The iPad Around the House: Living Room Edition

The iPad practically becomes whatever application it happens to be running at a time. With so many different applications available in the App Store, this means that the iPad can be a fundamentally different device based on who is using it, where they’re using it, and what they’re using it for.

Over the course of a few articles I’m going to provide some different use-cases for the iPad around the house (and, later, abroad) and how you can optimize the iPad for each room that you occupy. Today I’m going to take a look at how the iPad can become an integral part of your living room.

A Few Assumptions

In this article I’m going to assume that your living room is where you go to hang out with the rest of your family, or–if you’re living alone or with a partner – where you spend most of your free time. I’ll assume that you have a working wireless connection, an affinity for movies, music, and video games, and that you’re willing to spend some money on applications for the iPad.

If that doesn’t apply to you then this article probably won’t help you. Maybe you’re one of those people that loves reading a book; in that case, be sure to look out for a later article. Maybe you want to use the iPad as a workhorse (which I’ve shown you how to do before) and maybe you just aren’t a big fan of fun. It’s hard to tell these days, but please, make yourself at home.

Using the iPad During TV Time

Watching movies or television shows are two of the main things that my family and I used to do in the living room. It’s a nice way to hang out with each other and spend some quality time while also avoiding that knife-to-your-neck feeling that you can get when you’re in close proximity with younger siblings for an extended amount of time. There are a few ways that the iPad could be used to improve the movie-watching experience, from the educational to the anti-social and back to the family.

IMDb: Resolving Conflicts and Winning Bets

If your family is anything like mine, half of a movie is spent with a mixture of hushed whispers and raised voices as you try to determine where you saw an actor or actress play a different role. Whether it’s determining which secondary character has actually appeared on Lost or confirming that, yes, Hugh Laurie played Stuart Little’s father, this kind of bickering can quickly grow out of hand.

This is where IMDb and your iPad–come in. Instead of arguing about this through half the movie and missing an integral plot point, simply enter the movie, find a picture that looks like that actor or actress, and confirm once and for all that no, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley are not interchangeable.

Told you.

Told you.

Alternately, allow your family to argue while you look the information up in silence. Place a bet, whether it’s monetary or just getting out of doing the dishes, and bask in your success.

DirecTV or TWC TV: Saving Lives

Oh boy, the biggest quandary in family life: what should we watch? That one’s right up there with ‘what should we have for dinner?’ and can often result in everyone choosing to watch America’s Funniest Home Videos for the thousandth time. This is less than ideal, and I care about you, so I’m going to let you in on a little secret: your iPad can play live TV, provided your service company has an application and doesn’t hate you.

Suddenly, you can watch the show you really wanted to watch (with headphones on) while leaving everyone else in peace. It’s win-win.

Alternately, you can use these apps to schedule a recording without having to leave whatever it is that you’re doing at the time. No longer will you need to pause a movie or TV show in order to record How the Grinch Stole Christmas – just do it straight from your iPad and you’ll be all set.

Using the iPad as a Shared Computer

Right now we’re at a point where people are choosing to purchase iPads and other tablets (hah) instead of computers. While this makes sense for someone that doesn’t have to share a computer, the iPad is at once meant to be shared and practically unsharable.

How do we solve the issues that come about by using the iPad as a communal good instead of a treasure that no one else is allowed to touch? With a few applications.

First: Download Some Browsers

It’s a fair bet that you don’t want somebody like your mother or father gaining access to your social networks, or knowing that you and ‘sweetcakes78’ are getting hot and heavy. The same goes for your children, I guess, but that would probably indicate a deeper problem that I can’t address in this article.

Using private browsing may help you save some face.

Using private browsing may help you save some face.

To keep your data safe you have two options: use Private Mode in Safari, which blocks cookies, website data, and doesn’t remember anything about your browsing history, or download multiple browsers. Each has their merits and downsides and will ultimately come down to personal taste. By doing this you can maintain a modicum of privacy on the iPad but trust that someone in your family won’t ruin your online life.

Second: Folders, Folders, Folders

Alright, so your seven year old sister likes to use the iPad to play games. Awesome. Unfortunately, she ends up filling the entire Home Screen and doesn’t leave room for anything else. What’s a caring, compassionate, and crazed sibling to do? Set up a folder for her, of course!

Using folders can insure that each family member has access to their favorite applications without cluttering up the entire screen with something the other family members don’t take any interest in. Shared applications can be left out of a folder, placed on the Dock, or given priority over other applications within folders.


This isn’t entirely comprehensive, but should get you started with using the iPad in the living room. Whether it’s proving your family wrong about an actor or actress or it has to do with keeping a bit of privacy between you and your family members with a shared iPad, the answers are in here.

Obviously, though, there is always the option to not share your iPad. They say sharing is caring, but come on; we all know that siblings have grubby hands and that dad doesn’t quite understand that he doesn’t need to crack the glass with each tap. In that case all you’ll need to do is set up IMDb and whatever applications you may want and set the iPad down on a coffee table with a combination lock and a nasty note.