PRSonally Speaking

Monday, October 28, 2013

Hidden Features on your iPad
by Dr. Ash Patel
The journey from San Diego back to Albany gave me plenty of time to gather my thoughts about the annual meeting. I was honored to be a moderator at the PRS GO resident bowl, and also to give a PRS tech talk on using the iPad. The turnout for my talk was humbling, and made me realize that there are many frequent iPad users who are not aware of many of the device’s features.

The iPad was first released in April 2010, and was a catalyst for the mobile computing revolution. Over 170 million devices have been sold worldwide over the past 42 months. Since the launch, there have been a number o f updates, with the newest iteration unveiled on October 22 2013. As well as the hardware refreshes, there have been 5 different versions of iOS that have been iPad compatible, each with their own features. The current operating system is known as iOS 7.

The first hidden feature I want to discuss is the screenshot function. This allows you to take a picture of what is visible on the device’s screen. This feature is activated by holding down the power button, and then pressing the “Home” button. The screen will flash, and the screenshot will be available in the Photos app.
The screenshot can then be shared, just like any other photograph. I find this feature useful to send screenshots of abstracts and figures from within the PRS app.

The iPad can easily be used for typing if it is placed on a flat surface, but with a full sized iPad, typing with both hands, while holding the device is difficult. The user can compensate by either holding the device in portrait orientation or by typing single handed.  Another option is to split the keyboard, into two smaller keyboards, and type with both thumbs. This can be achieved by swiping both thumbs apart on the keyboard, or by holding the keyboard icon in the bottom right of the keyboard. The split keyboard can be moved up and down the screen by touching the keyboard icon and swiping up or down. When the keyboard is split, holding the icon down will enable the user to merge the keyboards. This can also be done by swiping your thumbs together while on the keyboards.

The split keyboards have a series of hidden keys, along the central edges of the keyboards, which correspond to the key across the gap on the other keyboard. Using these hidden keys can allow for faster typing.

Once again, if you have any questions or suggestions, please e-mail me at