The iPad has proved incredibly popular amongst consumers since it’s launch earlier this year, but one frustration for users has been that the iPad’s operating system has remained stuck on version 3 of iOS, while the iPhone and iPod Touch have been enjoying the many improvements featured in iOS 4.

Finally, the release of iOS 4.2 has brought parity to all three devices, and iPad users now have access to some fantastic new functions. Perhaps the most important of these is the ability to multitask on your iPad.

With previous versions the iOS operating system, when you opened and closed third-party apps, that was literally what happened, and you could only have one app open at any one time. While the push notifications functions meant some closed apps could update information in the background, this state of affairs severely limited the functionality and fluency of using an iOS device.

The introduction of multitasking with iOS 4, and its appearance on the iPad with 4.2, makes using multiple apps a far simpler experience. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how multitasking works on your iPad, how to access the Multitask Bar and manage your open apps.

1.) With iOS 4.2 installed on your iPad, open and close a selection of your apps by tapping on them then pressing the Home button. Whereas once this meant you had actually ended those applications, they are all in fact still running in the background. To view your running apps, double-click on the Home button. The present open app will shift upwards, and you will be presented with the Multitask Bar:

The Multitask Bar on the iPad.PNG

2.) Your other open apps will be visible in icon form along the bottom of your iPad’s screen. To view more than the first six, swipe your finger along the Multitask bar to the left to reveal the next six, and so on. To swap between open apps, simply tap the corresponding icon. The iPad will perform a “swivelling” animation as the other app comes into view:

Switching between Open Apps using Multitasking in iPad iOS 4.2.PNG

3.) To close running apps, hold your finger down on any of the icons in the Multitask Bar till they start to “wobble” and a red cross appears next to the top left of each of them:

Closing Apps from the Multitask Bar on the iPad.PNG

To close an app, simply press the red cross next to it, then tap the screen or press the Home button to return the remaining apps to their running state.

4.) The Multitask Bar also has additional functionality in iOS 4.2. Withe the Multitask Bar open, swipe your finger to the right to bring up a selection of controls:

The Multitask Bar Control Panel on iPad with iOS 4.2.PNG

Running left to right, with these icons you can lock to your present screen orientation (the hardware orientation lock on the right side of the iPad has been changed to a Mute button in iOS 4.2), adjust the screen brightness, control your media playback and iPad’s volume as well as quickly switch to the iPod or other open media apps.

You can leave the Multitask Bar at any time by simply tapping anywhere on the screen space above it.

Multitasking on the iPad makes Apple’s tablet device more fluent in use, especially for actions such as copy-and-paste between apps, or running social networking or instant messaging apps. However, if you tend to open a lot of apps on your iPad in one session, it does introduce an element of app management that wasn’t present before.

If you have too many apps running in the background at any one time, you may experience slowdown on your iPad as it struggles to divide all the necessary resources between them. In this case, close unwanted apps from the Multitask Bar to bring the iPad back up to speed.