Blog by an Apple Certified Tech

Fixing Wi-Fi & other problems in iPad

Wi-Fi connection problems

A Wi-Fi network is the only free way to connect an iPad with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, there are many potential connection snags. The iPad’s Wi-Fi range is more limited than that of most notebooks—the iPad has a maximum range of about 65 feet, while most notebooks manage over 100 feet—so if you’re having problems, getting closer to the router will help.

If your connection gets dropped repeatedly, try renewing the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) lease. Go to the Network section of the Settings page, click on Wi-Fi, and then tap the little blue arrow on the right side of the row for the network you want to use; click on the Renew Lease button to refresh the connection with the router.

If that doesn’t help, use static IP addressing instead of DHCP. Create an IP address that isn’t being used by the router—it will have the prefix 192.168.1.xxx. (I generally pick a number at the top of the router’s range to avoid conflicts with DHCP IP addresses.) In the Settings page, click on Static and enter the address in the IP Address field.

Power problems

Most iPads get between seven and eight hours of on-and-off use per charge. Not getting close to that? Here are a few things you can do to keep it going and going and going:

  • Dim the screen. Go to the Brightness & Wallpaper section of the Settings page to turn off auto-brightness and then set screen brightness to between half and three quarters.
  • Deactivate Bluetooth. If you’re not using a wireless keyboard or speakers, turn off Bluetooth by going to the General section of the Settings page, clicking on Bluetooth, and tapping the switch to Off.
  • Turn off the modem. If you’re not using the 3G modem, you can turn it off by tapping the Cellular row on the Settings page and then tapping the switch to Off.

Back to Square One

Every so often, for no particular reason, an iPad will lock up and stop responding to touch. Most of the time, that’s caused by a software problem, and there are three things you can do to help fix it:

  • Close the active application by pressing the Home button so that the system returns to the Home page.
  • If that doesn’t help, try a soft reset by pressing the Sleep/Wake button for about five seconds until the Power Off slider appears. Run your finger across it to shut the iPad down. When it’s off, press the Sleep/Wake button to start it up again, without the offending app running.
  • Still having problems? It’s time to restart the system and start fresh. This time, press the Sleep/Wake button along with the Home button. The screen will go dark, and then the Apple logo will appear. The iPad should start up and—hopefully—run fine.

No charge

The most common complaint that I’ve heard about the iPad is that, after plugging the USB connection cable into a computer, the battery doesn’t charge.

The problem is that the ports on many USB hubs, smaller notebooks and even some desktops aren’t powerful enough to charge the iPad while its screen is on. The battery icon in the upper right corner of the screen shows Not Charging rather than the “+” symbol inside the battery.

This is an easy problem to fix. If you don’t want to use the AC power adapter that came with your iPad, you can plug it into a powered USB hub, which should work.

The heat is on

The iPad’s lithium polymer battery is very sensitive to temperature swings—it doesn’t like environments colder than 32 degrees or hotter than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, if you’re out in the sun for too long, the system runs the risk of overheating and automatically shutting down.

About the only thing you can do in that case is let the device cool down and then restart the system. On warmer days, use your iPad in the shade and never put it in a hot place, like the back shelf of a car.

And if you’ve just come in from the cold, you may want to let your iPad warm up a bit.

Sync or swim

No iPad is an island. It needs to periodically connect to a computer to update its software, load new apps and get fresh data. But there are potholes on the road to synchronization.

To begin with, if the iPad has a nearly dead battery, it won’t connect with a computer, so make sure it’s charged.

If the host computer doesn’t recognize the iPad, the result will be a major snag in the syncing process. The cause is often the AMDS (Apple Mobile Device Support) software that connects the two computers. Often all it needs is a restart.

If you’re syncing your iPad with a Windows PC, go to your Control Panel and open Administrative Tools/Services/Apple Mobile Device. Click to stop and then to restart the service.

If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to do something that’s more involved: Uninstall and reinstall AMDS and iTunes from the host computer. Simply go into Control Panel and do a normal uninstall; when you download and install the current version of iTunes, a fresh version of AMDS will be included.

For Mac owners, Apple suggests skipping the restart and simply replacing AMDS. The process is a little more involved on a Mac, but it follows the same idea: Get rid of AMDS and iTunes and then reinstall.

Use the Mac’s Finder to locate iTunes and put it in the trash to uninstall it. In the Extensions Library, find the AppleMobileDevice.kext file and trash that as well. In the Library Receipts section, find AppleMobileDeviceSupport.pkg and put it in the trash. Empty the trash and restart the system; then download and reinstall the latest version of iTunes.

Unresponsive screen

The iPad’s touchscreen is its main interface, and it gets a lot of use. Chances are that sooner or later it’ll get dirty enough to be nearly unusable. Time to clean.

Stay away from abrasive or ammonia-based window cleaners. Your best bet is to gently wipe the display with a damp paper towel. I also keep a soft microfiber cloth handy to clean the screen every few days.

Backtrack

One of the most useful things about the iPad software is that whenever it syncs with its host computer, the entire system is backed up. If the system is acting weird, try returning to the last synchronized data.

Plug the iPad’s USB cable into the host computer, and the iTunes software should automatically start. Click on the iPad on the left side of the computer’s screen and then select the Summary tab.

After clicking on the Restore icon, you’re ready to reload your iPad with data. Use “Restore from the last backup” so that all your music, videos and apps will return during your next synchronization.

If that doesn’t work, click on “Set up as new iPad” to start from scratch—although you will lose anything you’ve done or bought since your iPad came from the store.

The whole process will take anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, but you’ll notice that the app icons are now arranged alphabetically (rather than in the order they were installed).

Black screen

If your iPad’s screen goes black after about five minutes of inactivity and no amount of screen tapping gets it back, it’s probably not broken—just sleeping to save power so that the battery lasts longer. Some users find this annoying, but it’s easy to change.

You can adjust the length of time the screen stays on before the system goes to sleep.

Go to the Settings page’s Auto-Lock screen and adjust how long you want the screen to stay on before it goes blank—the choices are 2, 5, 10 or 15 minutes. If you like, you can turn this feature off altogether for an always-on system (although this will, of course, decrease your battery life).

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