Apple iOS 4.3 for iPad review

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Apple has snuck out its latest iOS 4.3 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and of course we were on hand with our trusty iPad, PC and cable to get it downloaded and up-and-running on the iPad as soon as it landed.

So, what is iOS 4.3 like – is it a revelation that changes everything (again), or is it merely just a quick-fix-leg-up before we’re treated to Apple’s iOS 5?

In a nutshell, it’s more of the latter if we’re honest but iOS 4.3 does bring with it some notable features that are certainly worth further inspection, such as faster browsing with Safari, AirPlay advancements and Home Sharing via iTunes, as well as the reinstatement – finally – of the iPad’s side-switch as an orientation lock.

First things first: anyone expecting any massive UI overhauls will be sourly disappointed – iOS 4.3 is not a cosmetic update. Everything will be as you left it, wallpaper, apps and all.

One of the first things we were keen to check out was Safari, which Apple claims is now twice as fast with the iOS 4.3 update in place.

This is largely thanks to the inclusion of Safari’s desktop Nitro engine, which executes JavaScript at twice the rate of previous mobile versions of Safari.

Apple wasn’t kidding. Safari in iOS 4.3 is indeed snappier, we tested it on a few data heavy sites – such as Know Your Mobile – and found that Safari with its new Nitro engine shaved at least 1.5 seconds off load time.

Granted this doesn’t sound like much, but when you consider it previously took around three to four seconds to load Know Your Mobile it’s certainly an improvement – although it’s one that not everybody will notice. Having said that, any improvements in mobile browsing, be it second or milliseconds, is good in our book.

The next big addition to iOS 4.3 is iTunes Home Sharing – something the iPad has been screaming out for ever since it first launched. Put simply, what Home Sharing does is allow you to stream content from iTunes on your PC to your iPad via its iPod application.

Setting up Home Sharing is literally child’s play. You simply go into iTunes, select Advanced, Turn on Home Sharing, enter your Apple ID and you’re good to go. Once that’s done, open the iPod app on your iPad and select your PC’s library and you’re done. It’s that simple.

Again this isn’t a massive feature, but it is one that adds some new functionality to the iPad and allows you to stream content with great ease – and without Apple TV – around your home.

AirPlay has also received quite an update too in iOS 4.3 – although you will need Apple TV to truly realise this. For those lucky enough to have Apple TV, the benefits will be immediately obvious, as many of the initial limitations of the service have now, thankfully, been relaxed.

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