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iPad iOS 4.2 New Features Review

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Apple iOS 4.2 is finally here.  After months of waiting for multi-tasking, an unified e-mail inbox, new business-friendly security features, AirPrint wireless printing and AirPlay wireless media streaming, iPad users can finally update their tablets for FREE.

Pros: Adds multi-tasking, folders, wireless printing, and business-friendly features. Free.
Cons: Still lacks Flash support. Confusing Safari Web page search labeling. AirPlay only streams audio from Web video.

Interface

Once you’ve downloaded the new update, meaning your iPad leaps from iOS 3.2 to iOS 4.2, the first thing you’ll notice is that it looks virtually identical to the iPad version you’ve seen before. In fact you’ll initially wonder what all the fuss is about.

For the majority of the screens, options and menus iOS 4.2 for your iPad is the same, well from a looks point of view anyway.

Multitasking

Your iPhone may have been able to do it for some time, but this is the first time the iPad will get multitasking and the first time you’ll be able to use it like a netbook when out and about.

That means running Skype in the background while you work on an email or a document in pages, or playing a game; pausing it to check something online before resuming that last level on Angry Birds.

Multitasking works in exactly the same way as on the iPhone and is incredibly easy to use.

AirPlay

iOS 4.2 adds AirPlay to both the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch and allows you to stream content like music and videos from your Apple device to another device like the new Apple TV, Denon amps, or other devices that are coming out in the near future.

Press the AirPlay button on the corresponding app and you can start streaming from one to the other. It really is simple, and in our play we’ve found it to work perfectly even in the background.

Why would you need such a feature? Well, Apple says, if you’ve spent your journey home watching your favourite movie and want to finish it off on a big screen, now you can.

Support for the new feature varies. You can use it on YouTube videos and videos in your Video player that you’ve imported from iTunes or bought from the iTunes store, however you won’t be able to AirPlay video content from your local computer, or movies from your DVD collection. You can convert them into iPad-compatible formats with 3rd party iPad Video Converters and DVD to iPad converters

Yep, you’re probably really sceptical at the moment, but give it a couple of weeks and like most Apple products you live with, you’ll no doubt wonder how you ever coped without it.

Folders

All those apps cluttering up your pages, fret not. Now you can dump them all into a folder, and better still Apple has increased support from 12 apps to a folder to 20, meaning you might be able to ditch that “Game 1” and “Game 2” approach if you like your games.

Folders work in an identical way to the iPhone offering, automatically naming themselves based on the type of apps that you fill them with initially, while also allowing you to change the name.

Printing via AirPrint

You’ve waited months to be able to print something off your iPad and now you can. That’s right iOS 4.2 for the iPad adds printing support, but only if you’ve got a compatible iPad AirPrint printer.

Still, if you have got an iPad-ready printer you’ll be able to print and print and print until the cows come home. The good news is this isn’t just Pages documents, but anything where the app supports it. In our case documents and images.

Find My iPhone

Previously only available via the company’s Mobile Me service, iPad owners who’ve installed iOS 4.2 will be able to find their iPad via the Find My iPhone feature. It allows you to locate your device via a Google map and even remotely wipe the device if you think it’s fallen into the wrong hands.

Lack of Flash Support

The iPad still doesn’t support Flash video, but as there are 3rd-party SWF to iPad converters and more sites have converted to HTML 5 its become less of an issue. I was able to enjoy video from CNN, College Humor, and Vimeo. In my tests, CBS, NBC proved to be the rare mainstream site that gave the iPad trouble, and that was only partially so; short clips played back fine, but full episodes where met with text that stated that video playback wasn’t supported on the device. The same happened at ABC, but I was at least told to download the ABC Player app if I want to view full episodes.

Game Center

Game Center is the iPad’s new social gaming hub where you can find friends to play with or auto-match against strangers. Scattered across the splash screen are small game images. Initially, they appeared as generic representations of specific game types, but I quickly realized that they were actual games in the App Store that were available for download. The three titles I played were free, but you can track high scores and achievements sort of as a mobile, lightweight version of Xbox Live Arcade. The titles were a fun diversion, but their very casual natures may prove unappealing to core gamers.

Should You Download iOS 4.2?

Yes, without question. It’s free, and gives iPad owners the updates that iPhone and iPod touch users have had for some time now, bringing the iPad up to speed with other Apple devices. It also adds new business friendly features such as enhanced security and wireless connectivity with Apple TV. iOS continues to stand as the premier tablet operating that sets the standard for tablet computing.

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