iOS 7.1 aims to atone for iOS 7’s shortcomings

For those of you with iOS devices, Apple has released iOS 7.1 via over-the-air update today. This new rev of the OS adds a few new features and, most notably in my view, attempts to fix some problems introduced with iOS 7. There’s a list of changes here on Apple’s website. Listed first is the new "CarPlay" feature for automotive control integration, which is a nice upgrade for those with compatible touchscreens in their cars, I suppose.

To me, the biggest changes have to do with the UI and performance. iOS 7 was a big and necessary change, but it lacked the sort of polish for which Apple was known under the tyranny of Mr. Jobs. As a result, iOS 7.1 looks to fix some rather obvious problems, most of them filed under the bland, final bullet point in the release notes: "Continued user interface refinements."

For instance, Cyril’s first reaction was relief that the slider to unlock an iPhone when you receive a call has been tweaked so the touch target area is larger, making a swipe-to-unlock motion easier and more reliable.

My top improvements have to do with iOS 7’s swanky UI animations: they now happen faster and appear to be smoother on older hardware. This fact, combined with some other apparent optimizations, has iOS 7.1 running appreciably faster on my third-gen iPad. I essentially stopped using that system after the iOS 7 update and even refused to sell it to my brother because it was too sluggish. This update has been an awful long time in coming, but it does seem to restore the performance I’d enjoyed under iOS 6. In fact, 7.1 feels faster than 7.0.x even after disabling the "reduced motion" accessibility option.

iOS 7 was by all accounts horribly sluggish on the iPhone 4. Fortunately, the 7.1 update has specifically been tuned to run faster on that older device. Ars has the first write-up I’ve seen on iPhone 4 performance in iOS 7.1, and it looks like things are better, if not as snappy as iOS 6.

I’d say this update probably puts Apple on equal footing with the latest version of Android in most important ways. I’m just not sure why they keep building devices with so little RAM onboard while pushing the envelope on SoC performance and software multitasking support. The iPad Air is a great system, but it’s RAM-poor. Right now, the bargain-priced Nexus 7 2013 edition still seems like a smarter mix of resources for everyday usability.

Comments closed
    • tipoo
    • 9 years ago

    Because three dollars more on 6 million products is still an 18 million dollar hit to profits. I don’t like it, but that’s how companies think.

    • crabjokeman
    • 9 years ago

    She has my deepest sympathies.

    • trackerben
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]...but a cursory check to make sure that an app does what it says and isn't sending $100 texts to foreign phone numbers behind your back would be nice.[/quote<] Oh yes this. App permissions are usually all or nothing and the granularity introduced since 4.2 on selected devices is now broken

    • rxc6
    • 9 years ago

    It is a pity. I am loving my 1520. Good thing that I don’t use hangouts as most of my friends are on Whatsapp.

    • Ninjitsu
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]When I first used OSX and saw bouncing icons at the bottom, I knew I would never realistically use that OS again for anything serious.[/quote<] Lol that was first impression as well. Thankfully it's dad's Macbook pro not mine. 😀

    • deathBOB
    • 9 years ago

    As someone who just switched from a 4S to a Moto X this is unfortunately true. Some apps I use that ran perfectly on my 4S are stuttery and frequently unresponsive in android. UI also seems to have taken a step back.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    I’M MARRIED. THAT WOULD BE A BAD THING.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Hope this fixes the power drain glitch from 7.

    I’ll have full battery, no apps running and in about 30 mins while sitting stationary on my desk it will sometimes just flipping heat up so hot you can’t hold and drain the whole battery.

    • tipoo
    • 9 years ago

    I wonder if this will bring our Mini and other A5 devices back to their responsiveness, it’s still not where it used to be. The Ars Technica testing showed the iPhone 4 improved a bit, but is still far slower than iOS6 at opening/closing things and other basic tasks.

