As most of you know, Apple’s is notoriously secretive about forthcoming products, and rarely says much about the beta test process even when a forthcoming product is demonstrated. So you may know that a new version of Mac OS X — or the iOS — is under development, but most of the information about prerelease versions comes from unofficial and unapproved sources, usually in violation of Apple’s confidentiality agreement.
That appears to have turned 180 degrees with a recent announcement that “it is releasing a beta version of its AirPrint wireless printing for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch to members of Apple’s iOS developer program…”
The press release goes on to amplify and extend what Steve Jobs announced at the recent media event where the latest and greatest iPods and Apple TV were demonstrated. So we learn that AirPrint “will be included in the free iOS 4.2 software update in November. AirPrint automatically finds printers on local networks and can print text, photos and graphics to them wirelessly over Wi-Fi without the need to install drivers or download software. HP’s existing and upcoming ePrint enabled printers will be the first to support printing direct from iOS devices.”
All well and good, but the real surprise is that Apple not only revealed the specifics of the new feature, but also explained it was contained in a beta release that had been seeded to developers. That’s a rare, rare thing for Apple to do.