iOS 4.1 Update Next Week, 4.2 in November

iOS 4.1 was, as expected, announced during today’s annual September keynote, and includes a slew of bug fixes, and a few new features.

iOS 4.1 includes bug fixes for proximity awareness, Bluetooth, and performance on the iPhone 3G. The iPhone will now be able to take High Dynamic Range photos, upload HD video over Wi-Fi, and rent television shows on the go. Also making its debut is the Game Center, which is all about social gaming on iOS devices.

Using High Dynamic Range (HDR), the iPhone takes three photos: one at normal exposure, one under exposed, and one over exposed. iOS 4 then combines the three photos using “advanced algorithms” to create a single high-definition photograph. Both the normal exposure picture and the HDR picture are kept in the photos app on the iPhone, making it easy to choose one or the other. The demos look amazing; the HDR photos bring out features in the background that you couldn’t see in the normal exposure.

The Game Center will be a very interesting addition to iOS. There will be both features built into the operating system, and a standalone app. You’ll be able to play interactively with friends, or be auto-matched with other players. You’ll be able to compare scores, and see what your friends have been up to. Game Center brings natively to iOS what several developers have been doing on their own.

iOS 4.2

Also announced to be coming out this November is iOS 4.2. iOS 4.2 will bring all of the features of iOS 4.1, finally, to the iPad, and presumably unify the platform. The biggest addition to the iPad looks like it will be wireless printing. Being able to print directly from Pages or Mail will be a huge benefit to people who still need to be able to show things on paper.

Multitasking looks slick on the iPad as well, smooth animation, and super fast switching between apps. When Steve Jobs demoed opening a link in Mail and switching to Safari, the transition happened so fast it made me wonder about the apps that have built-in browsers. Will apps still need built-in browsers if switching to Safari is that fast?

Overall both updates look solid, and while I’m happy to be getting 4.1 on my iPod touch, I’m really looking forward to 4.2 on the iPad.