Earlier this week, after quite a bit of uncertainty, Apple unleashed the iOS 6.1 update upon iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners. The update, which is the first major update to Apple’s iOS 6 operating system since the software launched in September has been downloaded and installed by many iDevices owners. So how iOS 6.1 on the iPhone 5 fared thus far? Let’s take a look.
Since the release of iOS 6.1 Beta 1 back in 2012, owners of Apple’s mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad have been anxiously awaiting the release of the first major update for iOS 6, the most current software for those devices. Others started their wait for the iOS 6.1 update more recently after encountering issues with both the iOS 6.0.1 and iOS 6.0.2 updates that came previously.
I consider myself to have been a part of both groups. While the features of iOS 6.1 weren’t necessarily mind-blowing, I have been looking for ways to start using Siri, a tool I have shunned since getting an iPhone 5, and also had been looking forward to the new music controls for the lock screen which the Betas showed to be much improved.
I also had been experiencing a number of issues with iOS 6 including weak Wi-Fi signals on networks that had previously been strong and of course, the random reboot issues I’ve talked about since picking up the iPhone 5 back in September. Suffice to say, I’ve had my eye on iOS 6.1 for quite some time now and unfortunately, Apple us iPhone owners sweat it out.
Monday was the expiration date of iOS 6.1 Beta 4 which led many to believe that a release of iOS 6.1 was close. And though it was, the release was as little confusing. Over the weekend, iOS 6.1 Beta 5 was seeded to developers though it was quickly discovered to not be a Beta at all. This led many to conclude that it was in fact the Gold Master build, something that is released shortly before a public release.
Sure enough, Apple rolled out iOS 6.1 to confused iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owners on Tuesday morning.
Like many others, I eagerly installed the 107MB update within seconds of noticing it was available and shortly thereafter, I gave you my first impressions of the software. Since then, I have used iOS 6.1 extensively and it’s now time to take a final close look at the update iOS 6.1, its new features, its bug fixes, and some thoughts on what’s next for iPhone 5 owners in terms of software.
The New Features
iOS 6.1 is the first update to bring new features to iOS and given the timing of the update, it may be the only iOS 6 update that does bring some new things to the table. How useful have I found these new features to be? Let’s take a look.
Siri & Movies
As someone who only very rarely uses Siri, my main use is to quickly check sports scores, the chances of me starting to use the service now that it’s able to purchase movie tickets was extremely slim. As I noted before, I’m not a person who regularly goes to the movie theater either.
And while I haven’t started using Siri because of the new ticket buying functionality that works in conjunction with Fandango, I am definitely a fan of the feature itself.
Siri makes it extremely easy to find movies, pick one out at the right time and then buy a ticket through Fandango. As I said before, you’ll need the Fandango app installed before the feature actually works, but I think those who go see a lot of movies are going to really find this feature to be an extremely convenient addition to iOS.
On the whole, Siri still remains a non-factor when it comes to the use of my iPhone.
Another service that Apple incrementally improved with iOS 6.1 was Apple Maps, its native Maps application that was met with a flurry of negative press right off the bat. Like many iPhone owners, I was quick to install Google Maps the day that it came out but I still use a combination of both Apple Maps and Google Maps. In my opinion, neither are perfect.
That said, I want to help both applications improve and with iOS 6.1, Apple has made that much easier. Now, instead of an impossible to find Report a Problem button, the button is prominently displayed when the tab in the bottom right corner is pulled up. Literally, it’s the biggest button on the page.
I haven’t reported a bug just yet but knowing how easy it is, I’ll be more inclined to do so when I notice one.
Lock Screen Music Controls
Oddly enough, the newly styled Lock Screen Music controls are probably my favorite feature in iOS 6.1. Now, when you press the home button twice on the lock screen, the music controls that pop up look good and are extremely nice to use. The style falls in line with the controls in the Music app itself, and now, the previous and next buttons are far apart.
This has already cut down on the amount of times that I accidentally change a song or flip to another chapter in an audio book.
