According to the iPad end-user software licensing agreement posted online, iPad users will receive free software updates from Apple, up to and including the first major release, and then have to pay for upgrades afterwards. This particular portion of the agreement, published online by Mac Rumors, states: “Apple will provide you any iPad OS software updates that it may release from time to time, up to and including the next major iPad OS software release following the version of iPad OS software that originally shipped from Apple on your iPad, for free. 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.” Currently, iPhone owners are provided free software updates for at least the first two years of the device’s life, while iPod touch owners are normally charged for major updates. New iPhones and iPod touch units, however, have typically debuted with either a new or very recent version of iPhone OS installed, whereas the iPad will ship with the nine-month old iPhone OS 3.x software, with the possibility of iPhone OS 4.0 being released later this year.
Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.