Thursday, January 20, 2011
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Apple has released iOS 4.3 beta 2 to developers, and some digging into various system files has already revealed clues to new features that may be coming to the next-generation iPad. It also hints at new social media services, Ping notifications, and a possible February 9 announcement date for the next-gen iPad hardware.
Providing some clues about future camera features for the iPad is an image used to show a preview of what a new wallpaper image will look like on your home screen. That image contains icons for what looks like FaceTime, Camera, and PhotoBooth applications. This suggests that the upcoming iPad hardware revision, expected in the next couple months, will indeed have at least a front-facing camera if not also a rear-facing camera. Other system files suggest that PhotoBooth will offer image filters like Thermal Camera, Mirror, X-Ray, Kaleidoscope, and more.
Additionally, this image shows that the icon for Calendar appears to be set to February 9. 9to5Mac speculates that this could be a hint that Apple will announce (though not necessarily ship) new iPad hardware on that date. The same image in previous versions of iOS showed the date as January 27, the date the original iPad was announced. Apple announcements have often been scheduled on Tuesdays in years past, though, and February 9 is a Wednesday. Apple's special announcement events have been known to come on other days of the week, so this date is at least plausible.
Other evidence in iOS 4.3 beta 2 suggests that Apple is paying more attention to social media services for its mobile ecosystem. For instance, Ping will now have the ability to receive push notifications (for whatever that's worth) in iOS 4.3.
Additional strings and messages buried deep within the system reveal a "Media Stream" feature that looks to be incomplete, leading to speculation that the feature won't be ready until iOS 5 or later. However, it appears to reference features like "Find My Friends" to locate friends nearby, as well as sending "Photo Streams" to those friends. The feature also seems to be connected to MobileMe, possibly for syncing and media storage, suggesting Apple will integrate more features into the service to justify its $99 yearly fee.
The social media features aren't iPad-specific, however, and are likely to work across iPhones and iPod touches as well. Media Stream and Find My Friends probably won't surface until well after the next-gen iPad's expected launch in late March or early April.
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