back to article iOS 4.2: An 'ace' for iPad, a 'meh' for iPhone

Monday was iOS update day for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. "iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product," crowed Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a prepared statement announcing the upgrade — which wasn't actually released until 10am, Pacific Standard Time, despite the early-morning reports of the release. We installed it on both …


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  1. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Assignable SMS tones

    4.2 adds assignable SMS/MMS tones. Something that people have been whinging on about for years.

    You talk as if people have to pay for the update.

    1. nickrw
      Thumb Down

      Re: Assignable SMS tones

      But *still* no custom SMS tones.

      Also, I've been after per-account email signatures for ages, but alas.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        i read assignable

        as customisable, as they are already assignable . Everyone who has an Iphone seems to use the same sms tone though, due to the selection being absolutely pantswettingly, bad!

    2. Greg J Preece

      Those miserable buggers!

      "4.2 adds assignable SMS/MMS tones. Something that people have been whinging on about for years."

      Complaining on about not having a simple feature that's available on every other smartphone in existence. How dare they question the Church of Jobs?? Heathens.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      care to explain where?

      because I can't bloody find it

    4. Anonymous Coward

      oh I see what you mean

      I can now assign one of a whole 6 tones to my 168 contacts.

      How frigging useful.

      1. Joel 1

        I can see 23 tones, so far

        Listed as New and Original - haven't gone looking to see if I can add more....

        You get to them by editing the contact details for per contact, or through the sounds preference for default. Hint, if you are on the standard Tri-tone SMS sound, try scrolling up for the new ones...

        1. Anonymous Coward

          23? what are you on?

          I still have 6 on my 3GS v4.2.1

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Only for iPhone 4

            Alas, only the iPhone 4 gets the new tones.

    5. OrsonX
      IT Angle

      rushes excitedly to phone...

      Really, cant find this feature on my 3G???

    6. Velv Silver badge

      Errr, no

      Another Apple FAIL - implementation of something in name only

      It let's you assign a different built in tone to different contacts in your address book.

      It doesn't let you add new tones to the existing set. How hard would it have been to add that. They already let you add ringtones, so why can't SMS/MMS choose from the same library - not exactly rocket science.

      The REASON - Apple want you to stick to THEIR tones so that everyone on the bus knows you're a Fanbois when you receive a text.

  2. Annihilator
    Thumb Down

    But still.. orientation lock for the iPhone 3G. Obviously this is very hardware intensive (?!) and so can't be implemented..

  3. David Haworth

    No Airplay to AppleTV mk1

    I've got a mark1 AppleTV connected to my hifi and I've often used airtunes to stream music to the appletv and thus to the hifi. I had high expectations that I and friends would be able to stream from an iphone/ipod/ipad to the hifi, but my iphone won't see the appletv.

    Okay, so I know that the old appletv won't be upgraded to support video streaming, but it's supported audio streaming (AirTunes) for ages now. and it can't just be some critical change in the protocol as airplay claims to support an Airport Express, which is older than the AppleTV isn't it? I can't see a good reason not to support audio streaming to an old appletv, apart from a financial one.

    anyone else had more sucess?

  4. Michael C

    less than descriptive list from HP

    OK, so e-Print compatible printers work. no link? no model search?

    I can print TODAY from my iPhone to my HP printer which sits on the network, from 3 different apps. I've been doing that for more than a year. However, my HP printer isn't listed anywhere i can find. It's a near 3 year old multi-function job (c6150 i think).

    Can they not simply throw in the old 900 series PCL driver (which almost every single color HP recognizes and can print from), and have the phone use that? the iPhone can find my printer on the network all by itself and print to it (and others I've tried too), so why would it not be supported? Oh, it also supports Apple's auto-detect printer driver thingy (it had a code word a few years ago, Rendezvous?), I'd be hard pressed if the printer already had that tech that the iPhone would not support it...

  5. D 17
    Thumb Up

    iOS 4.2 at last!

    iPhone Airplay feature is a welcomed, i've been using an Airport to stream music wirelessly from iTunes on my macbook for a while now, after the update the iPhone can now stream to the same device over my wifi network...i'm also tempted to look into the Apple TV now as i can see the benefit of streaming video to the tv as well...Steve Jobs has definitely got me by the balls!

    on a side note, Find My iPhone is a necessary service for anyone with an iPhone 4 and no insurance policy, you cant register for a free mobileme account using a 3GS but you can on an iPhone 4 and then use the account on a 3GS...very inconvenient Apple.

  6. Stuart Halliday

    Battery life?

