Apple surprise: iOS 4.3 released two days early

Apple Wednesday made available iOS 4.3, a firmware upgrade that promises users of its iPad, iPhone and other devices a slew of new or improved features including faster browsing and personal WiFi hotspots.

Apple and CEO Steve Jobs first detailed iOS 4.3 last week when introducing the iPad 2 tablet, though the updated software will also run on the iPhone 4 and 3GS (but not the Verizon iPhone yet), third and fourth generation iPod touches and the original iPad.

Apple had been expected to release iOS 4.3 on Friday when it makes the iPad 2 available.

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Users who upgrade to the free iOS 4.3 can expect faster Safari-based Web browsing, as Apple took the Nitro JavaScript engine from Mac OS X and moved it to iOS. The result, Apple says, is that JavaScript runs twice as fast as before.

Also, iOS 4.3 allows iTunes Home Sharing across devices and Macs and PCs, and provides enhancements to the AirPlay wireless media streaming technology. With AirPlay, users will now be able to play on one device the music, pictures and video files stored on one device on another.

Most anticipated is the ability to now turn your iPhone into a WiFi–based Personal Hotspot that can be used to hook up a handful of other devices including iPads and Mac (3 devices can connect via WiFi, 2 more can plug in via USB or Bluetooth).

Word of the early release of iOS 4.3 came as HP was generating buzz about its Palm mobile OS, webOS, which BusinessWeek reported the company is planning to ship with all of its PCs.

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