Biersdorfer, J.D. iPad: the missing manual. (6th ed.). Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly, 2014. xv, 383 p. ISBN 978-1-449-34180-0. £18.99/&Euro;20.00/$24.99

An earlier edition of this book was reviewed just a couple of years ago, so this will be something of a brief update, rather than a full review, since, although the operating system for the iPad has changed a couple of times since then, the basic operation of the device is very similar. That earlier guide had a slightly different title, referring specifically to the iPad 2 and this volume deals with all of the current models, i.e., the iPad 2, the iPad Air, the iPad mini and the iPad mini with the Retina® display.

The book has about fifty additional pages compared with the earlier edition, but retains the same structure of chapters:

Chapters 1 to 3 deal with setting up, getting to know, and connecting the device to the Internet or your computer; Chapters 4 to 8 cover working with some of the built-in apps, such as Web surfing with Safari, using mail, etc., and buying from the App Store; Chapters 9 to 15 cover game playing, using iWork (which you'll have to buy), using iTunes for syncing and playing music, wathcing videos, and taking, editing and displaying photos; finally, Chapter 16 deals with backing up to iCloud (which isn't necessary, if you prefer to back up to your desktop machine or laptop). There are two appendices: one deals with the iPad settings and how to change them; and the other with troubleshooting and taking care of your iPad.

The 'missing manual' tag tells you for whom the book is intended, i.e., someone who has newly acquired an iPad and is figuring out how to use it most effectively. So, if you have an earlier edition of this manual, you probably don't need this version. For any library that provides advice on using tablets and e-readers for those borrowing e-books, however, it will probably be advisable to have this edition as a desk copy and the advice desk. Given that there are now something in the order of half a million apps or applications for the iPad, it is a little surprising that more advice is not given on how to select from the diversity offered., and the treatment of apps is pretty well restricted to those that come with the device. Actually, that is probably enough, and you may well find yourself downloading numerous free apps only to discover than you never actually use them!

This is a useful update to the previous editions, but I imagine, given the pace with which Apple produces new versions of its devices, that there will be a new edition next year.

Professor Tom Wilson
February, 2014