    • DPete27
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]I'd say this update probably puts Apple on equal footing with the latest version of Android in most important ways.[/quote<] HAAA, I hardly think that's a fair comparison considering [url=http://www.zdnet.com/kitkat-market-share-grows-to-2-5-percent-7000027097/<]Android 4.4 only has a 2.5% market share.[/url<]

    • crabjokeman
    • 9 years ago

    OS X has had point releases for a long time. It’s not like Steve Jobs forbade them.

    • agold80
    • 9 years ago

    Didn’t fix any of the problems I’ve had ever since updating my iPhone 4s to iOS 7.

    But that’s fine by me, I’ve moved on to better things. It did guarantee I will never buy another Apple product again. Before you go all crazy on me, Apple brought this on themselves by not allowing iPhone 4/4s owners to downgrade back to iOS 6. Loved my iPhone on iOS 6, but iOS 7 made it unusable. WiFi hasn’t worked since the update and the phone constantly freezes up requiring a hard reset.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    They’re going to have to take at least 2 equally-sized steps to get into “budget friendly” territory. The iPhone 5C is still $549 off contract for 16GB of storage. A Mac Mini is $50 more.

    • crabjokeman
    • 9 years ago

    MAYBE IF YOU HAD AN IPHONE, YOU WOULD GET MORE GIRLS AND SPEND LESS TIME TROLLING TR…

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    They kind of sat on their laurels for a bit too long, for sure. The fact that the weather app STILL cannot show the current temperature in its icon isn’t just for show; it’s a usability issue. Seriously, the correct time shows the clock app’s icon, so it’s not like this would be terribly difficult. Just overlay a cloud/sun/raindrop/snowflake and the temperature.

    This would be less an issue if the OS had widgets, but basically iOS’s springboard is just an app grid with folders and a dock. Simple to use, tough to customize. Stuff I don’t use I throw into a folder and stick it on another home screen so I don’t have to look at it..

    • spugm1r3
    • 9 years ago

    You know it’s bad in Appleland when they start borrowing Microsoft naming conventions for their products. Here’s to hoping 7.1 is as much an improvement to the OS as 8.1 was for Windows.

    Here’s also hoping there is a serious fly-in-the-ointment so us Windows users aren’t alone in our griping.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    Hangouts

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    yeah that’s true actually. The T100 transformer, a full PC, comes with a teeny tiny baby 64gig drive as the maximum. 64gigs max. They don’t even give you an SD slot, something even my phone has. That’s just sad.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    Which app is that?

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    CREATIVITY IS FOR GURLZ

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    Cause then I’d have ALL the points.

    • trackerben
    • 9 years ago

    You styled it right +1

    • ztrand
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]What ecosystem? I hear everyone claiming this but never back it up. Every major productivity application exist on both platforms.[/quote<] I develop apps for both Android and iOS for a living, and the thing is that for a given amount of work developing an app, you will get a nicer and more polished user experience on iOS. Partly because of the tools available, partly because the way you must build UI in android to accommodate the enormous number of screen configurations, and also because the android APIs are a bit more uneven in how well designed they are. As you say, pretty much all the big apps are available on both iOS and Android but even for those they are often more polished on iOS. For the thousands of mid-level (size/users/complexity) apps there is a heavy bias for availability to iOS. This is also because for the same user base, an app on iOS will still pull in substantially more money than on Android because iOS users are slightly more likely to pay for their apps. The difference is not as enormous as it was a few years ago (think ten to a hundredfold difference) but it is still significant.

    • trackerben
    • 9 years ago

    It’s common knowledge among hundreds of millions of users that iOS apps tend to be more polished, updated, and malware-free than their Android equivalents – if available. A well-known example was the ookla speedtest which latest version debuted on iOS half a year before Google Play. There are many, many other examples. iOS is also far more secure operationally than Android which suffers from a more exploitable fragmented base.

    Edit: fragmentated! ooooh the shame…

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 9 years ago

    Apple fixed compatibility with older devices?

    Jobs must be spinning in his grave.

