Apple released its latest iOS beta on Monday, and details have since emerged that make it a noteworthy update, both for iPhone users and for others waiting in the wings on some of Siri’s features to trickle down to the rest of the iDevice family.
First, there’s a new feature in iOS 5.1 beta 3 for iPhone 4S users that will be familiar to many: You can once again toggle 3G on and off (via mobileburn), instead of only being able to disable data entirely. It’s a feature that was missed by many during its absence, especially since the ability to force a step down to 2G connections is a great way to help extend your battery just a little longer than usual. It’ll be found under the Settings app in the Network section when the 5.1 update goes live.
Another new tidbit which has less concrete implications is the presence of new references to Dictation services (via 9to5Mac) in a new section under the Keyboard menu in general settings. The section, called “About Dictation and Privacy,” opens a dialog box with legal and feature information related to using Siri Dictation on the iPhone 4S. The new section is reportedly appearing on both the iPad and iPod touches with Retina Displays.
While dictation still isn’t actually available from software keyboards on either of those devices, the presence of this new section indicates that Apple could be preparing them for its arrival. Since the same info relegated the Siri subsection of Settings on the iPhone 4S, it does seem like the iPad and iPod touch could be getting just the dictation, without the smart searching and other benefits of Siri. There’s also the possibility that these are just testing placeholders, ahead of the introduction of Siri features to next-gen devices also being used internally at Apple with pre-release iOS software builds.