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iOS 4.3 beta: Breakdown of features found

It has been a busy start to 2011 for Apple, first releasing the Mac App Store, then delivering the much awaited Verizon iPhone, and now they have released the next generation iOS 4.3 beta to developers to start familiarizing themselves with.

Over the last 24 hours there has been several reports about new and improved features found in the iOS 4.3 beta version so we thought we would summarize findings so far.

No support for iPhone 3G and 2nd generation iPod Touch

According to MacStories the new iOS 4.3 seems to drop the support for the iPhone 3G and 2nd gen iPod Touch, perhaps not unexpected as there have been two upgrades for both devices already, with more sure to come over the coming year. Knowing that most people would likely upgrade their mobile phones every two year or so, it makes perfect sense for Apple to drop these devices in the next upgrade, ‘encouraging’ people to upgrade their devices as well.

New iPhone and iPad devices without a home button

Following reports from Boy Genius Report that the new iOS 4.3 will offer several more multi-touch gestures speculations have started about Apple getting rid of the physical home button on future iPad and iPhone models. Exactly how multi-touch features will replace the functionality of the home button is largely unknown, and multi-touch is currently a preview in the beta version so might not make it to the final version.

Some of the new swipe features include:

  • Swipe up to see the multitask bar
  • swipe left or right to switch between apps
  • pinch to go back to home screen

What is interesting about iOS devices potentially loosing the home button is the opportunity it produces for both reduced size devices, but perhaps even more interesting for larger screen versions.

Mobile hotspot

The mobile hotspot feature was something delivered for the new Verizon iPhone, and according to BGR it looks like this feature will come to all iPhone users in the iOS 4.3. Mobile hotspot means that you can share your 3G internet access with up to five devices, such as for example a wi-fi only iPad or a Macbook.

Although Apple is bringing the feature in the iOS 4.3 it will likely be down to individual carriers if they will allow users to access the feature.

Apple iPad 2 camera features

9-to-5 Mac have discovered references to the camera functionality of the Apple iPad 2 in the iOS 4.3 beta, including four files referencing the camera in addition to images of what the shutter effect might look like on the iPad screen. Another interesting aspect of that is that the screenshots are in 1024 x 768 resolution, same as the current Apple iPad, so it is unlikely that the iPad 2 will have Retina display.

iPad hardware rotation lock

Apple took a lot of flack for turning the hardware rotation lock into a mute button on earlier iOS release, but according to Macstories it looks like they are correcting it again in the iOS 4.3. In the settings application it looks like you have the option to make the side swith either a mute button or a screen orientation lock.

AirPlay support for third-party apps

While the iOS 4.2 only brought AirPlay support to built in Apple apps, this gets fixed in the new iOS 4.3 version so you can stream audio and video from third-party apps and websites in Safari browser as well according to Engadget. It is also good to see that the photos app gets AirPlay support for both photos and videos.

Find out more about Apple AirPlay and compatible systems here.

Find my MobileMe friends

According to ReadWriteWeb there are signs of some form of social networking feature in association with MobileMe in the iOS 4.3. There are references to “Find my Friends”  within the settings of the MobileMe service. So far there is only speculations as to what this is in relation to, but some speculate that it could be some sort of location enabler service to connect with your friends.

Photo stream and Media Stream

In the second beta release of the iOS 4.3 there are references to something called Photo Stream and Media Stream, connected to the MobileMe service. There have been several speculations as to what these features actually are, with 9to5 Mac  speculating that it could be a service in connection with Find my Friends (mentioned above) that allows you to share your photo and media stream through a MobileMe controlled social network service.

Based on the wording in relation to the two services it looks more like it is some sort of auto-sync feature that automatically syncs your last thirty days of pictures and media to MobileMe and shares them with all your connected devices. This could be one of the first steps towards a more complete AirSync feature that so many of us are hoping Apple will bring to the table soon.

Reference to new iPhone and iPad models

Engadget reports that they have found iOS 4.3 code that reveals new iPhone and iPad models. This has often been first signs of things to come before, and the current iPhone 4 is referred to as iPhone3,1 and the Verizon iPhone is 3,2. In the code there is reference to iPhone3,3 as well as 4,1 and 4,2. There are also references to 3 iPad models.

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