Yesterday Apple pushed the first beta version of iOS 4.2 out to registered developers, giving you access to download it for both the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. As a developer I am pleased to be able to try out the beta and be able to try it out and make sure apps work well before launch with the additional benefit of being able to enjoy the new features earlier on.
After playing with the beta for a good solid day I do have some impressions of it. Before I get on with them I want to make a disclaimer here. I have no plans of going into great detail about any feature. If you want to see them demoed you want to check out Steve Jobs’ keynote from September 1. With that said, here it goes:
iOS 4 Features finally on the iPad!
Most key new things in iOS 4.2 revolve around the features introduced into iOS 4 earlier this summer. Let me tell you that it is absolutely wonderful to see these finally coming to the iPad. Now I am not really that excited about the multitasking bit and being able to stream music in the background because I tend not to use my iPad for it. Maybe I am weird in this way but music is on my iPhone and that is usually next to me when I am on the iPad anyway.
Related to the multitasking however is the fast app switching and this is a lovely feature, especially on the iPad. Since iOS 4 came out on the iPhone I have been constantly annoyed when I close an application that I am not launched into the very same position the next time around. This is one of the features that you just get used to, so quickly!
What my favorite addition is you ask? For the iPad, this is probably the unified single mail inbox! Around half of my iPad use relates to doing some sort of work and the email bit has had me grumpy since getting used to the new way on the iPhone. I am so glad that it is now in the iPad as well.
AirPlay & AirPrint
The two single new features, one of which is very long awaited, that I have not had much time to play with is AirPlay and AirPrint. Even though I use an Apple TV connected to my TV that is on the wireless network I just haven’t had the need for it yet but when I do, I am sure the feature will be as wonderful as it sounds.
AirPrint on the other hand has another reason for not being taken through its paces yet. It is not that I haven’t found the need for printing, trust me I have, no it is to do with hardware. Because I do not have one of HP’s ePrint enabled printers I cannot test it out straight away and because I do not have the latest beta version of OS X installed I can not try it out with a printer connected to my Mac so right now, that is also untested.
What don’t I like?
One of the new additions in the first beta that I am unsure of is the repurposing of the screen rotation lock switch. When Apple introduced the iPad what surprised us all was that the mute button on the iPhone was a hardware screen rotation lock on the iPad, an idea which I have always found really clever. I do not miss a mute switch at all, primarily because this device does not ring me up (yet) where I wound want a fixed volume set and be able to mute without changing it.
Cutting it short, I would like my hardware button back because it actually makes sense to have it on the iPad even though I can see the reasoning for removing it based on unification in the lineup.
UPDATE: I wanted to share a little quick tip if you like me are using your iPad in a country where it is not yet supported and do not have access to official carrier profiles. You will notice in 4.2 beta 1 that the APN settings are missing. If you download the iPhone Configuration Utility from Apple and use it to setup the APN setting which you then push to the device, you will have 3G access on your iPad 3G again!