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Apple iOS 4.2 Ramps More iPads Production

Apple has released a dedicated page on apple.com detailing some of the features of the forthcoming iOS 4.2 update that will unify the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad operating systems. The page highlights some of the most coveted features of iOS 4 (currently only running on iPhone and iPod touch) that will finally debut on iPad, including:

  • Multitasking. A simple double-tap of the home button brings up a quick-switch interface allowing users to easily jump back to recently used Apps. Multitasking also allows for Apps like Pandora to run in the background while you surf, e-mail, or catch up on the news.
  • Folders. Adding organization was essential for iOS, especially considering the ever-growing myriad of Apps available on the App Store. Just drag one App on top of another and iOS automatically creates a folder. You can even store it in your dock for quick access to your favorite Apps.
  • Wireless Printing. One of the most exciting aspects of the iOS 4.2 update is the inclusion of wireless printing. The ability to create documents, spreadsheets, and other material on the go is one of iPad’s greatest assets. By adding print capabilities, Apple has pushed another step forward in making iPad a tool for creation (not just consumption).
  • AirPlay. AirPlay is Apple’s new and improved version of AirTunes, largely renamed because it now includes video and photos as well as music. The app will allow users to stream all of the three media above over a wireless network and onto any AirPlay compatible devices. These include your Airport Express, Apple TV and any AirPlay certified speaker systems with manufacturers such as Denon, B&W and Marantz all featured. Sadly, it doesn’t quite include the dream of being able to beam your iTunes videos to any old TV but it’s a near step.
  • Game Center. The Game Center is an online area where users can invite friends to play with and against them in games that they both share. You can be auto-matched against users you don’t know, track achievements and compare your scores on leaderboards against others around the world.
  • Better Email. The improved email system is also landing on the iPad come November. Even Better E-mail means you can have one unified inbox where all your messages are dropped into and organised into threaded conversations from there. It will also let you open attachments in third party applications.
  • The Rest. Beyond the headline additions, there are also a few welcome touches to iOS 4.2 that you’ll appreciate with a small satisfied smile as you discover them. Those looking to search for text on Safari pages will now be able to do that with a search field, enterprise users can feel more comfortable with improved levels of security within the OS and Apple has added more to both the languages and accessibility areas with extra keyboards, dictionaries and languages supported as well as output in Braille.

Analyst Katy Huberty from Morgan Stanley tells All Things D that she believes Apple is ramping up production on the iPad, aiming to build as many as three million a month by the end of this year. That would mean that the company could make 36 million iPads next year, which brings the total close to (but not quite) the whopping 40 million units predicted by her supply chain analysis. Sales estimates for next year started out around 10 million iPads, but have since risen to as high as 42 million units, which would be quite a year for a product that didn’t exist before this past April.

Currently, says Huberty, Apple is producing about two million iPads a month, and that’s brought shipping times on the website down, and helped availability across the board. But the manufacturing process needs to be refined even further, and of course if, as expected earlier next year, the device sees a revision, that may delay things even further. There seems to be one thing most analysts agree on, however: Apple is going to sell a whole lot of iPads in 2011.