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Apple gives developers an early taste of iOS 5.1

Apple has put out a pre-release version of iOS 5.1, what looks to be the first major update for iOS 5 since a battery-fixing patch earlier this month.

Screenshot by CNET

Apple has given developers a new version of iOS 5 to test out ahead of a release to the public.

The new version, marked 5.1 represents the first significant update to iOS 5 since its release in mid-October. A supplementary software update that went out earlier this month fixed a number of bugs and security holes, as well as promised to fix poor battery life experienced by some users.

BGR today posted the full release notes of the software, which developers must sign a nondisclosure agreement to use. The notes do not suggest any major new features in the build, despite anticipation otherwise. A report from German Mac site earlier this month suggested that 5.1 would bring extra features to Siri in the form of hardware controls, letting users adjust things like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios through the iPhone 4S voice assistant.

One thing the update appears to have debunked is the release of an iOS 5.0.2, which said would be delivered last week, an estimate that was later adjusted to the end of this week. That update was said to bring continued efforts toward improving battery life for those saying iOS 5 is giving them usage time that was less than expected.

As with other pre-release versions of iOS, expect this one to get another beta or two ahead of a public release, though Apple has a history of releasing these minor updates in quick succession.

Last year's iOS 4.1 update came in September and introduced HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, TV show rentals on iTunes, GameCenter, and the capability to shoot high dynamic range photos on the iPhone's built-in camera application. That update also addressed a proximity sensor issue, and overall system speed issues for iPhone 3G users.

Update at 4:31 p.m. PT: 9to5Mac has started going through some of the code strings in the new beta software, and has pulled out a reference to an "iPad 2,4" which the blog offers to be a version of the iPad 2 that works on Sprint's 3G network. Apple currently sells 3G versions of the iPad only on AT&T and Verizon's 3G networks in the U.S., though recently added Sprint as a carrier partner with the iPhone 4S.