Finally! iOS 7.1 is now available for download for all you lucky iPhone and iPad users…
Just go to your iDevice’s Setting > General > Software Update, then tap on Download and Install. You need to agree to Apple’s Terms and Conditions to proceed with the download of course, but hopefully that’s a small price to pay for the goodies in store. The update is 186MB and should take only a few minutes to install, depending on your network connection.
So what do we have to look forward to in the new, iOS 7.1?
The update includes support for CarPlay, which allows users to connect their iOS 7.1 device to any vehicle that supports Apple’s CarPlay feature. It supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, and third-party audio apps. CarPlay can be controlled using Siri or the car’s touchscreen, knobs, and buttons.
The activation method has been upgraded, and so instead of just speaking to Siri and hoping for the best (that it actually understand you are talking to it, and when you have finished speaking) you just hold down the Home button while you speak and release it when you’re done talking. Siri’s also been given more ‘natural sounding’ male and female voices in Mandarin, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese languages.
The search field above ‘Featured Stations’ has been upgraded to allow users to easily create stations based on their favorite artists and/or songs. Users can now purchase albums with thetap of a button from Now Playing. The update also allows users to subscribe to iTunes Match with their iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to enjoy ad-free listening on iTunes Radio.
Options to display events in the ‘month view’ are now available, and country specific holidays have been automatically added for many new countries.
The option for bold font is now available on the keyboard, calculator, and many icon glyphs. For those getting dizzy with the movement on the screen, Reduce Motion now includes Weather, Messages, and Multitasking UI animations. Finally, there’s a new option to display button shapes, darken app colors, and reduce white points.
Other improvements and fixes
There’s a new Camera setting for the iPhone 5s that automatically enables HDR; iCloud Keychain support is now available in more countries; FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device; there’s a fix for a bug that can occasionally cause a home screen crash; Touch ID fingerprint recognition has been improved; and there’s a fix to the ‘Mail Unread’ badge which means that numbers greater than 10,000 can be viewed; plus a few user interface refinements.
You can download iOS 7.1 directly on your iDevice via an over-the-air update, or by connecting your iDevice to a Mac or PC with the latest version of iTunes installed.
iOS 7.1 may be something users of newer iDevices are grateful for, but the major update is hugely beneficial for iPhone 4 users as well.
iPhone 4 benefits
Not everyone can afford to buy a new iPhone the moment a newer model comes out, which means there are plenty of folks using older versions – even if Apple has stopped supporting these devices. The iPhone 4 was the oldest iPhone model to receive the original iOS 7 update, but that came with a lot of gaps and performance issues.
iPhone 4 users who upgraded to iOS 7 do not have the following features: 3D Flyover or turn-by-turn navigation in Maps, Panorama mode or Filters in the Camera app (though these filters can be applied in the Photo app), AirPlay Mirroring, Siri, AirDrop, and graphical improvements such as the translucency effects throughout the OS, live wallpapers, and the parallax effect used on the Home screen.
One of the biggest issues of updating iPhone 4 to iOS 7 was that it made the device appear somewhat sluggish. Of course, you have to consider that the hardware of the iPhone 4 is four years old, so it’s to be expected that the features and performance aren’t quite up to par with the newer models, or even the iPhone 4S.
Apple hasn’t forgotten users of the iPhone 4 though, as it made improvements to iOS 7.1 that will hopefully make the older devices run a bit faster, or almost as fast when it was still running iOS 6.1.3.
One of the major improvements for iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 4, aside from the significant faster UI, is the HFP Prompts in Maps. There’s also a new audio setting in Maps that allows you to enable HFP prompts which automatically tells your car to connect to your iPhone 4’s Bluetooth when a voice direction needs to be played.
As ArsTechnica points out, this will probably be the last major upgrade the iPhone 4 will recieve. What with its hardware being four years old, it probably won’t be able to handle all the new features and enhancements that iOS 8 is sure to have.
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