    • trackerben
    • 9 years ago

    If it fixes the slight UI stuttering found in the oldest devices, then good. If it brings better compatibility with 3rd-party cables, great. Bluetooth device search right from the control panel or first settings page would be nice.

    I wish there was an option to reverse shell colors without affecting the icon and app screens.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    Upvoted for style. Why does nobody give points for style anymore?

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    I agree. It took me more than a decade to start carrying around my music library on my main communications device. But when battery life improved, I decided to go for it. I have about 9,000 MP3s, ranging from podcasts to music to educational stuff. 64GB on my iPad and iPhone is no longer enough.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    -1 for wasting my time with lack of creativity. Wear it with shame.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]"I remember when laptop manufacturers gave Vista-ready laptops only 512MB of RAM, and then watched MS take the beating." [/quote<] Not only did laptop makers do this during the Vista era, so did desktop makers. And they all "made up for it" by installing heavy bloatware that would come alive after 30 days, demanding that the laptop user pay for this/buy that/subscribe to the other. It was pure evil, and Microsoft got the blame for an OS that was not nearly as bad as it was made out to be. Dell, Toshiba, and HP were the worst in this game, and to this day I won't recommend a system from any of them.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    hey i wanted to tell you. I played with a Lumia Icon the other day. It was pretty bomb. If only MS/Google could quit their squabbling I could legitimately see myself using a WP device. There are a few, maybe just one, Google apps I won’t go without.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    I remember when laptop manufacturers gave Vista-ready laptops only 512MB of RAM, and then watched MS take the beating.

    And I’ve came across AMD A8 APU laptops that had 1066/1333 mhz single channel soldered RAM, and even if you upgrade to 8 GB, you’re still locked to 1066/1333 mhz.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t blame you.

    • chµck
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah? Well I’m behind 7 proxies.

    • LostCat
    • 9 years ago

    Watisdis ifon and how can I ignore it?

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    HAY GUIZE, IPHONES ARE FOR GURLZ.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    I use OS X, Linux, BSD, Solaris and Windows on a regular basis with Windows being by far the least used. iOS fulfills all my mobile needs and I know their devices will be supported for at least 3 years before my usual device upgrade.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    It also increases facial hair production rate by 4.8x, and makes it strong enough that it can’t be cut with a standard shaving kit

    • jss21382
    • 9 years ago

    I have one, It’s a budget phone, less than 1/3 the price of the flagship models, most of their target market would never notice the extra storage. It does come with something like 50gb of cloud based storage though.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    “I’d say this update probably puts Apple on equal footing with the latest version of Android in most important ways.”

    I assume means they weren’t before the update. If this is true, there is a very hefty price premium associated with someone who is playing catch up. This is definitely a big deal.

    I don’t own a Apple… I was just going off what you said.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    The ability to brag about how many OSes he uses each day.

    • Billstevens
    • 9 years ago

    On a side note I believe Apple is considering making more budget friendly phones to capture a wider segment of the market. The IPhone 5c was a small step in that direction.

    • Billstevens
    • 9 years ago

    Apple does not make budget phones, android makes a wide range of phones both budget and high end. Apple is known for getting a solid profit margin. That combined with the fact that it is a top if not the top competitor in the high end smart phone market, its no surprise its profits are much much higher. They are the only high end phone manufacture that controls, hardware design and manufacturing and software design and development from the ground up. They have control or at least have input over all the costs involved manufacturing their devices.

    Non-high end smart phones have terrible margin by comparison to their high end cousins and other high end phone makers likely accept lower profits on all their devices to keep their end price competitive. The higher spec and extra options you find in android phones come at a cost so the only way all those top end android phones around the same price is to sacrifice profits.

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    “Animations are used to “hide” load times.”

    In some situations but not for drop down list boxes in Chrome under Windows as that is pure eye candy; candy that rots the brain.

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    I’m curious as to what the ones you use offer over Windows and Android?

