You might describe iOS 4 as a long-term investment. While the initial version brought us the much-demanded multitasking, subsequent updates haven’t been restricted to mere bug fixes. Instead, we’ve gotten a slew of noticeable, if not major, improvements: AirPlay, AirPrint, Game Center, and so on. The newly released iOS 4.3 is no exception, bringing not only a couple of significant enhancements in the form of the Personal Hotspot feature and Home Sharing, but also some smaller niceties as well.
As with iOS 4.0, the 4.3 update plays well with only certain models—and on top of iOS 4.0’s limitations, 4.3 narrows the field even further. You’ll need an iPhone 4 (the GSM version only—sorry, Verizon iPhone owners) or iPhone 3GS, an iPad or iPad 2, or a third- or fourth-generation iPod touch to take advantage of the update.
X marks the hotspot
We got our first taste of the Personal Hotspot capability with the release of the Verizon iPhone 4 in February—now that feature has made its way to GSM-powered iPhone 4s as well. Personal Hotspot lets you share your iPhone’s 3G data connection with other devices via your choice of Wi-Fi, USB, or Bluetooth. (Note that iPhone 3GS users can only share network connections via Bluetooth and USB, and not Wi-Fi—essentially the same limits placed on iPhone 3G owners with tethering.)
For iPhone 4 users, the feature replaces the tethering functionality that debuted in iOS 3.0, but wasn’t supported by AT&T until a year later—and nobody’s shedding a tear over that. The tethering functionality was limited—it only worked over Bluetooth or USB and just supported a single connected device—and expensive—it cost $20 extra per month, required users to drop their unlimited data plans, and provided no extra data usage.
By contrast, the Personal Hotspot feature is more attractive. While it still requires that users clinging to their unlimited data plans make the switch to the carrier’s 2GB Data Pro plan (which, admittedly, is $5 per month cheaper), AT&T has sweetened the pot by adding an additional 2GB of data exclusively for tethering. And if that amount is exceeded, you can dip into the 2GB from your smartphone’s data plan before you start incurring overage charges.
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