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Summary:

iOS 4.2 is now out in the wild, just waiting for you to plug in your device and hit the “Check for Updates” button. That is, if Apple’s servers can handle it. When you do manage to update your device, here’s what you’ll find.

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iOS 4.2 is now out in the wild, just waiting for you to plug in your device and hit the “Check for Updates” button. That is, if Apple’s servers can handle it. Hopefully Cupertino’s got that shiny new data center on the job. When you do manage to update your device, here’s what you’ll find.

New to All Devices

AirPrint. Wirelessly print photos, docs, email and even entire web pages directly from your iOS device. Unfortunately, you’ll either need an AirPrint-compatible printer or third-party software to accomplish this as of the last few iOS 4.2 pre-release builds.

AirPlay. Wirelessly stream audio and video from your iOS 4.2 device to AirPlay-enabled speakers, receivers and the Apple TV. This works just like AirTunes did with Apple’s Airport Express mobile wireless router, but now includes video, and Apple’s made the tech available to third-party device manufacturers.

Find My iPhone. As revealed this morning, Find My iPhone is now available free for all iOS device owners. You can do it right on any latest gen, iOS 4.2-running device, but even those with older hardware can enable the feature. The only limitation is that you have to create your free MobileMe account on an iPhone 4, 4th-gen iPod touch or iPad first, before you can login to MobileMe with older devices.

Notes with Fonts. Change the font in notes from Marker Felt to either Chalkboard or Helvetica, a much-needed relief for the design-conscious.

Find Text on Web Pages. Search for terms within the page you’re currently viewing in mobile Safari using the search field at the top of the browser next to the address bar. This is a really useful feature, and one that makes so much sense you’ll quickly forget it was ever missing.

New Dock Controls. Double-tapping the home button now brings up the tray of open applications on the iPad, and swiping left will bring you to a panel of controls with additions on all devices, including a brightness dimmer, volume slider and AirPlay output selector.

New for iPad

Multitasking. The latest update for iOS brings Apple’s multitasking implementation to the platform. That means your apps will be able to resume right where you left off if they’re setup to support fast-switching. Audio can also now play in the background, some tasks like uploading or downloading content can complete while the app is closed, and you can get local push notification from on-device software.

Folders. Thank goodness folders are finally here for the iPad. I got so used  to using them on the iPhone, it felt like going back in time when I’d boot up the iPad and find myself wading through screen after screen of app icons.

Game Center. Track your achievements and view leaderboards for GameCenter-enabled games. If a game works on both the iPhone/iPod touch and the iPad, achievements will show up in both places.

Unified Inbox and Threaded Messaging. All your messages in the same place, and with threaded messaging that keeps track of email chains so that you don’t have to go hunting around to find out what the last reply in the sequence was. Great news for the iPad’s Mail app, which is so much more usable than the iPhone version.

New for iPhone

Messaging Customization. There are now 17 new alerts to choose from for text messaging, and you can now assign custom tones for people in your Contacts, so that you can tell right away who’s messaging you without looking at your device.

Anything we’ve missed? Share your own findings in the comments.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. For some reason new text tones didnt come with my update. I have a 3GS.

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    1. The tones are there actually. Just go into contacts; pick a contact, and select edit. The option will be there to select a text tone.

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  2. One interesting addition to my fourth gen iPod touch according to the release notes: FaceTime calls can be controlled with Voice Command or started in SMS, plus support for Bluetooth in FaceTime. Nice!

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  3. Ralph Albertus Monday, November 22, 2010

    I haven’t got any new Text Tones on my 3GS with IOS 4.2. It seems to be iPhone 4 only.

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  4. I have an iPhone 3GS, which I just updated. I don’t see the 17 new tones or any way to change/add tones into my phone for sms/mms.

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  5. I also have 3GS and found alert tones. Go to Contacts, then click on a person, then tap EDIT. Somewhere below you will see option to change sms alert tone for the person.

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    1. Yep this works for me too! Gotto go to edit to see. Tricky!

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  6. everything’s all good cool jazzy.. but for anyone on a iPhone 3G/3GS your screwed basically. Nothing’s changed really. ooo ahhhh we get 2 new fonts for ‘Notes’ WHICH of you can only have one selected mainly for READING purposes.. Not to customise Notes with different Fonts. And don’t get too excited over those 17 new Text Tone’s.. Because you don’t get any. Your still stuck with the same boring default one’s you’ve been using the whole time. All this time for a “Decent iOS and 3G/3GS users get shafted hardcore. The only real decent thing is a few bug fixes and airprint/airplay. Joy 8-)

    iPhone Update 4.2 Rating 0/5

    Epic Fail

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    1. The text tones are included for 3gs. Just select a contact and select edit.
      You will see the text tone change option.

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  7. I’m a huge Apple fanboy, but why the $!#$!!@$ doesn’t the iPhone have a feature which even my Nokia 3310 had: change the ringtone! Why does the world’s most advanced mobile phone doesn’t have that function? “Hey! Let’s build a device that can do things no civilization has ever seen before, but wait: don’t let people allow to change their text tones! It gives the consumer too much power!”

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    1. Huh? I can not only change my ringtone and add my own downloaded or customized…and that was before 4.2.

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  8. Just did the update for my iPad. Couple things: the Rotate Lock switch is now the mute switch and no longer lock the screen. Second, AirPrint fails to locate my wireless printer and print to it.

    Suggestions?

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    1. They moved the Rotate Lock to the multitasking dock… tap the home button twice, and once the multitasking bar appears, swipe to the left. I personally preferred it on the side and have little use for the mute switch.

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  9. just updated iphone 4 and ipad. the mute switch doesn’t even work! i had it set to “mute” and could still adjust the volume when playing a video in itunes. i really really really hope they change that back to screen lock

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  10. Apple TV seems to load networked computers faster with less hiccups… Streaming from my desktop now seems to be very fluid using the apple tv interface

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