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iOS 4.3 is out now and if you haven’t discovered it yet or had the opportunity to upgrade,  there’s one very powerful addition – multitasking gestures. MacWorld had it all wrong.

The multitasking gestures are still present in iOS 4.3 beta 2 for developers to test, but will not, according to the release documents, be enabled in iOS 4.3 for consumers. It’s possible that Apple plans on further refining the feature, perhaps saving it as a marquee feature for iOS 5 down the line—or, if the feature is deemed too confusing to implement properly, it could be killed off altogether.

Five-finger Pinch

I remember seeing this one fly through the patent process and had no clue what it might be useful for. Brilliant – five-finger pinch zoom on any app returns you to the home screen. Strike one for the home button.

Four-finger Swipe

This makes it possible to swipe left and right to access all apps currently running. I’ve also thought iOS 4.0/4.2 was a bit clunky for access to apps in memory. Pressing the home button just to switch app contexts is synonymous to using the command line to switch windows. This changes multitasking productivity significantly. Strike two for the home button.

According to Johan E. Johansson, Law student by day, entrepeneur by night … when using iOS 4.3 on iPad (1), performance improvements are evident in mobile Safari, but that’s about all.

There is no major performance gains for the first-generation iPad, except for Safari. However, the improvement in Safari is highly noticeable – it’s really good! Pages load faster and tabs seems to switch faster, which likely is an unintended byproduct (resources reallocate faster because pages load faster, thus locking up resources for a shorter period of time).

From a productivity perspective, these features are not going to change your week on the road with iPad, but you can count on a little acceleration in getting work done.

What’s the third strike for iPad’s home button? I don’t know – ask this guy.

UPDATE: I really should have explained that (a) MacWorld wasn’t really wrong about the inclusion of multi-tasking gestures for regular iPad consumers and, (b) enabling multi-tasking gestures requires a bit of a hack (not a jailbreak) – you need to use XCode 3.2.5 or 3.2.6 to enable the option in your display settings.