iPad mini 1 in 2017
April 17, 2017 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I've just been gifted a first-generation iPad mini. A cursory Google shows its no longer supported and may have problems running modern versions of apps. Is there anything cool / useful I can do with this?

Basically I'm looking for help on what apps I could still expect to run decently, or, if this is really going to be problematic, some niche things I could do with it that would still work and be useful / fun. Tape it to my fridge for a smart kitchen? Very expensive alarm clock? Any and all help appreciated...
posted by ominous_paws to Technology (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Wait, really? We just replaced a kid's iPad mini a few months ago, when the third touchscreen gave up. It was slow, but fine. YouTube, various kid games, Amazon video all worked ok.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:57 AM on April 17, 2017

I have a 1st generation iPad mini and I have yet to find an application that will not run on it. Wait, that's not true. My cousin made a new music notation app that needs ios10 to run. So you will not be notating symphonies on your iPad. Well, actually you can, but not on my cousin's app.

By the way, I use GarageBand on there with no problems, iMovie, various drawing apps, Symphony, iSequence, and about 40 others.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:11 AM on April 17, 2017

Yeah, I'm a daily user of my first gen mini, and I haven't run into anything yet that I couldn't do. You are overestimating its uselessness.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:28 AM on April 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

"No longer supported" doesn't necessarily mean useless - you may find it's just fine for your needs, as others have noted.

That said, as niche uses go, do you have any cats? Try downloading a cat app (mine like Cat Playground) but I know there are others) and turn it over to your cats to play with. If you turn out to have a cat who likes to play with cat games, it can be ridiculously entertaining to watch.

(But you may want to investigate toddler lock settings, as your cat might otherwise figure out how to exit out of the app and start web browsing or something, ASK ME HOW I KNOW.)
posted by Stacey at 11:32 AM on April 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

I have one and use it constantly. The only thing it flat-out refuses to run is our VPN. Just don't agree to accept system updates! Whatever the last iOS version is that they even try to push to it will no doubt slow it down significantly.
posted by praemunire at 11:36 AM on April 17, 2017

Use it to read books. My favorite epub/pdf reading app is called Documents, but most of them will work. If you try to install an app that is not compatible with your current os version, the App Store will let you know. Many apps have older versions available and the store will also ask if you want to use it. Browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin and Opera will all work as well.
posted by soelo at 12:18 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have an iPad 2 (which pre-dates the iPad Mini) that I bought new about 6 years ago. It won't support iOS 10, but it's updated as far as it can go.

It is... slooooooow and sluggish. Not just running apps, but responding to touch input. I realized a few years ago that using it for daily web browsing or, really, any daily use was getting frustratingly slow. I also realized that my iPhone could do everything I used my iPad for, granted on a smaller screen.

So I relegated it to a single task: music player. I have it hooked up to a vintage stereo setup in my basement workshop/studio. I stream Apple Music through WiFi. Searching and selecting albums and playlists is still sluggish, but once something is playing, it's just fine.
posted by The Deej at 12:21 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have a 1st-gen Ipad. Like, the first one. (My mother is an early adopter and she hands stuff down to me when a new version comes out. Nice problem to have, really.) Runs spotify, kindle, paprika, comixology, and a bunch of board games just fine. Spotify loads slowly but once it's running it's perfectly comfortable streaming music. The tumblr app runs like shit on it but that's more on tumblr than anyone else. It doesn't choke on MeFi megathreads and does youtube just fine. Netflix and amazon work fine except for the vagaries of hotel wifi. Facetime works fine.

I only update the OS when I'm trying to kill it so I can justify a new one though. Hasn't worked so far but I don't know how many versions I'm behind.

The biggest problem I have is that no-one is making cases for it anymore and I don't like the one I've got now.

You've got a perfectly cool and useful device.
posted by stet at 12:22 PM on April 17, 2017

I'm babying one along and I agree, don't upgrade to iOS 9.3.5 which is the furthest update it can handle, because JavaScript causes Safari to crash and there's really nothing you can do except turn it off in the settings.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:31 PM on April 17, 2017

I have an ancient iPad 2 that's about to become a dedicated TouchOSC device...

(I believe the iPad mini 1 is about as fast as the iPad 2, which I find to be a bit too slow to do anything but read books, or the above. If I'm patient, I can still watch amazon/netflix/youtube with it, but yeah)
posted by destructive cactus at 2:34 PM on April 17, 2017

I would urge you to be cautious doing anything with important passwords (your banking, your gmail, whathaveyou) on mobile devices that are running no longer supported versions of the OS. There's relatively few attacks done on iOS devices at this point, but it's inevitable that they'll ramp up as more and more people switch to mobile devices.

It's OK as a ebook reader, though I prefer reading on higher resolution screens if I'm going to be staring at an LCD. If it doesn't end up fitting into your life, you might see if you know any parents with young kids that could give it a good home. They're useful for watching movies on and some edutainment apps.
posted by Candleman at 2:35 PM on April 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Depends what you use it for. I have a first gen iPad mini, gifted new in 2013, that I use primarily as an ebook reader, some light games (like Dots, Threes, AdCap), and watching YouTube/Netflix when traveling. That's all I ever used it for, to be honest, even when it was brand new. It runs iOS 9.3.5, and while it won't be getting new iOS updates, it's not a piece of garbage, and all those apps are still functional; I don't know many apps just yet that require iOS 10 or later.
posted by basalganglia at 4:30 PM on April 17, 2017

I have an iPad 2, which, as others have said, is akin to your first gen Mini. The laggy disconnect between user input and system feedback is just a bit too much for me to use it interactively, so it now lives in my kitchen on a little stand, plugged-in to an outlet (because its battery is otherwise good for about 30 minutes), serving as a digital cookbook. I use the very excellent Paprika recipe manager app, which runs just fine on a tablet of that vintage. It can stream music or podcasts to a bluetooth speaker, and I occasionally do that, but again, the interface lag sucks so I tend not to.
posted by mumkin at 6:28 PM on April 17, 2017

I have a HooToo travel router, which will run a WiFi hotspot (without Internet), and share out music or video files. My old First Gen iPad happily streams movies and runs the HooToo app, and it's perfect for car trips!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2017

Just two days ago I bought a new iPad mini to replace my first generation machine -- the reasons I did so were because it was getting sluggish and slow to respond, which was a problem with text input and PDF reader responsiveness, and because I started to read more ebooks and wanted a retina display for that purpose. But other than those two issues, it still functioned just fine. Unless you have another, newer tablet, I'd recommend using it as an all-purpose tablet.

I've considered keeping my old machine for a dedicated purpose (elliptical machine movie viewer? room-based music player? Internet/Paprika Cookbook for the kitchen?) but every "extra" use I could come up with didn't really seem worth it. I decided to trade mine in on Amazon for a currently-estimated $90.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 10:07 AM on April 18, 2017

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