Let’s face it, iOS 4.0.1 is looking a bit long in the tooth. After suffering for the last 20 days (I know, the horror) without a new update, Apple has shipped beta 3 of iOS 4.1 to developers just a week after the previous beta. The usual beta cycle speeds up near launch, and with beta 2 only lasting for a week, the Apple fanboys are pining for the release.

What will it do though, and why is it 4.1 instead of 4.0.2?

Well, there are two answers to that. The first answer is painfully obvious. I know, and Apple knows, that people don’t get very excited over x.x.1 increments. That’s like getting a penny raise at your quarterly review. We also know that Apple never gets to x.9 of a piece of software, they always end up transitioning after x.4 or so, so why waste the extra numbers?

The second answer is that it includes a bunch of new features, one of which Apple hopes may change the way you play games forever (that may have been a bit dramatic).

Game Center

Game Center is Apple’s answer to all of the different mobile X-Box Live clones that are infesting the App Store. Having to remember login info for Openfeint, Plus+, Crystal, and whatever else there is out there is maddening, so having a unified game center will be great. According to Apple, Game Center will let you “invite friends to play a game, start a multiplayer game through matchmaking, track their achievements, and compare their high scores on a leader board”.

It all looks very similar to the rest of the game portals, but if everyone jumps on board, it will be nice to only have to manage one system. Maybe then I’ll know what “Level 15 Experienced” means in a game, because right now my Plus+ ranking means nothing to me. I don’t even know what games are on the network!

I have to say though that I’m not very excited about the design of Game Center. To me, it looks a bit like a cheap gymnasium rather than a cool, clean place to challenge your friends. Maybe it’ll grow on me.

Unfortunately, as was discovered earlier today, Game Center was not included on iDevices older than the 3GS on beta 3, meaning that the millions of people that haven’t upgraded yet will probably be left out of the party. “Upgrade or die!” says Apple (in my daydream). Complete unification of the game centers will have to wait until everyone has bought a new phone.

[Image Source: TiPb]

Fixed Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor has been a real problem thus far on the iPhone 4 for some users but it seems to have been ignored because of Antennagate 2010. Every once in awhile, when you are on the phone, the proximity sensor just stops working and your face starts hitting all the buttons on the screen. It’s not too big of an issue when it just hits mute or something, but dropping a call due to your face is ridiculous. We already have enough issues with phone reception.

Fortunately, according to Macrumors, word is out that the sensor has been fixed. Thank you Apple.

This video, with its dreamscape music, is almost haunting. It’s like the iPhone 4 has a mind of its own!

Bluetooth AVRCP Support

I admittedly don’t use my phones bluetooth a lot, but apparently when you do, peripheral devices, such as your cars dash, can only control the iPod volume, and not do simple things like changing tracks. With the addition of AVRCP though, you should be able to control song changing through the buttons in your car, not just the ones on your device.

[Source: 9to5 Mac]

FaceTime Parental Controls

In case you are one of the parents who decided that your 10 year old should get an iPhone 4, Apple has included parental controls that deactivate FaceTime altogether, from in the call and from the Contacts app. No more prank FaceTime chats for the little ones, no sir.

I wonder what happens if they try to use an app like Chatisfication. Could be an interesting experiment for when the update hits.

[Source: 9to5 Mac]

Other Quickfire Updates

– According to CNET, there are two major security holes that will be fixed soon (probably in 4.1). Says the article, “One flaw is in the way the browser parses PDF files, enabling the code to get inside a protective sandbox, and the other hole allows code to break out of the sandbox and get root, or control, privileges on the device.” The problem is said to be so severe that CBSNews reports that the German government has issued an official warning, and that they are currently investigating the matter.
– MacRumors reports that you can now turn off spell check… which is helpful for the one person on Earth who doesn’t text.
– Cult of Mac reports that 4.1 fixes the HSUPA upload speed issues. The issue was “a bug (that) limited the upload speeds using HSUPA (High Speed Uplink Packet Access) to about 50-100 kilobits per second — 15 times slower that the maximum possible speeds. Only HSUPA is affected by the problem; download speeds are not affected.”

Well that’s about it for now. Maybe we’ll see “one more thing” once the update goes live to the public, but it would be hard for me to imagine that Apple would throw out a whopper and not tell anyone. And no, the “death grip” issue has not been fixed. Your bumpers will still be arriving in 4-6 weeks.

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