Review: iOS 4.2 Changes [PHOTOS]

Although iOS 4.2 4.2.1 has been out for over two weeks, I figured I would share some of the changes that are included in this release. Some of them are subtle, while some might find a few of these changes to be very important.

The simplest of changes is the color of the Voice Memo icon. It is now blue (formerly red). Other than that, the default home screen remains unchanged.

One of the major updates is the ability to print. Now, there are some finer points about this that prevent some printers from operating right now. However, the option to print will pop up in some familiar places.

For instance, what if you had an email that you wanted to print out? Clicking on the icon used for replying to an email now provides one other option: “Print”. This is also true with Safari, as well. The button that brings up your bookmark options now includes the print option.

Some small UI changes have come, as well, to bring the iPhone and iPad closer together. As introduced in iOS 4, double-tapping the home button will bring up the multi-task bar. Swiping to the left still displays the orientation lock button, as well as the music player controls. However, swiping over to the left reveals a volume slider, allowing for the easy adjustment of the volume level.

Other changes include the ability to change the text-tone for each contact, much like you can change a contact’s ring tone. Restriction settings now include the ability to prevent someone from deleting apps (as a separate option from installing them). The Safari search, as well, as been expanded to allow for the searching of a term within a web page itself. This feature, something many use on their desktops or laptops, now makes it easier to locate certain information within a web page.

For a full list of changes, see Apple’s Knowledgebase article.

FaceTime Beta for Mac Now Available

One of the things Steve Jobs just announced at the “Back to the Mac” event was the release of FaceTime Beta for Mac OSX. That’s right! You can now engage in FaceTime video chats with your friends that may have an iPod Touch or iPhone 4!

If you’re a Mac user running Snow Leopard OS X 10.6.4 or later, then go here and check it out: http://www.apple.com/mac/facetime/

Apple’s iPad is Here! Thoughts?

It was less than just over an hour ago when Steve Jobs officially announced the iPad, Apple’s tablet PC. For anyone that hasn’t heard rumors about this device, where have you been?!

So, what is this tablet all about? Think of it as a large iPod Touch.  It has a 9.7″ touchscreen, 1GHz processor, and the same simplistic design that can be found with the iPhone and iPod Touch.

This item has been rumored for so long, yet with it here now, what kind of work could it be used for?

Given its size and the fact that it is roughly 1.5 lbs., such a device could see various portable uses. And with the same accelerometers and most of the capabilities of the iPhone, I can see this being a household item. It even has a 10 hour battery life (and a month of standby battery life?! That’s insane!). Plus, the presentation today showed a few interesting things.

First, all current iPhone apps will work on iPad as they are now. They can either run in the current size or in full screen. I personally find this to be impressive, especially given all of the apps in the app store (over 140K now!) that can help with productivity and other tasks.  That’s a large assortment of applications that users will be able to use right away on their iPad!

Second, they launched a service called iBooks, which essentially will let you buy and read books right on the iPad. Were you ever interested in the Kindle? Well, I’d save up for an iPad, instead! You can read books right in the palm of your hand. You can even flick the pages to go from page to page. Cool!

Third, with the larger screen, it looks like Apple has versions of iWork now available for this device. Personally, I’m a fan of Open Office, but if iWork can do it, why can’t Open Office? This definitely can be a productive tool in the office!

So, how does one manage the device? Apparently, you sync it up with iTunes, just like your iPhones and iPods. The device also has built in wifi, and it there is also an option to get a 3G data plan through AT&T for either $15 or $30 per month (depending on if you want a 250 MB plan or unlimited, respectively). And with it having a micro-SIM slot, I don’t see why you can’t use this on other networks, too. So long as you have the proper data plan, that is…

Price wise, these devices seemed to blow me away! Then again, seeing how they’re more like an iPod Touch than a mini-Mac, the prices made sense. The prices don’t seem bad, either.  They come in two flavors: one is purely WiFi enabled, the second also includes 3G support.  The 16GB WiFi model starts at $499, 32GB is $599, and the 64GB at $699. The 3G models are $130 more (for each size). So, for a 3G 64GB iPad, you’d be looking at spending $829.  That is much cheaper than the rumored $1000 price!

We’re also seeing a few accessories coming from Apple with this release. The first obviously makes sense. If you’re releasing an item with a 9.7″ touchscreen, you’ll have people that definitely would want a real keyboard to use instead of the touchscreen. So, here’s the Dock. It makes perfect sense as an accessory to offer right from the start.

I think that accessory alone will interest people in the iPad. You can dock up the device and type away on a report, an article, on anything you need to type up, and then just undock the device and bring it with you. That’s brilliant!

So, what do I think about it?

I think it is a very neat device. I personally don’t see an immediate need for such a device, but with all that you can do with an iPhone now, it makes sense to up the design to something that people could use for much more. Anything you could do online, whether it is getting a map, reading a news paper, reading a book, playing Sudoku, solving a crossword puzzle, paying your bills, watching a movie, downloading music, all of it will be much easier to do on the go, anywhere in your house or otherwise, in your hands with iPad.

And I think I missed so many details in this post. If you really want to get the full news about this, visit the new site Apple has set up for the iPad, or check out the full video presentation on iTunes. (I’ll post the link once it goes live).

What do you think of the iPad? Share your comments!

(Thanks to GDGT, Gizmodo, and EnGadget for their live blogs!)