When Apple unveiled iOS 7 last June, it was clear that it was going to be a drastic change from what we had known iOS for six years. It was also the first ever design overhaul, headed by Jony Ive and not Scot Forstall. However, when iOS 7 was released to public with the new iPhone 5S, it became apparent that the new UI was still a work in progress and had quite a few rough corners. Last night, Apple started rolling out the first major update to iOS 7 after its release in September last year. iOS 7.1 not only brings new features, but also fixes quite a few issues and bugs that have plagued users for quite some time now. As mentioned in our earlier story, the update also breathes a fresh life into aging devices like the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and the iPad mini. Let’s take a look at how iOS 7.1 performs.
One of the first things that you are likely to see is the host of design tweaks introduced in the new update. Compared to before, the design elements are also much more consistent this time around. So instead of a mixture of round and square-ish buttons, now everything is round. This wouldn’t matter to a lot of people, but for a person like me with borderline OCD, I like consistency in every aspect. Apple’s designers have also toned down the trippy colors from iOS 7, and the OS now looks a bit dark and sober rather than make you feel as if you are tripping on LSD.
The designers have also made things like the ‘Slide to Unlock’ bar and the ‘Clear’ button in the Notification Menu merge into the background rather than standout as a button. This again maybe a small change for many, but it does add to the premium-ness of the OS. As mentioned above, nearly everything is rounded so be it the icons, the call button on the phone dialer, accept or decline buttons when receiving a call, or the power off slider, they all take advantage of this new design language.
The next thing I noticed post the update was just how snappy the phone had suddenly become. The simplest of tasks like sliding down the Notification Menu or sliding up the Control Center has seen a noticeable bump in speed. Animations in general have become a lot smoother and there is hardly any lag visible during general use.
One of the improvements that I have really enjoyed is just how smooth scrolling feels. Be it scrolling through songs in the Music Player or through apps in the multitasking menu, the effect is smooth as silk. In fact this makes you wonder why Apple didn’t get it right when it released iOS 7 last year. The keyboard too has got a few tweaks, which now looks bolder than before and the shift and delete keys standout so you don’t hit them by mistake. The keyboard performance too has been improved and there is a noticeable smoothness when typing.
Talking of features, Apple has added a decline button when you receive a call, which is a big deal as now there is no need to press the sleep button to decline a call. It took Apple just seven years to get something as basic as declining calls right. Another feature that I really like is HDR toggle switch on the camera. Yes it was there earlier too, but it was always disabled by default. Now, the default setting is Auto and you can change it to On or Off for every time you fire up the smartphone’s camera. However, this is available only on the iPhone 5S.
Another welcome feature is the ability to toggle the ‘Parallax Motion’ while setting wallpaper. This makes more sense for people on older devices where this effect used to hog the battery and also slow things down.
It is too soon to judge if these performance bumps have had any effect on the overall battery performance. On the plus side though it is safe to report that there is no battery drain and after updating my phone last night I still had battery left till after lunch time before I had to connect my charger. Apple’s changelog also mentions that they have fixed the Touch ID sensor bugs, but again it is too soon to comment on it. But since last night, the fingerprint scanner has worked flawlessly and in fact it too has become slightly quicker than before.
Overall then iOS 7.1 update has brought in a lot of welcome changes, tweaks and features that will be appreciated by everyone. The OS finally feels stable and more like a complete package than before and gives a clearer picture of what Apple really wanted to achieve with iOS 7.
Photos: Paranjay Dutt