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3/11/2014
11:25 AM
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iOS 7.1: What's New

Apple's mobile operating system update squashes a big bug, adds CarPlay, and brings new features to iTunes Radio, Siri, and more.

Apple released iOS 7.1 this week for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. It marks the first major update to Apple's smartphone and tablet operating system since iOS 7 was released last September. The update improves performance of Apple's devices across the board. Here's what's new.

First and foremost, iOS 7.1 targeted a major bug. The bug in question would perform a random soft reset of the smartphone or tablet while it was in use. If you were writing an email, it would be lost. If you were browsing the web, your browser history would be wiped clean, and so on. It was an aggravating bug that spawned pages of comments on Apple's support website. After using the updated operating system for several hours, it appears that the bug has been squashed. Thank goodness.

In terms of new features, there are plenty. Apple improved Siri, its personal assistant, by making it possible to manually control when Siri listens. Users can press and hold the home button while they speak, and release it when they are done speaking. Siri will still actively listen for voice commands if users wish. Siri also gained several new male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, Australian and UK English, and Japanese.

[What about security? See Apple iOS Vulnerable To Hidden Profile Attacks.]

Apple tweaked iTunes Radio in order to make it easier for users to make purchases. For example, listeners can buy albums from the Now Playing screen, as well as subscribe to iTunes Match directly from their mobile devices rather than only from iTunes on a PC. Apple moved the search field above the Featured Stations listing so users can more quickly search for stations.

Apple added features to both the calendar app and the accessibility tools. Users can display events in the month view, as well as add country-specific holidays in their calendars. The expanded use of bold font on the keyboard and new options to display button shapes and darken app colors should make iOS devices easier to see for those who have limited eyesight.

Apple CarPlay's home screen.
Apple CarPlay's home screen.

iOS 7.1 adds CarPlay, which Apple announced last week, to Apple's smartphones and tablets. CarPlay will let iPhone users integrate their devices with select cars. CarPlay supports Siri, mapping, messaging, and music. Installing CarPlay now is akin to loading the cart long before the horse has even woken up, as cars with CarPlay support on board aren't expected until late in 2014. The feature will sit idle until then.

Other additions include: an automatic HDR mode for the iPhone 5s; iCloud Keychain support in more countries; FaceTime call notifications that sync across devices; improved TouchID for the iPhone 5s; and significant performance improvement for iPhone 4. Users should also notice improved transitions between applications, which are faster and smoother. The whole operating system feels a little bit quicker on its feet, and there are refinements sprinkled throughout.

iOS 7.1 varies in size between 250 MB and 325 MB, depending on what device you have. The download and installation process, which can be done over WiFi, takes about 10 minutes. There have not been any reports of significant problems with the OS, but cautious users might want to back up their devices before installing the new operating system.

What do Uber, Bank of America, and Walgreens have to do with your mobile app strategy? Find out in the new Maximizing Mobility issue of InformationWeek Tech Digest.

Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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anon7922531506
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anon7922531506,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 12:42:29 PM
Apple
Nothing Apple has offered would make me want an Iphone.  I love my Ipod, but that is it.  Basically, you are reporting that Apple is upgrading to allow me access to many services I would never use in the first place.  Lol!

 

I really enjoy my Samsung Galaxy 4 phone. It is chic, and easy to use.  The Apple one looks like it was designed in the 80"s.  

If they did something redesign it, that might make me look at it.  Might.  Lol!

 

Thanks so much for sharing, and don't forget to register, and to vote.  The Tpublican't patrinos hate it when we do.  LOL!

 
Don't Buy Into It
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Don't Buy Into It,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 1:02:18 PM
Re: Apple
I agree that some of the features are not needed or widely used, but FaceTime is the best video calling solution available. I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab and have tried Tango, and others which do not warrant remembering, and they are not as good as FaceTime. As for easy to use, it doesn't get easier than iPhone. Far too often, I hear that people with any amount of technical aptitude prefer Android, but that isn't necessarily true. I am a network architect with a background in Windows as well as Unix/Linux, and, although I really like my Galaxy Tab, I can admit that iOS is easy to use and works well. I agree that the design is a bit antiquated, but most of the customization allowed in Android is not needed or recommended from a security perspective. The iPhone is a much better device than it is portrayed to be, mostly by young users that don't really know tech.

