Apple has made new beta versions of its iOS 4.2 software available to developers every other week fairly regularly. This latest version offers a small number of changes, but with each successive beta it means iPad owners (in particular) are closer to seeing the major update go live for their tablets.
Early testers of the new software note that iOS 4.2 Beta 3 offer significant performance improvements. Notably, emails are sent immediately, animations are smoother, multitasking doesn't get as bogged down, and most applications perform better in general.
As for new features, the only one discovered so far are new SMS ringtones for the iPhone. The iPhone has had the same (boring, old) set of SMS alert tones since it first went on sale in 2007. New options in this software are long, long overdue. Let's hope they make it to the final version of iOS 4.2.
iOS 4.2 Beta 3 also fixes a number of bugs. The latest software permits users to add their MobileMe account without crashing the entire device. It also now works with the Find My iPad tablet-finding software within MobileMe.
It also appears that right now AirPlay has been stripped out of some of the applications. In the latest beta, it exists only in the iPod application and Safari. It has been removed from the video application, the YouTube application, and the general system setting tools.
Apple has removed features from beta iOS software in the past, only to return it later. Apple hasn't said if it has changed its position on AirPlay and how it will work within iOS 4.2.
In addition to the iOS 4.2 beta, Apple also updated the latest version of iTunes to 10.1. Developers will need to download and use this new version of iTunes in order to work with iOS 4.2 Beta 3.
Now that the third beta is available, it signals that Apple is closer to releasing iOS 4.2 in final form. Apple had promised to deliver the software by November. In the past, Apple has offered major iOS updates after the fourth or fifth beta. If Apple sticks to the two-week development cycle, it is possible iOS 4.2 could be made available by November 9.