Generally, OS upgrades are welcome news. The coming OS 4.2 update for iPad has been touted no differently. 4.2 brings major changes, including printing and of course the much-coveted ability to multitask.

From my experience with Android, I know what multitasking means. It’s essentially a constant invitation to stop what you’re doing and begin doing something else – often.

I was in the group of people that ordered the iPad day one. But even before my iPad came in the mail, I was somewhat contrarian in my appreciation for the iPad’s inability to multitask.

In March 2010, I linked to a great Computerworld article called The iPad paradox: Less is more:

A strange trend has emerged that violates the more-is-better ethos of American consumer culture. Some products and services are touting limitations as desirable “features.” And consumers are loving it.

This strikes some as Orwellian doublespeak: “War is peace.” “Freedom is slavery.” “Less is more.”

But the truth is that people don’t buy consumer electronics for the quantity of features. They buy it for the quality of experience.

I agreed completely. I was buying the iPad for the quality of the experience. And I wanted my core experience to be reading. I was afraid that if the iPad did multitask, it would detract from my reading experience, and I noted that:

The human mind simply isn’t wired to be able to read an article, chapter of a book, or any other reasonable amount of text while bells, whistles, and sirens are going off around the page.

I still feel that way. In fact, my favorite app on the iPad is the Kindle app, which gives me one white page of text at a time. Since getting an iPad, I’ve actually been reading books at a faster rate than before. E-books are a win thanks to the iPad + Kindle.

But that was my generation one experience. Will things be the same after 4.2 arrives?

A recent 99% article points out that I’m not the only one wondering:

In the months since the iPad’s release, a growing volume of committed users have noted that the power of the [iPad] as a productivity device comes not in spite of the lack of multitasking but as a result of the lack of multitasking. You must use it in a single-minded manner – you have no choice.

Beginning in November, we will have a choice, constantly.

With any change comes gains and losses. Multitasking is not all bad. For example, it will be nice to leave Pandora running while I read RSS feeds or check Twitter. “Nice” but probably not necessary.

Time will tell if multitasking lowers the overall quality of the iPad experience. I’m hoping it won’t. But I’m betting that I will miss the “good ole” one-thing-at-a-time days when all I want to do is get lost in a book.

What do you think about multitasking?