For a 0.1 increase, the iPhone/iPod touch iOS 4.1 software update is going to make quite a big difference. Announced just the other day at the Apple iPod keynote and set for release on 8 September, there's a seriously quick turn around going on here and, seeing as it's free and that everyone will be downloading it, it's well worth knowing exactly what advantages it's going to bring to your phone or MP3 player.
Naturally, we at Pocket-lint don't want you peeps having to waste your precious time scraping round the Internet for details on what's new, so we've done it for you. And here it is to swallow in one easily digestible pill.
Game Center is set to bring multiplayer and social elements to Apple's fight to become the best portable gaming platform in the West, East, North and South. Whether iPod touches have been bought to play games on or not, the fact is that Apple were able to stand up at the recent keynote and quote statistics about the company's device out-selling all other gaming handhelds in the last significant time period. Game Center is the next push at cementing those figures.
The iOS SDK will allow developers to make their apps compatible with the Game Center, which will be an online area where iPod and iPhone users can invite friends to play with and against them in games that they both share. You'll be able to be auto-matched against users you don't know, track achievements and compare your scores on leaderboards against others around the world.
iOS 4.1 represents the social revolution on more than just one level. iTunes 10 has a new feature known as Ping which is positioned to bring music lovers closer together as well. Ping will turn up on your iPhone or iPod as a tab within the iPod app and it'll bring you all the same Ping functionality as you get on the iTunes 10 desktop software. You'll be able to follow your favourite artists, see what your friends are listening to and rate/review the music that you buy from the iTunes Store.
HD Video Uploads
With the iPhone 4 now capable of capturing 720p HD video at 30fps, as well as editing on the same device, there needs to be a way of depositing the results into the cloud and that's exactly what iOS 4.1 will provide. The software update will allow HD video uploads from the iPhone 4 to both MobileMe and YouTube.
Traditionally, camera phone software hasn't been the world's best and, as a result, your mobile is never that great at dealing with tricky light situations. HDR photography is an excellent way of getting around this and it's something that Apple has had the good sense to add to iOS 4.1.
HDR stands for high dynamic range and it refers to those shots that feature areas of both very dark and very bright spots at the same time. Ordinarily, this makes it hard for the camera to pick the right exposure settings. You're either going to end up with the light areas exposed correctly and all the details of the shadows lost, or the dark areas as they should be but all the colour burned away in the all too bright light spots.
iOS 4.1 will now take multiple shots of different exposures at the same time and combine the results to make sure that all the colours and details are maintained at both ends of the spectrum. In short, your iPhone shots will look much more like what you see with your own eyes.
iOS 4 bug fixes
It may not be the most glamorous feature of any software update, but bug fixes are probably the important part. There were way too many iPhone 3G and lower generation devices that were slowed down to a hog in molasses speed by iOS 4.0 when it turned up a few months back. The Apple engineers have sat down and identified the problems it caused and, fingers crossed, taking the plunge once again with another update should solve most of the problems. It might feel like going deeper down the rabbit hole but it should do the trick.
The iOS 4.1 update is arriving on the 8 September 2010. You'll be able to receive it by plugging your device into your computer and firing up iTunes and it'll cost you absolutely nothing.