    "it's a boon to what Apple modestly refers to as the iPad's "legendary battery life."

    You do know it's got a massive 6400mAH battery in there?

    Most of the cheap 10" Android tablets only have a 3-4000mAH battery.

    I'm intrigued as to why no one yet has brought to market a 10" tablet with the same hardware specs as the iPad? It's not rocket science.

    1. Paul

      ipad size/performance comparison

      RIM have a nice tablet that outperforms the ipad by some margin. it's too big, just like the ipad is too big!

      I say the ipad is too big for its primary purpose of being a casual handheld device IMNSVHO - I've tried it alongside the Sam Gal Tab, and the latter can be used one handed with great ease.

      the ipad has a very large screen bezel, so it could be made significantly smaller; its shape - contoured back - is very cunning and helps hide a lot of bulk - mainly battery.

      if you're going to carry the ipad around you're better off with a proper laptop, I've seen a number of people with relatively heavy-duty carrying folders, burdened by chargers and usb adaptor wotsits. might as well have an integrated unit!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      because thats why its not THE device to have

      noone competing direct because a 10" device is not the device to have...its bulky, heavy, unwieldy, non pcket friendly etc. come on, this silly 'gotta be big' lust is whats wrong with tablet of yonder years - and why netbooks are no good when they actually become the size of laptops

      1. Si 1

        Re: ipad size/performance comparison

        They shouldn't need to be carrying chargers and adaptors around, I find mine easily lasts more than a whole working day on a single charge. I do have a carrying folder though, otherwise I arrive at my destination with a large hand print plastered across the front of the screen...

      2. Giles Jones Gold badge


        Big bezel is there for a reason, you need somewhere to hold it without touching the screen.

      3. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Oh please.

        It's better than a laptop or tablet PC and people lug those around. In fact the laptop won't last a day so you need a power brick and cables as well.

        10 inch screen isn't that big. A 7 inch tablet isn't pocketable. A 5 inch tablet is pointless when you can get a 4.3" HTC Desire HD.

    3. DZ-Jay

      The answer

      Contrary to the comments from the non-owners above, who claim that the iPad is "not the device to have" or "too big for its primary purpose" (never mind that it's selling like gangbusters), the reason no competitor has brought to market a similarly specc'ed tablet is purely because of cost.

      Do you remember all those rumours that presaged the coming of the iPad, and how they all assumed that the cost was going to be around $800 to $900 USD? That's right. It turns out that a device with a high-resolution, capacitive touch-screen, fast processor and on-board GPU, light weight but durable encasing, Wi-Fi antenna, and long battery life; is not really a cheap device. Apple utilizes economies of scale and exclusive deals to support its price point, and competitors are having a hard time matching it.

      Or do you seriously think that Sony and Samsung's executives got together to discussed their respective upcoming response and said, "You know, if we ignore the fact that the iPad is selling well, we can conclude that nobody wants it. Therefore, we should make a smaller device with less battery life and sell it at the same cost. That'll surely make a killing!"



  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It isn't multitasking, it's re-tasking. Stop lying.

  8. Iain Gilbert
    Jobs Horns

    Ringer volume

    The killer feature for me on an iPhone 4 is the added option to stop the volume buttons from changing the ringer volume. It was a major issue which caused me to miss calls frequently.

    Now if only I could change the bl**dy email tone! It's not as if it's a "revolutionary" feature.

  9. famousringo

    Seems like an 'Ace' for both to me

    Obviously a major version makes the update more important to iPad, since it's just a point release for iPhone, but AirPlay and in-page searching in Safari are very welcome features for my phone. Quite nice for a mere point release.

    Printing? How 20th century.

  10. AdamWill

    new product?

    ""iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product," crowed Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a prepared statement announcing the upgrade"

    what was wrong with the old product, then? I thought it was all magical and revolutionary?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    ...but its a free upgrade. wheres the tax man Steve?

    hmm, So Steve Jobs states 'iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product' - excuse me? didnt iPod touch owners have to pay for their iOS upgrade because the upgrade gave them features that werent available with the initial release?

    isnt there some Sarbanes-Oxley ruling about this?

    ie U.S. accounting law requires that non-subscription devices that are upgraded have a fee associated with the upgrade under Apple and many analysts’ interpretation of the law. (quoted from a few web sites).

    in which case, wifi only iPad should be coughing up some cash for their new features?

