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Apple iOS 4.3 Unveiled During iPad 2 Event: Everything You Need To Know About The Software Update

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On Tuesday, Steve Jobs unveiled the highly anticipated iPad 2, a slimmer tablet with a number of new features that take aim directly at the Android competition. Jobs also welcomed to the stage Scott Forstall, the senior vice president of iOS software, who presented an update to Apple's mobile operating system.

iOS 4.3 will be available on March 11, the same day as the new tablet. While the iPad 2 will ship with the update pre-installed, iOS 4.3 will also be available as a free download for the original iPad, the third- and fourth-gneration iPod Touch, the iPhone 3GS and the GSM iPhone 4 (aka AT&T iPhone 4). Apparently, the new software will not be available for the CDMA iPhone 4 (aka Verizon iPhone)--more on that later.

According to Forstall's demo, iOS 4.3 will offer faster web-browsing. "Mobile Safari has been updated with an improved version of Apple's Nitro JavaScript engine, " writes Ars Technica. "Forstall said [this] enables iOS devices to execute JavaScript more than twice as fast as before. Since most major websites rely on JavaScript in some form or another, it should translate into a noticeable speed boost."

Apple also promises that users who upgrade to iOS 4.3 will enjoy improved media sharing between compatible devices. MacWorld explains:

iPad and iPhone users will be able to stream any music, movies, and television shows from an iTunes library on their computer straight to their device using a local Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, AirPlay support has opened up in iOS 4.3 to allow third-party apps and Websites to take advantage of full audio and video streaming using AirPlay.

With the release of iOS 4.3, any iPhone 4 will now function as a mobile hotspot. "Personal hotspot capability will allow iPhone 4 users to share a 3G connection with other devices via Wi-Fi, matching a long-standing ability of Google's Android. It will support up to five devices at once: three Wi-Fi, one Bluetooth and one USB," DigitalTrends says. "Of course, Apple (and carriers) haven't yet announced what it will cost users for the privilege.This may be part of the reason why the Verizon iPhone was excluded from the software update."

The Verizon iPhone already boasts hotspot functionality, which is part of the reason the device will be excluded from the iOS 4.3 update. "[T]he Verizon iPhone is being updated separately because it uses a different baseband chip than other iPhones, requiring a separate firmware," AppeInsider speculates. "Apple may be waiting for Qualcomm to deliver a specific update for the chip before integrating the new firmware into the iOS release for that model."

What else did Apple announce at its iPad 2 event? You can find all that out by viewing our slideshow of the 13 things you need to know about the iPad 2.

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