iOS 4.2 for the iPad: Hands-on

About to update to iOS 4.2? Here are the pros and cons.

Down: Actually Updating the iPad

I can't speak for Mac users, but updating iOS devices through iTunes on a PC is a chore on par with defragmenting your hard drive. Chances are, you'll first have to update iTunes -- download, install, and restart. Then, once your computer's rebooted, you have to download and install the iOS update itself, and the whole process can take more than a half hour. Put over-the-air updates on the top of your iOS 5 wishlist.

Up: Folders

I use more apps on the iPad than I do on the iPhone -- and folders are basically a necessity. The iPad's folders work the same as before -- drag one app on top of another to rename it -- but now you can stuff 20 apps into a folder instead of 12. Folders within folders are still too much for Apple to handle, but not entirely necessary, either.

Down: Software Orientation Lock

There are two camps on iPad rotation lock. One group says the hardware switch above the volume rocker should be used as a mute button, because it's the same function as the hardware switch on the iPhone, and because muting is useful. I'm in the other group, which thinks the iPad needs a hardware orientation lock for all the shifting around you might do while reading on a couch or in bed. The software switch is too inconvenient to reach for such a handy feature. iOS 4.2 makes the hardware switch into a mute button, instead of a software orientation lock. Of course, the easy solution would be to give users the choice, but that's just not how Apple does things.

Up: Multitasking

Though I don't like Apple's implementation of multitasking -- the tendency to build up a tray full of rarely-used apps drives me insane, and background processing is limited to a few specific tasks -- on the iPad it's an essential feature. I highly recommend switching from Safari to Atomic Web Browser, which now preserves all of your open tabs without the need to reload each page. It's like you never left the app, which is probably the point.

Down: Printing, or Lack Thereof

As expected, Apple killed the breezy shared printer support that it once promised as part of this update, so you can't connect an offline printer to your Mac or PC and tell the iPad to print from the computer. Instead, only specific networked printers will work, including Hewlett-Packard's ePrint-enabled printers. Fortunately, you can still get third-party apps to do the job.

Up: Better E-mail

Conversation threading and a unified inbox for multiple accounts are nice, provided you aren't using an alternate e-mail program such as Gmail's Web app. Even if you don't regularly touch the iPad's Mail app, iOS 4.2 adds one killer feature in the ability to open attachments in third-party apps. I was delighted to see that office documents can already be opened in Office2 HD for editing or saving to Google Docs.

Down: Game Center

I haven't spent much time yet with Game Center, Apple's gaming hub, but at first glance I can already see that it's still a disappointment. The app fails to automatically check for Game Center games you already own. You can't send messages or compare achievements. The ability to invite friends to a game is cool, but there's no easy to way to see which of your friends have the same game. Without these features, Game Center just feels like a thinly-veiled attempt to sell you more apps.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags telecommunicationapplicationshardware systemstabletssoftwareMobile operating systemstablet PCslaptopsmobileApple

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?