iOS 4.3: everything you need to know
Personal HotspotIf you happen to be an iPhone 4 owner, and are willing to pay for tethering, iOS 4.3 is going to make that even easier thanks to its new Personal Hotspot feature. Essentially working in a similar fashion to the Android hotspot feature, Personal Hotspot broadcasts a Wi-Fi hotspot for connecting up to three (or five) Wi-Fi enabled devices, sharing your iPhone's 3G data connection between them. It's a simple, yet effective way of sharing a cellular data connection, but it's likely that you'll have to pay something extra on top of your existing data contract in the same way you currently have to for Bluetooth or USB tethering on most cellular networks.
iTunes Home SharingProbably the biggest change other than the Personal Hotspot in iOS 4.3 is the addition of Home Sharing for iTunes. Essentially it allows you to stream your iTunes library from a computer, including video, over Wi-Fi to your iDevice. That means you can stream TV shows, movies and music, be it from a Windows or Mac PC, to your iPad, iPod, or iPhone without having to store all that media on the device itself. Of course you could already do that with an Apple TV, but iOS 4.3 brings all iDevices that support it into line.
Nitro engine for Mobile Safari
AirPlay for AirPlay-enabled apps
iPad lock switch choice
Message alertsMessage alerts got a rather subtle upgrade with iOS 4.3 in the form of modified vibration behavior. In iOS 4.2 the iPhone would vibrate once regardless of whether it was an email or SMS you received. In iOS 4.3 the iPhone will now vibrate twice for an SMS message. You can also specify how many times you want to be reminded that you have a text message waiting if you don't clear the alert. It's a nice addition that allows you to decipher whether you received a text message or an email when the phone is on silent and in your pocket without having to check the screen.
The extra text message tones that were added in iOS 4.2 have also been modified to make them more SMS-alert worthy. Most have been cut in half to make them much shorter and, while the majority of them are still a bit long for SMS tones, a few are now usable without annoying everyone around you for 5 seconds every time you get a message.
While not every iOS device currently in service is supported by the iOS 4.3 update, the iPhone 3G and iPod touch 2nd generation being left out in the cold, the free update adds a few nice features to an already solid offering. OK, it's not going to rock your world, but it should tide you over nicely untill we get a glimpse of iOS 5 in action. Beside's free's free, right?
For more information on device compatibility and the rest of the features rolled in from iOS 4.2, check out Apple's iOS update page.