 

I should mention that a caveat of FaceTime is that you require a somewhat modern iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. Although this will cause many Android fans to throw up their arms, it is notable that not all Android apps work with all Android devices, such as Samsung's Milk Music, which only works on a select number of Samsung devices.
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
3/12/2014 | 1:56:24 PM
Re: Apple
I like the idea of CarPlay. It's an interesting way for Apple to get in the driver's seat. Microsoft, for example, has gone a different route by providing an OS for cars. Apple takes its consumer cachet and slides right into the car. What's next? Apple wearbles. We'll soon have Apple everywhere. 

Wait, hasn't that already happened?
Dudeman44
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Dudeman44,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 1:17:27 PM
Re: Apple
@ anon7922531506, So, why would YOU stop to read an article entitled "iOS 7.1: What's New ", and then make an anti - Apple post in said article? I guess this is how one would define the word "Troll". Thank you.
BillB031
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BillB031,
User Rank: Strategist
3/11/2014 | 1:29:07 PM
Re: Apple
I see nothing Apple is doing that my android powered galaxy doesn't already do.  I find skype to be much better than facetalk for a number of reasons, my galaxy works perfect with my vehicle, and doesn't auto-reboot all the time. 


My Wife has an iPhone 5s, so I can compare the two anytime.  Which phone gets used when in our vehicle?  The galaxy
anon2603473434
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anon2603473434,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 2:03:41 PM
Re: Apple
No body cares about your andriod.  You are only kidding yourself .
anon2603473434
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anon2603473434,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 2:05:34 PM
Re: Apple
No body cares about your cheap Phone

 
anon9104573000
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anon9104573000,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 1:46:21 PM
Hoping for feedback
I was hoping to read some feedback from those who tried it, but instead we get Android users who have no life posting about how they hate apple. WTF?
rmanske53101
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rmanske53101,
User Rank: Strategist
3/11/2014 | 1:49:47 PM
what about older Apple devices
One of the compliants about iOS 7 was it made older Apple devices, like the iPhone 4 and iPad mini, slower because the devices wern't tuned for iOS 7.  is 7.1 any better on my older devices or will I regret givng in to the constant alerts from my phone and tablet to upgrade to latest iOS version?
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
3/11/2014 | 2:37:18 PM
Bug fix
The bug fix is good news. My phone shut down out of nowhere a number of times, which drove me crazy. Glad to see that (seems) to be resolved.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
3/11/2014 | 3:30:25 PM
FaceTime alternatives
This update isn't about FaceTime but you raise an interesting question. What are the best FaceTime alternatives, for Android users?
Madhava verma dantuluri
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Madhava verma dantuluri,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 11:15:52 PM
Good
Finally, updates are coming and is a good news.
Maryhall66
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Maryhall66,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/13/2014 | 11:11:19 PM
7.1 upgrade
I installed 7.1 3 times and it "failed" to install. When I went for the 4 the try it said installed. Post installation my page flips three to 4 times before settling down and I keep getting kicked out of mail, Safari and even this information app. I sure hope it settles down. Sending mail is snail mail. All my erased trash has come back three times and stuff goes nowhere, it just disappears. What a bummer.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
User Rank: Author
3/14/2014 | 9:30:28 AM
Re: 7.1 upgrade
Must say I'm nervous about upgrading. Last time I upgraded my daughter's Mac -- in Nov/Dec 2013 -- it was the last straw for the logic board; the computer keyboard/mouse stopped working, despite repeated downloads and several calls and excellent help by a localish Apple reseller. Apple's service was great: For some reason, even though I'm neurotic about buying extended care for big electronics purchases, I hadn't bought Apple Care and it would have cost $600 to fix the Mac, whose warranty had expired 1 week prior. Yeah, figures! Apple allowed me to buy the warranty (about $200) because I'd actually called for service earlier in the covered period and they had not offered me the coverage at that time (or really addressed my problem). 

Reading through InformationWeek and weighing the upgrade pros and cons.... although I know we'll have to upgrade it sooner or later.
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