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iOS 4.3 Update: Is It Worth the Download?

written by: Mitty Chang•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 3/12/2011
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Five years ago, Apple changed the way the world sees and uses phones. The birth of the iPhone meant a new mobile operating system—now known as “iOS.” That same operating system which drives the trendsetting iPhone has grown from being a toddler to an adult. Here is iOS 4.3.

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    Critical Update or Minor Tweak?

    iOS 4.3—Four hundred and twenty three megabytes for Airplay enhancements, personal hotspot, iTunes home sharing, and Safari performance—critical update or just minor tweaks?

    Five years ago, Apple changed the way the world sees and uses phones. The birth of the iPhone meant a new mobile operating system—now known as “iOS.” That same operating system which drives the trendsetting iPhone has matured. From the introduction of copy and paste in version 3.0 to the introduction of multitasking in version 4.0, Apple has continued to provide high caliber results through free software updates. But are the changes between iOS 4.2 and iOS 4.3 even worth the update?

    iOS 4.3 brings four changes to the system: Airplay enhancements, personal hotspot, iTunes home sharing, and improved Safari performance1.

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    The Changes

    Compatibility:

    Before even taking a look at the features, it is worthwhile pointing out that iOS 4.3 is only compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad 1 and iPad 2. Starting with the iOS 4.x series, Apple made the decision to start discontinuing updates for the older iPhone models (original iPhone and iPhone 3G) as the hardware differences were becoming too significant to use the newer iOS features such as multitasking. For the purposes of this review, we are only looking at the features and changes to the iPhone compatibility.

    Enhanced Airplay is one of the new features in iOS 4.3 Airplay Enhancements:

    Airplay was first introduced in iOS 4.22 and enabled users the ability to conveniently wirelessly control devices such as printers and televisions. In iOS 4.3, Apple has given Airplay one new and important trick: live content streaming. Now users can take videos and movies they have playing on their iPhone and mirror them on a wirelessly connected television screen. Educators and party hosts now can easily control what their students or guests are watching on the television set straight from their iPhone without additional software.

    Personal Hotspot is now built-in for iOS 4.3 

    Personal Hotspot:

    The release of the iPhone 4 introduced iPhone tethering by AT&T, which allowed customers with iPhone 4s to create a Wi-Fi network for other portable devices to share the Edge or 3G network that the iPhone was using. Unfortunately this came at a heavy price: the death of unlimited data packages for the iPhone. Apple has taken this personal hotspot or tethering option and built it straight into the iOS 4.3. Now you can easily go to Settings > Network and enable the personal hotspot. That is, if your carrier currently allows you to enable the service. It seems that AT&T has blocked this feature for customers who are still on the old unlimited data plan which strictly prohibits tethering.

    iTunes Home Sharing is now easily accessible for the iPhone iTunes Home Sharing:

    Apple has finally allowed for iTunes home sharing for the iPhone. One of the biggest issues with having a movie library or even audio library on your iPhone is that it can quickly fill up the entire iPhone’s storage capacity with movies in a short amount of time. This update tackles that problem and opens endless possibilities as you can now load your media on your desktop or laptop and open it with your iPhone. Hello home movie library!

    Improved performance in Safari means faster page loading. Improved Safari Performance:

    This is perhaps the most significant update of iOS 4.3. Through optimizations and innovations with the way Safari parses javascript, upgrading to iOS 4.3 will boost javascript loading twice as fast as Safari in iOS 4.2. Although most users will most likely not notice the improved speed, it is always a breath of fresh air to have a smoother operating browser, especially since iPhone users have to deal with slower data coverage with 4G and Wi-Fi not readily being available at all times.

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    The Verdict

    Final decision: Not a critical tweak or update.

    If you have extra time on your hands, go ahead and update to iOS 4.3. But if you are on the go or reading this from a café where the Wi-Fi would make iOS 4.3 a three hour download, then rest assured that you are not missing out on much. For those of you who jailbreak your phones, the instructions for jailbreaking iOS 4.3 are out too.

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    References

    1 Apple, http://www.apple.com/ios

    2 Bright Hub, http://www.brighthub.com/mobile/iphone/articles/75064.aspx

    3 Icon graphics from Apple.com