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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  • akedia - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    They're calling it more of the same because it's . . . more of the same. Other than the cameras, it's fundamentally the same device with improved components that aren't strikingly different from the old, just faster versions of the same. It's not a complaint, it's a description: more, because it's the same package but faster, and the same, because they didn't add a bunch of new things, change anything to anything dramatically different, or take anything significant away. Seems pretty simple to me.
  • tno - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Just wanted to comment that his was one of the most tightly put together articles I've read in some time. Great job, Andrew!
  • tdtran1025 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I currently use VoIP service to route all calls to my iPhone over 3G. It's beginning to make me rethink my strategy. I may ditch the iPhone all together and use the new iPad for every daily routine (phone, light computing and web apps) to save money. With all the calls routed over 3G, my data usage hardly exceeds 100 Mb per month since I only use the web whenever I have Wifi–or most of the time. Also now that the iPad becomes very capable of handling light-duty computing, I will certainly don;t mind carrying it around–a complete integration indeed!
  • Nathelion - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    "Today, Steve Jobs took a sabbatical from his sabbatical to hop up on stage and tell us all about the iPad 2, the next revision of Apple’s wildly popular tablet PC."

    In what way is the iPad a PC? The PC is a hardware platform. PCs were originally called "IBM Compatibles", but as IBM departed the scene it has evolved and come to be identified with x86, and a number of other signature buses and instruction sets and vendors that have shifted over the years. ARM chips, however, have never been part of the PC platform. The iPad may (or may not) be awesome, but in no way is it a PC.
  • vision33r - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Amazing how much FUD is spread here. The Xoom is no longer the most powerful tablet, it was for a week.

    The Tegra 2 is not the fastest CPU/GPU combo, it is easily beaten by the new A5 Cortex 9 and the PowerVR GPU found in the iPad 2.

    Go search up the specs and stats and you will see the Xoom was dead in the water with those specs and a horrible LCD screen.

    It's ok, we will see another iPad challenger in the coming months.
  • geok1ng - Monday, March 7, 2011 - link

    So it seens a pretty bold statement that :

    "The Tegra 2 is not the fastest CPU/GPU combo, it is easily beaten by the new A5 Cortex 9 and the PowerVR GPU found in the iPad 2."

    I would wait for an Annadtech review before stating that claim. And pray that the iPad2 has a little more than the expected 512MB. 512MB??? WTF is that? Bleeding edge specs????

    Nvidia created much turmoil over the Tegra2, that after all was only 20% faster gaming wise, but much better video quality wise. And Nvidia reputation forinflating hardware specs is no where NEAR AS TARNISHED AS Apple.

    The iPad2 is a good tablet, hopefully is would yield a better use experience than the iPad1. Anyone that has a Galaxy Tab would even conseider using that slow humongous piece of bloatware.

    Give me a x86 tablet OS, even at half the battery life!
  • Griswold - Saturday, March 5, 2011 - link

    The hotspot function does not provide 3G to 5 Wifi devices. Its only 3 Wifi devices and one each via bluetooth and USB for a *total* of 5 devices.
  • pubjoe - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    I find it pretty had to take a lot of comments here seriously. Twelve Months from the ipad launch, it's pretty blind of anyone to criticize the original ipad as being "ancient", "overpriced" and "cheap" when it quite simply was the first device of it's kind. I understand it's not for everyone, but come on, who are you trying to convince?

    Form is everything.

    Now I use the term form literally. In many cases, it is not the enemy of function, but the first layer between the user and a device - the parts that you interact with. The physical appearence, the size and weight; the build quality, the screen quality, the battery life, the UI and it's simplicty, responsiveness and clarity.

    The tablets coming out now are devices (and many people have said this) that I wanted ten years ago. It is a device that replaces the magazine (plus adds a fair bit more). I can't understand criticism for an ipad being "media-centric" and I can't understand the denial of the importance of it being the first to actually produce the device that "many people" have wanted for a long time.

    Apple got it right this time - deal with it. Other companies are blatently immitating, and they will very likely exceed it at some point (65,000 apps might seem like a lot now, but it's the first drop in the ocean).

    Hardware arguments can get pretty stupid. It's all about balance. At any given moment in time, you can only fit so much technology in and without sacrificing weight and physical form; you can only make it so thin without sacrificing power; you can only set the price so low without sacrificing everything. Etc etc.

    Apple has always been very good at finding this balance. In fact, I think that's one of their most important aspects along with marketing, style, friendly UIs and "first to market" "gimmicks". Apple products have never been for everyone due to the fact that they will ruthlessly stick to they're interpretation of a perfect balance. Now that's absolutely fine. Personally, I don't have an ipad at all, mainly becasue I'm still waiting for a decent enough, thin portable sketch-book device with a touch sensitive screen and a lot of battery life to come along, but also because I don't think I "need" a magazine formed tablet to fill the gap between a smart-phone and a computer at all ...yet.

    Another important part of the balancing act is remembering what the product actually is in the first place. Just as Nintendo remembered that the gameboy, first and foremost, should be portable, have long battery life and simple fun games (sacrificing the power of their competitors). Just as Amazon remembered that a dedicated book reader should be cheap and have a visible screen. Apple remembers that the ipad is primarily a coffee table device, NOT a laptop, and it won't be purchased using the same ghz oriented selection process. The hardware is in there to serve a purpose, it just so happens to be very capable hardware, but the form, quality of screen (widescreen xoom? really?), ease of use (and so on) are important things that can't be forgotten in the coffee table battle that currently being fought. This is why people are currently buying ipads.

    Now there are interesting things happening from google with honeycomb. But it's definitely NOT due to public stupidity that the ipad has been so successful. As someone pointed out, the "sheep" comments are really making the anti-apple brigade look like luddites.
  • pubjoe - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    ...Damn I wish there was an edit button here. Apologies for the spelling mistakes.

    Anyway. I'm also sorry to get involved in the "grate apple debate". ...That wasn't a spelling mistake this time! ;-)

    For 30 years it's been going on and it always makes both sides look stupid. I usually try and avoid it, but I genuinely feel that in this case the anti apple guys' "Steve Jobs resistance pants (tm)" are going into override.
  • lili53 - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link


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