So you’ve unwrapped your brand new iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and you’ve set it up for the first time. Congratulations! You’ve got a powerful device to work and play with. But what do you with it now?
Hopefully you have the basics of phoning, emailing and sending text messages under control. If not, you might want to take a look at the iPhone User Guide. It’s dense, but as a reference for the technical nitty gritty it’s unbeatable.
But these devices are far more than just phones or music players. They’re tiny, powerful computers, and you can do a lot with them – provided you take a few minutes to learn what they’re capable of.
To save yourself trouble down the road, you should consider syncing your new device to iTunes on a computer you own before doing much else. Though iOS (the iPhone operating system) is closer to a post-PC world than ever before, there are still a few things you can’t do easily without syncing, like managing movies and photos from your PC. Since the first sync tends to clear off most of your content, start off well by syncing first.
To do that, take the sync cable that came with your device and plug it into a USB slot on your PC or Mac. Open iTunes, and plug the other end of the sync cable into the slot on the bottom of your device. You should see your iPhone appear under Devices in the sidebar. Now you can move through the tabs in iTunes to add music, movies, ringtones, photos and more. Once you’ve selected everything you want to add, click Apply or Sync.
Once the first sync finishes, you can check the box that says “Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi” if both your computer and your device will be on the same Wi-Fi network. That will save you from having to deal with the sync cable again.
Once you’ve completed your first sync, you can dive in and do anything you’d like. The obvious starting place is to download some apps. Start by tapping the App Store icon.
From here you can download just about anything. Some apps are free, some have costs. To download them, you’ll need to enter your iTunes login (or register a new iTunes account). If an app has a cost, it will be charged to whatever payment information is associated with your account.
There are thousands upon thousands of apps in the App store. To save you from getting overwhelmed, we’ve put together some recommendations for the best apps and games to start out with. After that, you’ll need to find other suggestions. Our forums are a great place to start.
If you don’t want people mishandling your phone, going through your email or posting on your Facebook account, you might want to consider locking your phone down. To do that, open the Settings app and click General. Then scroll down to Passcode Lock. This lets you set a four-digit lock on your phone that will need to be entered if your phone is locked. You can lock your phone by tapping the power button on the upper right of the device, or you can set an Auto-Lock timer in the same menu.
iOS also boasts a comprehensive set of parental features if you plan to share your iPhone or iPad with your children. We’ve gone into detail about these restrictions here, but the most important thing to be aware of is that you should never give your iTunes password to anyone, especially a child. There are far too many opportunities for them to rack up huge bills if you do.
Tips and Tricks
With those things under your belt you should be safe to explore your device and learn all of the great things it can do. Play around, download apps, and have some fun. We’ve compiled some quick reference tips here in case you lose track of all the ways you can interact with your device. Most require iOS 5:
- Double-click the Home button to open the multitasking bar. From here you can switch between open apps or close them completely.
- From the multitasking bar, you can swipe left to set the rotation lock and use media controls.
- To activate Siri, hold down the home button or hold the phone up to your ear while it’s unlocked (iPhone 4S only)
- Double-click the Home button while the device is locked to get quick access to media controls and the camera.
- The volume-up button doubles as the shutter button for the camera. This also means you can use iPhone headphones with volume controls as a tethered shutter button.
- The iPad uses multitouch gestures. Using four or five fingers, you can swipe from side to side to switch between apps, or pinch all your fingers together to close an app. You can also swipe up to bring up the multitasking bar.
- On iPad, you can split the keyboard by dragging it apart from the middle with two fingers and put it back together by dragging the corners back to the middle.
- To bring up the notification menu, drag your finger down from the top of the screen.
- To delete an app, hold your finger on it until it starts wobbling. Then hit the “x” in the corner.
- While the apps are wobbling, you can also drag them to move them around, drag them to the edge of the page to move them to the next page, and drag them on top of each other to create a folder.
Above all else, make sure to browse through our iPad Tips & Tricks and iPhone Tips & Tricks categories. We have a ton of guides on getting the most out of your iOS device, many of which cover this ground in much more detail. And swing by our forums if you want to go even deeper. If you want to learn even more about what iOS devices have to offer, visit our forum.