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Apple iPhone 5 and iPad 2 hints in iOS 4.3 update

The latest version of the iPhone and iPad mobile software has emerged, offering clues as to the design of the iPad 2 and iPhone 5.

The latest version of the iPhone and iPad mobile software has emerged, offering clues to the design of the next versions of Apple's flagship devices. iOS 4.3 has been released to developers, and the beta version of the operating system suggests the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 -- or whatever they end up being called -- will be shorn of buttons.

iOS 4.3 introduces new multi-touch gestures. Pinching the screen will take you to your home screen, swiping upwards will reveal the multitasking bar, and swiping left or right will switch apps.

Boy Genius reports that the multi-touch gestures will allow Apple to ditch the one physical button on the iPad and iPhone. If neither the iPad 2 nor iPhone 5 has a home button, that could mean a smaller bezel. Is a bigger screen therefore on the cards?

Patents have revealed that Apple is planning something with the bezel, as well as possibly adding a second connector for landscape docking. We've been sent a number of tips pointing to a video that claims to show the iPad 2 at CES, but it's pretty obviously a fake.

MacRumours spotted a feature called 'Find My Friends', which is likely to be a social twist on the the MobileMe Find My iPhone feature. Other features include a redesigned settings menu, App Store updates, and a new font, called 'Noteworthy'.

iOS 4.3 also ditches support for the iPhone 3G. The second generation of the phone has been rendered all but unusable by recent firmware upgrades, much to the chagrin of users. iOS 4.3 is supported on the iPad, iPhone 4 and 3GS, second-generation Apple TV, and iPod touch from the second generation onwards.

Version 4.3 also lets you decide what you want the switch on the side of the iPad to do. Originally an orientation lock that fixed the screen in place even when you turned the tablet on its side, the button became a mute switch with iOS 4.2.1much to our dismay. Now you can choose whether you want a mute button -- useful on a phone -- or an orientation lock -- handy on a tablet.

iOS 4.3 could launch in early February, when it appears on the new Verizon iPhone 4 in the US. The iPad 2 could launch in April. To see what the next iPad will be up against, check out the competition in our round-up of the best tablets from CES 2011.