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Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 04:55 am PT (07:55 am ET)

Rumors of Apple charging iPad owners for iOS 4 upgrade are false

A new rumor that Apple may charge users to upgrade the iPad to iOS 4 this fall is specifically contradicted by Apple's own licensing agreement, which states that the next major software update will be free to iPad owners.

Citing "top secret plans" from an anonymous source, Stuff.tv wrote on Tuesday that Apple currently plans to charge iPad owners for the software upgrade. The source did not provide a price, but the U.K.-based magazine suggested it would be around £5.

The source reportedly told the magazine that the plans to charge are "definite." It reached out to Apple for a comment, and the Cupertino, Calif., company responded that it doesn't comment on rumors or speculation.

However, as AppleInsider noted back in March, the company's iPad licensing agreements specifically state that the "next major iPad OS software release" will be free for hardware owners, casting some doubt on the rumor. Releases beyond that, however, may come with a charge.

"For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release," the licensing agreement reads. "Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models."

In addition, Apple's recently launched iAds mobile advertising platform requires iOS 4 to appear in App Store software. By charging iPad owners to upgrade to the latest mobile operating system version, Apple could limit the number of users who can view its new interactive ads.

But it would not be unprecedented for Apple to charge for an upgrade, as previous software releases came with a fee for iPod touch users, due to an accounting issue. However, casting even more doubt on the latest rumor is the fact that Apple recently did away with that fee, as the iOS 4 upgrade is free for iPod touch owners.

In June, a profile of Apple's iAds service suggested that iOS 4 would launch for the iPad in November. Some features of the operating system upgrade, including Bluetooth keyboard support, are already supported in the iPad-exclusive iOS 3.2 mobile operating system.