Apple on Wednesday released iOS 4.3 for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Available first as a developer beta almost two months ago, the update is now available to all users for free via iTunes. It brings a handful of new features to Apple’s mobile devices including AirPlay for all third-party apps and personal hotspot support.
Headlining the iOS 4.3 update is support for AirPlay across all apps. This feature first appeared in iOS 4.2, allowing Apple’s iOS apps to stream audio, video, and photo slideshows to a second-generation Apple TV. Apple opened up the feature in iOS 4.3, which means developers of media apps like Pandora are free to update their wares, if they choose, and offer AirPlay features to users.
iOS 4.3 also brings support for creating a personal hotspot, another increasingly popular feature among other smartphones and one that appeared first in the Verizon iPhone 4. This feature allows your iPhone 4 (and only the iPhone 4; sorry, owners of any previous models) to act as a portable Wi-Fi router for up to five devices, powered by the device’s wireless data connection (you can connect up to three devices via Wi-Fi, three via Bluetooth, and one with a USB cable). You’ll need a qualifying data plan from your carrier and any necessary hotspot or tethering options to enable this feature.
iTunes Home Sharing, a surprise iOS 4.3 addition that Steve Jobs announced at Apple’s iPad 2 eventlast week, allows iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users to stream any of their iTunes media from a Mac or PC on the same Wi-Fi network. It’s not an over-the-air media sync solution, however, like the Home Sharing feature Apple added to iTunes 9 to make it easier to keep iTunes libraries on multiple computers in sync. If your iOS 4.3 device leaves your home Wi-Fi network, you won’t be able to stream iTunes media from your Mac or PC.
OS 4.3 is available now as a free update in iTunes for the iPad, iPhone 3GS, the GSM iPhone 4, and third- and fourth-generation iPod touch.
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