A Few Quick Thoughts on iOS 4.2 Beta 1 for iPad

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Folderson iOS 4.2 for iPad

I’ve been running iOS 4.2 Beta 1 on my iPad for a few days now, and I’ve got a few very quick thoughts on it.  Here they are:

— Folders still don’t strike me as a 100% elegant or effective solution for organizing apps and home screens – but they are a damn sight better than nothing (as we’ve had up to now) – and they’ve helped me come down from 8 home screens to 4.  I could be on less but I’ve chosen to devote two full screens to most frequently used apps, and one to apps currently under review. I’m very happy to see that the app limit per folder is 20, a nice step up from the 12 allowed on the iPhone – this is a feature I was hoping we would get.

— It’s great seeing Helvetica as a font choice in the built-in Notes app.  I hardly ever use the app because it is so far surpassed by my two favorite note-taking apps, Simplenote and Evernote – but it’s still cool to see Apple giving it a little bit of love.

— The greater level of multitasking is a big plus,and the rapid app switching via the Multitasking bar is superb. Fast app switching is huge productivity enhancer.  It’s brilliant for me when reviewing apps and swapping back and forth between a note-taking app and the app being reviewed.

— The addition of a Brightness adjustment slider control at the far left of the Multitasking bar is a cool idea – but one that leaves me very disappointed.  If they could fit that in, why (why why!) could they not find some space for a toggle switch for 3G/cellular and or Bluetooth and WiFi.  Ideally, those should be added and there should be a Settings option to choose to show or not show each of them.  So if you’ve got a WiFi only model, you ditch the 3G/cellular toggle, for instance.

— I can’t find where my AT&T account data is in this build.  There used to be a link under the Cellular Data section of Settings, but it’s gone away – so I don’t see a current way to check on how much data used / time remaining on my monthly plan.

— This early beta seems mostly very stable.  It has had its moments on my iPad 3G though.  Yesterday it had a little bad spell where it stopped showing the WiFi icon in the status bar, even when I was solidly connected to my home network and WiFi / internet connectivity were all cranking along just fine. A restart fixed this little bit of weirdness.

— Although stability is good and performance is mostly still stellar, I have seen a few periods where the iPad starts to feel a little slow and ‘laggy’. Manually ‘closing’ some of the apps listed in the Multitasking Bar has resolved this each time I’ve seen it.  I don’t know what others are seeing, but this sort of behavior makes me feel as if the 256MB of RAM that the iPad has is getting a little stretched when apps start to pile up in the background (even if they are said not to be truly running except for those that carry out the specific tasks which are allowed as background processes).

— I have gained one little bit of insight in terms of how apps left in the background handle the whole ‘remembering their state’ side of things. When I last went to use the Parallels Mobile app that connects to a virtual machine on my MacBook Pro, it miserably failed to connect – despite solid connectivity on the iPad end and a happy and connected guest OS waiting for it on my MBP.  I double-checked all my app settings at the desktop side and Parallels’ basic connection advice to no avail, and then wondered whether part of remembering the app’s state was keeping alive a connection, or at least making the app feel it had a stale connection or no connection.  So I closed it manually in the Multitasking Bar – and of course it instantly connected happily again when I re-opened the app.

— I haven’t tried out printing yet, as it requires a pre-release version of Mac OS X – and I’m not happy installing that just now.  Doing a restore on my iPad if beta problems crop up is no fun, but it’s manageable within a pretty short space of time.  Doing the equivalent on my MacBook is much more of a pain in the neck.

That’s my early impressions thus far on iOS 4.2 for iPad.  How about you all?  For those who have tried the beta, what do you think of it?

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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7 thoughts on “A Few Quick Thoughts on iOS 4.2 Beta 1 for iPad”

  1. Just installed.. Will keep you posted.. I can't find the AT&T account options either.. & my iPad hasn't yet connected to my microcell.. & I'm not convinced that moving the orientation lock to a soft-button was a good idea..

  2. I have experienced the laggy moments too, closing a few open apps seems to resolve it. I like the idea of toggles added to the settings part of the app switcher, one thing I would like for iPhone and iPad is a close all.

  3. Nice write up, thanks. I've held off installing the beta for the time being – perhaps a later build. Can't afford any stability issues on my primary device :)

    Re: folders, seeing your screen shot brings to mind an idea…which could maybe be sold as a sort of Accessibility feature of some sort. Since we can (still) only have 4 icons or folders across while in portrait mode, it'd be great if those icons, particularly if folders, could be blown up in size to better fill the space. That would also make the icons within the folders larger, perhaps to the point where you could make them out plainly.

  4. Thanks for sharing guys. The missing AT&T account details is a pretty big miss I think. Hopefully more betas coming soon.

  5. I am also having the issue with the WiFi icon. plus the Battery seems to be draining much faster if I leave it sit without turning it off completely. Not sure what could be causing this..

    1. The WiFi icon issue only happened for me a couple of times – I'm not seeing it often. Battery life does seem a bit decreased since installing the beta – but that's pure gut feeling, I haven't measured it closely or properly.

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