iOS 4.3 has arrived for those on the developer side of the iPhone platform but that doesn?t mean that the rest of us can?t get a few sneaky looks of what we can expect when it turns up on our handsets in the not too distant future.
March is the expect proper release of the software but Pocket-lint?s been privy to the developer version since it arrived and this is some of what we?ve gathered and also what?s been mooted so far.
iPhone, iPod touch & iPad
iOS 4.2 saw the introduction of AirPlay controls but now the functionality has got even better. The update means you can send video from the web, from apps and pictures from your Photos centre over the air and onto your screen so long as its hooked up to Apple TV. Good news if you happen to have it but actually probably not that relevant to the majority of iPhone customers.
App update buttons
Not a clincher this one and, in fact, possibly not relevant to the iPad, but on iOS 4.3 your app update reminders are going to be bigger. What that means is that the buttons on the update page are going to take up more screen real estate, just in case you couldn?t see them already.
This one isn?t active at the moment but there?s word that there?s code lying dormant within with references to settings known as Thermal Camera, X-ray, Kaleidoscope, Normal, Tunnel of Light, Collapse, Turbine and Enlarge. The reckoning is that these are, in fact, live camera effects but whether they?ll work in video, FaceTime or standard stills isn?t yet known. We?ll see if and when that one?s switched on come the expected formal release in March.
As suspected and already announced for the Verizon version of the iPhone 4, iOS 4.3 does allow for turning your handest into a broadcasting internet hotspot over Wi-Fi. It means that you can use the data signal coming into your phone from the mobile broadband network and then tether other devices to it such as laptops and whatever else you may have. The catch is that it requires your operator to allow it which probably translates to an added cost for the tethering service.
Text alert sound
You still can?t change the sound of the SMS alert but you can decide how many times it will ping at you - once to 10 times. It may not seem like much on the surface but if you change it to anything more than one, then finally you can get your phone to do differentiate between a Facebook or Twitter alert - which would have a single ping - and something more important like a text message. Also, if you have your iPhone in silent mode, it should vibrate four times whenever you receive an SMS. Not groundbreaking but baby steps in the right direction.
Find My Friends
There?s nothing much present on the front end of the software at the moment but according to some sources, there?s setting for a feature called Find My Friends. The smart money is on a MobileMe service similar to Google Latitude whereby you can opt-in and have your handsets update its location to your friends? phones on a regular basis. The idea is that you?ll then be able to look at a map and know where all your buddies are at any one time.
iPod touch only
The FaceTime app on the iPod touch is basically identical. It should work just the same. The only difference is that the icon for the app now looks a bit other.
Not that kind. iOS 4.3 introduces multitouch gesture control such that you can use four or five finger swishes to make your iPad do all sorts of funky things. A many-fingered pinch gesture will take you back to the home screen - something that has led people to believe that Apple will be doing away with the home button on the iPad 2. As well as that, you?ll be able to swipe up for the multitasking tray and gesture left and right to switch between apps.
Full screen iAd banners
?Hurray,? we hear you cry. Funnily enough, this probably won?t be one of the chosen highlights on the consumer site when iOS 4.3 goes live. Lucky iPad users. Advertisers can now get their banners right in your face with the added support on the platform for adverts that fill your entire 9.7-inch screen. That might make you think twice about shelling out the 99p for the non-lite version of your apps.
This time the iPad users genuinely will cheer. The switch on the side used to cause your device to lock in whatever screen orientation was on display without the accelerometer kicking - vital for those moments when padding prostrate. Sadly that function was whipped away like a Persian on a parquet floor with the 4.2 update which changed the switch to a mute button. Thankfully, 4.3 brings the orientation back by popular demand. In fact, this time it looks like the software will offer you the choice of either of the two functions.
There comes a time in every device?s life when the manufacturer decides to drop support for it in further software updates. Word on the street is that iOS 4.3 is the end of things for the iPhone 3G and the second generation iPod touch. With the Games Center, as introduced with iOS 4.1, not working on the iPhone 3G, the writing's been on the wall for a while. Time for a handset upgrade.