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Apple releases iOS 4.1 beta 3 to developers

Apple has made a third beta of iOS 4.1 available to developers, focusing on updates and enhancements to AV Foundation and Media Player, GameKit, UIKit and MapKit.

The update is the third release in just over three weeks, following the initial 4.1 beta that became available on July 14, and the second which was delivered July 27.

Developers who have seen the beta report that it includes a new API allowing apps to access contact thumbnail pics, as well as media playback enhancements that include new classes in AV Foundation related to file compression, reading/writing, and batched playback.

There is also significant progress with Game Kit and the Game Center app it powers. Once bundled in a shipping version of iOS, Game Center will allow players to track their game scores on leaderboards, find teams for group play, and track their in-game achievements.

Game Center was touted by Apple as a major feature of iOS 4, signaling the company's efforts to support and attract high quality mobile games to the platform while making it easier for developers to add basic gaming features and more consistent for users who play multiple games.

Game Center may ship with the final release of iOS 4.1 for iPhone and iPod touch, which is likely to hit in September/October. Apple is also preparing an update that will bring iOS 4.x features to iPad.