Apple iOS 4.3 Landing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday

The Apple rumor mill never runs out of material--there's always a new story to replace the one that was just proved false.

So it was with iOS 4.3, an update to Apple's operating system for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. On Tuesday morning, Boy Genius Report's Jonathan Geller reported the update would land at 10 a.m., three days before its official March 11 due date.

It didn't happen, but here's The Loop's Jim Dalrymple on follow-up: "The speculation of iOS coming early seems to be solid, it's just the day that's off," he writes. "If I were sitting waiting for iOS 4.3 to hit, I'd be ready tomorrow."

What's the big deal with Apple iOS 4.3? Here's a quick primer:

iPhone 4 hotspot: iPhone 4 users can ditch wired tethering and use the phone as a 3G hotspot for up to three devices, or five devices when the last two are connected by USB or Bluetooth. The service costs $20 per month on both AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

Orientation lock switch: Oh yes. The hardware switch on the side of the iPad can either lock orientation in place or mute the device. I know, Apple took orientation lock away with iOS 4.2, which was ridiculous, but at least the company has listened to its customers and is bringing it back as an option.

Nitro JavaScript Engine: Apple claims that the new engine will allow the Safari Web browser to run Java twice as fast.

iTunes Home Sharing: The update allows users to stream their iTunes library from a computer to any iOS 4.3 device over a home Wi-Fi network. That includes music, videos, audiobooks, and podcasts.

Airplay improvements: Airplay lets users stream audio and video from their iPhones and iPads to the Apple TV. The update streams video from the photos app on iOS devices, allows third party apps to support Airplay video streaming and enables slideshows from iOS devices using the Apple TV's transitions.

No word yet from Dalrymple on when to start frantically refreshing iTunes.

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