Big New Features for iPad in the iOS 4.2 Software Update

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The good news is that the upcoming iOS 4.2 software update is chock full of some major new features and functionality for the iPad.  The not-so-good news is that we have to wait until November to get this update.  The holdup presumably has something to do with the fact that 4.2 will mark the first time that iOS versions will be unified across the iPhone, iPod Touch, and the iPad.

So since we’ve got a good while to wait anyway, I thought this might be as good a time as any to share some of the details on some of the big additions we’re going to see on our iPads when iOS 4.2 is released.  Hit the break for a quick rundown on this …

iOS 4.2 – New Features for iPad

The Big Four

Multitasking: For me, and many others I’m sure, this is THE big headline addition.  iOS 4.2 will bring much greater multitasking capabilities to the iPad.  Just as we’ve already seen on the iPhone, 3rd party apps can now remain running in the background for several clear purposes – e.g Pandora playing music, and navigation apps).  More importantly, for me anyway, 4.2 gives us an easy and elegant solution for rapid app switching.  A quick double-tap on the home button brings up the Multitasking Bar (shown in the screencap at the top of this post), from where you can quickly launch any of your recently run apps. Rapid app switching makes me far more productive on the iPad and iPhone. 


Folders: 4.2 will allow us to create folders for our iPad apps.  Again, this feature is already available on the iPhone and it works well.  It helps greatly in organizing your apps and reducing the number of home screens you have.  I don’t like the 12 apps per folder limit and I think more and better solutions should be found for apps and home screen organization, but this is still a very welcome feature.


Wireless Printing: You can already do this on the iPad now via several third party apps, and with no jailbreak required.  See my article on this HERE for more on that.  Nevertheless, I imagine Apple may offer a better and more universal solution in this area.  And I have to say it is such a super cool feature already, if Apple gives us a great, across-the-board solution then that will be a huge plus for this update.


AirPlay: “Wirelessly stream videos, music, and photos from iPad to the new Apple TV, and stream music to AirPlay speakers or receivers, including AirPort Express.”  I haven’t used its predecessor, AirTunes, but this sounds like a very impressive new feature as well.

Other Notable New Features

Game Center: Apple’s new social network for iOS gamers.  Has just hit the iPhone yesterday, looks promising.

Email Enhancements: “See messages from all your accounts in a unified inbox, organize messages by threads, and open attachments in third-party apps”.

Find Text on Web Pages: “In Safari, easily find and highlight specific words and phrases on large web pages.

Stronger Enterprise Support: “Businesses can take advantage of stronger security features, new device management capabilities, and improved enterprise integration.”

Apple states that overall there over 100 new features and ‘innovations’ coming in iOS 4.2.  Honestly, just multitasking, folders, and printing would make me a very happy camper.  I can’t wait for this update to hit.  I’m not a fan of winter (a big wimp about cold weather) so it is not often that I look forward to November.  This year it can’t come soon enough.  Here’s hoping iOS 4.2 comes out in very early November.

In the meantime, you can check out more detail on the update at Apple’s dedicated page for 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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10 thoughts on “Big New Features for iPad in the iOS 4.2 Software Update”

  1. Are you disappointed for the extensive wait for the same features as the iPhone currently has? With the exception of printing it’s the same exact features. I was hoping for a better use of multitasking since the extra screen real esate is available.

    1. Not really. I'm disappointed generally that we have to wait until November, mainly because I'm just an impatient type. But I think it''s fair enough that some time is required to get iPhone and iPad version of iOS in sync for the first time. Once that is done and bedded in, maybe they can look to offer some extended features on iPad if it makes sense to do so.

  2. I am impatient as well as you know they could obviously release this now as its the exact same as the Iphone. Come on Apple, give us a break!

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