Is tapping that clunky old Home button to call up multitasking too exhausting for you? The next Apple mobile operating system, iOS 5, will allow you to gesture to bring up the multitasking bar -- swipe up with four or five fingers and it will appear; swipe left or right to slide off-screen applications into view and switch apps.
Scheduled to become available in the fall of 2011, iOS 5 promises to be a short attention span sufferer's and information junkie's delight: users' documents will be available to them on all their Apple devices, including the iPad, through "iCloud," Apple's remote storage and software delivery service; iMessage, an instant messaging service that will allow you to add IMing to fellow iOS users to your multitasking mix; and much more.
One of the biggest boons to iPad multitasking -- or distractions, depending on how you use it -- will be iOS 5's comprehensive integration of Twitter. Users will be able to tweet updates directly from the Camera, Photo, YouTube, Maps, and Contacts apps, and most likely more once third-party developers jump into the fray.
Perhaps best of all, Apple says making software upgrades with iOS 5 will be relatively painless. The frequency of software updates for computers these days can be annoying at best and a nightmare at its worst -- when "fixes" are buggy and conflict with your current set-up. For iOS users, up until now it's also meant having to plug your mobile device into a Mac or PC to connect with and sync to iTunes. With iOS 5, those updates will take place over the air, wirelessly, greatly reducing the hassle factor. Less time fumbling around with wires to keep your iPad current should equal more time to actually be productive on the tablet.
Is multitasking a panacea for the iPad's thimbleful of imperfections? Definitely not. But it is one of many features that make the device just a bit higher in functionality to match its well-conceived form.
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