Today Apple released iOS 4.3. As always, we've been taking it through typical use and exploring it a bit to post our first-hour impressions. So far we've seen that it's only a minor update on the iPad side, with nothing much to show for the 20 minutes of waiting that came with installing the new software, hit the jump for our first hour hands-on.
iOS 4.3 in a Nutshell
The ones who will be getting the most out of this update are iPhone 4 users who do not jailbreak and have been waiting for a mobile hotspot feature. iPad users, on the other hand, don't get a lot this time around. Apple removed the gesture-based multitouch commands that were originally part of the SDK. Perhaps they figured it was time to save it for later, or developers weren't very fond of it, though we were looking forward to it (but we can see how it could become a problem in games that register multiple touches at once, such as Plants vs Zombies).
What's New For iPad?
Orientation Lock - What's old is new again as the orientation lock switch makes its triumphant return to the iPad with iOS 4.3. It's a feature that disappeared in iOS 4.2, and ended up being our only real complaint about the operating system. You will need to adjust this under your iPad's settings.
Home Sharing – This one wins us over for sure. It's iTunes Home Sharing on the iPad. You can stream your iTunes content such as music, movies or TV shows onto your iOS 4.3-compatible iDevice. We tested it out a bit, and it works pretty well. We put our computer to sleep just for kicks and it stopped the stream, which was expected, and it took a while to regain access to iTunes after that as we had to relaunch the applications. This is also a nice way to save space on your iPad. Though the feature doesn't seem to update your play count, even when the option is checked off, an issue spotted by Gizmodo that we checked out for ourselves. We relaunched iTunes to check again, and the play count still hadn't updated. It's not a huge deal to us, but some who like Genius playlists (which to our understanding are based on play count) may not be thrilled about that.
Some Other Stuff
We are unable to test out the AirPlay enhancements for two reasons: We don't have an Apple TV 2G, and this seems more geared for the iPad 2. What we can say is that it's advertised as a feature that lets you stream video content from your iPad's "Photo" App. This would mean it's possible to film something with your iPad 2 then beam it directly to Apple TV.
The orientation lock switch! Aside from that, we are quite fond of the Home Sharing. It will free up plenty of room on our 16GB iPad (Anyone who imports movies to their iDevice knows that 16GB isn't a lot to work with, and big time movie buffs may say the same of 64GB)
On the surface it looks just like iOS 4.2. If you don't care to stream content from your computer to your iPad and don't have a newer Apple TV, you probably won't find anything that's truly worth the update. Especially if you jailbreak.
It's always difficult to rate an iOS update like this one. For one, it's free, so what's the real investment besides the time it takes to download? What we do is try to base things on how much of a must-have update this new version is: is it worth rushing to the install, or is it one of those things we can do over the weekend on some downtime?
Our first hour with iOS 4.3 leaves us only moderately impressed. While the screen lock switch is back and Home Sharing is a sweet addition for media junkies, more casual iPad users probably won't spot any major differences. If you are a jailbreaker, this version–unlike iOS 4.2–does not offer anything that makes it worth saying goodbye to your JB. Either way, there's no need to rush to the computer for this update, but we understand that the biggest and best probably already came with 4.2.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for our 24-hour impressions and our overall rating of the update.
– iPhone 4 (GSM Model)
– iPhone 3GS
– iPod touch (4th Gen)
– iPod touch (3rd Gen)