The main focus of New York Times tech columnist J.D. Biersdorfer’s latest iPad 2: The Missing Manual 3rd Edition is on acquiring and consuming content—iTunes, iBooks, apps from The App Store, games, social networking, organizing and viewing photos, downloading and watching videos and movies and such. If those are the sorts of activities that reflect your primary focus as an iPad user, you’ll probably like this book, and find it book a valuable reference and resource.
Apple doesn’t include any significant hard copy documentation with the iPad, so if you prefer real ink-on-paper device manuals as this writer and many other computer users do, the Missing Manuals series of books “that should have been in the box” make a much appreciated companion to both hardware and software tools. It’s not for nothing that the Missing Manuals pioneer volume and flagship title, David Pogue’s OS X: The Missing Manual, has been the overall best-selling computer book for the past several years.
So what will you find in this book? First, while the first half-year’s iPad 2 production shipped with iOS 4.3, most users will have upgraded the OS by now, and iPad 2: The Missing Manual, Third Edition has been thoroughly updated to cover the changes and new features that the iOS 5 release brought, including new apps like Reminders, iMessage, and Newsstand, and new features like the ability to edit photos and post Twitter updates from the Camera app.
This new edition of the manual follows the familiar and successful Missing Manuals series formula, and like the iPod (now in its 10th edition) and iPhone TMM volumes, its many screenshots and other illustrations are rendered in full color on semi-matte paper stock. It’s a lot slimmer than OS X TMM, but at 342 pages, still a substantial tome. There are 16 chapters and two appendices, as well as a 14-page index.
Chapter 1′ “Get To Know Your iPad,” covers the basics, including initial setup, identifying the tablet’s controls and connection port, and explaining their functions, plus notes on battery charging and keeping the touchscreen clean.
Chapter 2, “Interact With Your iPad,” explains how to use gestures and swipes to control the iPad and software apps, use the virtual keyboard in standard or split modes, connect an external Bluetooth keyboard, work with what passes for multitasking on the iPad (albeit substantially improved with iOS 5, I’ll concede), use cut/copy/paste in text applications, plus how to use the iPad’s built in Search function and print from the tablet using AirPrint wireless connections.
Chapter 3, “Get Online,” is what it sounds like, beginning with a discussion of WiFi vs. 3G connectivity, plus profiling the differences among various carriers’ 3G services. It continues on with instructions on how to use public Wi-Fi hotspots, be secure while online, for traveling internationally with the iPad, and using Skype to make Internet phone calls.
Chapter 4, “Surf The Web,” begins with a tour of the default Safari Web browser, explaining how to use Safari tabs, zoom and scroll through webpages, use Safari Reader and the Reading List, and other Safari features. There’s a tutorial on creating and using bookmarks, editing and organizing bookmarks and folders, and syncing bookmarks with Windows PCs or Macs. There’s a section on saving and mailing images from the Web using streamed Web audio and video, working with online applications like Google Docs, social networking with notes about the various popular services, and browser security.
Chapter 5, “Keep In Touch With Email,” covers setting up an email account or several, a tutorial on using built-in Mail program, writing and sending emails, formatting your messages, managing your email archives, plus Webmail on the iPhone, and setting up POP 3 and IMAP accounts.
Chapter 6, “Use The iPad’s Built-In Apps,” contains tutorials on setting up and using calendars, maintaining contacts, taking notes with the iPad Notes program, using Twitter on the iPad, how to use iMessage, Reminders, Notifications, and Newsstand for e-periodicals. Moving on, there’s a section on using the iPad’s mediocre built-in camera for taking photos and recording videos, making video calls in Face Time, taking portraits with Photo Booth, watching YouTube clips, finding your way with Maps, locating your position using GPS, getting directions on Map, viewing photos, watching videos, listening to music, plus shopping iTunes and the App Store.
Chapter 7, “Shop The App Store,” is about using the only way to get software onto a non-jailbroken iPad. There are sections on setting up an Apple ID, buying, downloading, and installing apps, uninstalling apps, scaling up iPhone apps for iPad, organizing in iTunes, troubleshooting apps, and more.
