iOS 8.1 Review: iPad Air

Last week, Apple released its first big update to iOS 8.0 in the form of iOS 8.1. iOS 8.1 represents the third update to iOS 8 since its arrival back in September and it’s an update that delivered new features in addition to bug fixes. After spending a week with Apple’s new software on the iPad Air, we deliver a full iOS 8.1 review and help you decide if an upgrade is worth it.

In September, just a few weeks after iOS 8.0 came out of the beta program, Apple released the first iOS 8.1 beta. Apple did not attach a public iOS 8.1 release date to the beta leaving consumers wondering about a release date. iPhone and iPad users put great importance on the iOS 8.1 release due to a number of iOS 8.0 issues and iOS 8.0.2 issues on board Apple’s iOS 8 update.


Earlier this month, Apple announced a public iOS 8.1 release date with a release set for October 20th. As promised, Apple released the iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. The iOS 8.1 update is a sizable upgrade that comes packed with new features and fixes for those touting iOS 8 powered devices. It also appears to have some bugs of its own on board.


Over the past week, we’ve been poking and prodding Apple’s new update in an effort to bring iPhone and iPad users feedback in the aftermath of its release. After spending a ton of time with Apple’s iOS 8.1 update on the iPad Air, we want to share our feedback in an effort to help those of you that might still be straddling the fence between iOS 8.1 and something else. iOS 8 represents the first major update for the iPad Air, Apple’s iPad that arrived at the tail end of 2013.


This iOS 8.1 review on iPad Air will go over iOS 8 problems, fixes, and most important, overall performance. Our goal is to help you decide one way or the other. Remember, Apple never forces you to install its software updates so there’s no need to feel any pressure.


iOS 8.1 Review on iPad Air

Over the past week, I’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.1 on iPad Air. Before getting into this review, I should note that mileage is going to vary from device to device, person to person. That is to say, I probably don’t have the same apps installed and there’s a chance that I use Google Chrome, games, or my home screen more than you do.

So consider this iOS 8.1 review a general guide as you try to decide whether iOS 8.1 is worth installing on your iPad Air.

iOS 8.1 Performance

When it comes to the performance of iOS updates, I like to focus on five different elements. They include performance of applications, battery life, connectivity including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, assorted bugs and issues, and overall speed of the software. These are all important for all iPad users, not just users of Apple’s 9.7-inch model.

iOS 8.1 Apps

App performance on the iPad Air has been nothing short of stellar. Whether that’s due to its stint in the beta program or app developers commitment to churning out iOS 8 bug fixes I can’t be sure. My guess is that it’s a little bit of both.


Apps, including problematic apps like Netflix and Google Chrome, are all working wonderfully inside iOS 8.1. Keep in mind, I’ve kept my applications updated in the days after the release of iOS 8 and iOS 8.1 and there’s a good chance that updating your applications will solve of them issues you’re experiencing on the iPad Air.

iPad Air Outdoors

Note, if you don’t have automatic app updates turned on, you might want to think about doing that right now. I keep it turned on because I typically forget to install bug fixes. With it turned on, I no longer have to worry about keeping them updated. The operating system does it for me.

iOS 8.1 Battery Life

Battery life on the iPad Air remains solid with iOS 8.1 on board. I’m still able to get way more than a day of use out of the tablet, even when using extensively during travel. The iPad Air is my travel companion and I take it with me on-the-go. I’ve had to travel a little bit in the past week and it’s held up extremely well both when using Wi-Fi and when in Airplane Mode.

One other thing I should note is that standby is still holding up very, very well. I haven’t noticed any abnormal battery drain and the iPad’s battery still holds an incredible charge. That’s been a godsend during my travels.


As I’ve noted many times before, iOS updates are not supposed to bring battery life problems to iPhones or iPads. Typically, bad battery life is caused by third-party apps or users themselves. We’ve outlined a number of strategies to get better battery life inside iOS 8 and the same advice applies to Apple’s latest iOS 8.1 update. Try some of these fixes out before performing a factory reset or taking it down to a busy Apple Store.

iOS 8.1 Connectivity

I’ve been dealing with some Wi-Fi issues on the iPhone 6 but I haven’t noticed them on the iPhone 5 or iPad Air. Bluetooth is also holding up quite nicely with iOS 8.1 and I haven’t seen any issues in the car or with my Bluetooth speakers. Both are working efficiently after the upgrade. Just because I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary doesn’t mean that people aren’t running into problems.

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In fact, I’ve heard from some iPad users who’ve run into some serious troubles. If you are dealing with connectivity issues inside iOS 8.1 or in any other iOS update, you’d be wise to check out our iOS 8.1 tips and fixes. They will provide some potential fixes for you to follow and they could help fix things ahead of Apple’s next iOS 8 upgrade.


iOS 8.1 Bugs & Issues

iOS 8.1, so far, has been bug free on the iPad Air. At least for me. I haven’t noticed any abnormal issues or pesky bugs and the overall experience has been very, very smooth. Even smoother than the experience on the iPhone 6. That said, I did not have many problems within iOS 8.0 or iOS 8.0.2 so I wasn’t expecting anything crazy to arrive with iOS 8.1, a massive bug fixer.

As I’ve pointed out many times, a bug-free week with an iOS update doesn’t mean that I’m in the clear. There’s a good chance that bugs are still lurking inside the software and that I just haven’t seen them. So far though, iOS 8.1 on iPad Air has been very stable.

iOS 8.1 Speed

Initially, I ran into some issues with speed on the iPad Air. The performance in the hours after the upgrade was a bit clunky and slow, much worse than iOS 8.0.2, iOS 8 and iOS 7 before it. I had a feeling things would iron themselves out and lo and behold, the software is much smoother now that I’m a week into the iOS 8.1 release.

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Navigating through folders, apps and home screens is still very fast and I’m hopeful that the iPad Air retains this type of experience as the days and weeks move on. There’s always a chance that an older device like the iPad Air falls victim to performance issues in the weeks after an update’s arrival but I obviously can’t say what’s going to happen here.

iOS 8.1 on iPad Air: Is It Worth It?

I’m not experiencing any debilitating issues inside iOS 8.1 and overall, iOS 8 has been very stable on the iPad Air. If you’re having issues in iOS 8.0.2 or iOS 8.0, I highly recommend installing the software. It has the potential to fix major iOS 8 problems.

iOS 8.1 is very stable and in my opinion, it’s the update Apple should have provided alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in September. It’s that good. So if you’re still lingering iOS 7, now is a great time to upgrade from iOS 7 and get familiar with iOS 8’s new features, many of which are aimed at iPad users. Most iPad Air users will be fine upgrading to iOS 8.1 right now.