Wi-Fi Works Great
iOS 6.0.2 seemed to snuff out a majority of the Wi-Fi connectivity issues that were plaguing my iPhone 5 but I still experienced the occasional slow down or lack of data flow.
With iOS 6.1, my iPhone 5 has had no such issues. With my home WPA2 network, the connection has been strong and stable.
There has been an issue wherein iPhone owners are seeing a grayed out Wi-Fi option. I fortunately have not had this happen and thus far, it’s unclear if iOS 6.1 solves the issue. I suggest checking in with this thread if you are indeed experiencing the issue after iOS 6.1. There are a few odd remedies that seem to be working for some.
Battery Life is Still Par for the Course
There is a massive thread brewing over on Apple’s forums about the battery life users are experiencing after installing iOS 6.1. Per usual, there are a bunch of people complaining about a decrease in battery life. This always tends to happen after a major update so I can’t say that I’m surprised.
So far, my battery life has been par for the course meaning it hasn’t seen any sort of dramatic shift for better or worse.
For those that are experiencing issues, again, I suggest checking out that forum thread or, better yet, heading on over to our tips on how to get better iPhone 5 battery life. For many, the tips have worked wonders.
A Miracle: No Random Reboots
One issue that I’ve been dealing with and I’ve had others say they’ve experienced too is random rebooting on the iPhone 5. Since I bought the phone, the device would occasionally reboot itself without warning, display the Apple logo that appears when the phone is powering up and quickly take me back to the lock screen.
The whole process takes about five to seven seconds. So, it’s not really a huge problem, just an annoyance. After I installed iOS 6.0.2, the problem happened shortly afterward but then only happened a few times between then and the release of iOS 6.1.
In these past two days, I haven’t seen the issue surface at all and I am hoping that iOS 6.1 quietly eradicated the issue. I’m not confident given the past, but I’m hopeful nonetheless.
Apps/Swiping Working Appropriately
Often, after installing a major update, apps can go haywire. I’ve seen some iPhone users complaining about apps crashing after installing iOS 6.1 though I can’t say I’ve experienced anything similar. All of the apps I use on a daily basis which include Facebook, Contacts, Mail, Google Chrome, Twitter and more are functioning as they should.
I also haven’t noticed anything different with diagonal swiping. Evidently, iPhone 5 users were seeing a bug, seen below, where diagonal swipes caused the phone to drop touch input.
Personally, I’ve never had this issues on my iPhone 5 but it appears, according to MacRumors, that the issue has been dealt with in iOS 6.1.
iOS 6.1 Jailbreak
I won’t be jailbreaking my iPhone 5 but it looks like those who are hoping to will soon have their fill. The evad3rs development team announced its evasi0n jailbreak tool yesterday that should be out soon and will be available to those running iOS 6 and above.
Even better, the untethered jailbreak will be able to be performed in only five minutes. That’s extremely exciting for iOS 6.1 users, especially iPhone 5 users, who have been wondering about a jailbreak.
It also means that users can safely install iOS 6.1 without worry though the development team recommends installing the software through iTunes and not Over-the-Air through the iPhone’s Settings.
Safe to Install iOS 6.1
Whether you’re jailbreaking the iPhone 5 or not, iOS 6.1 is safe to install. At this point, I haven’t found any major issues and battery life seems to be holding up quite well. And while the features aren’t going to rock your world, the new lock screen controls alone make it worth the upgrade in my opinion.
What’s Next for iPhone 5 Users?
The last update to roll out before the arrival of iOS 6 was iOS 5.1.1. We imagine that Apple could follow a similar route with the upgrade from iOS 6 to iOS 7 this year with a release of iOS 6.1.1 in the future. iOS 5.1.1 was a massive bug fix update and it could be that Apple uses another iOS 6 update to address any lingering issues before delivering iOS 7.
iOS 7 is likely to come with the next iPhone, presumably the iPhone 5S, which is rumored for the summer of this year. Even if the iPhone 5S doesn’t arrive this summer, we should see iOS 7 arrive at WWDC 2013 in June.
And there is no doubt that iPhone 5 owners will be apart of that update.