By Brian Malcom
Since I bought my iPad, I have been waiting on multitasking. When it came to the iPhone earlier this year, my anticipation grew for the release on the iPad. The recent update is full of features, just like the related update for the iPhone was a short while ago. Here are a few of the new features included in the recent IOS 4.2 update for the iPad that young lawyers might find particularly interesting or useful:
Multitasking. This is the big one. This is the one we've all been waiting for on the iPad. The ability to play Pandora radio while surfing the web or acting out e-mails to clients or colleagues is a welcome addition to this device. Since the update, I have found that this new feature is functioning correctly, and I have not seen any significant decrease in battery life for my iPad. Simply double tap the home button to reveal a sliding menu across the bottom of the iPad and jump quickly from application to application. The iPad simply “freezes” apps when they are not in use so as to avoid unnecessary drain on battery. Apps that require background processes, like Pandora, maintain the necessary processes but freeze the unnecessary processes.
The ability to create folders and sort apps into folders. If you're like me, the simplicity of the brand-new iPad home screen was quickly replaced with app upon app. This likely led to multiple pages of app icons. The only organization system that was available was to create separate pages, instead of folders, for categories of apps. Once the recent update to the iPhone came out, I began to crave the ability to create folders for categories of apps. Now one can do so. I maintain news, travel, lifestyle, shopping, finance, research, books, and law firm related folders. This makes it easier to find applications on the fly without using the search feature. Although, the search feature is still pretty handy when you can't find that missing application you know you downloaded.
AirPlay. I'm not sure how “useful” this particular feature is to young lawyers specifically, but I'm sure some creative young lawyer out there will figure out its usefulness to the practice of law. Until then, it is a great feature for playing your iPad iTunes library through your Apple TV or through your Apple Airport Express music port. Music and pictures are streamed through wi-fi networks to create, what feels like, a high-end wireless home theater system. There is also the ability in iTunes to stream music to multiple AirPlay compatible devices, if you want to fill your entire house or office with the sound of your iTunes music.
AirPrint. This feature is still a little buggy to me. Right now, it requires very specific printers specified by Apple in order to work correctly. Hacks and workarounds are popping up every day on the Internet to make this feature compatible with a broader variety of wireless printers. However, one should not have to resort to third-party trickery in order to make a standard feature on the iPad work with her home network. I understand that this particular feature gave Apple some headache immediately prior to the release of the iOS 4.2 update to the iPad. I can only hope that they had to limit the number of compatible printers in order to make the feature functional on short notice. So here's hoping they expand the number of compatible printers in the near future and offices figure out a way to incorporate compatible printers, so that we can wirelessly print e-mails and other things from our iPhones and iPads.
Unified inbox. The “all inboxes” option under Mail now allows you to view all of your messages and all of your inboxes on one screen. This avoids a tedious exercise of jumping back and forth between inboxes just to see your new messages. Since most of us have at least both a work and personal e-mail account, this feature is particularly useful and will likely save some finger swiping.
Find My iPhone or iPad. This feature was a pleasant surprise to me. The ability to remotely locate your iPad or iPhone has been available through MobileMe for some time now. The price to access this feature was $99 per year though. One had to purchase an annual subscription to MobileMe in order to keep track of his device. Now, Apple is giving it away. In order to use the feature, a user will have to follow the instructions and sign-up for a free MobileMe account. A single MobileMe account can be used to track multiple iDevices. You can also use the feature to remotely lock, remotely play a sound, or remotely wipe a device. I have not tried any of these features beyond locating the device. Note: the device has to be on and connected to the internet for this feature to work.
Keyboard and dictionary enhancements. The new update includes support for over 50 languages and dialects, with more than 30 new international keyboards and dictionaries for iPad. So, for all you young attorneys with international clients or friends, this is a big step forward in facilitating communication with those people on your iPad.
The ability to reply to calendar invitations. I'm actually strangely excited about this feature. With the update, you can now reply to event invitations from friends using calendar services like Yahoo and Microsoft exchange using the built-in Calendar application. There were few times where I wanted to reply to a calendar invite on my iPhone or iPad and I could not do so. Now I can.
Other new features include different fonts for Notes, personalized text message tones, find text on webpages in Safari, and accessibility enhancements (including support for wireless Bluetooth refreshable braille displays). There are also enhanced enterprise supports included in the new update, which your IT department will likely care about but you probably don't. To update your device, simply connect the device to your iTunes and follow the instructions for the update.