Apple Superpowering iPad With iOS 4.2 in November

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Early in today's Fall special event, Apple surprised everyone with a sneak peak of the next, next iOS release—4.2. It's all about the iPad.

iOS 4.1 hasn't even been released yet (the most current software for iPhones and iPads is version 4.0.2), and iOS 4.2 is still weeks away—but Steve Jobs thought it important enough to introduce to the world now. The upgrade will bring the iPad up to speed with the latest user interface and app innovations that have been available on the iPhone for several months.

First up, wireless printing is coming to the iPad, which will be a seriously welcome boon for users who are getting used to the content-delivering powers of the iPad. It'll be a blow to app vendors who've been selling wireless printing apps... but them's the breaks.

AirPlay is another quasi-new thing: It's the replacement for the existing Apple wireless play system, Called AirTunes, and it'll let you stream audio files wirelessly to Apple devices and "other" ones too. "Now, what is AirPlay? You know what AirTunes is," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the event. "We’re changing the name of AirTunes to AirPlay, and it’s not just music anymore. You can stream all kinds of media anywhere in your house.”

Later in the presentation, Jobs demonstrated an iPad playing a movie streamed from Apple TV.

All the other features of iOS4, including folders, multitasking, and more will also arrive when it's released in November.

In addition, Apple announced the upcoming release of iOS 4.1, which will fix a slew of bugs and bring some new features to the iPhone. The biggest new feature is the support of High Dynamic Range photos (HDR). This is a new piece of imaging software that takes three photos in rapid succession—one normal, one under-exposed and one over-exposed. It then combines the three to give you an optimal image, in theory. The examples shown during the event looked somewhat unnaturally lit, but it's difficult to gauge without seeing one of these photos up close.

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