Apple Set To Release Subscription-Focused iOS 4.3

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Apple is about to release a new upgrade to iOS, the operating system for its iPad and iPhone

Speculation is swirling that Apple is about to release an update to iOS 4, after a British newspaper revealed details about its new subscription-based app.

Reports have been circulating for the past couple of weeks that the official launch of iOS 4.3 is set to appear in early December, despite the fact that the iOS 4.2 update was only released in late November.

That 4.2 update offered a number of new features and capabilities for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This included multi-tasking and ‘folders’ for the iPad.

Other new features with iOS 4.2 included AirPrint, which allows users to print their documents or photos wirelessly, and AirPlay, which enables users to stream music, video and photos wirelessly from their iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to Apple TV.

Subscription Apps

Previously the blog MacStories, which quoted an unnamed “reliable source”, said that Apple was building iOS 4.3 to include not only the usual maintenance tweaks and bug fixes, but also “subscription billing APIs”.

This comes at a time when a number of app-based newspapers, magazines and other publications have revealed that they will be bringing out new subscription-based versions of their apps before Christmas. Indeed, Apple and News Corp are said to be preparing to launch an iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, in early 2011.

This signifies a major change, as currently iOS 4.2 only allows single app payments. And further fuel was added to the fire when The Guardian newspaper used a blog to reveal a new subscription based app, which it said would be released soon.

“As we revealed earlier this month, we have been working hard behind the scenes on a brand new iPhone app, which we believe is a great step forward,” wrote the Guardian on its blog. “The new app will have a new price point: £2.99 for six months and £3.99 for 12 months.”

Apple Announcement

And according to Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Apple will make the announcement on Thursday 9 December.

“The date I’ve heard is December 9, but that’s a Thursday, which would be somewhat unusual for an Apple press event,” he wrote in a blog post. “My guess is that they’re telling people December 9 but it might slip back to Tuesday or Wednesday the week after. Perhaps it will coincide with the opening of the Mac App Store?)”

Whatever the truth of this, it does seem to suggest that an update is imminent.

However, as iOS 4.2 was only released late last month, the thinking is that iOS 4.3 will be a rather minor update, albeit with one important change – the ability of the app store to offer subscription based apps.

Meanwhile, The Guardian also revealed that is developing an app for Apple’s iPad tablet.

“I’m also pleased to confirm that a Guardian iPad app is in development,” it said. “We’re still working through the final features but, as always, we’re aiming high and hoping to steal a march on the current news-oriented iPad apps already available. We’ll reveal more details about this soon.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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