iOS 7 on iPad mini: First Impressions and Performance

The iOS 7 update is now available for the iPad mini, bringing Apple’s latest update to the smaller iPad. Unlike the earlier iOS updates, iOS 7 brings a radical change to the look and feel of iOS 7 that is different, but somewhat familiar at the same time.

Apple includes several exciting new features for the iPad mini in the iOS 7 update including a revamped spotlight search, the Control Center and much more.

The iOS 7 update is a free update that is now available for the iPad mini as well as the iPhone 4 and newer, iPad 2 and newer and the iPod touch 5th generation.

While iOS 7 will shine brightest on new hardware, the iPad mini feels as if it was designed with iOS 7 in mind. After a day of using iOS 7 on the iPad mini, and several months on the iPhone 5, I’m very much a fan of the iOS 7 iPad mini experience.

When it comes to the iOS 7 experience, it will take a few days to get used to the new changes and to adjust muscle memory. I’m still double tapping the home button to change music and brightness, when all I need to do is swipe up to access those controls in the control center.

The iOS 7 update for the iPad mini is a great upgrade.

The iOS 7 update for the iPad mini is a great upgrade.

Here are my first impressions of iOS 7 on the iPad mini. In short, it is a great experience that makes using the iPad mini with one hand easier and the new look for iOS 7 is right at home on the iPad mini’s small form factor.

iOS 7 Update Process Wasn’t Too Bad

While the iOS 7 update process was full of errors for many users, and continues to be a problem for some users less than 24 hours after the iOS 7 release date, upgrading to iOS 7 was simple and relatively error free on my iPad mini.

After downloading the large update, iOS 7 installed and prompted me to complete the iOS 7 setup, as shown in the video below.

Users should experience a smoother upgrade process now that Apple’s servers are not under the load of millions of uses updating at the same time.

Overall Performance

So far the iOS 7 performance on the iPad mini is very good. I’ve yet to run into an app that crashed or any kind of system crash, which is good considering there were reports that iOS 7 for iPad was still behind the iPhone version of the software.

With iOS 7 on board all of my common activities are working perfectly so far. Multitasking is smooth and even though the iPad mini uses an older processor animations for exiting an app or moving between a folder and the home screen are quick.

The new Apple apps and third-party apps work very well so far, including the new Safari experience, the much improved Notes app and many others.

Battery Life

It’s tough to nail down any major changes in the iPad mini battery life on iOS 7 thanks to the long battery life of the iPad mini in general, but that’s a good thing.

In the first 24 hours of using iOS 7, I am not experiencing any abnormal battery life issues on the iPad mini. Normally the first major upgrade to a device can reduce battery life, but it seems that the iPad mini escaped the iOS 7 upgrade with good battery life intact.

iOS 7 Bugs

While there are certainly iOS 7 bugs to be found as users attempt to use the new software on older devices, In my time with the iOS 7 on the iPad mini I have not encountered any bugs with apps or using the new version of iOS.

WiFi and 4G LTE connectivity are also good. Earlier iOS updates crippled WiFi functionality for some users, but this is not affecting my iPad mini on iOS 7. My iPad mini includes Verizon 4G LTE, which is also performing as fast as on iOS 6, and there is no longer an annoying popup that tells me it is not on a data plan.

Overall Feel

When it comes down to using iOS 7 on the iPad mini it is a great user experience. The new design looks great and even though much has changed it is not a confusing experience for me.

The biggest changes simply require breaking my habits of double tapping for certain activities and re-training myself to use the Control Center for fast access to my most used settings.

Control Center is Awesome

Fast access to iPad mini settings in Control Center on iOS 7.

Fast access to iPad mini settings in Control Center on iOS 7.

In short, Control center is an amazing feature that lets me toggle brightness, settings, control music and more from a small pull up bar at the bottom of any screen on the iPad. this is great for changing the brightness without a loud double-click while watching a TV show in bed. The setting controls are also handy as I can easily turn WiFi or Bluetooth on or off when needed.

Multitasking Feels Right

iOS 7 multitasking feels at home on the iPad mini, even more than on the iPhone 5. The iOS 7 multitasking uses cards that show a preview of each app so I know what that app is without looking at a small icon.

iOS 7 multitasking is at home on the iPad mini.

iOS 7 multitasking is at home on the iPad mini.

Multitasking also works in landscape mode, which is how I often use my iPad mini. In this mode some apps will still show up with a portrait orientation in the preview spot, but it is much nicer than multitasking on iOS 6. Swiping up on one or more apps will close them.

Siri is Upgraded, But Still Unreliable

Apple moves Siri out of beta on iOS 7 and adds several new features to the voice assistant, including the option for a male voice and the ability to control more settings.

New Siri features, same unreliable Siri.

New Siri features, same unreliable Siri.

That’s great news, but Siri still fails often enough that I get tired of telling the service to remind me to do something five times before it works. I still use Siri, but it is too unreliable for anything where i need to create a long note or when I need something to absolutely happen the first time.

FaceTime Audio is Amazing

FaceTime Audio is a new feature in iOS 7 that lets user make calls over WiFi or LTE to an Apple device without using up minutes. This means free calls internationally and more, but the best part is that call quality is amazing.

Make crystal clear calls from the iPad mini on iOS 7 with FaceTime Audio.

Make crystal clear calls from the iPad mini on iOS 7 with FaceTime Audio.

Compared to a regular phone call on the iPhone, a FaceTime Audio call on the iPad mini is like being in the same room with the person. It’s something you absolutely need to try.

Should You Install iOS 7 for iPad mini?

The easy answer is yes. IOS 7 for the iPad mini is a great upgrade that feels like a perfect fit for the small tablet. From the ability to swipe anywhere on the lock screen, to the new gestures for going back in apps and in Safari, the iOS 7 iPad mini update is one most users should install.