Apple has released the final code to developers for its iOS 4.2 update, according to several technology Websites. The update, scheduled for public release later this month, is especially big news for the iPad, which will gain a range of features already available to iPhone and iPod touch users running iOS 4.
Those changes, including some specifically to strengthen device security and manageability through third-party applications, may pave the way for still-faster enterprise adoption of the iPad.
For iPad, iOS 4.2 brings Apple's limited multi-tasking to the tablet for the first time: users will be able to run applications in the background. Other existing iOS features that will be available for the iPad include:
* The ability to group apps into folders, up to 20, compared to 12 for iPhone.
* New universal mailbox, and the option to organize e-mails automatically in the inbox by thread, using the Mail app's preference screen.
* New APIs for device management, used by third-party mobile management applications, such as those from MobileIron and Sybase, to wirelessly configure iPad settings, monitor compliance with enterprise policies, and lock the tablet or wipe it of corporate data.
* Using the device passcode as an encryption key to protect e-mails and attachments; new data protection APIs can be used by security apps to protect corporate information.
* Enterprise-based wireless distribution of custom applications, without having to connect the iPad to a computer and iTunes.
* Support for multiple Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync accounts, and for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010; all e-mail accounts can be integrated into a single in-box, or switch easily between separate in-boxes.
* New SSL VPN support for iPad (which already supports Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Enterprise, and IPSec); Juniper and Cisco plan to support this feature soon.
All of these have also already been available with iOS 4 on iPhone on iPod touch.
The 4.2 release will also introduce several brand new features for all iOS devices.
One is AirPrint, a wireless printing feature, that can send an iOS file to a compatible printer via Wi-Fi, without having to download and install specific drivers. Apple's default applications, such as Safari, are being changed to include a "Print" selection to use AirPrint. Additional coverage can be found here.
Also, what had been "AirTunes" is now being expanded to also stream video and photos, not just music, over Wi-Fi. The feature will be called AirPlay, and be available on all iOD devices.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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