Apple released iOS 4.2 Beta to developers today. We decided to give it a run on one of our development iPads to figure out what’s new, what’s not, and what’s busted, so we could pass it along to you before you go out and do something crazy. We’ve also recorded a quick video showing off the changes in real-time, so look for that towards the end of the article.
So here’s what we’ve found so far.
20 Apps in a Group
More screen real-estate on the iPad should mean more space for applications in groups, and Apple’s delivered. Groups on the iPad now have the ability to store 20 applications. It’s still not enough for your Twitter applications or games, but you should be able to maximize your screen space with 20 applications per group.
Unified Inbox in Mail.app and Threaded email
Steve Jobs wasn’t joking when he said that a unified inbox on the iPad was on the way. It’s here, and it works great. Personally, I prefer keeping my email segregated, but a lot of people love it this way. If you like it on your iPhone, you’re going to like it on the iPad, since it’s the exact same setup.
They’ve also added the ability to see threaded emails. It’s a far cry from Gmail’s threaded system, but it’s still way better than nothing.
We were expecting printing capabilities, but we weren’t expecting the marketing lingo that would come with it. WiFi printing is now labelled AirPrinting, and a whole lineup of HP printers are on the way to support the technology. You can now print from Photos, Safari, and any other application that decides to use the API. This is a huge win if you’re still printing off stuff for work. In Photos you can either print from each photo, or you can print multiple photos at once.
Lock is now a mute button
This change is a little controversial. Previously if you wanted to mute your audio you would just hold down the volume button, and the music would immediately turn off. But now, the screen orientation lock has been reprogrammed to be a mute button, and the screen orientation lock is in your multitasking bar. It’s not the best situation, and we’re hoping this is one of those bugs that may have slipped through the cracks at Apple. It’s not a deal breaker, but it makes locking something a step or two longer.
Another thing we should point out — the mute switch doesn’t actually work for us. Music keeps playing out the speakers on the iPad, despite the mute being turned on, so, it looks like it might be a bug.
Obviously Game Center was coming to the iPad, and it looks even better on the bigger screen. Can’t wait until we get some massively multiplayer games in the App Store. If you’re wondering, I’m Macgasm in the Game Center, not Dorkins, but you can follow him too.
There were rumours circulating the internet that 3G iPhones were slow because of Spotlight, and if that was the case, the updates to Spotlight clearly illustrate what the problem was. You can now toggle different criteria for your Spotlight searches on or off. For instance, you can turn off searching Podcasts, or Events if you never want Spotlight to index those parts of your iPad. Personally, I’ve turned everything off since I never use Spotlight on my iPad.
iOS 4 now lets you disable application access in the Settings application. You turn them on, enter a password, disable applications, and then watch as people get frustrated that they can’t download any apps, or use Safari. It’s a great tool if you have kids who like to rack up application purchases on your credit card, or if you want to stop a classroom from surfing the net during class.
There’s new accessibility options in the Settings application. You can now increase the font size of Apple’s core applications, so if you have a hard time reading the small fonts in mail, you can now maximize the text so you can read comfortably.
Airplay makes an appearance on the iPad with iOS 4.2 beta, but we are unable to fully test the features because we lack Airplay capable devices. Hopefully if any of you guys are running the beta, you can explain it a little in the comments, or even email me a screenshot so we can add to this list.
Safari gets some small updates
You can now get a nice listing right next to the url bar that lists off how many active websites you have open at one time. It’s a small tweak, but it’s also pretty substantial if you notice that Safari is lagging behind on you.
Apple’s also changed the + icon with the tradition share icon between the bookmark bar and the url bar. From this menu you can still add a website to bookmarks, your home screen, email a link, and as of now you can print via AirPrinting.