Apple previews iOS 4.3

Serenity Caldwell
3 March, 2011
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Apple gave iOS users a glimpse at what to expect from its forthcoming iOS 4.3 update on Wednesday, when it previewed the mobile operating system at its iPad 2 launch event. iOS 4.3 promises improved Safari performance, wireless media streaming in the form of iTunes home sharing, AirPlay improvements, a Personal Hotspot option for the iPhone 4, and personal settings options for the iPad’s side-switch.

Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS software, was on-hand to present the latest iteration to Apple’s mobile operating system, focusing first on the improvements to Apple’s mobile Safari app. To increase JavaScript runtime speed, the company incorporated Mac OS X’s Nitro JavaScript engine into the app; as a result, iOS runs JavaScript up to two times as fast as it had previously.

Both iTunes home sharing and AirPlay also will get updates with iOS 4.3. iPad and iPhone users will be able to stream any music, movies, and television shows from an iTunes library on their computer straight to their device using a local Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, AirPlay support has opened up in iOS 4.3 to allow third-party apps and Websites to take advantage of full audio and video streaming using AirPlay.

Several device-specific improvements—changes to the iPad’s side switch and the addition of Personal Hotspot for all iPhone 4 models—were also announced. As first seen in the 4.3 developer build, iPad users will now get to choose whether they’d like their device’s side-switch to mute or orientation-lock the screen. Meanwhile, with iOS 4.3 all GSM-based iPhones (including AT&T’s iPhone) will gain the Personal Hotspot feature, first introduced in the Verizon iPhone.

Outside of iOS 4.3, the iPad 2 has added several new system apps to its repertoire: Photo Booth, which offers a nine-effect video preview and finger-malleable effects and FaceTime, bringing full-screen video conferencing to the iPad. You can FaceTime between any applicable device—the iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, iPad 2, and any Mac with FaceTime installed.

iOS 4.3 will be available as a free download from iTunes for the iPad, the GSM iPhone 4, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod touch on March 11.

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