How to get started with the new iPad, iPad mini, iPhone and iPod touch

We take you through the setup of your new Apple device

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Unlike regular SMS text messaging, iMessage supports niceties such as delivery receipts (indicating that your message has been delivered), read receipts (telling you your message has been read) and live typing status (so you can know your friend is replying). Note, however, that by default, your iOS device won't tell your contact when you've read their message; you must enable that.

When you compose a message on the iPhone, iOS will automatically switch to the iMessage protocol if your recipient is also an iMessage user. For non-iOS conversations, it will default to regular old SMS.

You can tell iMessages from regular messages because they appear with a blue background instead of green. The great thing about iMessages is that they don't cost a penny to send, and they can also be sent to an iPad (unlike an SMS, which can only be sent to an iPhone or other mobile phone).

Master FaceTime

Conducting webcam-based calls on a laptop or PC is nothing new. FaceTime extends the concept of video chatting to tablets and smartphones. You need a Wi-Fi or 3G cellular network connection, and for whoever you're calling to have a FaceTime-compatible device (an iPad 2 or later, an iPhone 4/4S or iPhone 5, or a 2010 or later iPod touch).

To initiate a FaceTime call on iPhone, you can make a voice call as usual and then switch over to a video chat by tapping the FaceTime button. A question mark will appear if your iPhone isn't sure that the other party has FaceTime abilities. If they do, the recipient will be presented with a screen allowing him or her to decide whether to accept your FaceTime request. If they decline, you'll stay on the phone without video. If you accept it, FaceTime will launch.

iPad users can activate the FaceTime feature by clicking the FaceTime icon and selecting someone with a compatible device from their contacts list - you'll need to select or input their phone number (if you're contacting an iPhone) or the email address they've linked to FaceTime on their iPad.

FaceTime now works over cellular as well as Wi-Fi, but you may need to turn it on by going to Settings > FaceTime and changing the Use Cellular Data setting to On. This can use a lot of data.

Type like a pro

For many, the biggest challenge of the iPhone or iPad is getting used to the virtual keyboard. Unlike BlackBerries and older mobile phones they have no hardware keys, instead relying on software keys that appear onscreen as and when they're needed. The lack of physical shapes for your fingers to seek out can be confusing at first, but there are lots of ways Apple ensures touchscreen typing is a positive experience, whether you're coming from a full-size computer keyboard or a thumb-based smartphone. Here are some ways to tap into the iPhone's typing features.

Catch and release: Your Apple device registers the key you've pressed when you take your finger off the key, rather than when you tap on it. So if you press a key and see that it's the wrong one, you can easily slide your finger to the correct key. In conventional typing it's common to try and avoid pressing multiple keys. With the iPhone there's no need: it recognises only single keys at once, while its correction tools quickly work out what you meant to type. Hopefully.

Punctuation slide: To add a punctuation mark, press and hold the '.?123' button until the numeric and punctuation keyboard appears, slide your finger to the key you want, and release it. Not only will you type the punctuation mark, but you'll find yourself back in alphabet mode without having to press the ABC key.

Unlock caps lock: Typing in capitals may be considered impolite, but sometimes it's necessary. Go to Settings: General: Keyboard and check Enable Caps Lock is activated. Then, when you're typing, quickly double-tap the Shift key; it'll turn blue to tell you Caps Lock is on. Tap it once more to disable it.

Present and correct: Mistakes happen. Fortunately, the iPhone's pretty smart. By looking at the letters near the ones you typed, it can deduce what you meant to type and will offer a suggested correction in a text bubble. To accept this, simply carry on, hitting the spacebar or a punctuation mark. Tap the suggestion to reject and dismiss it. That might seem counter-intuitive, but it makes sense, we promise. Dismiss the iPhone's suggestion for the same word twice, and it'll add the word you typed to its dictionary.

Zoom in: If you discover a typo, it's easy to fix. Tap the spot where you want the cursor to appear, and then on the backspace to delete your mistake. For more precise cursor control, tap and hold on the text to make a magnifier appear. As you drag the magnifier around, the text insertion point will follow it.

Get serious about Siri

Siri allows you to speak commands to your phone and have it do your bidding. In the latest version of iOS 6.0, it enables you to search for businesses, restaurants, movie screenings and sports information - although British sports are still largely limited to football - all by using the power of your voice.

You activate Siri by holding down the Home button on the iPhone itself, or by holding down the control button on your wired or wireless headset.

You can ask Siri to do all kinds of things. It's great at working with text messages: simply say: "Send a text to Dave that says hello, what time are we meeting tonight" and Siri will do exactly that. (If you know more than one Dave, it'll ask you which one.) Excitingly, you can also do the same with your emails.

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