iOS 4.3 - iOS 4 redux

Those of you hoping to get some information on iOS 5 today are out of luck - you'll probably have to wait for the iPhone 5 announcement before you see the true next-generation iOS. iOS 4.3, which requires the newly released iTunes 10.2, adds some new features to the now-familiar iOS 4 without changing much else.

The first thing you should know about the next iOS update is the list of supported models - Apple lists, in additon to the iPad 2, the original iPad, the iPhone 3GS and 4, and the third- and fourth-generation iPod Touch. Missing from this list are the iPhone 3G and the second-generation iPod Touch, which won't be supported by any iOS update past 4.2.1. The CDMA iPhone 4 is also excluded from the 4.3 list, although Apple hasn't provided any reason as to why it's not included.

This information might sting a bit for owners of these devices, but it certainly isn't surprising. The iPhone 3G missed out on many of iOS 4's banner features - multitasking and home screen wallpapers being chief among these - and performance has been notoriously poor on these older devices, though the 4.1 and 4.2 releases did improve the situation to some degree. It's too bad that Apple can't deliver new software updates to all of its users indefinitely, but it's understandable that they don't want to hamper newer devices' feature sets in order to maintain support for devices with 128MB of RAM and sub-500MHz processors.

Now that you know what devices won't be supported, let's talk about the features that supported devices should see when the new update hits on March 11th.

 

All supported devices should see a tidy increase in JavaScript performance in Safari - Apple claims that its new Nitro JavaScript engine is twice as fast as the old one. It's not a consolation for those hoping for Honeycomb's true tabbed browser, but it should improve the experience for anyone already used to Web browsing in iOS.

AT&T iPhone 4 users will also get the Personal Hotspot feature included on the new Verizon iPhone - contingent on AT&T's support for the feature, they'll be able to share their phone's 3G data connection with up to five wi-fi enabled devices. AT&T's GSM/UMTS network should allow this feature to work even if the phone is being used to make calls, which will be a nice feature for the AT&T faithful.

Next up, users who were discouraged to see the iPad's orientation lock become a practically useless mute switch at the onset of iOS 4 will now have the option to make it an orientation lock once again. There's not much else to say about this one.

The last feature I want to talk about is the one that I'm the most excited about, personally - people will finally be able to stream their iTunes libraries to their iOS devices over their wi-fi networks, just as they've been able to share their libraries with other iTunes users for years now. It may not matter much to users with higher-capacity devices, but this forehead-slappingly simple feature is going to be awesome for me - I can finally access all of the music from my 40+ GB iTunes library on my 16GB iPhone while I'm wandering around the house, and I couldn't be happier about it.

iOS 4.3 further improves iOS 4, but it doesn't really address the underlying problem with iOS - it's becoming a bit dated, and that some of Honeycomb's interface improvements make Android tablets more usable for heavy multitaskers without negating the elegance of an all-touch interface. This is understandable, for now - many Apple users are perfectly happy with iOS 4, so why rock the boat? - but I'd like to see some more drastic changes in iOS 5, especially given how multitasking-oriented the new hardware is.

GarageBand and iMovie - iLife for iPad

One of the most common criticisms of the iPad is that it is designed for media consumption rather than creation - if you want to look at web pages or photos or movies, it's great, but if you're in the business of making any of those things, it leaves something to be desired.

I believe that this problem is endemic to tablets - any device that is mostly screen is going to lose to something that accepts more versatile input devices - but Apple is moving to remedy some of those complaints with new apps based on its iLife suite.

 

iMovie appears to be a relatively full-featured movie editor that can work with movies stored on your iPad or with movies you capture with the device's built-in camera. 

iMovie for iPad supports exporting to YouTube and to iTunes, among other services, and gives you access to a range of transitions and sound effects, to boot. Expect it to deliver a good amount of the Mac version of iMovie's functionality, though you certainly won't be able to replace your MacBook with a tablet just yet.

Most of these statements also apply to the iPad version of GarageBand, a simplified version of the iLife app. The iPad app can record up to 8-tracks from recorded audio, loops, or from the app's simulated instruments (touch versions of a drumset, keyboard, guitar and bass guitar are all represented). As with iMovie, serious users will still want to use the desktop version of GarageBand, but the iOS app goes some way toward making the iPad a more usable prodution device.

 

The Hardware Conclusions
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  • strikeback03 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Bet we won't hear much about "fragmentation" among iOS devices though Reply
  • Focher - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    You confuse fragmentation (ie. the Android market) with product generations. While one can argue that Apple expires enhancements to older products too soon, that's not fragmentation. Reply
  • wpwoodjr - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I've been using a great open source program called Subsonic. Its a service that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It will stream your music and videos to your browser or to your iOS or Android device over wifi and 3/4g, so you aren't tethered to your house. It does transcoding on the fly to reduce bit rates to your phone if required.

    There are 2 or 3 Subsonic player apps for iOS and 1 great free app by the Subsonic developer for Android. I have replaced the media player on my Droid X with Subsonic and now access my full music collection (and also several friend's collections) anywhere I go.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Subsonic is really nice Reply
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Wow, that sounds awesome! I am going to look into that. Granted, for my music I use my Cowon J3, but I would use the video part for sure. Reply
  • worldbfree4me - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    The price seems resonable until you consider that those of us who already own an iPad and want to buy a new one will have to fork over even more than before! With Apple bringing the price of a refurbished model down to a low $349. My gently used base model probably now only has a fair market value of only $299. Thus it has depreciated at least $200 in less than 12 months and will now require me to come up with a difference of at least $200 just to get into another base model. Sure for my $200, I'll get a second core, 2 cams and more ram. But is that worth $200? I think Apple miscalculated the early adopter, and as a result, they will ultimately sit this round out and patiently wait for round 3 IMO! Reply
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Whooooaaaaa now... Apple gradually putting out minimalistic hardware to try to coax people into wasting their money time and time again? kuuraazzzyyy person alert Reply
  • smithg5 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I just did an "Instant Sell" (where eBay makes you an offer) for mine on eBay yesterday for ~$65 below the new retail price. I saw some go for about $100 less than the old retail price last week in auction - so I think the trick for a yearly upgrade is to sell as soon as the next iPad event is announced. Reply
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Good summary Andrew.

    Brandon
    Reply
  • techbwoy - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I have to disagree with Anand about iOS looking long in the tooth. Major issue with android is its vertical integration. I have not used Honeycomb but from what I can see its still half baked and was only released to try and get a footing in the market before iPad 2. Having the ability to customize is cool however I am into how can I use this thing. Netflix came to Windows phone 7 before android. Apple is trying to make a device a child can use I know to some in the tech field that may be not as cool but Apple don't forget about people with handicaps when making the device something that is a awesome feature that is useful and changes lives. I am just tired of mind less fanboys. The Xoom has a camera but what can you do with it edit a movie or create music with something similar to Garage Band NO. I want to try out a google device but its annoying that even the flag ship nexus devices can't get timely updates. The market will decide the winners and losers. There is genius in simplicity that must just don't get but then again its genius so must people will not get it. Buy the product that appeals to you and let the product live on its own merits. Competition is good and the more the better for the consumer. So funny how things have change for Apple from the 90's to now. THINK DIFFERENT still rings true. Reply

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