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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  • akula2 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    It doesn't matter whether iPad was the first tablet or not. And, Apple doesn't claim it. Thing is, iPad has *shattered* the market by launching iPad product. The actual tablets starting to flood into the markets in huge volumes, it never happened earlier. Naturally, most of big players quickly woke up and started pumping out their tablet versions. Ultimately, the credit goes to Apple for bringing such a revolution in the market as well as for the evolution of a tablet which not only scaling great heights but also cannibalizing the Laptop and PC markets! Do you agree or not?
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I do not agree on the point about laptop and pc markets, as I don't really know anybody who actually believes a giant iPod Touch is a PC replacement. The only recent Tablets that could be considered a that would be the Panasonic Rugged Tablets or the Asus Eee Slate. But yes I do agree that it was Apple's doing that caused the other companies to realize that the common people will gladly have a MID for casual Media Consumption as well as everything else a tablet was already used for. Now they are breaking out their long-awaited plans for their own devices and putting them on the market a little earlier than they expected.
  • Stas - Friday, March 4, 2011 - link

    I think it's all PR, really. Before the pad, there were good devices out like Archos portable media players. They had different apps, browser, wifi, etc. But did you ever see an ad for one? Forget TV or street billboards, how about newspapers, magazines, even Internet? I've been following them since version 4, yet I've never seen an ad for the device. If they had better sales, they could've invested more into R&D and made something like the current tablets. Anything Apple makes gets a lot of hype. That's why they could sell a turd for ridiculous money and make people feel like they just made the best investment in their lives.
  • owen_x_10 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I agree with you.
    there maybe other tablets around but they weren't able to properly sell it or at least never had a good idea how to tell people all its uses. Apple is good with it in all their products.

    There maybe tables even before, but people ignore them. Look at it now, everyone wants to own one.

    People are so used to tablets now because its everywhere, so with the announcement of iPad 2, it's like normal to them. And I think the reason why there's no WOW factor anymore is because Apple kinda lowered the energy in their announcement since they are aware that iPad isnt a new device anymore and nothing to give audience a WOW. Probably if they release a new product, like a game console or something else, they will make the keynote a big event again like that when iPhone was first introduced.
  • mason.s - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    "Forcing your own expectations onto a device is just wishful thinking."

    What a silly thing to say. The market is driven by customer expectations.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

  • tim851 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    // In case you haven't figured it out, it finally has features we expected from a tablet since day one. //

    Who is we?
    Given the outrageous (and to me still incomprehensible) success of the iPad, a large number of people didn't expect a whole lot more than it offered.
  • adam75 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Good grief. It's a handheld computer, and apple made it easier to hold. You can argue that making an iMac thinner is pointless, but to miss the "logic" of making the iPad thinner and lighter... wow. Just, wow.
  • RHurst - Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - link

    I agree. I mean, have you seen the iPad internals? The thing is tight and clean. Make it 33% thinner, lighter. Easy? Perhaps, but I think it's impressive.

    Watch the netbooks, even expensive notebooks. When was the last time they became significantly thinner and lighter with the same battery capacity? I see the Acer One, same thing for years, even when it's changing inside.

    That means redesign, in my book. A complete redesign. I like that kind of care, I value that. More power, same batttery, thinner.
  • djgandy - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    This is the sad thing about the PC market. I know the manufacturing is outsourced to China, but it seems that even the design is now too. Hundreds of dull cheaply produced case designs, nothing that costs that $20 more.

    A 11-12" laptop should be easy to produce thinly. It doesn't even need to have a dvd drive these days.

    A board, a 1.8" hard drive, a CPU, some ram. Why do I need a 15" chassis to hold all of that?

    Notebook manufacturers lost sight years ago. They keep packing bigger hard drives, stupid amounts of ram and expensive blu ray drives that push up the price and have little functionality.

    Then came net books, the underpowered undersized solution. Now we have tablets at the right size. When are the notebook makers going to realise that people want 10-12" laptops, and they are not fussed about quad core processors?

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