More Thankfulness (Mobile Operating System Dept)

Any day now, I will get back to some long-pending "software week" entries (best browsers; best new "thinking" software; the joys of moving to an all-cloud work style; etc) plus some hardware notes (newest computer in the household and what I've learned from it).

For now, a tip: if you have one of the Apple mobile devices eligible for the iOS 4.2 upgrade, by all means get it. It's free, and instructions are at the Apple site. It's for iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone 4. Of those, I have only the iPad, but there it makes a big difference. I am an iPhone holdout because I love my oddball, commercially orphaned Android-powered Nexus One.


The UK tech blogger Dominic Fallows (right) for whom I sometimes receive misdirected email and to whom I must be related in some way, has a wrap up of the new OS here today. Main points, both from his review and from my experience: everything seems faster overall. And while it doesn't offer "real" multi-tasking, as the Android/Nexus One does, it has arranged a way to keep several applications in nearly-running status, so you can switch back and forth much more quickly than before.* There are also folders for grouping apps, the ability to print from the iPad, and some other additions. "Multi-task" image from Dominic F's site below -- the "running" apps, which really means the ones that are immediately switchable, are the ones at the bottom.


This isn't exactly news, but it's new-ish and worth recognizing in seasonal gratitude.

* I assume that the lack of real multitasking, which would keep numerous programs actively running all the time, is connected to the iPad's very impressive battery life. The Android, by contrast, barely makes it through a full day of serious use. 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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