Got a new iPad 2 or upgraded your original iPad to iOS 4.3? While 4.3 doesn’t bring that many new features, there is a hidden one that will completely change your iPad experience. With a new set of multitouch gestures enabled, you’ll be able to forget about the home button entirely and move around your iPad with only your fingers.

“Multitasking Gestures” is a setting that you can enable only if your iPad is in development mode, which simply requires a Mac app to activate. Nothing changes about your iPad in this developer mode aside from the ability to turn on these gestures, which work like this: Use four or five fingers to swipe left and right between your open apps (similar to the new behavior in Mac OS 10.7 Lion), swipe up for the multitasking bar ,and make a 4-finger pinching motion to return to the homescreen from an app. While it seems simple enough, it totally changes the iPad experience for the better.

Unlike on the iPhone, where the homescreen button is always in a place where you can press it easily, the iPad’s home button can sometimes be annoying to press if you’re using the iPad on a dock or holding it in portrait mode. These multitasking gestures remove all need for the home button, giving touch gestures for -everything- that you’d use the home button for. Could this be the first step in eliminating that button entirely on the iPad?

If you want to try out these gestures, here’s how.

  1. Register your Apple ID as a developer. You can do this on Apple’s developer site, and this membership is free. This will give you access to the tools you need to put your iPad in development mode.
  2. Download and install XCode 3 or 4 and the iOS SDK. You can download XCode 3 from Apple’s site or download XCode 4 from the Mac App Store for $5. The iOS SDK comes with both of these releases.
  3. Plug in your iPad to your mac with USB, and Lauch the XCode app, which should be in the “/Developer/Applications” folder on the root of your Mac OS X install volume.
  4. In the “Organizer” window of XCode, you should see your iPad in the list of devices. Click on your iPad, and then click the “Use for Development” button on the “Summary” tab of the device pane.
  5. A popup will appear asking you to login as a developer. Simply hit “Cancel,” and your iPad will still be put into developer mode.

  1. Now, enable the setting on your iPad in the “General” settings page. You should see a switch for “Multitasking Gestures” right underneath the options to control the Side Switch behavior.
  2. Enjoy your new feature! As far as I can tell, development mode does not affect anything else on your iPad–your apps, games, and customization should all stay the same, aside from this awesome new feature!

What do you all think of these new gestures? Can you see them replacing the home button for you in most cases?