Chapter 8, “Read iBooks And Periodicals,” starts with a visit to the iBooks app and the iBooks store, with tutorial information on browsing and searching for books, buying and downloading books, finding free iBooks, reading iBooks, changing the screen appearance of an iBook, searching an iBook, using the Dictionary, creating bookmarks and margin notes, using newspaper and magazine apps, and subscribing to e-publications.
Chapter 9, “Play Games,” pretty much repeats the format of the previous chapter, only focused on games rather than iBooks and periodicals. There are also tutorials on playing multiplayer games in person, troubleshooting games, and a short gallery of iPad games examples.
Chapter 10, “Get Productive With iWork,” is all about using Apple’s iWork productivity suite for the iPad for word processing, spreadsheets, and making presentations using the tablet instead of a personal computer. Ms. Biersdorfer notes that Apple created iWork to cover much of the same ground as Microsoft Office, and other competing office suites, transforming the point-and-click office applications into tap-and-drag iPad software. There are sections on getting started with iWork, on creating documents in Pages, creating spreadsheets in Numbers, and creating presentations in Keynote. Also, tutorials on how to import, export, and share iWork files, and troubleshooting iWork files.
Chapter 11 is burdened with the cumbersome title “Sync And Share Media Files Using iTunes And iCloud.” Discussions include the iTunes window and its controls, where iTunes stores your files, and organizing your content, the iTunes Store in its various permutations, authorizing computers for iTunes and home sharing, deauthorizing your computer, automatically syncing the iPad, manually syncing the iPad, syncing music, video, photos, info, podcasts, books, and games, and troubleshooting syncing problems. There are also sections on using iTunes in the iCloud, using iTunes Match, using iTunes Home Sharing on your iPad, and streaming in mirroring files with AirPlay.
Chapter 12, “Master iTunes,” contains even more about using iTunes with the iPad, searching for songs, changing a song’s file format, improving music quality with the Graphic Equalizer, editing song information and album information, installing apps, making new playlists in iTunes, changing or deleting existing playlists, making a genius playlist in iTunes, rating your music, smart playlists, getting album art, reviewing your purchase history, getting iTunes Store help, setting up multiple iTunes libraries, and moving the iTunes music/media folder to an external drive.
Chapter 13, “Playing Music And Other Audio,” contains yet more about getting music and audio for your iPad, exploring the music menu, playing music, as well as audiobooks and podcasts, controlling the Now Playing screen, making playlists, and making music with GarageBand.
Chapter 14, “Watch And Edit Videos,” contains tutorials and more information about getting video on your iPad, transferring video from iTunes, finding and playing videos, playing iPad videos on your TV, editing videos on the iPad, and a review of all video formats that work with the iPad.
Chapter 15, “View, Edit, And Manage Photos,” similarly covers importing, organizing, viewing, and editing pictures on the iPad, playing slideshows, either on the tablet’s own screen or a TV, changing the iPad wallpaper, and turning the iPad into an electronic picture frame.
Chapter 16, “Back Up And Sync Your Gadgets With iCloud,” tells you how to set up iCloud on your iPad, use IWork with iCloud on the Web, and share or stream photos with iCloud.
Appendix A, “iPad Settings,” includes a tour of the iPad’s settings panel with an explanation of what each setting does.
Appendix B, “iPad Troubleshooting And Care,” includes troubleshooting basics like restarting the iPad and force quitting frozen apps, resetting the iPad, downloading and reinstalling iTunes and iTunes updates, updating the iPad’s operating system, using iPad backup files, restoring your iPad software, protecting your iPad with cases, finding a lost iPad, finding an iPad repair shop, and a discussion of AppleCare—what it is and whether you need it.
Summing up, subject to the use orientation qualifications I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I’m giving iPad 2: The Missing Manual, Third Edition a 4 out of 5 rating. That said, it’s not really the best iPad 2 book for more tech, content creation, and hardware oriented iPad users, and for those who fit more in those categories, I’m constrained to limit the rating to a 3 out of 5, and suggest that you also check out Wallace Wang’s My New iPad 2, about which you can find out more in my article My new iPad 2 – initial impressions.