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It’s time to get updating: Apple today rolled out iPhone OS (iOS) 4.2 for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, bringing with it some long-awaited new features like multitasking support on the iPad, and a surprise reveal that its “Find My iPhone” device location service is now free.

While recent iPhone and iPod Touch models have featured multitasking support since the iOS 4.0 update earlier this year, this update marks the first time the feature — which lets you run apps in the background — is available for the iPad. Other iOS 4.0 updates, like folder support and a unified Mail inbox, are also hitting the iPad for the first time, as well as the Game Center social gaming hub.

iOS 4.2 is more than just a catch up patch for the iPad. The update also brings new features to iOS devices, including AirPlay, a way to easily stream media from the iOS devices to the Apple TV, and AirPrint, Apple’s new wireless printing standard.

It’s not too surprising that Apple has finally made its “Find My iPhone” service free (it previously required a subscription to Apple’s $99 a year MobileMe service), as similar features are also available on Windows Phone 7 and some Android phones. The service lets you locate your iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod Touch, or iPad through a web interface, or on a friend’s iOS device. It also lets you lock your device remotely with a passcode and wipe out the device’s data.

Clearly the iPad gets the most benefit from this update, but that’s only because Apple hasn’t issued as many updates for its tablets as it has for other iOS devices. The update comes just in time for the holiday season, and may make the iPad extra appealing to consumers.

The iOS 4.2 update is available for all iPhones except the original 2G version, for the second generation iPod Touch and newer. Just as with the 4.0 update, some features like multitasking are only available on newer devices.

Front photo via Rego Korosi


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