It's only been a few days since iOS 4.2 landed on our iPhones, iPads and iPod touches, and already, speculation has begun that version 4.3 could arrive within just a few weeks. The only major new feature that is expected to debut is app subscriptions, which would allow recurring charges. This would address one of the biggest complaints raised by magazine publishers since the iPad launched last spring.
Currently, publishers have to either charge once for an app and then provide the ongoing content for free, or else create and sell a new version of the app each day/week/month. The new approach would likely expand on the idea of in-app purchases, allowing publishers to provide an app for free and then automatically charge for new content on a recurring basis, much as they have done with paper subscriptions.
In addition to supporting the new payment mechanism, 4.3 will reportedly also include the capability to automatically push out fresh content to tablets. A similar feature has been available on the Amazon Kindle since it launched. Unlike the text-only Kindle, however, iOS devices support media-heavy content, and the mythical Maiden, North Carolina data center may play a big part in delivering this content.
Among the first publications to take advantage of this new capability will probably be The Daily, the new tablet-only "newspaper" planned by News Corp. Apple and News Corp have reportedly been collaborating on the development of The Daily, and a beta version may arrive with iOS 4.3 by December 13.