It’s easy to dismiss the iPad Air as one device too many, but productivity truly knows no bounds when you have a device capable of blending work, play, and everything in between so seamlessly in an 11-inch package.

Apple’s latest tablet — which came out later this year — is chockfull of party tricks, each designed to assist in ways you didn’t know you needed. Now in its fourth-generation guise, it goes beyond fitting in comfortably in between the iPhone and Macbook to do new things that either can’t. 

Powered by the latest A14 Bionic — the same one found in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro — this iteration has 40 percent faster performance than its predecessor, and is twice as fast as the best-selling Windows PC. Its new Liquid Retina display is not only larger thanks to a smaller bezel, but also shows 25 percent more colour on its razor-sharp visuals. The True Tone display also makes colour selection — especially for artists — more accurate under different light conditions.

What’s also unique about the iPad Air is the new Touch ID sensor integrated into the top button — a first for an Apple device. Then there’s the camera, which is now capable of taking 4K videos at 60 frames per second. Post-production is also made easier and more productive, especially since the machine learns as you use it. Even if you’re just in it for the entertainment, the tablet is now equipped with stereo speakers in landscape mode for wider stereo sound, so expect a more immersive experience when watching your favourite shows.

Available in five colours for every personality — Silver, Space Grey, Rose Gold, Green and Sky Blue — the new iPad Air and the iPadOS 14 brings new capabilities for those who want portability with efficiency. Here’s how you can get the most out of work and play with the latest fourth generation iPad Air.

Scribble notes fast

Going digital doesn’t mean you have to ditch that penmanship you’ve worked so hard on. If you’re still big on making handwritten notes, the iPad Air works with the latest Apple Pencil (and even the second-gen version) to allow for quick notes throughout the day.

If you’ve suddenly come upon a fantastic idea, simply tap on the lock screen with the Apple Pencil to prompt the tablet into pulling up an instant note. You can do the same via the notification center too, otherwise, the Scribble function works with any field that requires typing, so you can always use the nifty accessory to input any website or write a quick text to a friend easily.

Travel between devices

If you rely on all your devices to function for maximum productivity, using Continuity to connect your Mac, iPad Air, iPhone, and even Apple Watch can be extremely useful. To try this, for example, type an email on your iPhone and walk to your iPad across the room. You’ll be asked if you want to take over the same email, where you can add images or documents before sending it. The Continuity feature is also incredibly useful as a Universal Clipboard, where you can copy a piece of text on iPad and paste it on your MacBook.

Extend your Mac

Is your Mac giving you anxiety with too many opened windows and tabs? The iPad Air can extend your digital real estate by acting as an extension. For macOS Big Sur users, click the Display menu in Control Center or the menu bar, then choose your iPad from the menu. MacOS Catalina users can click the AirPlay icon in the menu bar, then choose your iPad from the menu.

The iPad shows an extension of your Mac desktop by default, where you can move windows to it and use it like any other display, but if you want to mirror your Mac so both show the same content, simply return to the Display menu or AirPlay menu, which shows a blue iPad icon, and choose the option to mirror your display.

Type the regular way

The Apple Smart Keyboard isn’t exactly a secret tip, but the investment will make your life infinitely easier if you want to work more efficiently with the iPad on the go. With it, you’ll essentially get a more compact clamshell laptop, with backlit keys and even Apple’s trackpad to make working more efficient. 

The rechargeable keyboard has system-wide buttons like music controls, volume, screen and keyboard brightness, and search, so you won’t really miss having the convenience of a laptop if you’re constantly travelling. Beyond scrolling, clicking, and highlighting text, the trackpad also supports all the shortcuts you’re used to, such as the three fingers to swipe up to home. Besides, the screen elevation makes using it a lot more ergonomic. 

Multitask whenever

Probably one of the coolest and most useful additions to the new iPad Air is the ability to multitask without the need for third-party apps. There’s two variations of this; the first will let you split the screen in thirds or halves so you have access to two apps at once, while the other will let you watch videos while using another app. 

To open multiple apps, simply swipe up from the bottom of your screen to open the Dock. Tap and hold the second app that you want to open, and drag it off the dock to the left or right edge of your screen. You can then use the app divider to adjust or close the Split View screen. 

Float your keyboard

If the regular keyboard’s taking up too much real estate on your iPad‘s screen, the floating keyboard — a diminutive version of the keyboard on the ‌iPad‌ — can be positioned anywhere on the screen without being so intrusive. To make the switch, pinch in on the keyboard until it shrinks or press and hold the keyboard icon to bring up the floating option to select it.

The new iPad Air is available online and in stores now, and is priced from S$879.

Shatricia Nair
Deputy Editor
Shatricia Nair is a motoring, watches, and wellness writer who is perpetually knee-deep in the world of V8s, tourbillons, and the latest fitness trends. She is fuelled by peanut butter and three cups of coffee a day.