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Tuesday, May 04, 2010, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Apple releases iPhone OS 4 beta 3 with lock, iPod widget features

Apple has issued a third beta release of the upcoming iPhone OS 4 firmware reference release to registered developers, although the initial update has been temporarily suspended to fix an installation issue. It fixes bugs and debuts new iPod playback and orientation lock features.

Today's beta 3 update, specified as build 10M2247, closely follows the release of beta 2 just two weeks ago. Both last year's iPhone OS 3 and the 3.2 release for iPad went through five beta cycles before being released publicly.

iPhone 4 is expected to be release to the public in June for iPhone and iPod touch users, with an iPad version due for release in the Fall.

Shortly after being published on Apple's developer site, the new update was pulled temporarily to fix an issue believed to be related to an installation problem.

A report by Gizmodo indicate the new beta is "significantly more stable than prior beta builds" with both screen shot functionality and camera features restored (neither were working in beta 2).

The new beta makes it easier to quit apps running in the multitasking drawer by giving each icon a red quit quit button, similar to the Home screen method of uninstalling apps with a touch.

Also new is a widget controller for iPod music playback, and an orientation lock that works similar to the physical switch on iPad. However, since the iPhone's user interface is oriented toward portrait by default, with apps supporting landscape only optionally, the lock only sets orientation in portrait (the Home screen wouldn't work were it locked in landscape orientation).

iPad presents no default orientation, making the lock more important and functional in both landscape and portrait directions. However, users who try to read news in bed on the iPhone will likely appreciate the new software feature in iPhone OS 4.

The beta 3 release still does not support push messaging features for remote location, messaging, lock, or secure wipe as Apple prioritizes its beta releases to be relevant to the issues developers face in testing their apps with the new firmware.

iPhone OS 4 beta 3