Apple's new operating system update for iPhones and iPads is out, offering some long-asked for features, but news of its successor may already be just around the corner.

On the Hotspot

Fresh from the success of the iPad 2 unveiling and with the new device launching tomorrow, Apple's iOS 4.3 Software Update is now live for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and third- and fourth-generation iPod Touch users.

Some features only work on certain devices, so the shiny new Hotspot will only run on iPhone 4s -- although the option is there on my 3GS, and I will check to see whether it works. This is the highlight of the upgrade for tech-heads, allowing up to three Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB-connected devices to use the phone as a gateway to the Internet.

You'll need to subscribe to a tethering plan with your mobile operator to get Personal Hotspot to work, which is annoying, if you only want to use it in ad-hoc situations, but it could become increasingly useful for some, and, after all these years of asking for it, Apple users should be pleased to see it.


Launch iTunes to get the message of joy

Do More With Your Media

For other devotees to Apple software and devices comes the joy of iTunes Home Sharing and AirPlay (if you have Apple TV). Home Sharing allows a computer with iTunes to be set up as a media server that can send content to other devices around the network. Airplay can send photos and video to the Apple TV for viewing on the big screen.

If you want to watch movies or photo slideshows, play games or hold meetings on the big screen, then the new Apple HDMI lead will let you plug your iPhone 4 or iPad into a HD TV and view the content there. Using mirroring, you can still work on the iPad with apps running at HD's full 1080p resolution, while videos will play at a still respectable 720p.

We can see a lot of executives enjoying running their latest site numbers, market data or corporate information using the burgeoning number of iPad BI enterprise apps on a great big screen in front of the board.


Share your Internet connection

In the Engine Room

At the more prosaic level, among bug fixes and tweaks, the update offers improved Safari browsing performance with the Java NitroScript Engine. Ping, Apple's social service, gets some new features including push notifications for comments and follow requests so music aficionados can show others just how hip they are "liking" songs directly from their iTunes' Now Playing page.

Finally, there are a few new settings including parental controls, options to adjust how many times an alert is repeated and the ability to start conference calls with a single press.

One for the Diary

So, there's Apple's iOS 4.3, hot off the presses. But hold your horses, because Apple's hype treadmill never sleeps and may be getting ready to announce what lurks within iOS 5.0, according to a German source. Apple announced iOS 4.0 on April 8 last year and looks like the company will be on the same schedule for the next announcement.

iOS 5.0 will likely ship on iPhone 5.0 so will be key in fighting off the latest advances that Android and Blackberry will be offering. As a footnote, and entirely coincidentally, iOS Angry Birds has updated with new St. Patrick's Day levels. Top of the mornin' to ye!