iOS 4.2 is most anticipated for the iPad, being the iPad's first 4.x operating system, and for bringing Apple's famously conservative version of multitasking to the iPad at last, extending its usefulness as a device with even more multitasking capabilities beyond the previous email checking, music playing and other selected background capabilities.
AirPlay, AirPrint, folders, multitasking, the mute hardware button change that only mutes incoming email and other system sounds, but not also muting any locally playing or streaming audio or video as some have expected, thus working in exactly the same way the mute switch works on iPhones now'¦ unified email inbox'¦ new access to on-screen brightness controls, volume controls, screen lock and more.
They'll make the iPad instantly more capable and more useful, adding massive value to the platform for existing users as Apple prepares to launch the iPad's inevitable and more superior successor.
Apple does the best job of updating and bringing new features to an existing platform, or at least once it gets past the new x.0 version to at least a x.1 and then better.
On the other hand, Apple's attempts at bringing its existing hardware base into the iOS 4.x generation doesn't always go down universally well for all iPhone users. Not only were original iPhone 2G users left out altogether, but iPhone 3G users were especially affected with the original iOS 4.0 release.
Things improved somewhat for many 3G users with the iOS 4.1 update, but complaints and concerns continued. Some iPhone 3GS users have also been unhappy, although my own experience of iOS 4.0 and 4.1 on an iPhone 3GS has been positive, with the main unresolved issue being the slowdown in typing speed recognition when composing long SMS messages, something that appeared in iOS 2.x and was fixed, didn't appear in iOS 3.x but is maddeningly back in iOS 4.x.
As reported in PC Magazine online, California woman Bianca Wofford claims iOS 4 bricked her iPhone 3GS, making her phone 'little more than a paper weight and ultimately useless', and filed her class-action lawsuit on behalf of iPhone 3G and 3GS users.
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Part of the allegation is that the update made existing phones less efficient than before at best, and much worse than before at worst, thus encouraging users to upgrade to Apple's latest hardware with existing hardware 'iBricked'.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the class-action lawsuit but any result is clearly still some time off yet.
Hopefully iOS 4.2 will go a long way to fixing as many perceived and real remaining performance issues as possible for users of older generation iPhone and also iPhone Touch hardware.
However we'll just have to wait and see. Some have predicted iOS 4.2's release within the next 24 hours, but it could come at any time between now and the 30th of November.
Apple will need to release a triumphant trio of iOS 4.2, iTunes 10.1 and Mac OS X 10.6.5 as well for the iPad's AirPrint feature to work, so any iOS 4.2 release could well be either instantly or very rapidly followed by iTunes and Mac OS X updates.
Unfortunately, there's still 23 days between now and the end of November, and whichever way you look at it, that still qualifies as 'Coming Soon', as the iPad's OS 4.2 Software Update page advises.
I certainly do hope the update comes within the next 24 hours, but if not, the next generation of the iPad's experience will soon be upon us, with patience, jailbreaking or running an iOS 4.2 beta the only respites!