New iOS 4.3 Beta provides clues about the next generation iPad

Apple has released iOS 4.3 Beta 2 to developers this week, which has led some who have been anticipating the arrival of the company’s second version of the iPad tablet to tear the new operating system apart in an effort to discover what may be new in the unconfirmed hardware and software features of the device.

Clues uncovered in just the last couple of days show that the next-generation iPad may have camera features similar to those of the iPhone, as well as more features to cater to social media enthusiasts.

New iOS 4.3 Beta provides clues about the next generation iPad

One of the big discoveries in iOS 4.3 Beta 2 has been the appearance of three new app icons that were not present in iOS 4.2. These icons, for Facetime, Camera, and Photobooth, seem to indicate at least one camera on the future iPad. 9to5Mac.com has done even more investigative work into the new SDK and claims to have proof that the iPad 2 will have both a rear and front-facing camera, which will support resolutions of 1MP and VGA respectively.

Other features present in iOS 4.3 Beta 2 seem to indicate that Apple is planning to pursue growing their Ping social network, though consumer response to the product so far has been underwhelming. The first is support for receiving push notifications on the iPad from the network. The other appears to be a media-streaming feature that is currently limited to photos, but could become a multimedia platform in the future. The lack of completion for the particular feature has 9to5Mac.com speculating that the full capabilities will likely not be realized until iOS 5.

So when will the second-generation iPad be available? Though earlier reports out of Taiwan indicated that shipments of the tablets could begin as early as February, a new report from digitimes.com shows that mass-shipments of the any-layer HDI boards from Apple’s suppliers will not begin until April, which makes it more likely that consumer shipments of the device will begin then as well.

It took me a while to buy into the iPad “hype”, but since I now have one in my household I’ve begun to appreciate the convenience that the devices portability and “instant on” capability provide over the typical notebook or netbook computer in regards to information consumption. It will be interesting to see how many of these features are actually included once Apple gets around to officially announcing the device.