Last September, Apple released iOS 7, a major revamp of its mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad. Since then, we've seen a number of smaller OTA updates to the OS. Today brings the first major upgrade to iOS 7, though. This week, Apple finally released iOS 7.1, which brings with it a host of new features. So what can you expect with this iteration of iOS? Read on for the breakdown!
Let's start with the big one: CarPlay. Announced in early March, CarPlay is Apple's in-car infotainment system. The company wants to make using your iPhone in the car safer and more fun. CarPlay will give users access to maps, GPS routing, iTunes, Siri, and the ability to make calls and send messages via the iPhone and iMessage.
You can now manually control when Siri listens by holding down the home button and releasing it when you're finished asking your question. It's important to note that Siri isn't always listening for commands, rather this is an alternative method of letting Siri know when you've stopped talking. Before, Siri had to 'notice' by itself. Now, by releasing the home button, you're telling her (or him) you're done and it's time for her to go do her thing. Siri now also has some new voices, including some more natural sounding ones for Mandarin, UK and Australian English, and Japanese. These are available in both male and female versions.
iTunes Radio will now let you buy albums based on the song that's currently playing with just one button press. Apple is also adding a search field above featured stations and allowing users to subscribe to iTunes Match via iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
In addition to the changes made to iTunes Radio, Music applications now have Shuffle and Repeat buttons for the times when you want to be surprised or when you don't.
Apple's native Calendar app will now offer you the option of displaying events while in 'month view.' In addition to this, the company has added country-specific holidays for new countries (though the release notes don't offer a list, so you'll have to check yours and report back in the comments). Apple has also redesigned the list view.
This one is specifically for iPhone 5S users. Owners of Apple's current generation smartphone will notice a new setting in the Camera application that automatically enables HDR. You can also use the new 'Upload Burst Photos' option, which is accessed via iOS Settings.
We all know OS updates can be a point of uncertainty for those with older generation devices. If you're still rocking an iPhone 4, Apple is promising you a bump in performance. Cupertino hasn't offered any specifics on this, so we don't know what kind of bump you'll get, but with the iPhone 4 pushing four years old, it's nice users haven't been forgotten just yet.
If you're used to FaceTiming across multiple devices, you'll be pleased to learn that call notifications from Apple's video calling application will now automatically be cleared when you take a call on another device.
Apple has also made a few tweaks to the user interface that you'll no doubt run into sooner or later. These include a new 'Dark Keyboard.' You'll find this under the iOS Settings - > Accessibility.* There you can also navigate to the 'Increase Contrast' tab where you'll find a 'Darken Colors' option. You'll also notice that the bold font option now extends to the keyboard and calculator, and the Reduce Motion option includes Weather, Messages, and multitasking UI animations. The dialer has gotten a refresh, too, as has the slide-to-power-off UI. TouchID and Passcode now feature on the main menu when you navigate to iOS Settings and 'Touch ID requires your passcode when iPhone restarts' will now pop up when you restart your phone.
While Apple has added plenty of new features with iOS 7.1, the bug fixes are a lot more sparse. This is largely because all the minor updates to iOS 7 up until now (iOS 7.01 to iOS 7.06, which was just released mid-February) have been about fixes. Though some of them brought additional features, they, for the most part, focused on fixing bugs, which means there isn't a boatload of bug fixes being administered with iOS 7.1.
iOS 7.1 patches exploits used by the evasi0n7 Jailbreak. It also fixes a bug that caused home screen crashing, and improves TouchID recognition. There was also a problem with displaying the unread mail badge for numbers over 10,000. This has also been fixed. Other than that, we expect Apple will continue to roll out fixes on a case-by-case basis in future updates.
*The Dark Keyboard option was apparently removed before final release. We've emailed Apple for clarification on this one. We'll let you know when we hear back. Hat tip to @mcnaugha for the tip!