Apple officially unveils iOS 4.3

It went to developers in January, now Apple has officially introduced iOS 4.3 to the rest of us.

The headline features are as predicted with that earlier version, include faster Safari mobile browsing performance with the Nitro JavaScript engine, iTunes Home Sharing, enhancements to AirPlay, the choice of using the iPad side switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute the audio and the Personal Hotspot feature for sharing an iPhone 4 data connection over Wi-Fi. Be interesting to see if that last one makes the cut in the UK.

Safari mobile gets the same Nitro JavaScript engine that Apple uses on the desktop, which is said to double the performance of JavaScript execution using 'just-in-time compilation'. Never mind the jargon, it's faster browsing, that's all you need to care about.

New iTunes Home Sharing allows iOS 4.3 users to play music, films and TV programmes on an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch from an iTunes library on a Mac or PC over a local Wi-Fi network, while enhancements to AirPlay means additional content streaming, including video from third party apps and web sites, videos from the Photos app and previews from the iTunes app to your TV. You can also shoot a video on your iPad 2, iPhone or iPod touch and stream it directly from the Photos app to Apple TV.

But the last point is perhaps the most interesting and controversial. The new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 allows you to share an iPhone 4 mobile data connection with up to five devices in a combination of up to three Wi-Fi, three Bluetooth and one USB device. Every connection is password protected and when not in use Personal Hotspot turns itself off to save battery life. That's if your network turns it on in the first place. In theory, it's a great idea, but in practice? We'll wait and see.

iOS 4.3 will be available to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch users as a free software update on Friday 11th March.

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