The iPad's iOS 4.2: An unsatisfying upgrade

Apple's print feature is disappointingly limited, but the iPad has now caught up to the iPhone and has a few small surprises

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  • Safari now shows how many Web pages are open by adding a numeral to its window-switching iconic button.
  • Safari also refreshes pages less often, so now if you're on a forms-based page, you can switch to another browser window or to another app and return to the form with fair confidence it will not refresh and lose the data you entered previously.
  • Apple has made its Find My iPad service free, no longer requiring a paid MobileMe account. By registering your iPad with MobileMe, Apple can locate it if it's detected by a Wi-Fi or 3G network and show you that location on a map (on another computer, of course!), and you can remote-wipe its contents if it's online.
  • An ill-considered alteration was changing the physical Rotation Lock switch to an Alert Sounds switch to match how it works on an iPhone 4. (Only alert sounds are affected; music, videos, and all that remain audible.) Preventing the iPad from rotating its screen when you inadvertently turn it a bit is a very useful feature that is now buried in an unituitive location: in the new running-apps bar. You have to double-press the Home button to open the bar (which shows all running apps), then swipe to the right to reveal a bunch of new on-screen controls, including a rotation lock button. Yikes! Apple should let users decide what they want this physical switch to do.

That's pretty much it. The iPad is finally at parity with the iPhone, but printing is subpar and Apple has more work to do on calendar invites. It also needs to greatly expand the number of keyboard shortcuts available for Bluetooth keyboards -- only copy and paste and a few other shortcuts are now supported, so you end up going back and forth between the keyboard and screen, killing the keyboard's convenience. Let's start with Page Up and Page Down shortcuts and shortcuts for formatting such as boldface.

And another thing: Work on greater Web/cloud compatibility.

This article, "The iPad's iOS 4.2: An unsatisfying upgrade," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Gruman et al.'s Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com.

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