Apple has released iOS 4.3. It’s for iPhone 4 (GSM only), 3GS, iPad, and the 4th-generation iPod touch. Available first as a developer beta almost two months ago, the update is now available to all users for free and is available via iTunes.
The update comes a few days ahead of schedule. It enables the personal hotspot feature, the ability to stream video and photos to an Apple TV via AirPlay, HD video out, and more. Unfortunately, iOS 4.3 on the iPad doesn’t include a personal hotspot feature.
AT&T users who have clung to the unlimited data plan would be required to drop it and choose the DataPro 4GB/$45 data tethering plan in order to take advantage of the iOS 4.3 hotspot feature on the iPhone 4.
AT&T’s data plans for the iPad include $14.99/mo for 250 MB or $25 for 2 GB. Customers on the 2 GB plan who exceed their monthly data allotment will be charged $10 per 1 GB of overage.
Apple isn’t offering the update for the Verizon iPhone 4 yet, likely because that device is running a slightly updated version of iOS 4.2 that already includes the hotspot feature.
Verizon’s mobile hotspot feature allows customers to share their 3G connection with up to five other devices simultaneously. But the feature isn’t free; Verizon requires smartphone customers to pay an additional $20 per month to get the hotspot feature, and only allows it for users of its $30 per month “unlimited” data plan.
Steve Jobs outlined the basic iOS 4.3 features last week. The update also brings iTunes Home Sharing to iOS devices, allowing users to stream movies, TV, and music from a computer running iTunes 10.2 to an iOS device. That reduces the need to manually sync media to the device.
If you’re going to tether anything in the United States, it might be wise to consider a WiMAX tablet or WiMAX phone. HTC’s EVO can supply up to 8 devices – and it’s 4G (with WiMAX), for truly unlimited 4G service. Otherwise, with current 3G or LTE data plans, you might be going to the cleaners with overage charges.