iOS 4.3 to be released March 11th

iOS 4.3

During the iPad event today, Apple announced that the iOS 4.3 update would be available March 11th to coincide with the availability of the iPad 2.

The new version includes a Personal Hotspot feature that will allow customers who subscribe to an Internet tethering plan from their carrier, to use the iPhone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. This allows other devices, such as a laptop or a Wi-Fi iPad to use the iPhone as an internet connection.

Unfortunately the new feature will only be enabled on the iPhone 4. Whether or not this is a hardware limitation or simply a product differentiation strategy, we can’t say for sure.

As we found out a few weeks ago, the new iOS update will allow iPad owners to use the physical switch on the side of their device as a rotation lock once again. The iOS 4.2 release for iPad repurposed that switch to function as a mute for the ringer and other sounds, which irked many iPad owners. From iOS 4.3 on, there will be a preference to change the function of that switch according to personal preference.

Also included in iOS 4.3 is a very welcome addition: iTunes Home Sharing.

Home Sharing is the same system that the Apple TV 2 uses to stream your media files from a computer on the local network, and now iPhones, iPods and iPads will be able to do the same thing. Simply open the iPod or Music/Videos app (depending on your device), select a computer on the local network, browse the available files and play them right over the network.

As we demonstrated a few weeks back, the new iOS 4.3 also includes the ability to send a streaming web video, or a video playing inside a 3rd party iOS application, to the Apple TV 2 using AirPlay.

The newly announced iPad 2 will ship with iOS 4.3, but it will also be a free update for all supported devices.

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