Apple’s littlest iPad finally got a well-deserved upgrade after two and a half years, with major enhancements to its design, size, display, processor and camera system.
Sleek, petite and comes in a few fun colours (pink, starlight, purple and space grey), the sixth-generation iPad Mini more than just looks good with its near bezel-free design, flat edges and a gorgeous 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display. It packs the same A15 Bionic chip included in the new iPhone 13 series, a six-core CPU, five-core graphics and 16-core Neural Engine. All these mean that the iPad Mini 2021 is faster, smoother and more intelligent than its predecessor, holding up well to demanding tasks from graphically rich games to pro apps to machine learning.
Tack on the accessories – the Smart Folio and the second-generation Apple Pencil that magnetically attaches to the side of the device – and you’ll get a notebook, sketchpad, a smart screen for virtual meetings and presentations, an ebook reader and more in an ultra-portable slate. If you already have your hands on the Mini (it’s easy to be enamoured with it thanks to its small size and top-notch specs) or your sights set on one, here’s how to make the most out of the tablet when you want to double down on productivity.
Like the latest iPad Air, the new Mini has Touch ID integrated with the power button, making room for a bigger edge-to-edge display. Considering that you’ll use the iPad Mini in different orientations, it’s helpful to set up multiple fingerprints, so you can unlock the device, login to apps, or use Apple Pay using different fingers. Register your fingerprints via the Settings app, under the tab Touch ID & Passcode.
The Centre Stage experience on the iPad Pro is now available on the new iPad Mini. This nifty camera feature automatically pans and crops, keeping users in view as they move around during a video call and zooming out to include new people joining the conversation.
One of the slate’s biggest draw is its note-taking capabilities – with the latest Apple Pencil, that is. Capture your thoughts anywhere and quickly by tapping the Pencil on the lock screen, which pulls up an instant note. Or, swipe diagonally up from the bottom right corner to bring up a floating Quick Note window (press Globe+Q if using a keyboard). Need to lock certain notes that contain sensitive information? Tap the three dots at the top of each note and select “Lock”. You can also tap the same icon to organise your notes into folders.
Get extra screen real estate with Sidecar, which turns your iPad Mini (or any recent iPads, really) into a second display for a Mac. As long as your Mac and iPad meet requirements, you can set up Sidecar by clicking on the Control Centre icon on the Mac’s menu bar, select Display and click the name of your iPad under “Connect to”.
Apps in split screen
Are you a chronic multitasker? If you’re nodding, you’ll dig the split-screen functionality on the iPadOS15 that lets you use two apps at the same time (great for note taking during a virtual meeting). To split the screen, open an app, tap the three dots at the top of the screen, and select “Split View”. The current app moves aside and your Home Screen appears for you to choose the second app. You can resize the apps by dragging the slider that appears between them. Discover more ways to multitask here.
Enable focus mode automatically
Focus mode is about minimising distractions, whether it’s from a call, a text or a random app notification. After you’ve set up an area of focus (configuring who and what is allowed to get through to you when the mode is on), you can automatically enable it at a timing of your preference. Schedule focus modes via the Settings app, tap Focus, select the mode you want to schedule and tap “Add Schedule or Automation” under the “Turn On Automatically” tab.
Apple has given its suite of productivity apps some welcome tweaks to enhance the user experience when working with documents on the iPad. On Keynote, live video can now be added directly to presentations, allowing the presenter to appear alongside the content in their slides – which is great for demos and lectures. Other mac users can also control a shared slideshow and co-present remotely.
On Pages, readability is improved with bigger text, images sized to fit the display, and horizontal scrolling of tables. Screen View also automatically displays text, images and other elements in a single-column, continuous flow. Switch it off to see the page layout of the document before printing or publishing.
With pivot tables, users can now quickly summarise, group and rearrange data to identify patterns and trends in Numbers. To create one, simply select the data, choose how to group and summarise it, and access other display options from the sidebar. The resulting pivot table appears in a clear layout and it can be shared with others while keeping the source data private.
Discover more iWork updates here.
The new iPad Mini is available online and at Apple stores.