iPad

iPad's big upgrade: The top 10 iOS 4.2 features for business

Apple has released the first major software update for the iPad. Here are the 10 most important iOS 4 updates for iPad business users.

Apple has released the first major software update for the iPad. The 4.2 version of iOS brings a slew of new capabilities to the iPad, including many that will be of interest to business professionals and to IT departments that have deployed or are considering a deployment of the iPad.

The update, which is available as a free download through iTunes, is the first jump to iOS 4 for the iPad. The iPhone got iOS 4 in the spring but the iPad has been stuck on iOS 3.2 until now. With iOS 4.2, the two devices are now unified on the same operating system (along with the iPod Touch as well).

Below is my list of the 10 most important iOS 4 updates for iPad business users, along with my screenshot gallery that gives you a quick peek at the new features.

Screenshot gallery

iPad's big upgrade: The top iOS 4.2 features

1. Multitasking

The biggest factor holding back the iPad has been its lack of multitasking. With the 4.2 update, multitasking has finally arrived. It works the same way as iPhone multitasking, which arrived earlier this year. To be clear, iOS 4.2 multitasking is actually more like quick-switching between apps while saving the state of open apps. But, at least it changes the iPad from being a one-app-at-a-time experience. This is especially important for workers who need to copy-and-paste between apps and do other types of multi-app integration. To access multitasking you simply double-click the home button.

2. AirPlay

AirPlay is the flashiest new feature in iOS 4.2. It allows you to quickly stream media from an iPad (or iPhone or iPod Touch) to an Apple TV. The functionality is in its infancy and it may not sound like it has much use for business, but it could be huge. Today, once you have video or photo open, it only takes two taps to throw it up on the big screen. Plus, you can almost-instantaneously switch between different presenters. In the future, imagine hooking up an Apple TV -- a tiny $99 box not much bigger than a smartphone -- to a projector or a 60-inch LCD TV in a conference room and being able to quickly and easily share charts, graphs, media clips, and presentations straight from your iPad. Look for lots of apps to find ways to take advantage of AirPlay.

3. Wireless app distribution

With 4.2, enterprises can push out their own custom business apps to corporate iPad users over Wi-Fi or 3G. The apps don't have to go through the Apple App Store and users don't have to sync through iTunes or a computer in order to get the company apps.

4. AirPrint

Another one of the most talked-about features of 4.2 is AirPrint, which lets you print wirelessly from the iPad. The implementation on this is pretty good. A print option is added to the menu for printing documents, photos, and web pages and the iPad automatically recognizes compatible printers nearby. Unfortunately, the list of compatible printers is very small for now, and apps will need to add this functionality to their software so that printing will be possible in more places on the iPad.

5. Find My iPad

This was previously part of Apple's paid MobileMe service but with iOS 4.2 it is now a free option. Once you activate this on your iPad you can go to the Apple website to locate your lost iPad on a map, send a message to display on the iPad screen ("I lost my iPad, please call 987-654-3210"), set a remote passcode to lock out prying eyes, or even remotely wipe the device and all of its data.

6. Folders

You can now create folders on the iPad to organize your apps into groups, tuck away the apps you don't use as often, and save yourself from having to flip through an endless number of screens to find the app you're trying to locate.

7. Unified inbox

The Mail app offers an improved interface that reminds me of the terrific email functionality on the Palm Pre. It gives you a quick jump directly to the inbox (new messages) of each of your multiple email accounts, or to your list of folders for those email accounts, or into a unified inbox where you can see all of your latest messages threaded together by timestamp. The 4.2 upgrade also now supports multiple Microsoft Exchange mailboxes.

8. Remote device management

Another development on the enterprise front is that the 4.2 upgrade offers Mobile Device Management APIs that allow companies to wirelessly push out configuration changes, monitor compliance with policies, and lock or wipe an iPad managed by the IT department. These features are aimed squarely at the companies deploying fleets of iPads to workers.

9. Web browser search on page

The web browser on the iPad has always had a search box for searching the Internet, but now Apple has added functionality to that box that allows you to use it to search for text on the current web page as well. This is especially useful when you do a web search and land on a page but can't find the reference to the keyword you were looking for.

