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Friday March 11, 2011 3:41 pm

Video: Fun with the iPad 2 magnets


Apple's done a number of things to improve the speed and utility of its popular tablet device. The Apple iPad 2 features the faster A5 processor, two cameras, and a gyroscope. However, one of the more interesting iPad 2 innovations can be found outside the product: The new Smart Cover. It's also the source of the iPad 2's first entertaining parlor trick.

That cover, a mixture of leather (or polyurethane), microfiber and magnets snaps neatly onto the left side of the iPad 2 (there are no special notches on the iPad, the cover simply auto-aligns itself). The Smart Cover's second trick is to put the tablet to sleep when you lay it down on top of the screen. Upon closer examination, however, it becomes clear that the active part of the cover is only in the last quarter panel. In other words, the iPad 2 doesn't sleep until the last part of the cover touches the screen. This means that there's also some sort of electronic mechanism within the cover and the right side of the iPad 2.


While Apple didn't mention that there are magnets on both sides of the iPad 2, this becomes evident with a few quick experiments and one little trick. You see, the smart cover really only attaches to one side of the iPad 2. Try to attach the cover to the other side, and it simply slips off. You can however, verify the existence of magnets on the right side and perform your trick at the same time. Simply take the Smart Cover and hold it next to the right side of the iPad 2, with the hinge-side facing the tablet; don't lay it on top of the iPad, just move the Smart Cover from right to left toward the tablet and—bingo—the iPad 2 will go to sleep.

Now for the fun part. It appears that any magnet can put the iPad 2 to sleep. I tried it with one I had sitting on my desk. I placed it against the side of the device and nothing happened, but when I slid the magnet down along the right side of the screen, the iPad when to sleep. As soon as I moved the magnet away, the iPad 2 woke up again.

I've always warned people about bringing magnets anywhere near electronic equipment—but that was in the days of ubiquitous magnetic, rewritable media. Flash-based memory like the kind used in the iPad 2, however, is not affected by magnets. Certainly, the utility of this trick is questionable, but it is interesting to note that Apple appears to be using fairly common magnets. Check out the video to see the Smart Cover and iPad 2's magnets in action.

This article, written by Lance Ulanoff, originally appeared on PCMag.com and is republished on Gear Live with the permission of Ziff Davis, Inc.

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