Tech

Two new iPads are coming. Here’s how to recycle your old one for your kids

You can turn your old iPad into a smart home hub that works like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. 


Karisa Langlo/CNET

It’s official: Two new iPads are hitting the stores this Friday, Sept. 24. 

Apple announced the iPad Mini and the 10.2-inch iPad at its big event last week. Both iPads come with a new high-resolution camera that includes Center Stage (a new digital zoom feature) and a few big upgrades that we’ve been anticipating. The iPad Mini comes in four new colors, has a True Tone display and supports 5G connectivity. On the other hand, the ninth-generation iPad works with the first-gen Apple pencil and other wireless keyboards. It favors the eighth-gen a lot but comes with a faster, A13 bionic chip. 

If you’re shopping for a new iPad, there’s no better time. But what does that mean for your old one? Maybe sell it for some extra cash to cover the cost of the shiny, new iPad? Or you can keep it around for your kids and download iPadOS15 to give them a few of the new iPad perks for free. Even though the new iPad sounds way better, the old one can still come in handy. You can use it as a smart hub that’s similar to an Echo Show or Google Nest Hub. Or you can turn it into a new baby monitor (more below). Interested? We’ll show you how.

We also have ideas for what you can do with your old Android phone (maybe turn it into a security camera). And here’s what else was unveiled at the Apple event. There’s a new Apple Watch and the iPhone 13 is finally here with two new colors. 

Turn it into a smart hub and use Apple’s HomeKit

You don’t need to buy Apple’s HomePod or HomePod Mini to put an Apple smarter speaker in your kids’ room.

You can turn your old iPad into a smart home hub that lets your kids play music, turn the lights on and off, and even control the temperature in their room with the tablet. 

To turn your iPad into a smart home hub for your kids’ room:

1. On your iPad, go to Settings.

2. Scroll down, tap Home and then toggle on Use this iPad as a Home Hub.

If you want to give your kids control just over the smart-home devices in their room and not everywhere in the house, you can set limits on what they have access to in the Home app.

A smart baby monitor for much cheaper 

Most baby monitors make it easy to check on your little one from your phone or computer. But they aren’t cheap. Turning your old iPad into a baby monitor can be a more affordable way to keep track of your baby. 

Baby monitor apps like Cloud Baby Monitor can let you check in on your kid. You can also get motion and noise alerts, just like from popular baby monitors — the Owlet Smart Sock Plus is a popular one. Note that if you’re looking for a monitor that keeps an eye on your baby’s oxygen levels, temperature and sleep quality, an iPad won’t do that for you. 

A soothing night light and sound machine

If your kids are starting to sleep on their own and you want to create a serene sleep haven for them, your old iPad is up to the task. With an app like Baby Night Lite, you can set up a night light for the kids’ room with a variety of small animals and colors along with a sound machine that comes with a variety of songs and white noise and ambient background sounds. And you can set a timer and create a playlist of peaceful, soothing music or lullabies. For older kids who are beyond lullabies and dancing sheep, an app like Night Light Lite lets you pick from a variety of sounds, such as beach waves and running water, and night light colors to help them get to sleep.

A new gaming console and features with iPadOS 15

Sony’s PS5 or the Nintendo Switch might be on your kids’ shortlist for holiday gifts. But the iPadOS15 has a few new widgets to improve gaming, including a Continue Playing feature to pick up where you left off and a widget that lets you see what games your friends are playing. 

And for fun and variety, it’s hard to beat an iPad paired with Apple Arcade games, such as NBA 2K21 Arcade Edition or The Oregon Trail. And if you have more kids in the home than gaming devices, converting that old iPad into a gaming device may be just the ticket. 

Plus, the iPad gives your kids a bigger screen to play multiplayer games on. And you can even add a PlayStation or Xbox wireless controller to the iPad for your kids to play without hogging the TV or your phone.

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You can download learning apps for your kid to use your old tablet as an educational tool. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

An educational tool with learning games and apps

If your kids are going to start needing the home computer for their schoolwork, turning an iPad into a dedicated educational tool may be the perfect use for your older Apple tablet. You can even pair it up with a keyboard and a mouse to make the iPad feel more like a computer. Plus, the new iPad update comes with a Split View so you can take notes and watch a video or use an app, making that old iPad even more useful. 

If you’re worried about your kid becoming distracted by messages, games, alerts and social media, you can use Apple’s parental controls to set limits and what they can and can’t do on the device. You can also use Focus mode to silence any notifications, distractions and create a screen that only shows the apps you choose. 

To stay ahead this school year, here are a few apps that can help your kids study, keep track of their day and take notes. 

If you’re still leaning toward getting a new iPad, here’s our guide to the best iPads available right now and the big differences between them. And here are the big differences between the two new iPads if you’re debating which one to get. 

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