Apple released its iOS 4.3 beta version for iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and Apple TV (2nd Generation), giving a possible preview into the upcoming iPad 2 and iPhone 5 features.
The release also confirms that the iOS 4.3 will not be available for iPhone 3G and iPod second generation. The beta version is available in the iOS Dev Center with a build number 8F5148b.
Some features which could hit the iPad are four and five finger gestures. This will add multitasking features to iPad. Thus a four or five finger pinch will lead a user to the home screen, a swiping up gesture will bring the multitasking bar and left and right swipes will assist in navigating between apps.
Macstories reported that iOS 4.3 will also bring the AirPlay video support for third-party apps unlike its earlier feature which limited it to built-in Apple apps. Engadget had reported in November that Apple had built this feature in the iOS 4.2 but had not enabled it for third-party apps. The AirPlay feature supports Apple TV as it allows users to stream digital content from iPhone; iPad and iPod touch to Apple TV. Thus now developers can stream videos to Apple TV from apps directly.
The beta version also includes the Personal Hot Spot feature for iPhones. The feature allows users to share their 3G connection through Wi-Fi with up to five other devices. Recently, Verizon showcased this feature for iPhone's running on iOS 4.2.5 which raised hopes that all iPhones will entail the hotspot feature. However, the iOS 4.3 beta confirms that the personal hotspot will come by default but will depend as to whether the carrier will support the feature.
It is also surmised that the iOS update will carry location-based services. The Register reported that the Mobile Me settings panel showed a new entry Find My Friends which could be Apple's version of Google Latitude. The Google Latitude app allows users to see a friend's location on a map and allows users to directly communicate with them through sms, Gtalk and Gmail.
9to5 Mac reported that the iOS update also brings full screen iAd banner support on iPad.
Apple has been working hard to offer the same experience across the different devices, thus these updates are an attempt to bridge the features across iPad, iPod and iPhone. Unlike Google's Android launches which have raised concerns about fragmentation, Apple seeks unification across its devices.