Set for release in November, the biggest changes in iOS 4.2 come for iPad owners, who will finally see their touchscreen tablet upgraded to iOS 4 with new features like multitasking and folders. All iOS device owners will also gain printing capabilities via AirPrint.
Further time spent with the first beta of iOS 4.2 has revealed a number of other features coming to device owners this fall.
The built-in YouTube application now features the ability to rank videos. Like on the website itself, iOS users can now give a virtual "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" to content on the site.
While the YouTube application on the iPhone has stayed mostly the same since the device launched in 2007, Google this summer revamped its mobile site, allowing users to access more features in its HTML5-based website at m.youtube.com.
Apple's latest addition to the YouTube application brings a feature that has existed on the full and mobile versions of the site to the standalone iOS application.
FaceTime link in Messages app
Accessibility to FaceTime will become even greater in iOS 4.2, as a direct video chat link is now included in the iPhone's built-in text messaging application. When in a conversation in the Messages app, a "FaceTime" button now rests in between the "Call" and "Contact Info" selections.
Support for CoreMIDI
The first beta of iOS 4.2 adds support for the CoreMIDI framework to the operating system's application program interfaces. This could suggest that future applications would allow new avenues for musical creation, and could also allow physical MIDI instruments connectors.
MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is an industry standard that allows electronic music machines to synchronize and communicate. With an adapter, a device like an iPhone could theoretically create and record sounds from a MIDI instrument.
Apple has also added a handful of new restrictions in the Settings application. Users can now prevent the deleting of App Store software, and may prevent changes to accounts in the Mail application.
iTunes link in iPad Videos app
Users can quickly find more content on iTunes with a new direct link within the iPad's Videos application. When viewing a list of TV episodes on the device, users are now presented with the option to find more episodes of that program through the iTunes store.
Of course, being an early beta, iOS 4.2 is not yet ready for public use, as the software still has many bugs and issues that must be addressed before the November launch. Because of bugs and issues, Apple has reportedly recommended to its developers that they only install the iOS 4.2 beta on devices that will be used exclusively to test the software.
The biggest problems are said to lie with the baseband on the iPhone when running the first beta. Calls sometimes do not connect, and text messages can take a great deal of time to send.
People familiar with the first beta said it carries a number of known issues related to device activation and the Springboard home screen, which could cause restarts and crashes with the software. It has also been documented that MobileMe e-mail is not currently pushed to devices.
In addition, some features like AirPlay and AirPrint are not yet completed. As such, their performance in the beta software is said to be understandably spotty.