iOS 4.3 due later this week with mobile hotspot

Mar 8, 2011
Tech

Rumors started flying this morning that iOS 4.3, the next platform update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, was coming our way. That never materialized, unfortunately, but I’m not really sure where that rumor came from anyway — it certainly wasn’t Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs, who said iOS 4.3 would launch on March […]

Rumors started flying this morning that iOS 4.3, the next platform update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, was coming our way. That never materialized, unfortunately, but I’m not really sure where that rumor came from anyway — it certainly wasn’t Apple (AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs, who said iOS 4.3 would launch on March 11, along with the iPad 2.

While we’re not getting iOS 4.3 today, we have been getting new information about the forthcoming update to Apple’s mobile operating system. Mostly, it’ll have some great new features to go with the iPad 2 and the new apps that are heading to the iTunes App Store along with it.

The biggest feature is the mobile hotspot update. Originally a feature of the Verizon (VZ) iPhone, iOS 4.3 will feature a tethering ability that can basically turn your iOS device into a mobile Wi-Fi router. The feature lets five devices connect to it on the Verizon iPhone, but with AT&T (T), only three devices can connect, according to Engadget.

Even so, the hotspot feature is sure to be an awesome addition to the iOS repertoire of features. It’ll cost you — $20 a month on either AT&T or Verizon — but the ability to connect a laptop for Internet surfing over 3G can be invaluable in a pinch or when away from home.

Also coming with 4.3 is iTunes Home Sharing, which is exactly what it sounds like. Using your home Wi-Fi network, you can share media files between your computer and your iOS devices. It requires a bit of setup — you’ll need 4.3 on your devices, plus an upgrade to iTunes 10.2 on your Mac or PC. You’ll need to peg which files or libraries should be shared and set up some other security elements along the way, but once all that’s done, you can actually stream content from your computer to your iDevice while you’re at home. That also means that if you can plug an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad into a stereo system, you can access all your music and play it over better speakers than the ones your computer is equipped with.

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There are also a few other cool improvements. For iPad owners, 4.3 will allow you to choose whether the switch on the side of the iPad is for quickly muting the device, or locking the screen rotation. The new Java Nitro update will make browsing in Mobile Safari work a whole lot better, according to Apple, and the update also carries a few improvements to AirPlay, which is Apple’s means of streaming content to Apple TV.

It’s not all good news, though. Owners of the CDMA iPhone 4 — the Verizon iPhone — won’t be getting iOS 4.3 with the rest of the Apple clan. Jobs specifically mentioned the March 11 date for iOS 4.3 as being for the GSM (AT&T) devices, but not for the CDMA variety.

The CDMA iOS devices get their own software updates, and Verizon iPhones already carry the mobile hotspot feature. When Apple rolled out the CDMA iPhone, it came with a different version of iOS than what was available on GSM devices — iOS 4.2.5, and later, iOS 4.2.6. Meanwhile, GSM devices stayed with iOS 4.2.1. So the rollout for iOS 4.3 is possibly different for Verizon customers, in some sense. In any case, it seems as though several of the features of iOS 4.3 for Verizon are going to be delayed.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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