Skip to main content

Still Usable in 2017: the iPad 1st Generation

The iPad 1st Generation: Still Usable in 2017?

The iPad 1st generation came out in 2010. It was a beautiful machine—and still is. I immediately recognized the iPad would be a wonderful asset to my freelance work as a writer and for creating graphic arts designs.

I also saw the iPad as an improvement over my laptop and netbook computers, as the tablet was more compact and lighter to carry. Working on-the-go would be easier with an iPad. The only problem I had with the iPad 1 was the price tag. It was over $1000 for that first iPad, at least over here in the Czech Republic.

I’m a techy person and love adopting new technology when it comes out. I wanted an iPad, so my husband bought one as a birthday present for me in 2011 (I won’t say which birthday, except that it was a major one with a zero!). I was elated to have the iPad 1— and that’s putting it mildly.

Early End of Support

Not long after I got the iPad 1, Apple announced the iPad 2 and said it would shortly quit support of the iPad 1. In other words, the iPad 1 became obsolete a few short months after the release of the iPad 2.

I was frustrated, as were so many others who had invested in this expensive tablet. How could a company decommission a pricey tablet it had just barely released?

Apple did just that and we all had to adjust. You either upgraded to a newer generation of the iPad or you went to Android. I chose to go the Android route and have never looked back…well, maybe I’ve looked back once or twice.

New Life for Your iPad 1

New Life for Your iPad 1 (c) 2017 by Sher Vacik. All rights reserved.

New Life for Your iPad 1 (c) 2017 by Sher Vacik. All rights reserved.

Why Do I Continue to Use my iPad 1st Generation?

Even though the last update for the iPad 1 was iOS 5.1.1, I’ve continued to use my iPad over the years. How can you just throw away something that was so expensive when it’s still useful? Some people chose to scrap them, give them to their kids and pets (yes—dogs and cats love to play with iPads!), donate them, trade them in, etc. However, I continue to find uses for my old iPad. It’s a cherished birthday present—one that was a huge investment. I’m one of those who will use things until they break, wear out and/or disintegrate—especially something that was a precious gift.

In addition to being a wonderful gift on a memorable birthday, my iPad’s iOS and apps still work beautifully. The battery still charges well and works for just over 10 hours with no problems (watching videos, etc.).The screen’s size is perfect for art and writing. The tablet’s still easy to use and is dependable.

Do You Still Use Your iPad 1?

No! It's Still Alive!

iPad being smashed with a hammer. (c) 2017 by Sher Vacik. All rights reserved.

iPad being smashed with a hammer. (c) 2017 by Sher Vacik. All rights reserved.

Factory Reset & Backup to iCloud

If your iPad’s running slow and is a little buggy, it might be a good idea to do a factory reset. The reset completely erases the settings and data. All personal information will be erased and your iPad will be wiped clean; it will be in the exact state it was when you took it out of the box the first time. Before resetting your tablet, be sure to do a complete backup to the iCloud.

Legacy Apps Still Work

Many apps have upgraded to the current iOS and no longer offer support for older iOS versions. However, a large number of apps do offer versions of their apps that will work on your older device.

Back in 2013, Apple introduced a way for their customers to access previous versions of apps for iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches.

To access these older versions of apps, all you have to do is go to the iTunes store on your PC or Mac, choose the app you want and download it to your PC. iTunes considers this app “purchased.” On your iPad, go to the iTunes app store and choose “Purchased.” From there, you’ll see the app you just downloaded to your main computer. Choose that app to be installed on your iPad. If the app isn’t compatible with your current iOS, a message will come up asking if you’d like to download a previous version of the app. Just click “Yes” and the app will be installed on your device.

This method works for iPads, iPod Touches and iPhones and is a great way to give new life to your iPad 1st generation.

Keep Security in Mind

Be sure to avoid doing any type of financial transactions (banking, PayPal, making purchases, etc.) on your older device. The iPad 1’s software and apps do not have the stronger security features available today, making it easier for someone to hack your transaction and/or accounts. Stay safe and only do these types of transactions on a more secure tablet or computer.

15 Uses for iPad 1st Generation

Even though the original iPad has become pretty “old” by technology standards, there are still a number of things you can do with your iPad 1.

