Apple punts iOS 5.1 developer download

Apple has released a developer preview edition of its next update for iOS, version 5.1, which brings with it updates and fixes for its iPad and iPhone mobile devices.

Apple's been in something of a sticky situation since the release of iOS 5 with the iPhone 4S: a battery-draining bug hit users of the new handset, and a patch to bring the software to version 5.0.1 to fix the issue was found to introduce a new bug of its own while failing to address the root cause.

This latest release, 5.1, comes as a full point release rather than a patch - and, as a result, has a raft of improvements under the hood including a change to the Dictation API, a 'geofencing' setting in Location Services which prevents the Reminders app from draining the battery unnecessarily, the ability to sync iTunes Match files over a 3G connection as well as Wi-Fi and a fix for crashes in the Newsstand app.

However, iPhone users eager to get the latest release will have to wait: currently, the beta is only available to those with devices registered on Apple's developer programme.

End-users might want to give it a wide berth anyway: changes to the APIs mean that software developed using Xcode prior to 4.3 may not work properly under iOS 5.1, while bugs in the Music Player can cause the device to crash.

Even for those not installing the update themselves, there are a few points of interest in this most recent release: the eagle-eyed fans at 9to5Mac.com have spotted references to several new iPad models: "iPad 2,4," "iPad 3,1," "iPad 3,2" and "iPad 3,3."

While the "2,4" designation is likely to be a minor revision to the existing iPad 2 design for a particular carrier's 3G network, the three new iPad 3 references are interesting: with that many individual products already listed in iOS 5.1, recent rumours of impending seven-inch models seem ever-so-slightly more likely.