- Editor's Rating
Apple has released iOS 7.1, the most significant upgrade to the company’s operating system since the introduction of iOS 7 last fall. Although most of the new features are for Apple’s smartphones, tablet users will see some real benefits.
Safari Is Much More Stable
The major feature of iOS 7 was a revamp of the design, with virtually everything becoming flatter and simpler in appearance. Unfortunately, along with this redesign came a collection of bugs.
Apple has worked to fix many of these in preceding smaller updates, but at least one significant one remained: a problem (or set of problems) in the iPad’s Safari web browser that made crashes a daily, if not an hourly, experience for users.
Tests performed this week on an iPad Air running iOS 7.1 indicate that the issue has been fixed. In the days since the release of this new version, Safari has not yet crashed a single time, despite very heavy use.
Better Control Over In-App Purchases
Apple has gotten in hot water in the past for making it too easy for kids to run up huge bills by purchasing items in games, so it has beefed up the controls it gives parents/grandparents/etc.
With the default setting, the user’s iTunes password is required for in-app purchases, but that password stays good for 15 minutes — a child can make as many purchases as they wish during that time. Those with small children would probably be better off setting their tablet (or smartphone) so that the password has to be entered for every in-app purchase.
Setting a four-digit passcode is required for this (don’t use the same one used for the tablet’s unlock screen). Scroll down to the Allowed Content section and then Require Passwords. Set the expiration time to ‘Immediately’.
Click on the images at right for larger versions.
Those who want to totally block in-app purchases can do so by going to the Allow section of Restrictions and sliding the In-App Purchases toggle to ‘Off’.
Don’t miss our recent editorial: Users and Developers Must Beware Unethical In-App Purchases
Better Control of Siri, New Voices
The Siri voice control system has a tendency to cut people off if they pause while giving it a command. With iOS 7.1, users can hold the Home button down and Siri will continue to listen until the button is released.
This is useful for extended commands, like the contents of a text message.
Americans wanting to give their iPad a slightly exotic feel might consider switching to one of the improved voices with a British or Australian accent. Just go to Settings > General > Siri.
Males voices were added with iOS 7.
iOS 7 includes “eye candy” animations for when folders open and close, apps launch, and similar items. Those who consider these a waste of time can turn them off, and iOS 7.1 adds more animations to the ones that are suppressed: Weather, Messages, and multitasking.
Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion and slide the toggle to off.
A Welcome New Version
Many people are leery of installing new iOS versions because they are nervous about bugs, but they can set their minds at ease about iOS 7.1 — rather than adding to the list of issues with Apple’s mobile operating system, this upgrade is definitely more stable than its predecessor.
This is a welcome change, and one that’s long over-due. Apple’s devices have long been known for their stability, but iOS 7 did not live up to this tradition. Fortunately, it’s time is now passed.
And the other enhancements, though mostly small, are icing on the cake.
Get It Now
There are two ways to install iOS 7.1. One is to hook the iPad (or iPhone) to any computer running iTunes. The other option allows people to download and install the new version directly. The user just needs to go to Settings > General > Software Update.