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Apple iOS4.2 has landed

Apple today announced that iOS 4.2, the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system, is available today for download for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. iOS 4.2 brings over 100 new features from iOS 4.0, 4.1 and 4.2 to iPad including Multitasking, Folders, 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 patriarch and ultimate ruler 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,” he added in deference to the incoming tide of iPad wannabes.

The release was delayed by a second Gold Master release to developers, named iOS4.2.1, which is thought to have been needed to solve a major bug in the iPad's Wi-Fi functionality. The 'point one' has been dropped in the public release.

iPad owners will finally be able to catch up with their iPhone and iPod Touch-toting brethren with a raft of features which have been missing from the proddable PC for months.

That is, if the update ever hits iTunes. We received notification of the update at 13:36 UK time and now at 13:57 we are still being told that out iPhone is up to date. Which is really annoying.

When Apple finally gets its act together, we should get AirPlay which is a new feature for streaming music, video and photos wirelessly from an iDevice to Apple TV.

iOS users also will be able to use AirPort Express and AirPlay to stream wirelessly to any stereo or powered speakers, or directly to AirPlay-enabled speakers coming to market in the months ahead.

AirPrint is a next-generation Wi-Fi print architecture that dramatically simplifies printing by completely eliminating printer drivers. A selection of AirPrint enabled printers including the HP Photosmart, HP LaserJet Pro and HP Officejet will be the first to support printing direct from iOS devices. iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users can simply tap to print their documents or photos wirelessly to any printer that supports AirPrint.

It looks like the expected ability to print to any Windows- or Mac-connected printer has been left out of this release but we'll clarify that when the bloke who was supposed to switch the servers on at the same time as the press announcement comes back from lunch (probably).

As a bonus, the Find My iPhone (or iPad or iPod touch) feature which was once part of the £65-a-year MobileMe cloud service is now a free download on the App Store and lets users easily locate a missing device on a map and have it display a message or play a sound. Users can even remotely lock or wipe data from a lost device to protect privacy.

It's now 14:06 and it's still not working, but - as ever - we'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: We're now hearing that the launch will go live at 10am California time, which is 18.00 here.

Thanks for leaving that little gem out of the press information Apple. Very helpful.

UPDATE: 18.24 and after a slow start, iOS4.2 is downloading, albeit a bit slowly. Guess there must be a couple of other people waiting for it. We'll have a fiddle overnight and let you know what we think in the morning.

Feel free to stick you twopen'orth in the comments below.