    1. Dave 52

      Stop buying into Apple BS

      There is no such thing as US "accounting law" and Sarbanes-Oxley has nothing to do with this. It's either GAAP or IFRS (can't be bothered to find out which is now the standard) and it's just some BS Apple is citing to say "it's not our fault we're robbing you blind, it's the law so we have to do it."

      I don't know exactly what Apple is trying to do, but it's probably about controlling when revenues and expenses get reported. A nice way to perform income smoothing.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      You're out of date

      Apple did charge for iPod updates in the past on the cited grounds of accounting regulations. They've subsequently said that they've found an accounting way to avoid having to do that. iPod owners have received recent major version upgrades for free, just like iPad owners.

      1. Annihilator
        Paris Hilton


        "They've subsequently said that they've found an accounting way to avoid having to do that"

        Yup, it's called "overcharge 'em on the first purchase, and claim they were paying for subsequent upgrades"

      2. Dave 52

        @You're out of date

        Please tell me what "accounting regulation" Apple was following when they had no choice but to charge users for upgrades.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Dave 52

          S-Ox makes it illegal for companies to part ship products while charging for all of it in one financial year and then ship the remainder in the next financial year.

          It does that because of the (previous) business practice of doing just that to make their end of year results look better by effectively booking revenue from the current year into last year.

          Unfortunately, the position covering software updates to existing products was somewhat unclear where they provided new functionality rather than just bug fixes.

          Apple (amongst others, e.g. Sony's PlayTV) took the "safe" route of applying a fairly small charge for the update to make sure they didn't fall foul of any interpretation of the law.

          The position has now been clarified to show that they are not required to make a charge and the updates do not fall foul of S-Ox.

          Do you understand what "accounting regulation" they were following now?

          All this just highlights the stupidity of making knee-jerk laws instead of thinking things through like we used to do many, many (many) years ago.

          N.B. This is different from the iPad launch announcement stating that iPad owners would get the first major update free, but subsequent ones would be charged for - that is normal business money-grabbing in action.

    3. sabroni Silver badge

      in page searching?

      via another page and the back button? Not the way any other browser has chosen to do it. This is a kludge, like the cut-n-paste function that I've never tried to use but ended up triggering many time during browsing anyway.

      The lack of buttons, or some realistic alternative, on these devices is starting to really get in the way of usability. Or Apple's designers aren't as good as they should be....

      1. DZ-Jay


        What do you mean by "via another page and the back button?" You type your term on the search box, a list opens up on the spot with the suggested results (just like the regular web search). At the bottom of the list a new item shows up, "Find "X" on This Page (n)"; where "X" is the search term and "n" is the number of hits found. When this option is selected, the matches are highlighted on the current page. No need to navigate out of the page.

        It is simple and easy to use. The Register says it is unintuitive and a "kludge" because the search box still appears to suggest a web search, and I agree. That said, If they were to change the box to say "Search" or "Find" instead of Google, Bing, or Yahoo!--or just display the "magnifying glass" icon--the confusion would be gone.


    4. RichyS

      Mind the GAAP

      It was GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles).

      And the guidance has changed. No iPod owner paid for the iOS4 updated (and possibly a version or two before that).

    5. Anonymous Coward

      The old product used old magic...

      ...which is now out of date, and so no longer magical. The new product uses new magic. Ok?

  12. Tzael

    New champion of bloatware?

    "The upgrade for our iPad was a hefty 551.4MB and for our iPhone 3GS a not-too-far-behind 401.4MB"

    What are they doing? That's over twice the space required for a standard Windows 95 installation! Even Windows 98 with all the downloadable extras, updates and whatnot still weighs in at under 500MB!

    "It appears that the days of "write tight" as a coder's mantra are long gone."

    Crying shame. When the Amiga was king it was great to see coders pushing the limits time and again to get more out of the hardware with less code. Wish we saw more of that attitude these days, though admittedly a lot of Amiga coders ended up getting jobs as embedded device developers.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      That's progress!

      Yes, I quite agree, the original arcade Pacman code runs to something like 8KB. Spectrum games came in at 30-40KB.

      Times changes, Windows 98 was well over a decade ago when we all had 1-2GB hard disks. Now you think nothing of having a desktop with a graphics card with 4 times that in memory on board, let alone the main memory at 8GB+ and disks sizes in multi terabyte.

      Handheld devices are not Palm Pilot size anymore, there is bucket loads of code and frameworks, yes it seems odd but that's progress ( supposedly! ). There is basically an entire desktop O/S runningon those handhelds now and if people want shiny stuff and whizz-bangs in their GUIs, that's a whole load of code to get it working.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      terrible isn't it

      modern code is completely and totally bloated by it's inclusion of such unnecessary things as exception handling, high res resources, extra functionality etc.

