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iOS 4 iPad Firmware Update Will be Free

Erroneous reports have surfaced that Apple plans to charge existing iPad owners for the next major operating system upgrade. iPad users have been anxiously waiting for iOS 4 on their devices, which Apple plans to release this fall. The company shipped iPads running iPhone OS 3.2 this spring and specifically stated that iOS 4 would be free.

When asked about the current rumors of a firmware charge Apple of course has no comment, since the question is based on speculation. The fact remains that the iPad firmware licensing agreement contains text guaranteeing iPad users a free update to iOS 4. Not all functions of the new operating system will necessarily work on older generation iPads, but the update will not cost anything.

The language in the iPad firmware licensing agreement reads:

For example, if your iPad originally shipped with iPad 3.x software, Apple would provide you with any iPad OS software updates it might release up to and including the iPad 4.x software release. Such updates and releases may not necessarily include all of the new software features that Apple releases for newer iPad models.

FaceTime is one example of a feature that will not work on the current generation iPad. With no built in front-facing camera like the iPhone 4, the iPad is unlikely to get video chat. Apple could start charging iPad users for firmware updates beyond 4.x which would be similar to the iPod touch upgrade model.

iPhone users have received free firmware updates all along. The original iPhone (2G) is the first of Apple’s smartphone models to be abandoned by current operating system versions. iOS 4 is only supported on the iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4.

iOS 4 adds multiple features to Apple’s mobile devices, including multitasking and quick application switching. iPad users frustrated with the older version of iPhone OS still have a while to wait. The first official day of fall lands on September 22.