Apple released the third beta version of iOS 5 to developers today, a sign the company is getting closer to readying the software for its public release later this year.
The new version replaces beta 2, which was delivered to developers on June 24. Unlike that version, which added the Wi-Fi sync feature, the new beta of the system software for iPhones, iPads, and the iPod Touch appears to contain bug fixes and slight tweaks.
Apple has said it will release iOS 5 to users this fall. The company typically seeds several beta versions of its major software releases to developers ahead of time to work out any bugs and give the developers time to integrate new features and APIs into their applications.
The new version of the software made its debut at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference last month. Its headlining feature is an overhaul of the notifications system, alongside a new messaging platform called iMessage that lets iOS users text and chat with one another free of charge. The software is also deeply tied to Apple's upcoming iCloud service, which will be used to ferry photos, applications, and settings back and forth between iOS devices, as well as serve as a free backup solution.
Update at 1:25 p.m. PT: It's All Tech (via Macrumors) has done a deep dive with the new software, and unearthed a more granular location services settings pane where users can turn on and off specific location features. This means users can turn off things like location-based advertisements, while keeping traffic tools on. Apple's also included an option to enable or disable location services when first setting up an iOS device.
Location has been a hot topic for Apple, which had to testify to Senate subcommittees about its use of user location in separate hearings earlier this year following the re-discovery of a high-profile database file on its iOS devices. After explaining to the world what the tracking file was for, Apple pledged to secure it in iOS 5, which had not yet been announced at the time.