It seems like only yesterday Apple unleashed iOS 8 on the world. The release included some of the most exciting features we’d ever seen arrive in a mobile software update. There were new options for quickly accessing favorite contacts and the ability for developers to use the Touch ID fingerprint reader on the iPhone 5s in their apps. Now Apple is delivering iOS 8.1. iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s doesn’t suddenly mean users of last year’s iPhone will be able to pay for their purchases with the Apple Pay mobile payments service, however it does add a feature or two a fix a mountain of bugs.
Installing iOS 8.1
With the debacle that was the iOS 8.0.2 update just a few weeks ago, Apple needed to prove to users that it could still roll out updates without accidentally disabling user’s Wi-Fi connectivity or requiring them to visit the Apple Store to get a replacement device. The iOS 8.1 update for the iPhone 5s achieves that.
Installing was as simple as turning on my iPhone and heading to the General settings area. After about five minutes of different messages showing everything from “checking for update” to “downloading Update” my iPhone began to download iOS 8.1 with no problem. After about a half an hour everything was fine. My iPhone 5s rebooted and everything still worked as it should.
One thing that I did notice was the amount of free storage Apple wants users to have before they do an upgrade on the device itself. Apple is still requiring that every iPhone 5s upgrading to iOS 8.1 has 2GB of free storage. That was fine on my device – it’s a 64GB model with tons of storage space to spare, but users who are planning to upgrade their iPhones should plug them into their computers and upgrade through iTunes if they’re already short on space.
It’s a very good idea to check and make sure you have an active wireless internet connection before starting the update.
iOS 8.1 Performance
Performance wise, I’d say iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s doesn’t harm anything. Switching between apps is as fast as its ever been. I didn’t even notice any animation stutters that can happen after these sort of updates like they did from iOS 7 to iOS 8.
iOS 8.1 Apps
Apps in iOS 8.1 worked on my iPhone 5s after the update pretty flawlessly. Again, there wasn’t a big difference between the performance of iOS 8 and iOS 8.1. Apps still opened correctly and I didn’t notice a single crash after opening every single app that I have installed on the iPhone 5s. That is, except for GroupMe, which consistently crashed after switching between conversations. This issue went away after a reboot.
iOS 8.1 adds support for Apple Pay, Apple’s new mobile payments system. At least it does so for users who are downloading it on the iPhone 6 or the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 5s doesn’t include Apple Pay because it doesn’t have an NFC or Near Field Communications chip inside of it. In short, it’s completely unable to communicate wirelessly with payment devices in stores. To get Apple Pay, iPhone 5s users will need an Apple Watch. Those don’t debut until next year.
One new feature iPhone 5s users can expect is the Camera Roll. It’s back and exactly where it should be in the Photos app the moment you enter it. It doesn’t get any better than that.
iOS 8.1 Battery Life
I noticed no big battery drain issues with iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s. I didn’t do a clean install of iOS 8.1 on my iPhone. Instead, I decided to simply upgrade my device. Whether doing a clean install or upgrading has real-world effects on battery life remains debatable, but I haven’t experienced any so far.
iOS 8.1 Connectivity, Bugs, Issues & Speed
For the last month or so my iPhone 5s has been in a drawer while I use my personal phone for everything. As such, during the update there wasn’t a SIM card in it. Instead, I added a SIM after finishing the update to make sure that all radios and things like that worked just fine.
After slipping my SIM card in I was completely able to connect to T-Mobile’s 4G LTE network for texts, calls and web browsing. I didn’t spot a single issue and did notice that iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s allows me to select which T-Mobile network I’d like to connect to.
Should You Install iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s
For many, the real question is whether it’s a good idea to upgrade to iOS 8.1 on the iPhone 5s right now. Each iPhone user has unique needs, but I’d say it’s completely safe to upgrade for users who are already iOS 8. Users who are running iOS 7 still have a complicated decision to make for themselves. Assuming that they choose to stay there because there was a feature they liked or a jailbreak add-on that they enjoyed, I’d say hold off for now.