During the dark, cold evenings over the festive period, your iPad can be the perfect companion to keep you, your friends and your family entertained. The number of apps on the App Store means the possibilities are virtually limitless, but we’ve put together five projects to get you started. They range from creating a personalised television guide to trying your hand at directing a film – all from the comfort of your iPad. All you need is an internet connection to get started.
01 Build a personalised TV Guide
There’s so much good stuff on TV over Christmas that it can be easy to miss things. Make sure you catch your favourite show by building a personalised TV guide on your iPad. Download the TVGuide for iPad app (free, itun.es/i6DN4d6).
Open it, let the listings load, then tap the cog icon in the top-right corner and tap Select Channels. Pick your TV system on the left and your region on the right, or manually choose the channels you have below. When you’ve finished, tap Save. You’ll now have a personalised guide ready to use.
You may want to set up some reminders. To do this, tap the show you want (to browse ahead of today, tap ‘Today’ above the listings grid and pick your day). In the top left, you’ll see a ‘+’ symbol; tap this, then ‘Add to Calendar’. Tap OK to let the app access your Calendar, then the category in the list you want it added to. Tap ‘Add’, then ‘OK’. Your iPad will alert you when the show is starting.
02 Set up a multi-camera studio
With the family visiting for Christmas, the chances are that there’ll be more than one iPad, iPhone or iPod touch in your house. If this is the case, why not try your hand at directing a film? Download Collabracam (£2.49, itun.es/i6DN4dB) on each device (remember you can use the same Apple ID on all the devices you ‘own or control’, so you’ll only need to pay once to install it on more than one device), and make sure they’re all connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
Open the app and decide which one of you is going to direct – it’s best to use the iPad for this. Tap ‘Director’, give your film a title, add the copyright details and then tap ‘Done’ on the on-screen keyboard. Now on the other devices, tap ‘Camera’ and their names will appear in the white boxes on the iPad screen. Tap one device per box to select it, and you’ll see the view from that camera on the iPad. Once you’ve connected to all your cameras, tap one to select it: the blue frame will show which one you’re currently using. Tap Rec to start recording, and use the buttons down the left and right of the screen to send instructions to your camera crew. Tap any camera to switch to it, and then the Stop button when you’re done. Lastly, don’t forget to tap Share > Save Session, after which you can export it to your iPad’s Camera Roll to share it with friends and family.
03 Play a multiplayer game
The festive season always sees those trusty board games dusted off, but why not try something new? There are plenty of multiplayer games for the iPad, such as Monopoly (£4.99, itun.es/i6Dv4mw), which has what’s called ‘Tabletop mode’ where you can play with the whole family. Scrabble for iPad (£6.99, itun.es/i6DN4dV) is another great way to while away those long evenings with a group of you, as is Bloop (69p, itun.es/i6Dv4mv), or any one of the numerous Pictionary-type games.
04 Catch up with friends and family
If you can’t get everyone together over the festive period, that doesn’t mean you can’t catch up with one another by way of a video call. FaceTime is the easiest option, although it relies on the other person having an iPad, iPhone, iPod touch or Mac.
If they do, open the Contacts app on your iPad and add the person you want to call by tapping the ‘+’ symbol. They’ll need to tell you the email address they use for FaceTime (which will probably be the Apple ID they use to buy music and apps). Add this to the other person’s contact entry and tap Done. Next, scroll down your list of contacts, tap their name, then tap FaceTime to ring them up.
FaceTime can, however, use quite a bit of data, so if you use it over 3G or your home broadband has a data limit, watch your use. You can find how much data a call used by opening the FaceTime app, tapping Recents, then the > symbol next to the call in question.
And if the person you want to catch up with doesn’t have an Apple device, you can video-call them using Skype, which you’ll find on the App Store (free, itun.es/i6DN4d2).
05 Get out of the house
Thinking of something to do over the holidays can be a challenge, but if you want to get out of the house, there are plenty of apps to help. One of our favourites is Enjoy England (free, itun.es/i6DN3bs), which offers a huge range of things to do all in one place. Allow it to access your location, and make sure you use it in portrait mode. Tap the yellow and black current location button next to the search field, then tap the red ‘Search great ideas and attractions’. Note that you can tap ‘Map’ to see what’s nearby.
AA Days Out (free, itun.es/i6Dv4MT) is another one to try: enter a location in the search field, tap the place you want to search in the pop-up that appears, and you’ll see a range of attractions as pins on a map, with a listing down the side or below.