Apple this week released to developers the beta version of iOS 4.3, the next update to its mobile operating system. As expected, iOS 4.3 contains several new features that in addition to expected changes offer some potential hints on Apple's future plans for iPhone and iPad.
In a post to Apple's developers website, Apple urges developers to test iOS 4.3 and provide feedback. Here's a look at the highlights:
1. Multi-Touch Gestures: "You can use four or five fingers to pinch to the Home Screen, swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, and swipe left or right between apps," Apple writes, fueling speculation that it will eliminate the physical "Home" button in the next version of the iPad.
2. Personal Hotspot For GSM: Apple users with GSM-equipped devices can now set up personal hotspots to enable Wi-Fi connectivity for other devices.
3. Increased AirPlay Support: iOS 4.3 upps the level of support for AirPlay with third-party apps both native and Web-based, meaning users can more easily send video from iOS devices like iPhone and iPad.
4. No More iPhone 3G Support?: Apple is ending support for iPhone 3G and also the second generation iPod Touch, suggesting those devices won't receive future updates.
5. "Find My Friends": As pointed out by MacRumors and several others, there's a label in Apple's iOS 4.3 developer build for a feature called "Find My Friends," suggesting Apple has a location-based friend service or some kind of social networking development on the way.
Apple also redesigned the FaceTime icon and added, for iPad, a configurable slide switch and iAd full screen banners.