Apple’s iOS 4.2.1 has just been released for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. This software update finally brings the iPad capabilities on-par with the iPhone. The most important feature, to me, is multitasking. The idea that the iPad previously could only have one application open, and where starting a new application means the prior one has to quit, was just so absolutely primitive. The iPad’s large screen means you can do quite a bit of work with it, but the lack of multitasking makes it so highly inconvenient to get longish tasks done.
So, with great eagerness, I fired up iTunes, clicked “Check for Update”, and waited to download and install iOS 4.2.1. The upgrade was simple and straightforward. I wasn’t even paying attention to it, as I was working on something else. When it was done, I unlocked the screen, checked and confirmed that everything was intact. All my apps, settings and data are as they were before the upgrade.
Double-click the Home button, and tada… the fast application switcher is revealed at the bottom of the screen. Now, every time you switch away from an application, it doesn’t quit, but instead goes into background, and ready to be switched into again from the fast application switcher.
There are a bunch of other new features: AirPlay, AirPrint, Folders (sometimes I’m shocked by how some relatively trivial things can come as a feature in subsequent software updates), Unified Mail Inbox, Game Center, etc. I’ve no AppleTV to AirPlay things to. I’ve no HP printer to AirPrint to. But I’m sure the Unified Mail Inbox would be something useful.
The Find My iPad feature seems to be pretty useful too. You can now go to MobileMe, locate your iPad, then get it to display a message and play a sound. You can also remotely wipe or lock your iPad. I only wish that Apple would just make MobileMe a free service.