When opening the box for my new iPad, I was surprised to find virtually no directions, which left me with many questions. How do I turn it on? What do those side buttons do? How do I set up my Wi-Fi connection? Why do the desktop icons wiggle around like that?
Those longing for additional instruction, shortcuts, and troubleshooting tips should own iPad 2: The Missing Manual, Third Edition, the newest release from O’Reilly. Author J. D. Biersdorfer gently guides the reader through virtually every aspect of the device, avoiding overly technical jargon and assuming a casual tone (such as telling the reader what to do if an iPad acts “weird”). A welcome addition to this book, full-color photographs and screenshots, helpfully detail how to change settings and just what those side buttons really do.
Biersdorfer organizes the information into easy-to-follow chapters, allowing for quick and easy reference. The chapter titles describe the steps in order, obviously anticipating that the new iPad user would be consulting this book while setting up his/her new tablet. Chapter One provides a tour of the physical device, also leading the reader through setting up a new account, using iTunes, keeping the screen clean, and more essential information. The next chapter may be particularly useful for those people (like me) who were “raised” on PCs. Learning to execute functions with certain finger taps, swiping, and other gestures may seem daunting at first, but The Missing Manual lists them all in plain language.
For new iPad owners, Chapters One through Five are essential reading. The remaining sections can be read out of order, allowing the reader to pick and choose the most relevant information. If one already owns an iPod, he or she can skip the “Master iTunes” chapter. Not planning on purchasing Apple’s productivity suite iWork? Simply move on to Chapter 15, which teaches how to organize and display photos. Apple’s new iCloud product thoroughly confused me, but Biersdorfer succinctly explains the online storage service, including how one can sync various devices with iCloud in order to share music, videos, photos, and more.
Like Apple products themselves, The Missing Manual uses a clean, simple layout for convenience and less intimidation. One aspect I specifically appreciate is not having too many sidebars and “extra information” boxes on each page. Instead, the author includes only two extra boxes: “Tips” and “Notes.” This spares the reader from having to learn various symbols or colors that denote the kind of information provided in numerous sidebars and boxes. The “Tips” and “Notes” boxes briefly describe additional (but not essential) information as well as useful shortcuts.
While iPad: The Missing Manual may be geared primarily toward new users, experienced iPad owners will find much to like, too. The troubleshooting section spells out common error messages, and gives instructions as to how to find online support and local repair shops. Is spending extra for the AppleCare program worth it? Biersdorfer addresses that question as well.
The only issue one could raise with the book is its reliance on recommending Apple products. While the author occasionally mentions other accessory manufactures like Belkin or Griffin, she primarily suggests Apple-branded items. One visit to Best Buy or any electronics or computer store quickly demonstrates that endless accessories—some just as useful but less expensive than Apple—exist. Mentioning Apple products is not surprising, but giving the reader more alternatives as well as explaining that the iPad works with a variety of manufacturers would have been helpful information. However, this issue is a relatively small one compared with the instruction this book provides.
Whether you’ve purchased an iPad for yourself or are giving one as a gift, iPad: The Missing Manual serves as an essential companion which will probably be permanently stored right next to the device. For more information, visit O’Reilly’s site and the iPad: The Missing Manual dedicated page.