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10 features Apple iOS 4.2 still needs

Apple still hasn't got it quite right

Now that iOS 4.2 is out and we've lauded its best features, it's time to take a look at its biggest omissions. (It's only fair, right?) We took an informal survey of Macworld editors to determine the most-hoped-for features that still aren't here, then whittled the list down to the top ten.

A hardware orientation-lock switch on the iPad

Rather than a hoped-for feature that's still missing, this one is a popular feature Apple removed in iOS 4.2. The iPad's orientation-lock switch - an actual, physical switch - was one of our favorite features when the iPad debuted. Given the iPad's versatility, you end up switching it between horizontal and vertical orientation frequently - but you don't necessarily want the screen flipping around at the slightest movement. So we were understandably befuddled by Apple's decision, in iOS 4.2, to change this oh-so-convenient switch from locking the screen's orientation to muting the iPad's volume.

Why? Our best guess is that Apple wanted to make the iPad and iPhone more similar but, as Lex Friedman so eloquently explained, that's not a convincing reason: the iPad is a very different device than an iPhone, and on an iPad, an orientation lock is much more useful than a mute switch for many people. (Not to mention that the iPad already had a hardware mute feature: just hold the Volume Down button for a second or so.) We'd like to see Apple restore this button to its original purpose, as the procedure for toggling the screen lock under iOS 4.2 - double-press Home, swipe, tap, press Home - is nowhere near as elegant. At the very least, give us an option in Settings to decide for ourselves whether the switch should be for orientation locking or muting.

Runners up

Though we picked the ten not-in-4.2 features that are missed the most by our editors, a number of other features were nominated, as well. Here are some of the more notable ones:

  • Customisable alerts and tones
  • Bluetooth data features
  • iPhone/iPad/iPod touchDisk Mode
  • Brightness control in the iPhone's multitasking shelf, as on the iPad
  • Text-to-speech Caller ID
  • Voice Control API for apps
  • Auto-downloading of podcasts on the iOS device
  • "Quiet time" for push notifications
  • FaceTime over 3G
  • Simpler Google Apps setup and integration
  • Tabbed browsing on the iPad's version of Safari
  • App-level Restrictions for third-party apps
  • Manual mode for syncing with iTunes

Of course, iOS development isn't stopping with 4.2. Here's hoping we'll see these features - and many more we haven't thought of yet - in future releases.

See also: he 10 worst Apple iPhone annoyances

  1. Apple still hasn't got it quite right
  2. More mail features
  3. Wireless syncing
  4. A hardware orientation-lock switch on the iPad

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