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 iPhone 6, we offer 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 iPhone 6, 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.
This iOS 8.1 review on iPhone 6 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 iPhone 6
Over the past week, I’ve spent a ton of time with iOS 8.1 on iPhone 6. 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, LTE, 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 iPhone 6.
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. In the case of iOS 8.1, I’ll touch on a big feature as well. That feature, of course, is Apple Pay.
iOS 8.1 Apps
Over the past week, my app experience has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. In the first few days, I noticed some instability on key applications like Twitter, Facebook and Google Chrome. In the past couple of days though, the experience in those three applications has improved dramatically. I haven’t noticed any weird freezing, skipping or crashes. All of the other apps are working out just fine on my iPhone 6.
If you are experiencing issues with any of your applications in iOS 8.1 or below, you’d be wise to update them. I’ve seen tons of bug fixes roll out in the days and weeks after the iOS 8 update’s arrival and most of those updates have not only delivered iPhone 6 support but delivered bug fixes as well. The app experience on the iPhone 6 and iOS 8 seems to be getting smoother as time goes on and that’s very, very encouraging.
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 it.
iOS 8.1 Battery Life
iOS 8.1 battery life on the iPhone 6 has been working out well. I’m still able to get a full day of use out of it when using a combination of 4G LTE and Wi-Fi. LTE still drains the battery pretty fast so I highly recommend working on Wi-Fi whenever possible. I consider myself a heavy iPhone user, that is to say that I’m pretty attached to my phone, and the fact that I can get a full day of use out of this thing, every single day, is fantastic for productivity and my sanity.
I should note that there doesn’t appear to be a massive difference between iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.1 when it comes to battery life but the point is that I’m not seeing any instability after this upgrade. That’s what matters.
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.
iOS 8.1 Connectivity
AT&T’s LTE network continues to deliver excellent speeds and stable connectivity. I haven’t had any problems with it in the past week. Same goes for Bluetooth. I’ve been able to connect the iPhone 6 to a number of Bluetooth devices including cars (several different Prius’) and speakers and I haven’t run into any problems. Smooth sailing.
Wi-Fi, however, has been an up and down experience. Some days, I get solid connectivity across the board. Some days, it’s up and down and I’m forced to try and reconnect to get my connection back. I’m not sure if this is related to iOS 8.1 though I will note that I was not having any problems before the arrival of the update last week.
Our fixes seem to have helped though I’m not convinced that these problems won’t pop up again at some point down the road. Wi-Fi has been an issue in iOS for a long time and I know that plenty of others are having issues inside iOS 8.1 as well.
iOS 8.1 Bugs & Issues
Let’s start with the good news. The good news is that iOS 8.1 appears to be very stable. It also eradicated many of the iOS 8 problems that I encountered in iOS 8.0 and iOS 8.0.2. I haven’t noticed any crazy issues but I’ve noticed a few.
First, I experienced my first random reboot over the weekend. It was only one and I hope that the incident was isolated. I experienced tons of random reboots inside iOS 6 and a few inside iOS 7 and they were mind-numbingly frustrating. I’ve also run into new landscape issues, primarily inside iMessages.
As I noted in my impressions, I thought that iOS 8.1 wiped out these issues that I was experiencing in iOS 8.0.2. For the first couple of days, things were fine, and now I’m starting to get stuck in landscape mode again. It appears to be limited to iMessage and I hope that it doesn’t spread. No telling what’s to come though.
Other than those, my iOS 8.1 experience has been flawless and it feels like a far more stable update than iOS 8.0.2 or iOS 8.0.
iOS 8.1 Speed
The iPhone 6 remains very fast with iOS 8.1 on board. Animations and transitions are both very fast and opening applications from insider folders is still very fluid. I’ve experienced an uptick in speed after the iOS 8.1 update. It’s not huge but the software feels faster than the iOS 8.0.2 and iOS 8.0 updates. It’s almost as if this was the update that should have been released alongside the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 in September.
Apple Pay, one of iOS 8.1’s most important features, has worked out well on my iPhone 6. Not only have I started using it with greater frequency but the product’s performance has been nothing short of outstanding. I’ve used it to buy groceries and other goods and it has been quick and efficient both times I’ve decided to keep my wallet in my pocket.
Apple Pay isn’t anything new, NFC has been available on Android phones for years, but because the iPhone is my daily driver, and because so many stores around me support it, I have a feeling I’m going to start phasing out the use of my wallet on many of my errands.
iOS 8.1 on iPhone 6: Is It Worth It?
Landscape, Wi-Fi issues, and single random reboot aside, iOS 8.1 has offered a solid, dependable experience on the iPhone 6. It has taken care of key bugs and important features like battery life, speed and LTE remain very stable. Software is never perfect but iOS 8.1 is a much better update than iOS 8.0.2 or iOS 8.0. If you’re still sitting on either one, and you’re experiencing bugs, you probably will want to install iOS 8.1
If you’re not experiencing any issues, I think Apple Pay alone is worth the install. It’s a feature that I plan to use a lot in the future and it’s one that could potentially grow on you as well.
iOS 8.1 isn’t perfect but it’s an update that I can recommend for iPhone 6 users.