Apple improves iOS entertainment, productivity with 4.2 update

Apple today has rolled out the final version of iOS 4.2 for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. The software update brings more than 100 new features to the mobile operating system, including multitasking, folder organization, AirPlay (the ability to stream content from iOS handhelds to Apple TV,) AirPrint (wi-fi printing,) and free Find My iPhone (geolocation of lost iOS hardware.)

In early September, Apple released iOS 4.1 for iPhone and iPod Touch, an update which brought the mobile operating system some highly anticipated features, such as HDR composite photography, HD video uploading, and Game Center functionality. But this update was quickly overshadowed just a week after that, when the beta version of iOS 4.2 was released, revealing some of the functionality that was made available to the public today.

iOS 4.2 also brings the ability to rent TV episodes in iTunes for 99 cents, improved in-text search in Safari, improved security and management features for enterprise deployment, support for 25 more languages and 30 new international soft keyboards.

Aside from the entertainment features such as AirPlay and Game Center that come to the platform with this update; this release brings a considerable amount of new features on the productivity side of things.

AirPrint, of course, is the major contribution here.

In July, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a rather unclear projection about Microsoft's future in the slate computing field. Ballmer, however, was absolutely clear that printing from a slate is something Microsoft stood behind.

"Some people actually like to print every now and then. Ours will print," Ballmer said. At the time, iOS printing was not a built-in feature.

Until this latest release, printing from iOS was only available through indirect methods. For example, with the assistance of an app like Air Sharing, or Print Central, users could send their documents to network printers. It could also be done via email or through printers connected to a Pogoplug print server.

Find My iPhone is another significant addition with this update. This was previously a premium feature for $99 per-year MobileMe subscribers, letting users locate lost iOS devices, and remotely lock them down or wipe them. If a lost device is wiped clean and then returned, it receives a full restore when connected to its parent iTunes computer.

iOS 4.2 is available today for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch devices synced with iTunes 10.1. It's compatible with iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, second, third, and current generation iPod Touch. Not all features are available for every iOS device, also. For example, Multitasking requires iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third generation iPod touch or later, and only with iOS 4-compatible apps. Game Center, likewise can only be used with apps developed to work with that service.

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