Apple finally released the long anticipated iOS 4.2 (or iOS 4.2.1) for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
iOS 4.2 brings new features like AirPrint, AirPlay, Find My iPhone besides offering one common platform across all iDevices.
iPad users finally get access to iOS 4 features like Multitasking, Game Center, Folder management and Universal Inbox that were earlier available only on the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Please find details of some of the major new features introduced in iOS 4.2:
AirPrint is Apple's wireless printing feature. It automatically finds printers on the local network and allows users to print to them wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need to install drivers or download software. It currently supports certain HP printers.
This new feature will let users stream audio and video content from any iOS-based device to the new Apple TV. While video streaming is not possible over the Netflix app, it is worth noting that Apple TV has native support for streaming Netflix videos. We were extremely excited about this feature but are a little disappointed to find out that the feature is available only on the native iPod app and YouTube app rather than any other app, which was available in some of the beta versions of iOS 4.2. You can only stream audio from YouTube videos played in Mobile Safari browser.
Here is a video demonstration of the AirPlay feature:
Find My iPhone:
Apple now offers the 'Find my iPhone' feature for free to iPhone 4, iPad and iPod Touch 4G users and it can be downloaded as an iOS app from the App Store. As a workaround, users of unsupported devices will need to do the initial set-up using one of the current generations iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Once this is done, the Find My iPhone feature can be accessed from any iOS 4.2 compatible device.
"Find in Page" on Safari:
The Mobile Safari web browser on your iDevice can now search for text from within an open page. This option is now available on the browser's search box and comes with a toolbar that enables users to navigate through all the instances of a keyword on a single page.
If you are an iPad user, you can finally get access to iOS 4 features that were earlier available only on the iPhone and iPod Touch. These include applications like Multitasking, Game Center, Folder management and Universal Inbox.
iOs 4.2 also includes the much needed multitasking feature for the iPad, which will finally allow users to run some third party apps to run in the background.
Apple has distilled the services that need to run in the background and are providing those services as APIs to developers so that they can add multitasking support in their app while preserving battery life.
The seven multitasking services available to developers are: background audio, voice over IP (VoIP), background location, push notifications, local notifications, task completion, and fast app switching.
iPad users can access seven apps in the task switcher in landscape mode and six apps in portrait mode.
iOS 4.2 finally brings Folder Management feature to iPad users. Users can add up to 20 apps to a folder thanks to iPad's bigger screen.
You can currently add only 12 apps in case of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Here is a screengrab of folders on the iPad.
Universal Threaded Mail Application:
The mail app on the new iOS 4.2 for iPad comes with a universal inbox that aggregates messages from multiple email accounts. Users may also choose to view messages in a convenient threaded format.
The screen orientation lock switch on the iPad has now been repurposed to serve as the mute switch. With this, users may now access the screen orientation lock from within the multitasking tray. It is worth noting that original promos of the iPad in fact described the physical switch to serve as a mute button though it was reconfigured as a screen orientation switich when it was launched.
Apple's social gaming network makes its debut on the iPad with iOS 4.2. The Game Center application makes use of the larger screen of the iPad to display a double-column view instead of the standard single column view of the iPhone. The left column contains the lists while the detailed view of stats shall appear on the right column.
iWork for iPad:
Apple had released an iOS version of its iWork productivity suite earlier this year following the launch of the iPad. The company has now rolled out a fresh update to its Keynote, Numbers and Pages application that will make use of the new iOS 4.2 features. You can download these latest updates from the App Store.
Have you downloaded the new iOS 4.2 software update? Tell us what you think of the new features in the comments section below.