1. Dedicated Word Processor

If you’re a writer, then you can still use your iPad 1 to write everything from stories, articles and blog posts, etc. You can even write an entire book/ebook on your old iPad. Writing apps such as iA Writer and Werdsmith offer older versions that’ll work with your device. In addition, you can use note-taking apps, such as Evernote, as a dedicated writing/note-taking app. Turn off the Internet and write to your heart’s content, with no distractions! You can write faster by using a universal Bluetooth keyboard, though you can also use the digital keyboard included on the iPad.

2. Social Media Updates

Scroll to Continue

You can still use your iPad 1 to update and monitor your social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook.

3. Dedicated Ebook Reader

The iPad’s large screen makes it a great ebook reader. Apps such as Kindle, Nook (from Barnes & Noble) and Kobo will work on your older iPad.

4. Portable Media Center

Use your iPad to watch videos and play music anywhere in your home. You can watch videos on apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others and still watch your iTunes videos. In addition, you can also listen to music—iTunes, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora and more. Your older tablet also makes a great podcast player!

5. Dedicated Inbox

Your tablet can be used as a dedicated inbox, rather than having all your email on your main computer. This helps to keep disk space freed up on your PC. You can access just about any email client using your iPad 1.

6. Recipe File Center

This is a popular use for older iPads. Having a digital file system for your recipes makes them easily accessible when cooking. You can also do a quick search for ingredients and recipes directly on your iPad. There are also recipe apps that are handy for in the kitchen. You can buy special mounts and stands to make it easier to use your tablet in the kitchen.

7. Photo Album

If you don’t have another use for your iPad 1, you can always turn it into a coffee table photo album or photo frame. The large screen is still great for displaying your favorite photos.


Another option for your older device is to use it as a large clock on your nightstand or even on the wall! You can find free clock apps, or paid apps such as Atomic Clock to help you track the time.

9. Second Monitor

Who couldn’t use a little more screen space? The iPad 1 really shines in this area—you can turn it into a second monitor for your main computer and even your smartphone! Use apps such as Air Display or iDisplay to expand your screen and have more room to work.

10. Make Music (Garageband, etc.)

Make music or learn how to play different instruments with your iPad 1 using apps such as Garageband. Garageband allows you to turn your iPad into several instruments, and also includes a full-featured recording studio. The app offers different keyboards (grand piano, organ, etc.), guitars and other instruments for you to enjoy. Your iPad can also become a music stand of sorts—put a digital copy of written music (PDF or other format) on the iPad and you’re good to go.

11. Sketching & Drawing Tablet

Using an app such as Air Display, you can turn your tablet into a sketching and drawing tablet. After you download the app and set it up with your computer, you just drag your drawing program from the computer to your iPad’s screen and start drawing/sketching/painting. You can also use apps such as SketchBook Pro on your older iPad (one of my favorite drawing/painting apps).

12. Weather Station

Turn your iPad 1 into a weather station! There are a variety of apps available that will work on your older device, which allow you to customize the look of your weather station. You can also customize the weather details you’d like to see. Customizable weather apps include WunderStation and Weather Cast HD.

13. Mapping & Navigation

The iPad 1 still works great as a mapping & navigation device at home and in your car using the tablet’s GPS. (This only works for iPads that have cellular capability—not for WiFi tablets).

14. Communications

Skype and other communications app still work great on the iPad 1.

15. Additional Ideas for Your Old iPad 1

You can also donate your iPad to a museum or school, give it to your kids (after wiping it and making certain your kids can’t accidentally buy apps) or even give it to an older relative. Some people even let their dogs and cats play with old iPads—you can find apps for pets in the iTunes app store.

Your Kids Can Use Your Old iPad 1

Girl with iPad 1.

Girl with iPad 1.

Use Your iPad 1 as a Second Monitor

Give Your iPad New Life

My old iPad and I are old friends who still enjoy working together. I use my iPad 1 for writing, tracking and updating social media (such as Twitter), as a portable media center and more. Additional tools I use include Bluetooth headphones and a universal keyboard, and I plan on adding a stylus for drawing and painting.

Rather than using your iPad 1st gen as a doorstop or a cutting board, you can make it useful again in all these ways, and more!

Related Articles