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    “When I first used OSX and saw bouncing icons at the bottom, I knew I would never realistically use that OS again for anything serious.”

    That is the most grotesque thing I’ve ever seen on any O/S.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    How many operating systems do you use on a daily basis? I utilize five not including the mobile OS’s. Each have their strength and weaknesses. Windows and Android have their place, it’s just they offer me nothing over the others for what I do.

    There is a difference between being a ‘fanboi’ vs ‘not really caring for alternatives that don’t do anything to fill my needs’.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Animations are used to “hide” load times.

    I personally despise them. Users tend to like them at first, then they catch on…

    When I first used OSX and saw bouncing icons at the bottom, I knew I would never realistically use that OS again for anything serious.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah for sure the UX was way behind and needed some of the stuff it got. the little flip-up quick-settings screen was a good start but let’s be honest – that was yanked straight out of another OS. I don’t know if it was Android or Windows Phone or WebOS and frankly I don’t care; it’s a useful thing.

    • smilingcrow
    • 9 years ago

    “My top improvements have to do with iOS 7’s swanky UI animations”

    Can you disable all animations? I do that with Android and Windows as I like things to open as quickly as possible without sliding or gliding etc. I’ve noticed that Chrome on Windows has recently started sliding open list boxes which is annoying. I just don’t see the point in slowing it down! Have to see if that can be disabled. It seems to be the way things are going with more pointless eye candy. Do people like this stuff?

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    The walled garden on iOS is a blessing if only because Google doesn’t curate the Play store enough. It isn’t that they need to filter it so it’s just the highest quality everything, but a cursory check to make sure that an app does what it says and isn’t sending $100 texts to foreign phone numbers behind your back would be nice.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    “supporter” is just a PC way of saying ‘fanboi’

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    It’s definitely time for everyone to just double their standard capacities. 32GB baseline on a high-end phone, 16GB minimum on the low end. People make excuses for many OEMs because there’s an SD slot (particularly Samsung) but let’s be honest – that’s 8-12 bucks I should ABSOLUTELY NOT have to spend. My SGS4 has a 16GB micro SD in it and that’s he only reason it has enough space. Touchwiz ROMs have gotten out of hand – less than 10GB available brand new, factory fresh out of the box and after built-in crapware apps update, it’s even less.

    We are literally talking about a couple bucks here, and IMO it’s a couple bucks well spent – make up the $2 per device in volume because you don’t treat your customers like turds.

    • vargis14
    • 9 years ago

    I would think it performs just fine on the original iPAD mini since I have not had a problem with either of my IPAD 2’s. The iPAD2 and the original iPAD mini use the same A5 SOC so you should be fine. Actually I think the minis a5 chip might be a a bit better then the Ipad2’s a5 since it was made later then the iPAD2.

    On top of all this it is claiming it is just as fast as ios6 on the iphone 4 and the iphone 4 is SLOW it only had a single core. The Iphone 4 got some speed when the 4S was released using the A5 SOC that has 2 cores and Apple claims that the iPhone 4S can process graphics “up to seven times faster” than the iPhone 4.

    I am installing it now on my iPhone 5 that is still plenty fast, I felt it was fast enough I had the chance to upgrade to the 5S since I had to add a line to my family plan and I went for the 5c instead.
    Unless my iphone5 breaks I think i will be using it for a very long time. I just do not see a reason for any more speed from such a small screen.

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    It’s common to assume all the correct answers come from me.

    • ApockofFork
    • 9 years ago

    Does anyone have any opinions how this performs on one of the original iPad minis? I have one that I haven’t bothered to update from iOS 6 mostly because I didn’t really see anything new I cared about and performance concerns. At some point though it makes sense to just do the update. Just wondering if now is the time.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    Whoa, wtf…I just saw the ‘D’ name and assumed it was our resident Apple supporter Deanjo.

    • bjm
    • 9 years ago

    (Psst… It was Damage, not Deanjo.)

