Apple iOS4.1 to fix proximity sensor bug

Apple supremo Steve Jobs announced last night that the next update to the outfit's mobile operating system would fix a bug with the iPhone 4's proximity sensor which has been plaguing users since the smartphone's launch earlier this year.

The bug, which for once Apple didn't try to paper over with feeble excuses, meant that users would often activate random on-screen buttons with various bits of their facial anatomy when the iPhone was held up the the ear whilst making a call.

The proximity sensor is supposed to detect that the phone is being held close to your face and deactivate the touch-screen for the duration of the call or until you pull the device away from your ear.

A free update to iOS4.1 will be available within a week according to Jobs, and will fix a number of other issues including shaky Bluetooth connectivity and poor audio quality during calls.

Apple fans will be pleased to note that the update is not all about fixing broken stuff. In fact the Cupertino company is adding a raft of rather nice new features.

High Dynamic Range photos will see the iPhone's impressive onboard snapper getting a little bit more useful with a software tweak that allows the camera to take three simultaneous bracketed images at once.

One image is the iPhone's best guess at a decent exposure, a second slightly underexposes the scene, and a third slightly overexposes it. The three frames are then cobbled together resulting in an image with better highlight and shadow definition, and hopefully a better picture.

When Jobs first previewed iOS4 way back when, part of his pitch was for Game Centre, a social network for iPhone gamers which would allow you to challenge your friends (or enemies) to multiplayer games, automatically match you up with unknown players and take part in league tables and the like. A bit like Xbox Live on your iDevice.

The promised functionality never showed up in the June release but, no doubt spurred on by the fact that iOS gaming has already knocked both Nintendo and Sony's portable consoles into a cocked hat, the latest update will see it appear.

Apple also announced that AirPlay, a revamp of the company's existing AirTunes feature, will soon allow the streaming of photos, music and even video between most Apple devices as well as the new Apple TV hardware.