Mar 092011
 

Apple’s latest update for your favorite iDevices is out, and you’re probably wondering what’s new. The 4.3 release isn’t as flashy as some of the previous releases, but let’s quickly go over what to look for.

What devices is it for?

  • iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 (GSM only)
  • iPod Touch (3rd/2009 and 4th/2010 generation)
  • iPad 1 and iPad 2

All other devices are left out in the cold.  No Verizon iPhone update this time around which already has some of the features from 4.3.  At some point, expect iOS versions to converge again across all current devices, like 4.2 did with the iPad.  I’d guess iOS 5, which may be announced in April.

What’s new and exciting in 4.3?

Apple’s own iOS page gives us some of the bigger details, and there’s a few small tweaks not mentioned as well.

  1. Airplay Enhancements
    Third party apps can now take advantage of Airplay video streaming to the AppleTV.  Previously it was limited to Apple’s own apps like Youtube and the iPod app.  Now it’s open for all to use.  The catch is, a developer will actually have to add this support into their app, and some, like Hulu, I would guess will never add this functionality. Netflix has also said they won’t add Airplay support their app because Netflix is already natively supported on the AppleTV, so it doesn’t make much sense to stream to it from an iPhone or iPad. The great AirVideo app already supports Airplay video, and provides a great way to stream almost any video format to your iPhone or iPad, which can now then, in turn, stream to your TV via the AppleTV.   Expect more apps to support it in the future.
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  3. Safari Javascript Performance
    Mobile Safari is getting Apple’s “Nitro” javascript engine that’s already present in the desktop version of Safari.  Early testing shows this to increase the overall responsiveness in Safari some, but don’t expect it to be a huge difference.  This seems more of an incremental update, but still nice to have.
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  5. iTunes Home Sharing
    Through iTunes Home Sharing, you can now stream to your iPhone or iPad content from your PC’s iTunes library.  A nice addition, but this will only work while you’re on the same local network as your PC.  Since it’s through iTunes, this will only work with media files that iTunes supports.
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  7. iPad Side Switch Configuration
    After the internet uproar when iOS 4.2 changed the switch on the iPad from a rotation lock to a mute switch, Apple has appeased those who complained by letting you decide how the switch should work.  In the Settings app, you can pick from a mute switch or a rotation lock.  It’s your call!
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  9. Personal Hotspot for iPhone 4
    Already available on the Verizon iPhone, GSM iPhones will be able to share their connection via Wifi with up to 3 devices.  Carriers can request the device cap be upped to five.  For AT&T users, it’s limited to 3 devices, and also means you’ll have to add the tethering and hotspot feature to your plan, at a cost of an extra $20 a month.  This comes with a 4GB / month data cap, and can be added and removed at any time, no long term commitment needed. For those still grandfathered in on the AT&T unlimited plan, to get the hotspot feature, you’ll have to give up unlimited data forever — there’s no going back.   This will end up costing you a net of $15 more per month, since unlimited data is $30, and the standard 2GB plan which you’ll be switching to is $25 (+$20 for hotspot/tethering).
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  11. Other Minor Tweaks
    Some other minor, but nice adjustments in 4.3 is that you can cancel app downloads in progress.  Maybe you started to download an app that’s taking too long, or you’ve changed your mind mid-download; now just hold your finger down on the app and delete it like you would any other app. Also added is simultaneous downloads of app updates.  4.3 lets you download and install to 3 apps at once, which should definitely help streamline the on-device update process. 

    Additionally, some of the new text tones that were added in the last update have been adjusted and shortened to make for more appropriate text tone notifications.

     

  12. Garage Band and iMovie
    Apple’s exisiting iMovie app will be going universal, for significant video editing on the iPad.  The only catch is that it will only work on the iPad 2, presumably due to the added horsepower the iPad 2 has with its dual core CPU.  Another iLife program, Garage Band, is coming to both versions of the iPad.  It even supports connecting real instruments to the iPad by using an appropriate adapter. Both apps are $4.99 in the App Store.

That pretty much covers what to look for in the latest update.  Apply the update by connecting your device to iTunes and clicking the “Check for updates” button.