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Apple releases iOS 4.3

Apple has set loose iOS 4.3, the latest version of its mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices. The update includes support for mobile hotspot tethering with the iPhone 4, support for iTunes Home Sharing as well as improvements to Apple’s wireless AirPlay technology, and support new multitouch gestures. Web surfers will also be happy to note the update includes significant performance improvements to Apple’s own Safari browser: according to Apple, Safari in iOS 4.3 runs JavasScript up to twice as fast as previous versions.

Perhaps the most-anticipated feature in iOS 4.3 is the personal hotspot capability for the iPhone 4, enabling users to share their 3G connectivity via Wi-Fi with up to five nearby devices. However, users will pay their mobile carriers extra for the privilege: with both AT&T and Verizon Wireless it’ll add an additional $20 a month to an existing plan.

AirPlay enables users to put content from their iOS device to a compatible HDTV or speaker system—and that includes not just photos, videos, and music but even AirPlay-enabled Web sites and applications—although it’s widely expected that some media-centric app makers might lock their apps from being shared via AirPlay. iTunes Home Sharing enables user to connect to their entire iTunes library from anywhere on their shared home Wi-Fi network, including videos, photos, music, and even books. iPad users will also appreciate that the iPad’s original orientation lock switch can be set to either lock orientation or mute—users will no longer be stuck with one function or the other.

However, there will be some Apple device users disappointed in iOS 4.3, namely folks using an iPhone 3G or a second-generation iPod touch: their devices aren’t supported.

The iOS 4.3 update is available now from Apple; users with supported devices can update by connecting their device to an Internet-enabled Mac or PC and following the onscreen instructions in iTunes.

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