After being in beta to developers for over a month, iOS 4.2.1 is now released to everyone through the usual updating process in iTunes. Finally everyone gets to enjoy the added benefits on iOS 4 on the iPad with the great additions.

As an iOS developer, I get to enjoy the betas and pre-releases of all iOS software and thus I have been able to play around with this for about a month so this post is all dedicated to the additions that I have found very useful and some downsides to the update as well.

All iOS 4 features are on the iPad!

Most key new things in iOS 4.2 revolve around the features introduced into iOS 4 this past summer. Let me tell you that it is absolutely wonderful to see these finally coming to the iPad. Now I am not really that excited about the multitasking bit and being able to stream music in the background because I tend not to use my iPad for just that. Maybe I am weird in this way but music is on my iPhone, which is usually next to me whenever I am on the iPad anyway.

Related to the multitasking however is the fast app switching and this is a lovely feature, especially on the iPad. Since iOS 4 came out on the iPhone I have been constantly annoyed when I close an application that I am not launched into the very same position the next time around. This is one of the features that you just get used to, very quickly!

What my favorite addition is you ask? For the iPad, this is probably the unified single mail inbox! Around half of my iPad use relates to doing some sort of work and the email bit has had me grumpy since getting used to the new way on the iPhone. I am so glad that it is now in the iPad as well.

AirPrint and AirPlay

The two single new features, one of which is very long awaited, that I have not had much time to play with is AirPlay and AirPrint. Even though I use an Apple TV connected to my TV that is on the wireless network I just haven’t had the need for it yet but when I do, I am sure the feature will be as wonderful as it sounds.

AirPrint on the other hand has another reason for not being taken through its paces yet. It is not that I haven’t found the need for printing, trust me I have once in a while, no it is to do with hardware. Because I do not have one of HP’s ePrint enabled printers I cannot test it out straight away as the required printer sharing feature does not currently exist within Mac OS X.

I spoke to Terry yesterday about the new release and he had found an application called Fingerprint that will enable the AirPrint functionality for many non-compliant OS X printers. If you want to try it out, you can download a free trial version of the app or buy it right away for $7.99. In his testing, it found his printer right away and seems to work like a charm!

What don’t I like then?

One of the new additions in the first beta that I am unsure of is the repurposing of the screen rotation lock switch. When Apple introduced the iPad what surprised us all was that the mute button on the iPhone was a hardware screen rotation lock on the iPad, an idea which I have always found really clever. I do not miss a mute switch at all, primarily because this device does not ring me up (yet) where I wound want a fixed volume set and be able to mute without changing it.

Cutting it short, I would like my hardware button back because it actually makes sense to have it on the iPad even though I can see the reasoning for removing it based on unification in the lineup.

Conclusion

Essentially, this update is brilliant. All the iOS 4 features on the iPad with multitasking, unified mail inbox, game center and folders make for a much nicer experience. Coupled with the new AirPrint feature you would be crazy not to like it.

Sure, the screen orientation lock is no longer a physical button but it is easily accessible from the multi-tasking bar, along with a very neat brightness switch.

The update is available right from within iTunes and should show up when you sync your iPhone/iPod Touch or iPad. If not, just click on the “Check for Updates” button and you are good to go.