Tuesday, November 23, 2010

iOS 4.2 Release


On Monday, November 22, 2010, Apple released the 401-megabyte iOS 4.2 update. This update contains security updates, simple tweaks, and more wireless integration (AirPrint and AirPlay.) All of the updates are effectively making the iOS devices less mobile; they are slowly bridging the gap between computers and mobile devices - and may even usurp small computers' dominance in word processing and the like.

In regard to security updates, the iOS has followed a general theme: removal of arbitrary code execution vulnerabilities. (Such vulnerabilities are found in parts of the iOS system that are crucial to the operation of the most basic components.) Essentially, Apple fixed the faulty code [of the programs that receive input and produce output] to block attackers from taking over a phone whose user is simply viewing a picture. Apple accomplished this by correcting vulnerabilities in CoreGraphics, FreeType and WebKit. Since all of the aforementioned pieces of software are components of the web browser (although they are not limited to that use) the user will now be more protected on the web, when dealing with images (CoreGraphics) and plain old - javascript or non-javascript inclusive - HTML pages (WebKit and FreeType.)
(Click here for a description of WebKit, FreeType, and CoreGraphics)

Apple added some nice features that revolve around wireless interaction of devices, giving the user more control. Put simply, the the addition of AirPlay and AirPrint makes the user's iOS device more interactive with other devices. The AirPlay technology allows users to stream music throughout their entire house, assuming they have other devices such as an iMac or an AppleTV. For example, you can stream music directly from your iPod/iPhone/iPad to an AppleTV or other AirPlay-enabled devices. The Printing technology is pretty self-explanatory. Essentially, now you can print files from Mail, Safari, and Photos. (NOTE: Only some printers are automatically AirPrint-enabled; click http://www.lisanet.de/?p=71 for instructions on how to enable AirPrint for almost any printer connected to your Mac. You can type the URL into Google translate if you don't speak German.)

As for some simple tweaks, Apple changed around some icons (Voice Memos), allowed for different fonts in "Notes," and added a search-in-web-page function to Safari, amongst other things. The productivity just keeps on increasing at a rate, at which the adoption rate is not overwhelming.

The iPad update also received some long-awaited updates: Folders and Multi-tasking. Now apps can be grouped together into folders that can contain 12 applications each. The folder's are automatically named based on the category of the applications within it; however, the name can always be modified. The iPad has also received multi-tasking, allowing multiple applications to run at the same time. (Since the multitasking is implemented differently to cope with limited resources, please read my article in order to better understanding it's implementation.) The gap is bridging as productivity increases and limitations decrease.

Added to all iOS devices were keyboard and dictionary enhancements, as well as keyboards, languages, and more-advanced dictionaries. Better input equates to higher productivity for all devices.

In sum, the iOS 4.2 update furthers the transformation of the previous iOS devices into a device with capabilities closer to those of a desktop. The security updates protects your data (suitable for business world); AirPlay and Printing improves interaction among devices (suitable for students who have to complete assignments); the keyboard tweaks improve input on the devices (more efficient input for all); the iPad updates eradicate many of the iPad users biggest qualms; and, the Safari update makes finding and working with data easier (everyone). It is very possible that sometime in the near future, more people will be integrating their iOS devices into their lives and homes as they use it to write reports, take notes, research, and receive entertainment.

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