So after months in development, Apple has finally released iOS4.3 for iPhones 3GS + iPhone 4, iPad 1 + the upcoming iPad, and iPod Touch 3rd + 4th gen. If you have an iOS device other than these, sorry but its the end of the line for updates.
Probably the most important feature added in iOS4.3 is the Personal Hotspot for iPhone 4. While owners of older iPhone models are annoyed this isn’t available for the 3G and 3GS, there is actually a good reason for the restriction. The chip that emits a Wi-Fi hotspot is a hardware that just simply isn’t included in older versions. While they all can receive Wi-Fi, only the iPhone 4 has the physical capability to create the magic.
While beta versions of the Personal Hotspot included support for up to 5 devices, the final shipping version got scaled back to 3. To be honest, this isn’t really a big deal as today’s network speeds divided by 3 would be slow enough, divided by 5 would definitely be unusable. On future 4G networks, there’d definitely be benefits for having more devices supported, especially if your riding 5-up connected adults.
To enable the Wi-Fi Hotspot feature, fire up Settings > Personal Hotspot. Your 3G connection can be shared via USB, Bluetooth, but most commonly Wi-Fi. Security-wise the hotspot forces users to define a Password.. this means no access for Firesheep to steal your credentials.
Now you don’t have to spend hours syncing content to your device just to listen to it in another room. Assuming your Wi-Fi stretches the length of your house, you can connect your iOS4.3 device with Home Sharing and stream music, videos and podcasts wirelessly. This is one killer feature. You will need a Mac or PC running iTunes for this to work, but just shut off your monitors when not in use and your golden.
If your an Apple family, then your likely to have a Apple TV as well as an iOS device. Playing to their strengths, Apple has improved interoperability between the two. AirPlay allows streaming of content wirelessly to your Apple TV which is connected to your HDTV. While this sounds like a great way to get content from your device to the TV, personally I prefer to stream from the original source, either a computer or in my case a Home Server. Another issue is the resolution of the content. Most people downsize videos to fit the iPhone or iPad screen, which is 1024×768 pixels at best. When scaled up to a TV of 42+ inches, the quality will look pretty ordinary.
If you’ve kept your original content at 720p, then it should look great on your TV. You’ll likely need a 802.11N network to stream reliably. Up scaling of content can play a big part of how the final output looks, something like a Keynote Presentation using vector graphics or photo slideshows should look fine.
Without a doubt the most disappointing part of the update is the fact Multitasking gestures didn’t make it to the final release. As a developer I’ve had the beta builds for weeks now and love multi-task gestures on the iPad. Something that will only be improved on iPad 2 with a better processor. The reason – at times switching apps this way can be on the laggy-side, so perhaps it didn’t meet Apple’s UX requirements.
Check out what your missing in this YouTube video below.
More information on the iOS4.3 update available @ Apple.