    • Damage
    • 9 years ago

    Heh, well, I use Google’s apps for a lot of major things like email on both OSes, so I won’t argue too much. But a lot of third party apps for iOS seem slicker, more refined, and less crash-prone. Twitter only recently made a borderline OK native app for Android tablets. I think Android devs have a harder task due to the wild diversity of device specs and screen types and possibly due to the dev environment. And in my experience, Apple’s curation of the app store, along perhaps with its sheer size and vitality, means a less uneven selection of apps overall.

    Android has made huge progress, though, and has undeniable momentum.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah – globally iphones are pretty insignificant;

    Samsung [i<]alone[/i<] outsold Apple 2-to-1 but when you look at all the manufacturers combined, Apple only has [url=http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/04/26/samsung_smartphone_sales_rise_to_double_apple_s_market_share.html<]one-sixth[/url<] of the sales. If you look at purely Android vs iOS phones, the first google result I found [url=http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2013/11/15/android-dominates-market-share-but-apple-makes-all-the-money/<]says 81% vs 12.9% of all devices shipped[/url<]. Android phones are outselling iPhones by more than 6-to-1! Yet apple made more profit from smartphones than all other manufacturer's combined, despite barely one in eight phones being an Apple. I think the one thing that is blindingly obvious is that Apple customers are being milked like cash-cows. Apple makes enough profit from an iPhone customer to outweigh the profit from the sale of about ten other smartphones Profit share (56/44) multiplied by competition marketshare (1/0.129) = 9.9 phones. Apple is 10x greedier than other companies, and in the US they own two-thirds of the smartphone market. Why do you Americans put up with their sh*t?

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    Storage space is worse. Things were going well until 4 years ago. Then 16/32GB became standard and stopped advancing. I want a Moto G but it tops out at 16GB. At least they made the upgrade from 8GB reasonable, but they dont even offer an option for more than 16GB. I’d gladly pay for it because even at £50 more for 32GB it would be the best phone for its money.
    In high end devices 32GB should really be standard, especially in anything without an SD slot, and 64 and 128GB options should be common for those that want it.

    • JosiahBradley
    • 9 years ago

    What ecosystem? I hear everyone claiming this but never back it up. Every major productivity application exist on both platforms. Not to discredit you Damage but I think it’s just a piece of information that people keep repeating on and on because it /used/ to be true years ago.

    Also I find the iOS experience much more complicated than Android. It takes me forever to match a simple Android task in iOS, however iOS7 is much closer to feature parity with Android 4.4.

    As for hardware, Apple may be ahead on raw performance in their SoC, but fall behind on display tech, size, durability, and serviceability (see ifixit).

    Just my two cents with a hefty does of pro Linux bias as I’ve used it for more years than Mac/Windows platforms. (I used to own a hand me down iPhone).

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    Yes, yes it is: [url<]https://techreport.com/news/26107/tablet-sales-grow-68-in-2013-android-outsells-ios[/url<] (like [s<]Deanjo[/s<] Damage said, it depends what you're talking about)

    • Damage
    • 9 years ago

    Depends on what you’re talking about. Apple’s app ecosystem is still the best, but before iOS 7, iOS was well behind on multitasking, notifications, and other parts of the overall user experience. Android kinda snuck up on them there, and it was clear Apple needed to do a refresh.

    Apple still makes some of the very best SoCs and overall devices, but their choice of RAM capacity in the latest generation is not a great one. And selling things with 16GB of flash in 2014, with a $100 premium to go higher, is awful.

    My two cents, at least.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Guess it looks lucrative when you’re cutting edges. I also feel the same way. I suppose when you’re looking at a couple million more in your bank account it’s hard to sympathize with customers.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Oh? So now Apple is struggling to keep up with Android…

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t know what people who run companies hate about ram, but it always feel like they are skimping on it. Consoles, phones, anything. Ram isn’t that expensive either and I am sure people would pay a couple dollars so have their devices run significantly better.

    At least with the new consoles they have a decent amount.

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