Apple releases iOS 4.2 beta to developers

The software update features wireless printing and is currently only available to developers, with a general release planned for November

Apple has released the beta version of its iOS 4.2 operating system to developers, bringing with it a new feature known as AirPrint.

The update brings multitasking to the iPad for the first time. Multitasking allows users to run more than one program at a time — for example, listening to a streaming music app while browsing the web. The iPhone and iPod Touch have had some multitasking capabilities since the introduction of iOS 4.0.

The update also features wireless printing software called AirPrint.

"AirPrint is Apple's powerful new printing architecture that matches the simplicity of iOS — no set up, no configuration, no printer drivers and no software to download," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, in a statement on Wednesday.

Once connected to a Wi-Fi network, Apple says that AirPrint will automatically find any compatible local printers connected to the Wi-Fi network, and print text, images or photos.

The first devices to be supported will be HP's existing and upcoming ePrint devices, according to Apple. However, the Cupertino-based company says that AirPrint within iOS 4.2 will support a wide range of devices when the update becomes available on general release in November.

"Making it easy for our customers to print anytime, anywhere, is a key priority for HP," said Vyomesh Joshi, HP's executive vice president of imaging and printing, in the statement.

AirPrint will work with the iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and second generation or newer iPod Touch models. iOS 4 — which has been available since the launch of the iPhone 4 in June — ushered in a raft of new features including support for third-party multitasking, new email options and changes to the camera, such as 5x digital zoom and tap-to-focus during video recording.

On 8 September, Apple released version 4.1 of iOS for iPhone and iPod Touch to rectify issues brought to light by the previous iteration. In a conference at the time, Steve Jobs promised that the update would fix proximity-sensor issues, Bluetooth-connectivity problems with certain headsets and sluggish performance when using iOS 4 with the iPhone 3G.

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