      In the past applications were crippled in an attempt to fit them into the available resources, if they went wrong, they went badly wrong. Now, without those limits, people can code defensively, and maintainably, rather than having to squeeze every inch of performance out of the machine.

  13. Wile E. Veteran


    Sounds more like the old MSDOS TSR's to me!

  14. zonky

    Not a must install?

    What about all the security fixes then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns


      Apple products don't get virusses! They Just Work!

  15. Steve J. Rapaport
    Thumb Up

    Seems good to me!

    It's always easy to whine, but I'm a happy camper now, even though my iPad crashed while updating and had to be wiped and restored over a few hours to work again.

    The only real features added that I can use are the "multi" tasking, the folders, and the "Find me" feature. But those are *really damn useful* features. I am now able to do effective webmastering from the ipad (which requires an ftp program and an email program and an editor all up simultaneously). I couldn't before, so it's a big productivity boost.

    I have some confidence that if I lose my iPad I can find it again, or at least wipe it.

    I have some ability to organize my apps.

    I am happy. All the other features were not important anyway. All hail the Mind of Steve.

  16. moylan

    crap on a 3g

    installed ios 4.2.1 on a iphone 3g. had just restored it after 'capacity other' had grown to 1gb after a few weeks since i last wiped it. hoped that this update might fix that so i installed it.

    no real difference so far and only time will tell if the 'capacity other' problem goes away. one bug seems to be that my tv shows are now lumped into one group called unknown instead of episodes listed under the shows name. sorted in season order it's a very annoying mess.

    looking at setting the device back to ios 3.1.3

    not a happy camper. thank goodness i have an android phone as i no longer trust iphone for anything other than media an occasional sms or voice call.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Excellent on several 3Gs

      I've already update several 3Gs to 4.2, and all are working really well. Fixed the embarrassing repeating alarm problem too, thank goodness. If you're having problems with 4.2, it might be a problem with your phone. Take it into the Genius Bar at an Apple Store - they're always really helpful and it costs nothing.

    2. Oz

      Re: crap on a 3g

      You've found one bug and now you can't "trust iphone for anything other than media an occasional sms or voice call"? Seriously? Get a grip! Although the OS is supposedly cross-compatible, why not stick with the IOS designed for your phone, or get an iPhone 4, instead of trying to make your phone something it's not, and then complaining about it!

      1. BlackMage


        Thanks Ralph, this is the only thing I wanted to know about iOS4.2 for my iPhone: "Fixed the embarrassing repeating alarm problem too, thank goodness."

        None of the supposed fixes worked on my phone so this makes 4.2 must-upgrade-today for me. After the kerfuffle about this bug at the end of last month, I'm puzzled why this didn't make the main copy.

      2. moylan

        other bugs that annoy me

        contacts - if i have more than one phone number on a contact i can't tell which number just smsed or rang me. very irritating as my brother swaps mobile numbers a fair bit. not an issue if i want to send an sms from the iphone but if i want to use the number on a different device then bloody annoying.

        ical - month display has sunday as the first day which really irks me. more so because my palm devices had an option to set monday as the start of the week more than 10 years ago and psion way before that. ical on the desktop has this option but not ical on the iphone.

        notes - i stored 100s of notes in this app as i did in the app on my nokias and palms before that. notes on the iphone corrupted frequently losing data.

        capacity other - i will only know if this is an issue in a week or so as the number grows from the 300mb that it currently is. i have already noticed that itunes sometimes stops copying files mid copy which is what seems to cause it.

        general sluggishness of os 4 on 3g hardware. 4.2 does seem a lot more zippy that the previous 4.x updates.

        so not just the all tv shows are unknown bug.

        don't get me wrong android is not perfect but it seems to irk me less and i haven't lost data... yet. notes going corrupt on iphone really turned me against it.

        i still have no problem recommending iphone to people who want a fluffy easy to use device but i do point out these little things that annoy me.


        1. bygjohn


          Can't help with the rest, but to see which number texted you, scroll to the top of the text conversation and tap the Contact Info button: the relevant number will be highlighted in blue.

          For calls, go to the call history, tap the blue arrow button and it will show the number highlighted in blue, or red if it was a missed call.

        2. OrsonX

          @Moylan re iCAL Sunday issue...

          perhaps your not using an iPhone or a MAC at all? Is there a START button in the bottom left hand corner? I ask as on my MAC and my iPhone the first day of the week is Monday!!


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