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iOS 4.2 Ends the iPad's Wait for Multitasking

iOS 4.2
Oh, what's that? Are iTunes 10.1 and iOS 4.2.1 finally here, ending months of anticipation for millions of early adopters? Yes, eight months after blessing the iPhone with multitasking, Apple is finally bringing multitasking to the iPad. While iOS 4.2 introduces a slew of media, app and printing updates to the Apple tablet, you'll find that your day-to-day use of the iPad is changed most by multitasking and folders. Neither are anything new, as the implementation is nearly identical to the iPhone, just bigger. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; both features drastically improve the device, and you can finally stream Pandora and check your mail at the same time. Groundbreaking...

Folders, Media and Printing

Upgraders will get access to folders, which can save you from scrolling through endless pages of apps on the home screen. Much as you would on the iPhone or iPod touch, just press and hold an app icon, and drag it onto another one to create a new folder on the home screen. The new AirPrint adds wireless printing capability to the iPad, while AirPlay is an expansion and rebranding of AirTunes that lets you stream music, photos and video to your Apple TV and other AirPlay-enabled devices, many of which will be launching this fall.

Mail and Safari

The iPad Mail app gets bolstered by much-needed messaging, which sorts your mail into conversations. Game Center brings social competition and leaderboards to your marathon iPad 'Angry Birds' sessions, but is otherwise just as underwhelming as the iPhone version. Mobile Safari finally lets you search on the pages you're currently browsing. Start typing in the search bar, and you'll see 'On This Page' results below the stock Google suggestions.

Losing the Hardware Orientation Lock

We've been using a dev version of 4.2 for a few weeks, and we most regret the loss of the iPad's hardware orientation lock, which has been repurposed as a mute button. With all the reclined reading we're doing, the lock was handy for quickly switching from portrait to landscape mode, or locking while going horizontal. The interaction works on the smaller iPhone, but is needlessly complex on the iPad; compare a simple button to a process that will usually involve two hands (one to stabilize) and four actions (double tap, swipe right, tap). While it's interesting that Apple is effectively reprogramming dedicated hardware buttons, it should be an optional, or at least a software-reversible change.


Once Apple pushes the update live, make sure you've recently synced your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, grab the latest version of iTunes, boot up Software Update, and get updating!

Tags: apple, ios, ios42, ipad, top