As any iPad owner with an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, or third-generation iPod touch knows, it’s been a long two months since the release of iOS 4. Every satisfying double-click to multitask or glance at a unified mailbox on Apple’s pocket devices only serves as a reminder of the iPad software’s shortcomings. So nearly six months after Apple promised a Fall delivery of iOS 4 for iPad, and with a great opportunity coming up next week to talk about it, where do we stand in terms of progress? Seemingly not so close to the finish line.
Every time Apple releases a major iOS update, it provides developers with multiple beta versions of both the new software and tools for testing applications, usually giving old and new apps alike roughly three months to get ready before a public release. If Apple is to follow a similar schedule for the iPad’s build of iOS, and actually release an iPad iOS 4.x SDK next week—something that’s possible but hasn’t been widely discussed—that still means we, as consumers, might not see 4.x on our iPads until December. There’s an outside possibility that even a late 2010 release might not be in the cards; Apple could hold off until iOS 4.2, which might come a year after the original iPad introduction… right in line with the targeted release date of the iPad mini.
Even if you put aside multitasking, mail, and the other quality-of-life features iOS 4.0 would bring to the iPad, note that some developers—such as the makers of the iPad DJ app Mixr—have been waiting on the arrival of the updated software before moving forward with development of new, more advanced apps, and the number of titles that are iOS 4.0-only and thus refuse to even install on the iPad (or show up in its version of the App Store) has been climbing. It’s time for Apple to let iPad owners know when they’ll be able to run iOS 4 apps, and receive the other useful benefits of the latest operating system.