iOS 4.2: The iPad Is a Real Computer Now

Netflix on iPad

Apple's iPad might be "magical," but of late it's been feeling a little bit outdated. The new iPhone 4 (and even the new iPod Touch) pack fancypants retina displays with a resolution the iPad can't touch. But even worse, both those devices saw an upgrade to iOS 4, the next version of the original iPhone software, that won't officially hit the iPad until later this fall.

iOS 4 brings essential, long-awaited features like multitasking, custom wallpapers, homescreen folders, a unified inbox, and increased speed—none of which iPad owners have been privy to until now. iPad owners have had to sit back and watch iPhone owners effortlessly switch between apps for too long, and it will not stand!

iOS 4.2 isn't just bringing the iPad up to date with the rest of the iOS family—it's also an upgrade for the iPhone and iPod Touch, bringing a couple new features, most notably wireless printing and Game Center. According to Gizmodo, that's all functioning very well in the beta, although printing seems a little bit tricky (provided you don't have an HP printer, shilled so subtly in Apple's press release).

But this is a huge deal for iPad owners. Printing, multitasking, and a unified inbox are three essential features that may allow more and more users to use an iPad as a genuine laptop replacement. I'm not sure why it took Apple so long to bring those over, but they're finally here. You can download the 4.2 beta here, if you're a developer. If not, you'll have to find someone who is, or wait few weeks for the (currently TBD) official release.

[Image credit: Gizmodo]

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in Brooklyn (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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