In late January, after some confusion, Apple finally released the iOS 6.1 update to iPhone, iPod touch and iPad owners, replacing the previous versions of iOS, iOS 6.0.2 and iOS 6.0.1 which had rolled out in the weeks before. The update, which is considered the first major update to Apple’s iOS 6 operating system has already been downloaded and installed by many iDevice owners including iPad owners. So how does iOS 6.1 fare on the iPad? Read on to find out.
Back in September, with the release of iOS 6, Apple outfitted the iPad 3 with a number of upgrades including Siri, Apple Maps, Do Not Disturb, Facebook integration and more. For many, like myself, it was a piece of software that was installed on day one.
Since then, I, like many other iPad owners, have been awaiting the release of iOS 6.1 as .1 versions of iOS generally represent the biggest incremental update to iOS. iOS 5.1 was a significant update and owners of the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch were hoping for the same from iOS 6.1. Of course, per usual, owners saw a couple of updates prior to the release of iOS 6.1
The first, iOS 6.0.1, was a bug fixer that was aimed at addressing some of the issues that iPhone, and in particular, iPhone 5 owners had been having since the arrival of the device back in September. The second, iOS 6.0.2, was only for iPhone 5 and iPad mini owners and it tried to tackle a Wi-Fi issue that some owners were having with iOS 6 and iOS 6.1.
Both updates were heavily focused on devices not called the iPad and for good reason. iPad owners like myself have had a pretty easy go of things when it comes to iOS 6. We’ve heard about a few issues, including one with Wi-Fi, that some iPad owners seem to be dealing with, but for the most part, complaints from iPad owners have been drowned out by the calls from iPhone 5 users.
And that, is why iPad owners have been excited for iOS 6.1. One group, excited to hopefully have their bugs absolved and the other, excited to finally get some new additions in terms of features.
Like many, I downloaded and installed iOS 6.1 for my third-generation iPad and have been using the new software for quite some time. Now, it’s time to offer up a final look at iOS 6.1, its new features, its bug fixes, and some thoughts on what’s next for iPad owners in terms of software.
The New Features
iOS 6.1 represents the first iOS 6 update that comes with an assortment of new features for iPad owner. While they aren’t huge additions to the iOS family, they are all extremely useful in one way or another. Let’s take a look at the three biggest features that have arrived with iOS 6.1
Siri & Movies
As I said in my iOS 6 for iPhone 5 review, I am not a big moviegoer and I am not a big Siri user. However, I do like features that work as advertised and I also like having more convenience in my life. Siri’s new movie ticket functionality provides both.
In iOS 6.1, Siri now allows users to ask to buy movie tickets. The service is provided through Fandango and users need to download the application before Siri can perform her new task.
So far, the function has worked perfectly with Siri responding to my command to “Buy me movie tickets at once” accurately a number of times. The service is seamless, easy to use and it seems useful for those that go see a lot of movies.
I don’t, but I could see myself using this quite a bit if I did. And using Siri is something that I do once in a blue moon.
With the release of iOS 6, Apple installed its own native version of Apple Maps to replace the once native Google Maps. That didn’t go over well with many users because of a variety of reasons, one of which was an assortment of bugs contained in the app.
Examples include mislabeled businesses and directions that were completely, and utterly inaccurate. Apple is still trying to fix these bugs and while it had a way for users to report bugs before, it was nearly impossible to find.
iOS 6.1 brings a new, shiny, massive Report a Problem button that can easily be found after swiping up from the bottom right hand corner of the application.
I don’t use Maps often, as my iPad generally stays at home, but as I’ve said I occasionally look up locations of businesses, check directions before I go somewhere, or surf 3D view. This is a much bigger addition for my iPhone 5 where I spend a lot of my time in Maps.
Yes, it’s useful, but it’s not a big addition for iPad owners.
Lock Screen Music Controls
The new lock screen music control is the best feature that Apple added with iOS 6.1, in my opinion. Prior to iOS 6.1, the lock screen music controls were a bit of a mess with the buttons situated extremely close to each other. As someone who travels and listens to music and books on both the iPhone and iPad, it’s a bit problematic.
