by George Heymann

Latest iPad iOS 4.2.1 update brings “desktop-like” function to tablet form-factor.

by George Heymann

Even before the first iPad was shipped, I speculated that the tablet would be the hot product category for 2010. (See my story from March, “2010 Year of the Tablet” ).

As an early adopter of this technology, I expected some bumps along the way. I knew the iPad initially was going to be limited by the single-tasking OS that launched with the device. Early on, there was a Wi-Fi connectivity issue experienced by many iPad owners, myself included.

The Wi-Fi issue was addressed successfully by a subsequent 3.2.1. iOS software update. Surprisingly, there have been relatively few bumps along the way.

Before receiving the iPad, I envisioned taking advantage of the device’s long standby time and instant-on capability. I expected to use it to check my email, update my Netflix queue, check in with friends on Twitter and Facebook, or see what’s playing on TV or at the movies. I do all of those things; in fact, I use my iPad even more than I had originally anticipated.

In addition to the cases I listed, I read books, listen to music, watch videos, and enjoy the occasional game. And with the addition of a Bluetooth keyboard, I occasionally write on it. In fact, the majority of this article was composed within the excellent IA Writer app for iPad.

Apple recently released a major software update for the iPad iOS 4.2 The latest version of the OS, now at V4.2.1, adds a multitude of features anxiously awaited since the introduction of the iPhone 4.

The features list includes:

  • Multi-tasking
  • Folders
  • Airprint
  • Airplay
  • Find my iPad
  • Gamecenter
  • iTunes TV show rentals
  • Improved mail client
  • Notes with fonts
  • Reply to calendar invitation
  • Keyboard and dictionary enhancement
  • Accessibility enhancements
  • Enhanced enterprise support
  • Messaging with text tones

The latest version of the iOS update has added so much functionality it’s almost like getting a whole new machine. While many of these features are self-explanatory, let me share with you how a couple of the features have enhanced the day-to-day usage of my iPad.

Multi-tasking of third party apps is one of my favorite new features. This feature enables you to use more than one application at a time. It lets me listen to streaming music services like Pandora while writing or reading, making use of the iPad much more enjoyable.

I really appreciate the ability to quickly and easily switch between tasks without having to constantly open and close tasks. Although if you wish, you can choose to close applications you no longer need to run.

Despite the added functionality, the iPad never feels slow or bogged down. It’s surprising just how well the new system software works. Just double-click the “home” button and a task bar appears that indicates which applications are running.

If you swipe to the right, you are presented with a finger-friendly menu that lets you adjust the screen brightness, lock the screen orientation in landscape or portrait mode, and use the “quick press buttons” for your music player.

The addition of folders has greatly aided my iPad’s app organization. My app collection used to span several screens; now, my entire collection is neatly organized into folders on my homescreen.

To create a folder, just click and hold an app icon until the icon jiggles. Then drag and drop the app onto a similar app to create a folder for that application type on the homescreen. You can then select other similar app types to drop inside the folder. The folder has the category name displayed at the bottom and a mini-preview of the apps contained within that folder.

I am also really enjoying the improved mail client with the unified inbox. Being able to check, read and respond to emails from all of my accounts without having to jump from account to account is a real time saver. After experiencing a mail client with a unified inbox, it’s hard to go back to the old way of checking email. And I don’t want to.

I’ve demoed my iPad for family, friends and co-workers and the response usually changes from slightly curious to “I’d like to get one of those.” I think I’ve “sold” more than a few iPads in the last few months!

With that said, the iPad is far from perfect. It will continue to develop and evolve. Competition is key. A myriad of competitors will assure that innovation remains at the forefront of this hot hardware category.

There has been a lot of speculation as to what some of the changes will be. It’s not hard to image that some of the features from the current iPhone 4 design will be incorporated into the iPad — features like a gyroscope, front-facing “FaceTime” camera, and a higher-resolution screen. It’s also logical to expect faster dual-core processor as well as additional RAM and storage to be added at some point.

I’m sure many of the items on this list will be included in the next version of the iPad. Like any electronic device, the next version is almost always better — that’s the nature of the beast. In my mind, that does not detract from just how good this version of the iPad has been.

Kudos Apple.


Filed under: Apple, iOS, Ipad, , , , , ,

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