I finally got round to installing iOS 4.3 Beta 2 on my daughter’s iPad (which is also used for a bit of testing) yesterday. I’d been dying to play around with the new multitasking gestures that it includes – and now I’ve had a chance to and I thought I’d share just a few quick thoughts on these and what I’ve seen in the beta so far.
In these betas for 4.3 you can turn the new multitasking gestures off or on via the Settings app, as shown above. The new gestures are as follows:
Use four or five fingers to: Pinch to the Home screen, Swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, and Swipe left or right to move between running apps.
When I first heard these new gestures described, I thought they sounded awkward to use – mostly because I just think of two-finger gestures as being much easier to do. In actually using them, here’s what I’ve found so far:
— The four or five finger pinch to return to the home screen is incredibly easy and comfortable to do. Far more of natural gesture than I had imagined it would be.
— The swiping left and right to move between running apps is another fairly easy and natural gesture to use. Right now it works very erratically though, at least on my iPad. It’s not smooth feeling at all – but more jerky in its response as you make the gesture. It also just fails quite frequently – especially when swiping left, it will often show the ‘next’ app that I want to move to, but will snap back to the previous one when it should have stuck.
— The Swipe up to bring up the multitasking bar works fairly well for me, once I got used to how to do it correctly. This one really needs to be made mostly in the bottom bezel area, below the dock, with your fingers only reaching the screen area at the very end of the gesture. It still feels a little awkward to me, feels like one that would be much easier to do with just two fingers.
Apart from the new gestures – which we now know will not be released in the 4.3 public update release (they’re in the betas so that developers can work with them, assess them, identify any conflicts with operation of apps etc) – a couple other things I’ve noticed:
— As has been widely reported, the rotation / screen lock is back, as an option in Settings where you can choose to use the hardware button at top right of the iPad for either the screen lock or as a mute button. I of course chose screen lock and it works just as it always used to before it was taken away in the 4.2 update.
— Screen rotation – when not locked – is a little glitchy in this beta. I’ve had a few occasions where it just stops working, and then comes back to life after a short while.
— I tried testing AirPlay video support in 3rd party apps. Well, one 3rd party app anyway – Aweditorium, the awesome music discovery app. It didn’t work; it still streams only audio to my Apple TV. I imagine this is likely because the apps need to be updated to support this feature.
That’s about it for quick, early thoughts on the iOS 4.3 beta. I’m still not on board with the idea of the home button getting dropped in future iPads, but I do think the new multitasking gestures are very promising and I’ll be glad to see them hit in a future iOS update (always assuming they get refined and perfected prior to release).
If you’ve been running the iOS 4.3 betas, please share your impressions in the comments.