Several websites have tried out the iOS 4.2 beta, and while the addition of folders, wireless printing and threaded e-mail will certainly make the iPad better, other changes could make users yearn for simpler times. Here's what to like and dislike about iOS 4.2, which hits the iPad in November.
With the addition of folders in iOS 4 for iPhone, it's hard to understand why Apple held out for so long. Despite my efforts to arrange iPad apps by type, my home screens have fallen into chaos. Folders bring clarity, cleanliness and calm. This is the feature I want the most.
Maybe I'm a stick in the mud, but multitasking on the iPhone strikes me as equal parts burden and boon. It's invaluable for music apps like Pandora and MOG, but it also requires you to stay vigilant with the task bar, swatting unused apps through a clunky deletion process. Switching from an iPhone to an iPad, there's something nice about exiting an app with the home button and knowing that it's closed for good. I'll miss that.
Hot: Networked Stuff
Properly known as AirPlay and AirPrint, these features allow streaming music and video to the iPad from a networked computer, storage device or Apple TV, and printing from the iPad to a networked printer. It'll be nice to have these features without paying for third-party apps.
Not: Software Screen Lock
iOS 4.2 delegates the switch on the iPad's side to volume mute, instead of screen orientation lock. But the iPad already had a fast mute function -- holding the volume rocker down for a moment skips automatically to zero volume -- and now orientation lock will be buried next to the iTunes control widget, as it is on the iPhone. That's three steps instead of one to lock the iPad in place.
Hot: New Fonts in Notes
For such an elegant operating system, iOS has a strange taste in fonts, using Marker Tip in the default Notes app. (It looks a lot like the dreaded Comic Sans.) Fortunately, iOS 4.2 includes a choice of three fonts, including Helvetica and Chalkboard. Can we get Courier New in iOS 5?
Not (For Now): Game Center
Perhaps Game Center will become a social gaming powerhouse come November, but it got off to a weak start on the iPhone, with a tiny selection of games -- most of which don't support multiplayer matchmaking -- and no deals to get the ball rolling. For now, I'll still be using OpenFeint as my main source of game discovery and achievement addiction. Game Center is just another app that can't be deleted.