10. New quick controls console

If you click the Home button twice to go into multitasking and swipe to the panel on the left you'll find a new quick control console that has a play/pause button and forward/back buttons for the iPod app, a volumne control slider, a brightness slider, and a new virtual orientation lock setting. The old physical orientation lock button (on the right side above the volumn buttons) has now been converted into a mute button.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

16 comments
dcolbert
dcolbert

AirPlay - when everyone else, even Microsoft - is adopting DLNA, Apple decides - once again - they can do it better, and in a more proprietary manner? Last night I sat at home streaming video, pictures and music from my Droid 2 to my 42" LCD TV via my XBox 360. Likewise I was able to stream content from my XBox 360 to my Droid. I could add a Sony PS3, a FreeNAS media server, (and in fact, a Mac), and share and stream media between them all easily. Why would I buy a $99, set top box that locks me into Steve Job's vision of what media sharing should be, when there are so many other devices that all inter-operate so seamlessly with one another? DLNA is not without issues and frustrations - but it is open and relatively embraced. It seems like NuBus and Apple-talk all over again. Apple and Sony have been trying this kind of thing for decades and haven't ever had much success. Why don't they get on board? Someone please correct me if AirPlay works and is compatible with DLNA devices. That would be a big value add if properly implemented.

joe
joe

The 4.2 upgrade also now supports multiple Microsoft Exchange mailboxes: Blackberry KILLER

Michael_Spears
Michael_Spears

Multiple-tasking and folders are great. So is the quick controls console. For home use (for now anyway), AirPlay is fantastic!!! Can't wait for more apps to join in. AirPrint may be good someday, but too limited for now...

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

DLNA is such a mess and doesn't work very well. (And, no, DLNA and AirPlay are not compatible.) I don't like proprietary standards (an oxymoron) either, so I tend to look at things like AirPlay as an example of what's possible while holding out hope that it develops into an open standard, merges with one, or is replaced by one. As for Apple's approach to stuff like this, there are times when Apple jumps on board open standards (USB, HTML5, etc.) and there are other times when Apple is ready to move forward and determines that the available standards aren't good enough and so it goes it alone. I can't say that I blame them for going it alone sometimes (and if I was running their business I'd probably make the same choice), but as a technology user and commentator it's never exciting to see one company locking users into a technology that won't be compatible with other devices.

scott.newman
scott.newman

I drank the iPad ?CoolAid? the day it was released, but I?m not finding the new OS to be a killer upgrade. Yes, the AirPrint will be nice when I get a wireless printer. That will be, though is not yet, the best feature I see. On a practical basis, I don?t find a big difference between iPad?s quick switching between Apps and it?s multi-tasking? Sure, there is a new tool-bar, but how is double clicking on the home button twice any different from clicking once and choosing your App from the screen? The Apps I use almost always return me to where I left off. Am I missing something? The only multi-tasking I seem to be doing is listening to Pandora while I do other work. An enhancement request might be the option to keep the Apps bar at the bottom on at all times (did I miss that, too?). Sorry, the TV thing is probably cool. Yet, I would hazard the guess that not everyone is completely wireless, at home. I bought my HD TV before they included WiFi as an option and I was not planning on buying Apple TV for the holidays, so that will have to wait. Still, to paraphrase Charlton Heston from his NRA days, ?you will have to pry my iPad out of my cold, dead hands.? But, to me, the big upgrade will be hardware-based in the Spring. This is just prologue.

techabs
techabs

I still find the email handling of OS 4.1 on the iPhone, miles behind my old BB Bold... just because OS 4.2 (I assume the same functionality will be on both the iPhone and iPad) will be able to handle a few more email addresses, doesnt make it a killer (my iPhone has more email addresses loaded than my iPad - I still think both items are overpriced gadgets, with the iPhone having a gimmicky phone app built into it - god I have soooo many problems making and receiving calls on it) Anyway, where are the "mark all read" or "delete all" etc type functions so you can clear / clean the inbox of stuff I can scan before going back to my Win 7 machine and do the associated whatever in the email

