iOS4.2 on the iPad

So Apple finally shared the iOS upgrade love with their bazillion (roughly) iDevice customers. While iPhone peeps got some minor upgrades in there, it was iPad aficionados who experienced the biggest changes to their devices.

I downloaded and installed the update, but it didn’t go as smoothly as advertised. In fact, it was so far from smooth, I ended up restoring my iPad to factory settings, before finally getting iOS4.2 to work. This meant re-installing all my apps, ibooks and other bits and bobs, which took longer than you’d think. But once I was done, the benefits of 4.2 were immediately obvious.

Firstly, back-ups now take mere minutes, rather than the hours (literally) they used to. Syncing my iPad and installing some new books or other documents can be done as fast as syncing my iPhone. This is something I could only dream of last month.

The there’s folders. I now have a pretty well-organised interface, over two iPad screens. This is in contrast to the seven I used to have – it was taking longer and longer to find apps. So now I’ve got my news apps in one folder, my games in another, my social networking apps in another… well, you get the idea. A long overdue, but welcome upgrade to the iPad.

Aside from the cosmetic, what else is there?

Multi-tasking is not the overwhelming productivity boost Apple would have you believe. But it’s handy, I’ll give them that. AirPlay with my new Apple TV is fantastic and has to be experienced to be believed. It’s all very Star Trek to be honest – you can ‘beam’ a song, tv show or film from your iPad to your Apple TV. No wires, and virtually no set up. Get. In.

I’ve yet to try AirPrint – mostly because I’ve yet to encounter any need to print something that’s on my iPad. But to know I can is very, very useful. Overall, the device seems quicker and more responsive.

It’s not all sweetness and light, however. One major change that bugs me – and I’m far from alone in this – is the change to the orientation switch on the side of the device. This has – for some reason only known to Senor Jobs – been changed to a “mute” switch, just like on the iPhone. In order to lock the orientation of your iPad, which is something the average user does constantly, you now have to double-click the home button, scroll to the left and click an on-screen icon.

What a pain in the arse.

I’m hoping Apple see sense and allow users to change the functionality of the screen lock button themselves. Screen orientation is so much more important on the iPad, and there’s nothing more annoying than it flipping around while you’re trying to read.

What next? An upgrade to iBooks would be nice.

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