Apple Issues Developer Updates for iPhone 3.1, Snow Leopard Preview

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Yesterday evening was a red-letter night for Apple developers, especially if you happened to have both Mac and iPhone developer accounts. That’s because Apple dropped new builds of both iPhone OS 3.1 and Snow Leopard, bringing it to version 10A411. Users with an iPhone developer account can head to Apple’s Developer Connection web site and get iPhone 3.1 Beta 2 and its attendant SDK in the usual way, while Snow Leopard users should find the new build available when they open up Software Update.

iPhone OS 3.1 Beta 2

I wasn’t expecting any massive changes in an incremental decimal point update, and a Beta 2 at that, but apparently this latest build packs at least one big punch. Said punch is the ability for developers to communicate with their device wirelessly while debugging new apps and versions, over Wi-Fi. It’s not something end users will ever see or necessarily appreciate, but it’s hard to understate how much it helps on the development side not to have to depend on a hardware tether anymore.

Theoretically, at least, this clears up the dock connector for use with third-party peripherals that tap into OS 3.0’s new software access features. Hopefully that gets more developers working faster on integrated hardware devices, since it’s the one remaining OS 3.0 feature that has yet to see its potential realized.

One “feature” not everyone will be pleased with is the new beta’s built-in tethering trick block, which cuts off the workaround iPhone owners have been using to get around AT&T’s official reluctance. If it makes it through to the official release, I’m not sure U.S. iPhone users will be in a huge rush to upgrade, especially if the rumors of a $55 official tethering plan prove true. AT&T’s official stance at this point is that those particular rumors are not true.

Some additional improvements about which few details are available are battery life improvements, and more access to video functions for developers, which hopefully brings us one step closer to “true” augmented reality capabilities.

Still included in Beta 2 are the Voice Control via Bluetooth and non-destructive video editing features first introduced in Beta 1, which came out June 30.

Mac OS X “Snow Leopard” Build 10A411

This appears to be yet another minor update on the road to the Snow Leopard GM candidate, with all the usual bug fixes, security enhancements and stability improvements associated with that kind of build. The last update did see some UI tweaks, but at this point no new feature additions should be forthcoming.

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