All iPads Using iPad & cellular as only computer/Internet?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by GrumpyDave, Nov 20, 2013.

  1. GrumpyDave macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert
    #1
    (TL;DR at the bottom)

    I'm planning on setting up my Mom with an iPad Air as her only computer since her PC just died. Although I've already bought the iPad I'm starting to realize this may not go as smoothly as I envisioned. Her actual usage fits the iPad fine, it's the technical side I'm asking about. I'd appreciate any feedback on the following...


    She can't get any hardwired Internet access to her house. She was on dial up until a few years ago when my brother set her up for Clearwire cellular-based Internet. He put the service on his account so she doesn't have to pay for it.

    Initially I was planning on buying a wireless router because she doesn't have wi-fi today. Then it occurred to me I could just get a cellular model iPad and let it have it's own Internet connection. The Clearwire service could then go away since the iPad will be the only device needing access. I would want to have her cellular access billed to me.

    But the Devil is in the details...

    I remembered today that the App Store has size limits for downloading apps over cellular. 100MB to be exact. I checked my iPad and I have a number of apps over 100MB though most of them are the types of games she would never play.

    I also just read that you can't backup to iCloud over cellular, only wi-fi. Since she will have no computer to back up to I was thinking iCloud may help here. My Mom doesn't keep anything of real importance on her computer. Losing it all, as just happened with her PC, isn't the end of the world. However, being in IT I still feel a lot better if there are backups. I do know that various types of data can still sync to iCloud so that might be good enough.

    Then I realized that ditching Clearwire also means losing her email address. Apple wants an email address to use for the Apple ID when setting up a new device. I've read they won't let you use an iCloud email address for your Apple ID. So, despite getting a free iCloud email address I still have to have a 3rd party email provider to use for her Apple ID. I won't use gmail. My best option right now seems to be expanding my pobox.com service so she can have an email address on my account. I'm very happy with their service and if I add her to my account then I can foot the bill too.

    And it literally just now occurred to me that I might need to get her a wi-fi router or AP anyway. She likes to print stuff. If she still wants to print I'll buy her an Airprint capable printer but she'll need wi-fi for the two devices to communicate.

    Uggh. Maybe I should have gone with my first plan and bought an Airport, kept the Clearwire service, and skipped the cellular capability on the iPad. I can still exchange the iPad (unopened) but would need to do so before I leave town in a few days.


    Any other gotcha's I haven't realized yet?


    TL;DR - What are the pitfalls and solutions for using an iPad as an only computer specifically with cellular as the only Internet connection? Not having wi-fi seems to be problem. Backups and large app downloads are limited. No streaming of any kind so typical data usage isn't a concern.
     
  2. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #2
    The main pitfalls are limited download size, no over the air OS upgrades, and streaming videos are usually lower res. Some of this you can overcome by just going to a cafe or other open wifi when you need certain things.

    Also depending on what you do, it can end up being expensive if you use a lot of data.
     
  3. Night Spring, Nov 20, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013

    Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #3
    That's not true, you can totally use your iCloud address as your Apple ID. In fact, it is a lot simpler to use your iCloud address as your Apple ID than to use another email address, as you have to just log in once, and you are signed in to everything.

    I *think* it is possible to backup to iCloud over cellular, but you have to start the backup manually. (EDIT: Just checked -- you need to be on wifi to backup to iCloud, even manually.) The advantage of iCloud backup is that it backs up automatically every time you are on wifi AND charging. So non-technical users like your mom don't have to remember to backup their devices. But the automatic backup definitely needs an wifi connection. And as you said, you need wifi to connect to printers.

    I'd never thought about how you need wifi to use even the cellular model of the iPad, but yeah, it looks like you do.... :(
     
  4. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    #4
    Unfortunately, these are mostly due to artificial restrictions. Tether a wi-fi only iPad to a cellular iPad and you can download 1GB apps, backup to iCloud, etc.
     
  5. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #5
    This is a good point. If she has a phone that has personal hotspot, all the restrictions go away.
     
  6. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #6
    Yes, I know. I've used that trick a few times, like tether my iPhone to my iPad to make FaceTime calls when FaceTime was restricted to wifi only. Oh, and that's another thing, what is the story with FaceTime these days? Do all carriers now allow FaceTime over cellular, or is it just some carriers, for some plan types, etc?
     
  7. rui no onna macrumors 601

    rui no onna

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2013
    #7
    Except data plans for data only devices are considerably less expensive than phone plans with tethering. On Verizon, a 4GB postpaid plan for the iPad costs $40 ($30 base + $10 line access). Meanwhile, a 4GB plan for smartphones would cost $110 ($70 base + $40 line access) plus taxes.

    Tethering would also require additional configuration on the user's part. Occasionally, I've needed to reset bluetooth pairing on the iPhone/iPad to get it working and when I try to walk my mom through those steps, she just gives up. Tethering via wi-fi is even more hassle because of timeout issues. Giving my mom my old Verizon iPad 3. Tethering's just too complicated for her.

    Pretty sure FaceTime is allowed on all US carriers now. Granted, I've only tested with AT&T and Verizon.
     
  8. rmhop81 macrumors 68020

    rmhop81

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #8
    that's not true at all. The problem u keep hearing about are people wanting to change their gmail apple id to an icloud one. the icloud email is already a separate apple id. Back in the day way before icloud i would purchase music with gmail.com email address. Since then I have icloud for email and they won't let me change my apple id to that bc the icloud account is its own id already. icloud and itunes store are 2 separate things. We use gmail as our apple id for purchases and each of us have our own icloud account.
     
  9. GrumpyDave thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2013
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert
    #9
    THANKS for all the replies so far! I really appreciate it.

    So, for someone who doesn't already have an Apple ID they can choose to use their iCloud address (which doesn't exist yet) for it?

    Tethering to get around restrictions is an idea, but she only has the one device so it won't work in this case.

    I just spoke with my Mom to ask about printing. She does want to continue printing. Therefore I'll need to set up wi-fi anyway. Might as well keep the current Clearwire connection then. Using wi-fi will eliminate most of the hurdles I was facing too.

    I think I'll exchange the cellular iPad for a wi-fi model and buy a router. Now to decide whether I want to pop $200 for an Airport or go for something less expensive.
     
  10. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #10
    Yes. In fact, if you choose to set up a new iCloud address during initial iPad setup, it's automatically treated as your Apple ID.


    How about an Airport Express? I think it was $100? In either case, I would stick with one of the Airport routers. They are the easiest to setup, and you can download the Airport Utility app to your iPad and manage them from there.
     

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