m.curtis
m.curtis

The airplay feature is more of a gimmick for (home) users who have bought into the whole Apple thing. Yeah, it's cool to do but if the AppleTV accessed more media types/streams or you had a more "open" media player attached to your TV then you wouldn't need to airplay from your ipad! The trouble with your scenario of using it for business presentations is you left out the other $1000 computer you'll need to run iTunes to operate your $99 appletv box. Given that you don't have flash, and that all the media you would be sharing from your iPad is probably created/hosted/stored somewhere else (e.g. your website) you might as well cut out the iPad, throw away the AppleTV, uninstall iTunes from the computer (that you were using to drive the AppleTV) and use it to do the presentation. The "Find My iPad" feature is potentially another gimmick unless you are using it as a "secret" means to track/locate people. If I was a naughty person who wanted to steal the data on an iPad I would make sure I'd switched if off when stealing it and then only powered it back on when I knew there was no way for it to get a wireless signal (such a place is not hard to find). Then I could hack it and steal the data to my hearts content. If I simply wanted a new iPad I would steal it and leave it on a window-sill knowing they would eventually wipe it. Perhaps I would have to phone the number in the message and say "Quick delete the data, a bad person just stole your iPad!". Either way, once wiped it would be back to factory defaults and I would have a shiny new iPad, safe in the knowledge that GPS is suitably inaccurate (courtesy of the military) so could not locate it to anything better than a few hundred meters (which in an urban area is a lot). On the other hand if I've just plain lost it somewhere then at the very least the cost should be docked from my pay check - and if I'm actually naive enough to believe that it'll still be lying there on the bus/train/taxi/restaurant where I left it then I should be fired. The multitasking is just plain false advertising - as you say it's just application switching not multitasking. The capability/occasional option to print via airprint is definitely a good thing - ignoring all the drives to do away with print ;-) The ability for organisations to distribute their own apps without iTunes Store is definitely a good move - potentially the best one out of the 4.2 update. However, I caveat that by saying I do not know what is required (in terms of infrastructure, resource, license fees, etc) to make that potential break-out from Apple's walled garden. It might turn out to be just as much of a gimmick if companies have to pay Apple vast sums of money and commit to restrictive licenses and huge infrastructure investments to operate in this "independant" manner.

MLFManager
MLFManager

Every article that you post has the same "Apple can do no wrong" slant to it. You talk like these enhancements are groundbreaking, but in all honesty they are simply catching up to what has been available on other devices for a long time. Adding folders? Really?!? Aren't these so called enhancements just basic functionality that was glossed over by Apple in a rush to get their product to market first? Don't get me wrong, I like the iPad, but they certainly aren't sent down from on high, and users should be asking why this all wasn't included in the initial release, rather than praising Apple for finally getting around to it. BTW, still no Flash.

m@rcel
m@rcel

Wondering what multitasking does for batterylife. Ipad whitout mt ~10 hours, galaxy ~6 hours.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I think that a lot of the problem with DLNA is that it isn't very simple to set up from a consumer perspective - it can be a tough thing even for an experienced professional to get it working properly. It also seems like it is still fairly green and evolving. I also worry that Microsoft has a tradition of taking things like this and going, "We're not 'breaking' the standards, we're offering improved Microsoft versions of them". Where Apple just throws the baby out with the bathwater an introduces their own, superior but proprietary version - Microsoft takes a solution and improves it, but only when it deals with other Microsoft products. Same end result. The only advantage with Microsoft's approach is that generally there is some level of backwards compatibility with whatever standard they have butchered into their own vision. :) And, I must admit, you are right. Apple has caused the industry to either innovate or adopt by pushing new technologies in the past. I guess it is just a sad state of affairs that we're heading into 2011 and we still don't have a good, unified way of getting media content delivered from our electronics to our entertainment systems. I suppose AirPlay and DLNA are encouraging in as much as they indicate that we're getting pretty close.

ShoePhone
ShoePhone

One of the reasons I have an iPad is that I can rely less on printing... I take stuff with me. But, in any case, folders will be nice.

rzander
rzander

I believe Jason already addressed your gripes about using the iPad and AppleTV. I wanted to address your GPS comments. If what you say were true "GPS is suitably inaccurate (courtesy of the military) so could not locate it to anything better than a few hundred meters" then pretty much every car GPS would be useless. The fact is they are very accurate unless you are right next to a military complex. I've lost my iPhone and used the find it feature. It pinpointed it to the address. In terms of the point about organizations deploying their own apps, of course there will be infrastructure costs, no different than the BES for Blackberries.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Neither the iPad (after activation) or the Apple TV (the new 2010 edition) require a PC to operate. That said, the biggest problem with the future scenario of using iPad and Apple TV for presentations isn't something you mentioned. It is that the Apple TV only has an HDMI out for video while most conference room projectors use VGA. An HDMI-to-VGA adapter could solve the problem, but these adapters can sometimes lead to goofiness in the setup that could throw a wrench in the ease-of-use, which is the whole reason for doing it this way as opposed to the old laptop+projector scenario which causes so many problems for average business users.