Tablets: iOS 4.2 for the iPad

Wanting to get a first crack at the new iOS 4.2 and never being afraid to try new things, I upgraded my iPad as soon as the upgrade was available. I really wanted to get my own impression of it before too much showed up online, and of course it is always nice to be an early-adopter (there are risks of course, but on my personal machines I am not too worried). I found an advantage at work in IT a few times by early-adopting or beta testing new technology or software on my personal machines then being ahead of the curve when it became generally available. This time, as I am between jobs, I am just doing it to keep in practice and because I do enjoy experiments.

Ok, now on to iOS 4.2 on the iPad. After the update I found no problem with my data and had no need to sync all my apps, media and data back after the upgrade so it was pretty painless. It took a total of about 20 minutes to be back up and running. That being said, making a backup of your iPad before any upgrade is a very good idea and I highly recommend it. Time to fire up the ol’ iPad and check out the new features.

Multitasking

This is a big one! Having used my iPhone 3GS with multitasking for quite a while now it always chaffed that my iPad could not do it. There have been so many times I have been tempted to double-click the home button to switch programs and realized I couldn’t. No longer! While writing this blog I have already switched over to Mail to read and respond to a few messages without a hitch. Multitasking on the iPad is much like on the iPhone was in iOS 4.1 but it includes volume, brightness and AirPlay controls. The brightness control is great and makes reading in different conditions much easier. AirPlay seems to be working fine, although it will take and update for the AppleTV before it will be really useful. It appears that the AirPlay control is available in a large number if programs, not just in the Video app or YouTube.

AirPlay

Although AirPlay seems to be available in a variety of programs and is one of the exciting features for me it will not be easy to review until the inevitable AppleTV update comes. Still, it looks to be a great feature and a lot of fun when playing with the iPad at home.

Printing

This will be a really nice one when more wireless printers support it but it also works through printers shared on OS 10.6.5 or higher so it is fine for most Mac users. I am not sure how the support will be added for Windows users. Several built-in programs now have an option to print, with the notable exception of the iWork suite which has not yet received the update it will need to be able to print. I think this will be a huge feature for enterprise, although it seems contrary to the paperless nature of the move to iPad. Oh well, there are still times when one has to print.

Mail, Calendar and Notes Enhancements

These are big. All of the enhancements that iOS 4 in other devices brought are present and very welcome in iOS 4.2 for iPad. Threaded mail, combined inbox and multiple exchange account add a lot of functionality that was sorely missing in the iPad. I personally missed all of those things on a daily basis and I am only using my iPad for personal use at the moment. The calendar also saw a large update, allowing invites and working properly with MobileMe and finally automatically syncing subscribed calendars. The birthday calendar even had a nice little upgrade. Notes was always less useful than it could have been, but with iOS 4.2 it now allows you to easily set and write notes to a variety of services, meaning you can have the notes on your devices synced up through MobileMe, Gmail, Yahoo, etc across devices. This one little change might affect many of the 3rd party note app makers on the app store.

GameCenter

Well, I am not big on games but I know that the addition of GameCenter to the iPad will be a very happy enhancement for many users. It seems to work well although it still remains to be seen how much cross device gaming will be possible. I can’t see an reason why it wouldn’t work, but I have not seen it working yet.

Extras

There are a lot of small changes in 4.2, one of the most personally useful being the word search feature in Safari (it is a bit confusing but the search window doubles as a web search and a page search). I am sure that people will be picking apart all of the little changes in thousands of blogs over the next little while so there will be (and already is) a lot of information available.

Issues

I personally have not seen any iOS 4.2 specific issues so far. Battery life, network connectivity and media playback all seem fine so far. I have been using my iPad for over an hour for reading, surfing and blogging while listening to music while on wifi and still have 95% battery left. Not bad.

Overall, I would say that this was a very important update for the iPad, although it will be a bit less dramatic on iPhone and iPod Touch. I would recommend this update to anyone who wants their iPad to work more like you thought it should.

Oh, is that the sound of more netbooks disappearing?

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jeremy

Photographer, road cyclist, wanderer, wonderer, music listener, sometimes sheepish but never a follower.

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