Two weeks ago, Apple released its iOS 7.1 update for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The update, as expected, was far from your typical incremental iOS update as it delivered not only bug fixes and enhancements but also delivered design tweaks and CarPlay, a new iOS feature for the car. Over the past two weeks, we’ve been using iOS 7.1 on a number of devices and today, it’s time to take an updated look at the software’s performance on three iOS 7-powered devices.
After a lengthy beta period, the iOS 7.1 update emerged from hiding and deployed to iPhone and iPad users running iOS 7. iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c iPhone 5, iPhone 4s, iPhone 4, iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina, iPad 4, iPad 3, iPad mini, and iPod touch fifth-generation users all received the update that takes the devices up from iOS 7.0 to iOS 7.1.
Apple’s change log was extensive and listed a host of improvements, fixes, enhancements, and changes that alter the iOS 7 experience. The iOS 7.1 update includes improvements to the software on board the iPhone 4, Apple’s older iOS 7-powered iPhone. It includes tweaks to the Phone app that unify the look and feel of the new iOS 7 design. iOS 7.1 includes changes to Siri, to the Calendar application. And it also includes a fix for a springboard issue that plagued the iPhone and iPad. Needless to say, it’s an important update.
The iOS 7.1 update has been out for two weeks now and we want to revisit the software and offer our thoughts on how the software is performing and whether it’s still worth the install. Here, we’re going to look at three devices in particular: The iPhone 5, Apple’s aging former flagship, the iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retina Display.
iOS 7.1 Performance
In my experience with iOS updates, most of the problems I’ve encountered have come weeks after the arrival of the update, as opposed to right after release. As I noted in my initial reviews of iOS 7.1, the update was performing fine on all of my devices after release. In fact, I saw notifiable improvement after the jump from iOS 7.0 to iOS 7.1.
Now that the smoke has settled, it’s time to take a look and see if performance has taken a hit or if it’s the same high caliber update that arrived two weeks ago.
One of the problems that I’ve encountered in the weeks after launch is with applications. Apps sometimes don’t agree with new software and become unstable. I’ve heard complaints about broken applications inside iOS 7.1 and iPhone users have been complaining about random crashes and non-responsive applications.
Initially, I did not encounter any problems. However, over this past weekend, several applications on my iPhone 5 started showing signs of instability. In particular, Facebook crashed a number of times when I tried to open it up. The application would act like it was starting up and then take me back to the home screen. It doesn’t happen every single time but enough where it can certainly be considered annoying.
What’s interesting is that I haven’t seen the issue on my iPad Air or iPad mini with Retina Display, only on the iPhone 5. They are performing fine at the moment.
Other than Facebook, I’ve seen Google Chrome lock up a few times but nothing worse than that. While my app experience on the iPhone 5, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina are solid overall, the Facebook crashes have been concerned. My hope is that a future update from Facebook, or Apple, wipes the problem out.
One of the major concerns amongst iPhone and iPad owners before installing an iOS update is the impact the update is going to have on battery life. iOS updates have the tendency to negatively impact some iPhone and iPad owners and often times, it’s difficult to track down the exact reason for the problem.
Over the past two weeks, I haven’t seen anything abnormal. Battery life on my iPhone 5, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina remains consistent and on the level of iOS 7.0 battery life. Originally, I noted that my iPhone 5 battery life seemed to be a bit better than it was in iOS 7.0 but over the past week or so, the difference has become less noticeable.
I’ve heard and see numerous complaints about iOS 7.1 battery life and I’m here to tell you that there are some things to try if the experience is really that bad. One trick in particular should dislodge any potential bugs and there are some tips and tricks that we suggest taking a look at before throwing the device against a wall.
If none of that works, bring it to an Apple genius. It may be that there is actually a serious problem with your device. Last year, my girlfriend experienced abnormal battery drain and it turned out that it was being caused by a bloated battery.
I’ve heard about the dreaded grayed out Wi-Fi issue inside iOS but I still haven’t experienced it myself. My iPhone 5, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display all get solid Wi-Fi connections and my iPhone 5 continues to pull down extremely fast LTE and HSPA+ data speeds from AT&T’s network.
Those who are experiencing major Wi-Fi issues should certainly take a look on Apple’s discussion forums. There is a ton of general information there and we’ve also seen users discover some temporary, and permanent, fixes for Wi-Fi. Often times, all it takes is a reset or perhaps some changes to a routers settings in order to get things working properly.
iPhone and iPad users that are experiencing personal hotspot issues should note that it’s not a problem with iOS 7.1. Instead, it appears to be Apple cracking down on unauthorized tethering.
After installing iOS 7.1 on these three devices, I discovered a significant increase in performance on my iPhone 5. The device felt like new thanks to the changes that Apple made to the transitions and animations inside iOS 7. The speed that iOS 7.1 delivered remains and sometimes I feel like I’m wielding an iPhone 5s rather than a phone that was released back in 2012. It’s that fast.
The iOS 7.1 experience is also extremely fluid on the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display. The difference from iOS 7.0 to iOS 7.1 is not as noticeable but both devices have certainly benefited from the changes that Apple has made. It’s this consistently with speed that really makes the iOS 7.1 update worth upgrading to.
I still haven’t been able to test out CarPlay, it requires specific car models that I don’t own, but I have been using some of the other features that iOS 7.1 delivered.
I hate to say this but Apple’s change to Siri, the one that prevents her from interrupting you, has actually led me to start using her a little bit more than I normally would. Normally, I would never use her. Now, on the rare occasion that I need a very specific answer to something and fast, I will use Siri. The fact that she now waits for you to finish your query has led to an increase in accuracy, at least for me.
As for the keyboard, well, it’s certainly taking some getting used to. I can appreciate the boldness to the keys but the change that Apple made the Caps Lock key has started driving me nuts. I’ll get adjusted over time but it doesn’t change the fact that it has confused me on several occasions when typing a text or email.
Is It Still Worth Installing?
If you’re still on iOS 7.0.6 or below, I highly recommend installing iOS 7.1, particularly if you’re on an older device like the iPhone 5. The speed improvements alone are worth the install. Those who are on newer devices like the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display won’t benefit as much from the speed but the iOS 7.1 update will kill off those pesky random reboots and deliver a more stable piece of software overall.
Those who are still considering a jailbreak should remain on iOS 7.0, at least for now. Proof of an iOS 7.1 untethered jailbreak emerged last week but it looks like it may only be for the iPhone 4, if it even arrives at all. In other words, most people are going to want to upgrade to Apple’s latest update to iOS 7.1.
How is iOS 7.1 treating you?