The iPad lock screen music controls are much cleaner in iOS 6.1. The controls are in line with the Music apps control scheme and look way more polished than the controls from iOS 6, which can be seen below.
They still aren’t perfect, I wish there was a bit more space between the controls in the top left corner, but overall, it’s a big change and welcomed one over the previous controls which were, in short, a complete mess.
I’m hoping Apple does something drastically different, considering all of the space that is afforded to the iPad, but I doubt any change will come until iOS 7 or later. For now, this will do.
Wi-Fi Working As It Should
Prior to iOS 6.1, I had heard from a few iPad owners who were complaining about Wi-Fi connectivity. The complaints were not as widespread as those from iPhone owners but there were several people who complained about poor connectivity and lack of connectivity, something that cripples a device like a Wi-Fi only iPad.
A few times since iOS 6, I’ve experienced some Wi-Fi issues where there should not have been Wi-Fi issues but I’m still not convinced it had anything to do with iOS. Thus far, Wi-Fi is crisp and fast in iOS 6.1 and so far, I’ve seen no issues. Par for the course, at least for me.
From what I’m hearing and seeing, iOS 6.1 seems to squash a lot of the Wi-Fi issues for iPhone 5 owners. That doesn’t mean it necessarily will solve them for iPad owners but it’s a good sign. As I’ve said before, I suggest checking in with this thread if you are indeed experiencing issues after iOS 6.1. For the most part, I’m seeing good things.
At the very least, I don’t think iOS 6.1 is making things any worse.
Battery Life: So Far, So Good
One thing I have seen iPad owners complaining about after installing iOS 6.1 is the fact that battery life has taken a hit. In fact, GBM staff have seen their battery life on the iPad mini and iPad 3 drop significantly after installing iOS 6.1.
The staff is split though as several of us, myself included, have not seen anything happen to the battery life. For me, it has been par for the course. I am still able to get the same type of battery life I was able to get before upgrading though I will say that I haven’t seen any improvements.
Not that that is a bad thing as the iPad boasts some fantastic battery life.
Apps: No Crashes Yet
Something that often happens after installing an iOS update is that apps start to go haywire. It used to happen with great frequency after installing an update on my iPhone 3GS or my iPad 2. Since I upgraded to the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3, things have quieted down considerably though I still see crashes from time to time.
After installing iOS 6.1, all seems well. I’ve used an assortment of applications including Grand Theft Auto 3, The Walking Dead, Twitter, and Facebook and none of those have had an issue with the the upgrade.
iOS 6.1 Jailbreak
Earlier this week, we saw the release of an untethered jailbreak for iOS 6.1 which works for all the devices running iOS 6 and above. Yes, that includes the iPad 3 and the iPad 4.
Personally, I don’t see the need to jailbreak my iPad as I mainly use it to read, surf the web and play the occasional game, but for those that want to move beyond Apple’s clutches, the software is ready, available, and extremely easy to install.
Safe to Install iOS 6.1
At this point, given the fact that Wi-Fi is functioning normally, apps are performing admirably, battery life is as it was before the update and the new additions are small but useful, I’d say that iPad owners looking to install iOS 6.1 are safe to do so.
We haven’t seen any crazy bugs and though we’ve seen some people complaining about battery drain, it seems to be a bigger issue for owners of the iPhone.
What’s Next for iPad Users?
Well, already we’ve see iOS 6.1.1 Beta 1 land so that will likely be the next update for iPad users. The update at this point is extremely thin, including Maps enhancements for Japanese users, but we expect there to be some other features on board by the time the update rolls out.
iPad 3 and iPad 4 owners (and perhaps iPad 2 owners, as well) should also be getting a major update sometime this year in the form of iOS 7 which has already surfaced once and will likely be introduced at WWDC 2013.
Nothing is known about the software just yet but expect there to be a hefty heap of new features for the iPad.