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Congratulations, proud owner of a new iPad! You no doubt want to get started swiping, tapping, consuming, and creating whatever your heart desires, especially if you’ve got your hands on an Apple Pencil. But before you jump into the App Store and fill your tablet, you’ll want to change a few settings beforehand, if only to keep your cellular data from running dry, your battery from running low, and your privacy from being violated.
Setting Up is Easy
First, ensure your iPad is charged, and that you have any secondary iOS or macOS devices nearby. If your Apple ID has two-factor authentication enabled (and it should), you may need to enter your two-factor code generated by your iPhone or macOS computer.
You’ll be asked to connect to Wi-Fi, set up Touch ID, create a passcode (choose from a 4 or 6-digit passcode or a traditional password), and decide whether you want to restore your iPad from an iCloud or iTunes backup, start from scratch, or import data from an Android device (I suggest starting with a clean slate). Enter your Apple ID, enable (or disable) Siri, add your bank card to Apple Pay, choose whether or not you’d like to share data with app developers (making it easier for them to see when and why something went wrong). Once you pick these settings, your iPad will be ready for use.
Importing From Another iOS 11 Device
You can import your data from another iOS 11 device to speed up the setup process. It will take a few minutes, and both devices should be charged, so be sure you don’t need either device for anything mission critical. Bring the devices close together, ensure Bluetooth is enabled, and hit “continue” on your current iOS device.
You’ll be asked to scan the screen with your iPad’s camera (like you’re scanning a QR code). Then, enter your passcode, enable Touch ID, and choose your restoration option. You can restore from the latest iCloud backup or back up your current device and restore from that. You can also transfer your Siri, location, and privacy settings already configured on your current iOS device to your new one.
I’m personally a fan of setting up iOS devices from scratch — it gives me more control over which settings I’d like to keep and which I’d like to change, especially since my iPhone and iPad are used quite differently in my day-to-day life.
The Nitty Gritty Settings
Now that your iPad is set up and ready to party, you might be tempted to go about downloading apps and drawing sketches of your dog as he wolfs down some breakfast. Hold your horses! There are a few more settings you should go about modifying, both to keep advertisers off your tail as well as make your experience on the iPad as enjoyable as possible.
You can set notification previews (text messages, emails, etc) to always show, never show, or only show when the iPad is unlocked. I’d opt for the “when unlocked” option.
Take a trip through your Notifications list to disable the ones you know you’ll never use (I doubt your Music app needs to send you any pressing alerts, for example). It will spare you from uninteresting banners and useless updates. It will also boost your battery life, since every app isn’t constantly pinging the web to update you on what’s changed.
You can add extra controls to your Control Center page, and customise how they appear. For example, if you use your iPad while on the couch, you can add the Apple TV Remote control to have quick access to your streaming box’s controls — no dinky Apple TV remote required.
Do Not Disturb
The Do Not Disturb feature silences your iPad when it receives FaceTime calls or other alerts. You can set it to alert you if someone calls more than once within three minutes, or pick and choose who gets through your Do Not Disturb setting by creating particular groups in your Contacts app (like a “Family” group so your parents or relatives can always reach you).
Modify These General Settings
The General tab in your Settings app is where you can modify features like AirDrop, background app refreshing, and other aspects of your iPad that you’ll deal with on a daily basis. You can restrict AirDrop requests to only your contacts (if you don’t feel like receiving anonymous photos — and who does?), modify accessibility settings so you can reduce the brightness of your iPad display at night, and add restrictions to your new device if it’s for someone who can’t be trusted with in-app purchases.
Restrict Background Apps to Save Battery Life (General > Background App Refresh)
Background app refresh is great for services you depend on for updated information. Email apps, task managers, news apps, and even podcasting apps are perfect examples of apps that take advantage of background refreshing. Of course, pulling data in behind the scenes will cost you, battery-wise. If you don’t need iBooks or Maps to keep updating while you’re hanging around at home or playing FTL, turn them off and reclaim a bit of battery life.
Add a VPN (General > VPN)
If you sign up for a VPN service with a corresponding app (TunnelBear, NordVPN, etc), you can configure your iPad to always connect to it. Download the VPN app, sign in, connect, and allow the app to add its VPN configuration to your list of available VPN services in Settings.
Display & Brightness
You should enable Night Shift to reduce the strain on your eyeballs when using your iPad at night. Select Night Shift in the Display & Brightness tab, toggle on Scheduled, and select the “From/To” box. You can set the time you’d like your iPad to adjust to the warmer colour spectrum, or choose to adjust based on your location’s sunrise and sunset time.
Siri & Search
If you love talking to voice assistants, you can enable “Hey Siri” support to your iPad by enabling “Listen for ‘Hey Siri'” and providing a voice print (make sure you’re in a quiet room when you speak to your iPad during “Hey Siri” setup).
Touch ID & Passcode
You’ve probably got one fingerprint in your Touch ID database (dubbed “Finger 1”) but you should add a few more. You can add up to five fingerprints, and rename them so you’re aware which finger is which. To keep snoops out of your device, scroll down to the bottom of the Touch ID & Passcode page and enable Erase Data, which will wipe your iPad after 10 failed passcode attempts.
Besides disabling location services for apps like the App Store, you can restrict location data from individual system services. If your iPad isn’t doing much travelling, or lacks cellular data support, you should disable the Cell Network Search and Compass Calibration options, as well as the list of Product Improvement options that use your location data. You can also restrict the number of targeted ads sent by advertisers by selecting Limit Ad Tracking in the Advertising tab.
iTunes & App Store
By default, your iPad will automatically download updates, but you can configure it to download music, books, and apps installed on other iOS devices by toggling the automatic downloads option for each.
Accounts & Passwords
Here’s where you’ll want to add any accounts you use to manage your email, calendars, or notes. You can sign in with your Exchange, Google, Yahoo, Aol, or Outlook accounts, and set them as the default accounts to use when adding things to your list of reminders, your calendar, or when sending emails through the Mail app.
Apple Pay Cash
Want to send money to friends in iMessage? Enable Apple Pay Cash, enter your Apple ID password, and follow the on-screen prompts.
Mail, Calendar, Notes, and Reminders
You may have signed in with your Apple ID, but you probably have an extra account or two you’re using instead of iCloud for things like managing your email or calendar. After you add your extra accounts to your list of online identities, you should go through these apps and select the default location for new reminders, notes, calendar appointments, or sent mail.
Please turn off your keyboard clicks and lock noises. No one wants to hear them.