Sittin’ on the Dock of the iPad

At the bottom of the iPad screen are four icons, sitting on a special shelf-like area called the dock. The thing that makes the icons on your dock special is that they’re available on every Home screen page.

By default, the dock icons are

  • Messages: This app provides to iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, and Macs a unified messaging service dubbed iMessage. You can exchange unlimited free text or multimedia messages with any other device running iOS 5 or later (the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) or Mac OS X Mountain Lion or later.

  • Mail: This app lets you send and receive email with most POP3 and IMAP email systems and, if you work for a company that grants permission, Microsoft Exchange, too.

  • Safari: Safari is your web browser. If you’re a Mac user, you know that already. If you’re a Windows user who hasn’t already discovered the wonderful Safari for Windows, think Internet Explorer on steroids.

  • Music: Last but not least, this icon unleashes all the power of an iPod right on your iPad so that you can listen to music or podcasts.

The dock can hold up to six icons. Feel free to add icons to or remove icons from the dock until it feels right to you. Press and hold down on an icon until all the icons wiggle. Then drag the icon to where you want it. Press the Home button to save your arrangement.

Two last points:

  • iOS 5 introduced the totally useful Notification Center, which became better and better with each new version of iOS. The Notification Center doesn’t have an icon of its own. To see it now, swipe your iPad screen from top to bottom to make it appear. Then swipe from bottom to top to put it away again.

  • The even more useful Control Center has controls for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, audio playback, and more, all available from any screen in any app. If you just can’t stand the suspense, put your finger at the very bottom of your iPad screen and swipe upward to check out Control Center (and then swipe downward or tap the Home button to put it away).