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Apple Releases iOS 7.1

Apple today released iOS 7.1, the company's first major update to iOS 7, which was released in September 2013. iOS 7.1 has been in testing with registered iOS developers since November, and it brings a variety of bug fixes, performance improvements, faster animations, CarPlay, user interface changes, and minor tweaks.

iOS 7, Apple's bold reimagination of its mobile operating system, was met with a fair share of criticism due to the OS' instability problems. For the past six months, iOS 7 has shown issues with the SpringBoard – Apple's underlying tech that governs the iOS Home screen – leading to crashes and random reboots of iPhones and iPads, especially those carrying the latest 64-bit A7 processor. iOS 7.1 aims at fixing these problems with a more stable Home screen and multitasking experience.

In terms of user features, iOS 7.1 brings changes to the Phone app (now with new circular buttons and other layout modifications), a new shutdown interface and animation, and updated Siri voices for international users. The speed of animations (for launching apps, going back to the Home screen, and opening/closing folders) has been increased, and the Calendar app now comes with a new button to view events in a List mode – a behavior that mimics how the app used to work on iOS 6. iOS 7.1 introduces some additions in the Accessibility department as well, with new options to show button shapes (borders around buttons) and reduce white point.

From Apple's changelog, the full list of improvements and additions in iOS 7.1:

CarPlay

  • iOS experience designed for the car
  • Simply connect your iPhone to a CarPlay enabled vehicle
  • Supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, and 3rd-party audio apps
  • Control with Siri and the car's touchscreen, knobs, and buttons

Siri

  • Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the home button while you speak and releasing it when you're done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking
  • New, more natural sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese

iTunes Radio

  • Search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favorite artist or song
  • Buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing
  • Subscribe to iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free

Calendar

  • Option to display events in month view
  • Country specific holidays automatically added for many countries

Accessibility

  • Bold font option now includes the keyboard, calculator, and many icon glyphs
  • Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages, and multitasking UI animations
  • New options to display button shapes, darken app colors, and reduce white point

Other

  • New Camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s
  • iCloud Keychain support in additional countries
  • FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device
  • Fixes a bug that could occasionally cause a home screen crash
  • Improves Touch ID fingerprint recognition
  • Improved performance for iPhone 4
  • Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000
  • Continued user interface refinements

iOS 7 isn't a course correction of Apple's complete rethinking of iOS – it's the company's biggest bug fix and performance improvement release to date. The OS shouldn't crash as often as before, and, generally speaking, everything is faster and snappier. The minor features and UI tweaks that Apple has brought with iOS 7.1 don't alter the basic experience of iOS 7, but they smooth out some rough edges (and yet not all of them) that Apple left untouched in September. The performance improvements are most noticeable on the iPhone 4 and iPad 3, but they can be appreciated on newer devices as well.

iOS 7.1 is now available through Apple's Software update.

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