Apple's iPad does more than games and Twitter

In early January a man was granted access to the United States from Canada without his passport, instead showing boarder control a photocopy of it on his iPad.

This, together with reports that Apple is soon to revolutionise textbooks with iPad-friendly, digital alternatives, the International Business Times UK has looked into more obscure uses developers have found for the iPad.

Later in January, Apple is expected to hold a media event in New York where the tech giant will announce new publishing deals that will spearhead a move to bring textbooks and educational documents into the digital age.

The iPad has already taken chunks out of the newspaper and magazine industry, and we see almost as many iPads on our morning commute to IBTimes Towers as the considerably cheaper Kindle eBook reader.

Subscriptions are available for the Times, Financial Times, Metro, Sun, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Guardian and Telegraph to name just a few. But it isn't just the print industry that is being replaced by the iPad.

A whole host of medical applications are available, and not just for consumers, but to be used professionally by medical staff. St Louis Urgent Cares hospital uses iPads to record and share patient details efficiently. "With iPad, Dr. Saggar and his staff can bring the functionality of desktop computers into the exam room, and document treatment notes during the visit in real time," the hospital told Apple.

As outlined on Apple's website: "Physicians can each create their own exam templates and enter data quickly by tapping checkboxes or selecting from menus, rather than having to write or type. 'For physicians who don't type well, the touchscreen makes information-gathering a lot simpler than trying to use a keypad,' says staff physician Dr. Carol Ann Smith."

With the help of bespoke applications not available to the general public, staff at the hospital can record patients as they come in, arrange follow-up appointments and referrals and email a discharge summary to the patient. Staff have also reduced the cost and environmental impact of wasting paper by having an entirely electronic system.

"The main advantage of using electronic records on iPad is that it gives us complete access to everything that's ever happened with each patient-in the current visit or previous ones," Dr. Saggar explains on Apple.com.

Redlands Police Department uses iPhones and iPads in place of conventional notebooks and maps. "iPhone and iPad are really helping the Redlands Police Department make the community safer," says Lieutenant Chris Catren on the Apple website. "I think iPad has the potential to be adopted on a mass scale in law enforcement because of its portability, its ease of use, and its instant-on technology. This device is kind of made for law enforcement."

The iOS devices help police officers to access the internet, email and even take photographs of suspects to be uploaded to a database.

Apple's iPad has also replaced many household items, and not just our address books and calendars. Developers have created games and learning tools for children, some of which even use physical toys to interact with the touchscreen. A game based on the Disney Pixar film 'Car's uses a toy car which, when pushed across the screen, shows an animated racetrack move beneath.

While we're all playing Angry Birds and posting on Twitter, there's a wealth of other uses for Apple's tablet from the obvious childrens' games to the less obvious uses in hospitals and by the police.

With the iPad 3 due to be announced in the coming weeks and released in March or April with a better screen and faster processor, the developers can start thinking even further outside of the box. The post-PC era may truly be upon us.