Apple made the latest version of its iOS operating system (4.2) available today. The OS, which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices includes some important updates for the iPad with features like multitasking, folders, a unified Inbox, Game Center, AirPlay and AirPrint.
"iOS 4.2 makes the iPad a completely new product, just in time for the holiday season," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "Once again, the iPad with iOS 4.2 will define the target that other tablets will aspire to, but very few, if any, will ever be able to hit."
The iPad probably didn't need a whole lot of help to be a big seller this holiday season, but the new functionalities certainly won't hurt, especially as competition in the tablet space starts to heat up.
According to a recent report from PriceGrabber, 59 percent of consumers selected the iPad as their device of choice for e-reading, which also gives the iPad some holiday ammo versus devices like Amazon's Kindle, Barnes and Noble's Nook, etc.
With the OS update, the "Find my iPhone" (or iPad o iPod Touch) feature now free to use without a MobileMe subscription. This feature lets users locate their missing device, and is available as a free download on Apple's App Store.
iOS 4.2 also gives iPad users the ability to rent TV episodes directly on the device using the iTunes. Users have a 30-day window for viewing, and a 48-hour session window once playback is started.
The new version also adds support for 25 additional languages, including Korean, Portuguese and Traditional Chinese. It's available for download today.
On a related note, Apple says customers have now downloaded over seven billion apps from the App Store, and over 300,000 different apps are available.