Why we probably won't see iOS 4 for iPad next week

Next week, when Apple holds its annual special music event, we probably won't get iOS 4 for iPad. We'll almost certainly see that new iPod touch 4 with Retina Display and FaceTime and an announcement about iOS 4.1 for iPhone general availability, probably for later that week. But if iOS 4.1 was going to be the grand unification, universal binary edition for iPad, it would have been released for developers over two months ago when it was released for iPhone and iPod touch.

Sure, Steve Jobs could simply announce iOS 4.1 and release it for iPad right then and there on stage -- if any company could be accused of being inoculated against the cries and concerns of developers, it's Apple. But even Apple has a pattern of releasing betas for significant OS updates. Simply put, to do otherwise could lead to broken apps and unhappy customers and that's not in anyone's best interests.

Chad and others have argued that iOS 3.2 for iPad is already pretty close to iOS 4, and that's a fair point. However, iOS 4 contained a large number of new API, including multitasking, and developers are going to want time to test against them, and against anything unforeseen that might cause problems for their apps between iOS 3.2 and iOS 4.

The most likely scenario I can come up with is that Steve Jobs announces a beta version of iOS 4.2 for iPad next week and after several betas, releases it to the public in October or November -- a timeframe that's been rumored for a while now.

I mentioned this yesterday on Twitter and several really smart mobile folks think I'm wrong. Some really smart mobile folks who are also developers seemed to think they'd need somewhere around 4 weeks of beta lead time, at least.

There's nothing I'd love more than iOS 4.1 for iPad next week, but while Apple is secretive they're also fairly good at sticking to patterns. And the pattern here is several beta releases before a general release.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Why we probably won't see iOS 4 for iPad next week


Yet another epic fail for apple. Lets keep discussing about how IOS isn't becoming fractured when Ipad is running an outdated version, Iphone 3g doesn't support multi-tasking, etc. Time to look at yourself pot. Ipad has the technology (tech specs) so I don't see what the excuse is. It should have been avaialble for both (iphone/ipad) at launch of IOS 4.

Aside from the fact that Apple already mentioned November as a timeframe for iOS4 on iPad? They're not likely to beat that. I just hope they meet it and don't suffer further delays.

"Why we probably won’t see iOS 4 for iPad next week." What's the 'PROBABLY' for? Not a single alpha or beta of the iPad update was ever released to developers and you still need to add 'probably'? It's not happening.

Given that Jobs was very clear in saying iOS 4 would be available for the iPad 'this fall'' in his last keynote, it is a fairly safe bet it won't be launched on Sept 1.

Isn't September technically fall? Even though it's the end of Summer, yada yada yada, the spiritual end to summer is just about 3-4 days away from the September 1 keynote, it's called Labor Day. I think for Apple, it's close enough (for horseshoes, C4, and iOS4 on iPad).

So you're saying it won't be released, but may be announced and demoed (actually "see" it). Well that is an obvious possibility, if they have something worth demoing , which I would hope so. And fopefully Apple decides not to drop the OS in developers laps the same day its released to the public, like they did with the actual iPad device (except a few lucky ones). Testing with a simulator isn't perfect, and you can't get the true interaction of multitouch. A cursor really holds it back. Not to mention I expect some possibly dramatic divergence of interface elements in ways that suit a large screen better than the small one. (Maybe VOIP's blue bar is an icon up top, or the taskbar becomes fullscreen deal. who knows?) These are things that developers will want to test out, and Apple will want thoroughly beta tested.
re #2, if Apple made everything on the iPad just like the iPhone (or some similar low-effort route), it would be a big bag of not-getting-the-point with an extra dose of suck. They want developers to use the big screen appropriately, they'll do the same with the OS. Some divergence in how they approach the software interface is to be expected on some level since the large screen allows for different approaches that are more natural than for a small screen. That's a reasonable excuse. They want to make an iPad, not a large iPod Touch.

What's the big rush on 4.0 on iPad!? This is the first cycle for the hardware. You basically get yearly iOS updates for the iPhone, me goes for iPad. I wouldn't want them to rush it! I certainly don't want to double click the home button on an iPad and get a multitasking tray of icons. I hope it takes advantage of the screen real-estate and possibly has a four finger swipe expose layout. Background music controls can be treated totally different also.

The iOS4-on-iPad delay could be caused by the next-gen iPad's screen size. Apple would need to modify iOS4 to handle the screens of the iPod Touch / iPhone, current iPad, and 2011 iPad. Of course, this assumes that the 2011 iPad screen will have higher resolution...

@ Vince - "Lets keep discussing about how IOS isn’t becoming fractured..."
Let's keep discussing about how Google has given up on Fragdroid already. Hopeless fragmentation + Oracle lawsuit + Sergey Brin saying that Chrome OS is Google's future OS. Do the math.

The fact that Android suffers worse fragmentation has nothing to do with the fact that iOS is also fragmenting.

September Event
1. Statics about how amazing Apple is and how much we are selling.
2. Funeral (Discontuation) of iPod Shuffle and Classic.
3. Introduction of new iPod Nano.
4. Demo of 4.1 on iPhone, iPod Tocuh.
5. Demo of 4.1 on iPad for Developers.
One More Thing
6. Introduction of iPod Touch

I do believe we will see an announce of iOS4 for the iPad. That it will be coming in November. It will be available for developers to begin testing their apps and we will get multiple-tasking. Well that's at least everything i am hoping!!!

iOS4 in my opinion SHOULD have been released for iPad first! It's larger size makes it more of a 'computing device' where muliti tasking would be nice!

I figure why rush it? They should take their time and make multitasking effective. Nobody wants to double tap the home button and bring up a little scroll bar. I'd wrather them take advantage of the whole screen, and have a have them split the screen down the middle. Take your time and give us a good update.

The IOS4 for iPod touch was so much actually better than iPad IOS 3.2. I learned so much things from multi tasting. We can usually switch to other famous app really quick in IOS4. And if you have no
Idea how it fills like, you better go find someone who haw iPhone3gs or iphone4 or iPod touch . I hope I can get ios4 on my iPad pretty soon as possible.

Would be nice to see real multitasking on iPad and iPhone. Ios 4that is on my 3GS stops the app when not in use. It is not conintuing to run as true multitasking is