iOS 4.2 Software Update Released Today: The Breakdown

If you’ve been to the Apple website recently, you may have noticed the “iOS 4.2 is here” button under the huge Beatles sign. This seemingly insignificant link is actually a major, much anticipated update for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

What’s so great about this update?

Well, for iPad users, this update is the long awaited entry into the features introduced the the iPhone with the release of iOS 4.0.

Multitasking

That’s right: Multitasking on the iPad. This popular iPhone feature finally makes it way to the iPad and, I have to say, I’m impressed. I have been waiting for this feature to appear on my iPad for a long time, and the wait is finally over. As I do not own an iPhone, I was unfamiliar with this feature, and was surprised at how quickly I learned how to use it and how helpful it really is.

Folders

Folders, another popular iPhone feature, is also making its debut on the iPad. This allows iPad users to keep their apps organized in simple to use folders on the Home screen. This makes it easy to find your favorite apps, as well as prevents you from having to look through 5 pages of apps to find a calculator.

Game Center

Game Center, the iPhone/iPod Touch service that allows you to compete with your friends and see their scores on select applications finally makes its way to the iPad. Now you can finally prove that you are better at Real Racing HD or Flight Control HD than your friends!

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Sure, this is great for iPad users, but what about my iPhone? Well, there are also a couple cool new cross-platform features.

AirPrint

The first of these is AirPrint, the new feature, integrated into specific apps, which allows you to print to any printer shared by a Mac computer. For example, to print a webpage in Safari, all you have to do is touch the button button, then touch print. This feature first requires you to turn on printer sharing on a Mac computer, so it is pretty much useless for Windows users, but it’s still a pretty neat feature.

AirPlay

A second new feature introduced in iOS 4.2 is AirPlay. This feature allows you to stream digital media wirelessly to your Apple TV. This means that you can instantly switch a movie you are watching on your iPad to your Apple TV when you return home from a trip, or blast your music from your iPod Touch out of your TV’s speakers from any room in the house. It also allows you to play movies and TV shows rented on your iPad or iPhone on your Apple TV, which was impossible to do before. This feature could boost sales of the Apple TV before and during the holiday season, as it adds new and helpful features and ties the Apple TV to Apple’s more successful products.

Find My Device

Find My Device, a cool feature that used to be bundled with the MobileMe suite (which requires a $100 dollar per year subscription), is now offered on the app store for free if you update to iOS 4.2. Although this is incompatible with the iPhone 3GS, this app is very helpful if you misplace your iPhone 4 or iPad.
Find Text

Now you can search for text within Mobile Safari. This feature, although minor, is very helpful and I’m surprised it was not offered on previous versions of iOS.

Overall, this was a very important update for the iPad, and added many new, long awaited features to every Apple iDevice such as printing and streaming to an Apple TV.

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AAPL was up 6.63 points today to close at $313.36 per share.

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