After sitting on the sidelines watching iPhone and iPod touch owners enjoy the virtues of iOS 4.0 for the past few months, iPad owners have been anxiously counting the days until iOS 4.2 will be released for the tablet. Well, it seems that wait will continue for at least another few days while Apple does some fine-tuning of the Wi-Fi connectivity.
To be fair, it is hard to say that the iOS 4.2 release is pushed back, or delayed. That's because the release timing is pure speculation. While it has been widely reported that iOS 4.2 would be released this week - even by me - there has been no official confirmation from Apple.
The new release date, according to updated rumour and speculation, will be next Tuesday - 16 November. A problem has been discovered in the Gold Master version released to developers. There are many reports in the Apple forums that the iPad on iOS 4.2 has issues with randomly dropping the Wi-Fi connection.
For owners of 3G versions of the iPad, perhaps that wouldn't be such a big deal. But, many iPad owners have Wi-Fi only versions of the Apple tablet, and having an update that makes the Wi-Fi connection flaky would effectively render the iPad useless.
Wonky Wi-Fi would also be a significant problem for the Verizon iPad in the US - which Verizon has been heavily marketing. Because the 3G wireless connectivity of the iPad is incompatible with Verizon's CDMA wireless network, Verizon bundles the Wi-Fi version of the iPad with its Mifi 3G mobile broadband hotspot. If the iPad can't maintain a stable Wi-Fi connection with the Mifi hotspot there will be many upset Verizon iPad customers.
So, although it "feels" like a delay as a result of the emotional letdown that Apple didn't meet the arbitrary release date set by rumour and speculation, the fact is that Apple may have had a good reason for not assigning a release date. The whole point of beta testing and pre-release versions released to developers is to try and identify issues and address them before the general release of the update.
Until that process is complete, Apple can't really be sure the update is ready for launch. In that regard, everything is rolling along exactly as it should, and Apple will release iOS 4.2 once the issues are resolved and the update is ready for public consumption.