a number or symbol using the onscreen keyboard, follow these steps:
- Tap the number button. The keyboard changes to show numbers and some basic punctuation marks.
- Here you can enter numbers along with a variety of symbols, such as parentheses, question mark, and so on. To access more uncommon symbols, tap the symbols button on the number keyboard.
- To go back to the regular keyboard, tap the letters button. To go back to the numbers and punctuation marks, tap the numbers button (which button you see depends on which keyboard screen you’re on).
>>>step-by-step: Entering Accent Marks and Alternate Symbols
To write words in other languages, or use some really unusual and fun symbols, you have to tap and hold certain letters and punctuation marks. When you do this, you’ll see lots of alternate versions. The letters that have these alternate versions are a, e, i, o, u, c, and n. The punctuation marks that have alternative versions are -, $, &, “, ., ?, !, ‘, and %.
To use an alternate version of a letter or punctuation mark, follow these steps:
- Tap and hold one of the keys that has alternate versions. Options will pop up above it.
- To select an alternate version, don’t take your finger off the screen (if you do, the options will disappear). Instead, slide your finger to the option you want, and when it turns blue, take your finger off the screen. The alternate version will appear where you were typing.
Enabling the Caps Lock
If you want to type something all in uppercase letters, the fastest and easiest way is to use Caps Lock.
- To do this, double tap the Shift (up-arrow) button on the keyboard. It will turn blue. This means Caps Lock is on.
- When you want to turn Caps Lock off and start using lowercase letters again, single-tap the up-arrow button.
Copying and Pasting Text
Copying and pasting text on a desktop computer is pretty easy: Select the text you want, click the necessary menus or keyboard shortcuts, and paste the text where you want it to go. But the iPad doesn’t have menus or the same keyboard keys as your desktop, so how do you do it?
Not every iPad app handles copying and pasting exactly the same way, so there’s no single way to show you how to do it. These steps show you one way. If the app you’re trying to use copy and paste in handles it differently, use what you learn here and try to apply it to that different process.
Begin by finding the text you want to copy (nearly every app on your iPad that lets you write, read articles, or browse the Web offers copy-and-paste functionality). Once you’ve done that, follow these steps:
- Tap and hold on the text you want to copy until the magnifying glass pops up. Then let go.
- To select just one section of the text, tap Select.
- When you tap Select, the text you tapped will be highlighted in blue. The blue tells you what text is selected to be cut or copied. You can change the selection by dragging the blue dot on either side of the selected text.
- Most apps let you choose to cut or copy the text. Cut means you’ll delete the text and then paste it somewhere else. Copy means you’ll make a copy to paste elsewhere, but not delete the original text. As mentioned earlier, different apps have slightly different options, but they should all at least offer copy.
- Find the place where you want to paste the text—this could be in the same app or another app; it doesn’t matter. Tap and hold until the magnifying glass appears. Then let go.
- Tap Paste in the menu that appears.
>>>step-by-step: Syncing Documents to Your iPad with iTunes
It’s easy to move documents such as school papers and e-books from your computer onto your iPad. To do that, you first have to sync your iPad and computer. Once you’ve done that, follow these steps:
- In iTunes, click the Apps tab to access the document-sharing options.
- Scroll to the bottom of that screen and find File Sharing.
- You’ll see a list of all the apps on your iPad that can sync documents with your computer. Click the app you want to sync the document to.
- Click Add.
- Browse through the window until you find the document you want to sync. Click once on the document.
- Click Open. Repeat this for as many documents as you want to sync to that app. You can also choose other apps and repeat these steps to sync documents to them.
- When you’ve added all the documents you want to sync, click the Sync (or Apply) button in iTunes. When the sync is complete, the documents will be on your iPad. Just tap the apps you synced them to and you’ll be able to start reading them.
AirPrint and Compatible Printers
Just like with keyboards, printing from the iPad is a little tricky because there’s no connector for printers to plug into. You can always sync or send files from your iPad to your computer to print there, but if you don’t have a computer or want to print right from your iPad, you need something else: AirPrint.
AirPrint is an Apple technology that lets you print wirelessly from your iPad to certain printers. For this to work, you can’t use just any old printer; you need one that’s AirPrint compatible.
Because not all printers support AirPrint—not even all printers that have Wi-Fi—you and your parents will need to do some research if you’re thinking of getting one. The list of printers that support AirPrint is always changing, but big companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Epson, Canon, and Lexmark all make AirPrint-compatible printers.
How to Print
Just like different apps handle copy and paste differently, there’s no single way to print using iPad apps. That’s because apps are so different in what they do and how they look. There are a few common ways to print—like tapping the Action box (the square with the arrow curving out of it)—but you won’t find that in every app, not even every app that can print. This chapter includes tips on how to print in two writing apps, Notes and Pages. Many other apps that can print will work in similar ways.