September 06, 2010, 2:08 PM — Small point updates to its mobile operating system often give Apple the chance to smooth the edges of its major releases, while adding a few smaller features here and there. iOS 4.1—announced last week to kick off Apple's refresh of its iPod line—is different. This time around, Apple is putting a much greater emphasis on new features, including support for high dynamic range (HDR) photos, the new Game Center social network, iTunes TV rentals, and more. And if that's not enough, the company also pulled back the curtain on the forthcoming iOS 4.2, which aims to finally unify the software on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, and has no shortage of new features either.
What can you expect when these iOS updates arrive? Here's a rundown of what Apple's promised to deliver with its forthcoming mobile operating system updates.
Which iOS devices will support iOS 4.1?
Apple says that iOS 4.1 will work on the iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 3G; that suggests that it will run on the corresponding iPod touch revisions, which would be second-generation, and third-generation devices as well. The fourth-generation iPod touch—unveiled at this week's iPod extravaganza—will ship with iOS 4.1 installed, Apple says. Of course, since this is a minor update to iOS 4, some features—multitasking, for example—are still not available on the iPhone 3G and second-generation iPod touch. And there's one device that won't get the 4.1 update—the iPad.
Which iOS devices will support iOS 4.2?
In his presentation Wednesday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said iOS 4.2 was "all about the iPad," delivering features specifically for that device. But Jobs also said that update would work on the iPhone and iPod touch as well—presumably the same models that will run iOS 4.1.
When will iOS 4.1 be released? Will it be a free update?
Apple said at Wednesday event that it would release iOS 4.1 "next week"—that's the week we've just started if you don't happen to have a calendar handy. Our colleagues at Macworld UK report that the Apple UK Website briefly listed the launch date as September 8 before quickly changing the listing back to "coming soon." That would mean the update arrives Wednesday, which seems as good a time as any to release 4.1.
What about iOS 4.2; when will it be released? Will it be a free update?
You'll have to wait a little bit longer for the iPad to finally reap all the benefits of iOS 4: Jobs said the update will drop in November, but that it too would be a free download.