The eagerly awaited iOS update, which will finally bring the iPad up to par with the iPhone in terms of multitasking, a unified e-mail inbox and other features, just earned "gold master" status—a clear sign that the update is close to being released.
Apple released the latest build of iOS 4.2 to developers on Monday with the "GM" (or gold master) stamp, indicating that the new version of the firmware update (which has been undergoing testing for months) is essentially the final shipping version. That means we could be seeing the update go live within a week or so.
The 4.2 update, which Steve Jobs detailed during the Apple iPod event in early September, will finally bring the iPad up to date with the latest iPhone and iPod Touch features—namely multitasking, which came to the iPhone with iOS version 4.0 this past summer.
More recently, the iPhone and iPod Touch got the iOS 4.1 update, which added such features as Game Center support (a social gaming platform), TV rentals from iTunes, HDR photography for the iPhone 4 (which snaps a series of photos with different exposures in quick succession, combining them into a single snapshot), and the ability to upload HD video to YouTube and MobileMe. Meanwhile, the iPad is still stuck at iOS version 3.2.2.
Though iOS 4.2 will bring some interesting new features to the iPhone and iPod Touch, including AirPlay (which lets you stream videos, music, and photos to the new Apple TV, or stream audio to AirPort Express-connected speakers or third-party systems with AirPlay support) and AirPrint (wireless printing, at last), the biggest changes will be coming to the iPad.
Among the new-to-iPad features: multitasking, which lets you switch between apps by double-clicking the Home button and then choosing a new app from the swipeable multitasking bar at the bottom of the screen. As AppAdvice notes, the latest build of iOS 4.2 includes a slightly tweaked version of the multitasking bar that boasts volume and brightness sliders, as well as a button for activating AirPlay streaming.
Another key addition for iPad users in iOS 4.2: the ability to organize your apps into categorized folders, meaning no more having to swipe through one home screen after another to find the exact app you're looking for. Also nice: a unified e-mail inbox, as well as the option to organize your messages into individual threads.
AirPlay and AirPrint will also be coming to the iPad, along with social gaming through Apple's Game Center platform, text searching in Safari, and parental controls that are more granular (sorry, kids).
One of the lingering questions about the AirPlay feature in iOS 4.2, which appears to work across a variety of apps (including Safari and third-party applications), is whether you'll be able to stream video from the native YouTube app via AirPlay. An earlier version of 4.2 disabled AirPlay support for YouTube.
But as MacStories notes, AirPlay support for the YouTube app appears to have returned in the latest version of the update. Guess we'll know for sure once Apple releases iOS 4.2 to the public at large (and in any case, according to MacStories, YouTube appears to AirPlay-able from Safari).
- MacRumors.com: Apple Releases iOS 4.2 Golden Master to Developers
— Ben Patterson is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.
- iPod Touch
- Apple TV
- Steve Jobs