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Apple Gives Devs One iOS to Rule Them All

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Sep 16, 2010 9:21 AM PT

A new version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 4.2, was made available to developers recently. Although many of the new features in the OS have already been made public by the company, one was a revelation: wireless printing.

Apple Gives Devs One iOS to Rule Them All

The new feature, which Apple's calling \u201cAirPrint,\u201d allows the iPad, iPhone and iPhone touch to find a printer on a wireless network and print text, photos and graphics with it without installing any software or device drivers on the iDevices.

"AirPrint is Apple's powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS -- no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download," Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Philip Schiller said.

Although Apple stated that AirPrint will support a variety of printers, HP will be releasing a line of products this fall specifically designed to accommodate the technology.

"We're pleased to work with Apple to bring Apple's AirPrint to our fall lineup of ePrint printers in time for the holiday shopping season," HP Imaging and Printing Group Executive Vice President Vyomesh Joshi said.

"Making it easy for our customers to print anytime, anywhere, is a key priority for HP," he added. "iPad, iPhone and iPod touch customers are going to love how easy it is to print using our new range of ePrint printers, creating high-quality printed pages in an instant."

More Than 100 New Features

AirPrint is just one of more than 100 new features in iOS 4.2, which is expected to be released as a free upgrade in November. Those features include:

  • Ability for iPads run more than one application at the same time, or multitasking, without a performance hit on either the hardware or the battery of the device.
  • Power to create folders on iPads for better organizing applications on the units.
  • Integration with Apple TV and AirPlay speakers that permits video to be streamed from an iPad to a TV and music to be pumped from it into the wireless speakers.
  • Multiplayer game support through Game Center.
  • A unified iPad mailbox where all mail from all accounts can be viewed and acted on.
  • Highlighting of search terms in Safari, Apple's Web browser included on products in the mobile i-line.
  • Enhanced enterprise support, with stronger security, new device management and improved enterprise integration.
  • Improved accessibility options, including support of 30 Bluetooth Braille displays.
  • Addition of 30 new keyboards and dictionaries--among them Arabic, Greek and Hebrew.

Defending iPad's Turf

From a developer's point of view, one of the biggest bonuses of iOS 4.2 is that it unifies, for the first time, the operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Unification means applications for the entire line can be developed in a single environment.

Open Door Networks, for example, makes its Art Authority applications for the iPhone and iPad. "Each of those is a totally different development system," President Alan Oppenheimer explained to MacNewsWorld. "We have to have two different computers to build those. Then we have to test them differently. So it's going to make our life a little easier."

iPad multitasking is another feature that developers are looking forward to in the new version of iOS. "We're very excited about multitasking on the iPad," Joshua Greenman, president of Mercury Development, a contract applications developer, told MacNewsWorld.

"It allows the iPad to catch up in usefulness to the iPhone, he added. "Background applications will just make a great device that much more useable."

Both Greenman and Oppenheimer agree that iOS 4.2 will allow Apple to preserve the iPad's leadership position in the tablet market.

"It will defend the position, I believe, from the newcomers when they come out," Greenman maintained.

"Apple had to do this," Oppenheimer added. "It's a defensive thing."

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