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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  • Tyhr - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Without issues? My iPhone often has issues. Apps won't start up, or crash. Just the other day I wanted to look at my calendar while on the phone - multitask - and while it USUALLY works, my iPhone failed miserably to do it.
    I have to reboot my iPhone 3GS about once a week. Which interestingly enough, is a lot more than I reboot my Windows 7 computer.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    The bugs in Apple products are the reason I stopped using them. They just never seem to go away, like you're always waiting for that one fix. People complain about the slow updates of my Galaxy S, but the truth is I've had to reboot maybe once because of a beta app that I wanted to try out. I've had it since it was released.

    When you ignore hardware, you ignore the fact that this is a technological world and is advancing faster and faster. In order to have a faster, more versatile machine you need the hardware to back it up. Without it you hit a wall of what you can do and then you're done. With the new line of Android products, they all seem to have the same internal specs (thanks to nvidia), with only a few slight differences.

    And are you trying to tell me that a buggy, closed smartphone OS is better than a fresh new Tablet OS..for Tablets? Trying to tell me more integration is a bad thing? including creative apps is a bad thing?
  • robco - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    I suppose it depends on how common your personal experience is. My 3GS works pretty well and is anything but buggy. I did get a replacement because the back started cracking, likely the reason Apple switched to glass as I'm told it's not an uncommon issue with white 3G and 3GS models. But don't assume everyone has had the same experience you've had.

    The hardware is important, but so is the availability of software. Right now Apple has a huge lead. That is what is important for Google and others and the real hurdle they need to overcome. If I can get the apps I want on the iPad, but not the Xoom, why would I buy the Xoom? It's better to be able to do something more slowly than not at all. Bragging rights with respect to hardware specs doesn't really work if I'm playing games, making music, editing movies, etc. and you can't because the software isn't available for your device.

    I know lots of people with iOS devices and none have complained about a lack of a card slot, non-removeable battery or slow processor. Overall they're quite happy with them. If Apple had really made crappy, buggy products, I doubt they would have sold well. But they're good products, with a solid ecosystem for delivering content and attracting developers by creating an easy way to get apps to users. Until Android/webOS/Blackberry/MS can match that, Apple will remain on top of the tablet market. Faster SoCs, more RAM and more storage aren't going to change that.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    They are having the same issue with the glass back..its just cheap parts. IF they used Gorilla Glass it wouldn't be an issue..
    You must be one of the very few lucky ones..All I hear about is problem after problem after problem with the iOS stability, constrainment and cheap manufacturing.

    When the iPad first came out, it was the same story with the Brand New Honeycomb OS..not many apps at launch but compatibility with all the old ones and Tons of developers aiming towards them immediately. Give it a few months and you'll be satisfied with the App aspect of it and not just the fluidity, integration, and customization.

    They can match it, just look at the rise in Android apps compared to how fast Apple got that many. I don't think that webOS will match up, and I think that Blackberry is just concerned with making theirs more business friendly.
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    You will be silenced by the Apple sheep very soon who proclaim that these issues are not possible on an Apple device.
  • akula2 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Every phone has its own fcuking issue(s) so don't single out Apple. I own couple of smart phones, examples I have bad experience with N96 so should I go ahead and blame all Nokia phones? That's ridiculous.
  • RHurst - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Widgets, IMHO, are for my two screens (I have a 19"portrait and a 24"). Why would I want to use widget on a 10.1 max screen? I think my laptop screen, how can I use a tablet fully if not having an app fully maximized?

    How long people contemplate the home screen, really? How useful is to have an analog watch on screen, or two partial emails or so? I've seen you tube clips on honeycomb's cute, but...why?

    I think iOS homescreen is fine. It does need better notifications and a better app switch system, a la webOS perhaps.

    But not widgets. I love my daemon tools widgets on windows 7, cpu and network usage, but that's pretty much it.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Widgets give you quick updates and quick links to the full program. Its so you don't have to open the app every time you want to see who posted the new msg in facebook and what the msg is..who your new email is from..summary of your calendar for the day..quick look at the weather, time, battery life. Not to mention the entertainment value of some (which I know are not for everybody). One widget I use constantly is the one that turns on the light in the back with one push. Another is the Pandora Widget. Just hit play or pause, skip tracks at any time. It's all about the little things.
  • Juzcallmeneo - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    One of the great things about you can CHOOSE to have the widgets or not..same with how many home screens you have. Customization is never overrated.
  • bplewis24 - Thursday, March 3, 2011 - link

    Well I tell you what, you continue living in 1984 where you are told what you do and don't need and can't envision a reason to ever think outside of the box you've been placed in. Other people will consider products that give them a choice of widgets or not, and you can have what you like.


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