iPad For Seniors For Dummies, 2023-2024 Edition
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Apple’s iPad gets its features from a combination of hardware and its software operating system (called iPadOS; the term is short for iPad operating system). As of this writing, the most current version of the operating system is iPadOS 16.

It’s helpful to understand which features the newest iPad models and iPadOS 16 bring to the table (all of which are covered in more detail throughout my book iPad For Seniors For Dummies, 2023-2024 Edition).

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Models and sizes of the latest iPads

The iPad is currently available in various sizes, depending on the version you choose. Here are the five basic sizes, by iPad type (for price and memory capacity information, see the article What To Look for When Buying an iPad):
  • iPad: There are two models of iPad. The ninth-generation model features a touchscreen that measures 10.2 inches diagonally and sports a super-fast 64-bit desktop-class A13 Bionic processor.

    The tenth-generation model takes the iPad up a notch with a touchscreen that measures 10.9 inches diagonally and boasts an even faster 64-bit desktop-class A14 Bionic processor.

  • iPad Air: The fifth-generation iPad Air employs a touchscreen measuring 10.9 inches diagonally and features a powerful Apple M1 processor.
  • iPad mini: The iPad mini 6’s screen measures 8.3 inches diagonally. This iPad uses a 64-bit A15 Bionic processor to do the behind-the-scenes work.
  • iPad Pro: The two iPad Pro models are the fastest of the bunch. One's screen measures 11 inches diagonally, and the other's is 12.9 inches; they both come with blazing-fast M2 processors, which are the same processors used in many of Apple’s newest Mac desktop and laptop computers.

Dimensions of devices are typically shown in the units of measurement commonly used in a region. This means, for example, that the basic tenth-generation iPad is shown on Apple’s U.S. site as being 9.79 inches (248.6 mm) high and 7.07 inches (179.5 mm) wide. In metric-system countries, both dimensions are given, but the order is reversed. When it comes to screen sizes, however, the dimensions are given in inches.

Features of the latest iPads

In addition to the features of previous iPads, the latest iPad models offer the following.

Retina and Liquid Retina displays

In addition to screen size, screen resolution has evolved so that Apple’s Retina and Liquid Retina displays, both of which support very high-resolution graphics, now appear across the line. The name derives from the concept that individual pixels on the screen are so small that they can’t be distinguished at normal viewing distance.

Apple Pencil

Originally designed exclusively for use with iPad Pro models, the Apple Pencil now works with all the latest iPad models. (Be sure to check which version of Apple Pencil will work with your iPad by visiting the Apple Pencil web page.

Apple Pencil lets you draw and write on the screen with a familiar pencil-style tool rather than with your finger. The device contains a battery and sophisticated processing powers that make the experience of using it very much like (and sometimes better than) a traditional pencil.

Third-party pencils and drawing tools exist, but Apple’s integration of Apple Pencil is remarkably smooth; the product has taken off quickly among graphic artists, illustrators, and designers. As other people have discovered its usability for marking up documents, it is becoming more and more common in business environments.

Neural Engine

The Neural Engine is a component of the processor in every iPad that focuses on handling specialized tasks related to artificial intelligence, image and speech processing, and more cool things.

Touch ID

This security feature is included on several iPad models. Sensors in the Home button (ninth-generation iPad) or top button (iPad Air, iPad mini, and tenth-generation iPad) allow you to train the iPad to recognize your fingerprint and grant you access with a finger press. Touch ID also allows you to use the Apple Pay feature to buy items without having to enter your payment information every time.

Facial recognition

Touch ID is replaced with Face ID on iPad models that don’t have a Home button. Using Face ID and the front-facing camera, your iPad unlocks when it recognizes your face.

Barometric sensor

On all iPad models, this sensor makes it possible for your iPad to sense air pressure around you. This feature is especially cool when you’re hiking a mountain, where the weather may change as you climb. Perhaps more to the point, the changes in barometric pressure can be sensed on a smaller scale so that elevation can be measured as you move normally.

More keyboard options

The iPad Pro has a full-size onscreen keyboard. Because the screen has more space, the top of the keyboard can contain extra commands for filling in passwords and using more advanced input techniques.

Smart Connector for Smart Keyboard

In addition to the onscreen keyboard, you can use a Smart Connector to hook up a Smart Keyboard, an external keyboard that makes getting complex work done much easier. Smart Connector is supported for all iPad models, with the exception of iPad mini.

Live photos

Using the 3D Touch feature, you can press a photo on the screen to make it play like a short video. The Camera app captures 1.5 seconds on either side of the moment when you capture the photo, so anything moving in the image you photographed, such as water flowing in a stream, seems to move when you press and hold the still photo.

The iPadOS 16 update to the operating system adds many features, including (but definitely not limited to) the following:

Stage Manager

Stage Manager (supported for iPad Air fifth generation, all generations of iPad Pro 11-inch, and iPad Pro 12.9-inch third generation and later) is a new way to switch between apps and their windows on your iPad. Windows for the app you’re working in are in the center of the screen, while other apps’ windows are located on the left side, within easy reach. It’s a game-changer when working with multiple apps at once.


I shouldn’t be this excited about a weather app, but I’m not the only long-suffering iPad user who’s ecstatic that Apple has finally seen the light and made their iPhone Weather app available for iPadOS. Good things come to those who wait, I hear.

New Mail features

iPadOS 16 gives Mail a couple of much-needed new features that enable you to unsend an email and to schedule emails to be sent at a later time.

Live text

Live text lets you interact with text in images, and now with iPadOS 16, it works with videos, too. For example, you can select text from a paused video and copy it into a document. Or if the text is an address, you can copy it into Maps to find the location.

Built-in apps have been updated

iPadOS 16 provides performance enhancements and interface upgrades for all the apps that come preinstalled with it, bringing many into the realm of their desktop computer counterparts.

Don’t need all the built-in apps? You can remove them from your Home screen. (Note that built-in apps take up very little of your iPhone’s storage space.) When you remove a built-in app from your Home screen, you aren't deleting it — you’re hiding it. And if you change your mind, you can easily add them back to your Home screen by searching for them in the App Store and tapping the Get button.

These are but a very few of the improvements made to the latest version of iPadOS. I highly suggest visiting Apples iPadOS 16 web page to find out more.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Bob LeVitus has written nearly 100 reference books on Apple technologies. He’s the author or coauthor of macOS For Dummies, iPad For Dummies, and iPhone For Dummies, among others.

Dwight Spivey probably wrote the rest of the For Dummies books on Apple products, including iPhone For Seniors For Dummies, iPad For Seniors For Dummies, and Apple Watch For Seniors For Dummies.

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