After pushing out several betas, Apple's finally ready to roll out its latest firmware update to the masses. iOS 7.1 is now available as a free download, and as expected, it adds a few new features to the mix. The new update should be heading your direction if you own an iPhone 4 or newer, iPad 2 or newer, either iPad mini or a fifth-generation iPod touch. Among the usual smattering of tweaks to the iOS UI and bug fixes, the most notable feature improvement is the inclusion of CarPlay support and fixes for the random reboot problem many iOS 7 users have been experiencing.
The biggest change to iOS with the new update is support for Apple's CarPlay feature, which brings iOS integration to your in-dash stereo and provides you with the ability to interact with Siri, access your music library and third-party audio apps, navigate routes using Maps, answer calls and send texts hands-free. Previously known as "iOS in the Car," the feature will be offered on select new Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Ferrari models, while plenty of other manufacturers are working on CarPlay options of their own.
Speaking of Siri, 7.1 adds a clever bit of functionality to the virtual assistant. Now, when you press and hold down the home button, Siri will wait until you've released the button before it processes your input. This is a handy trick if you need extra time to speak to Siri, since the program previously thought pauses meant you were finished dictating or making your request.
Additionally, iOS 7.1 comes with a rather lengthy list of other bug fixes and UI tweaks. For instance, there's a new setting in the camera to automatically enable HDR on the iPhone 5s; you'll also get new functionality in iTunes Radio and Calendar, as well as improved Touch ID fingerprint recognition, optimized performance for older devices and -- most importantly -- a fix for that pesky bug that has caused random reboots on more than a handful of iOS devices.
You should be able to download and install iOS 7.1 directly on your device, but at 1.4GB for iPhone and 1.5GB for iPad, the latest update to iOS is a rather bulky one. If you're not near a WiFi hotspot, there's always the option to download and install the file through iTunes on your computer at your convenience. Check out the full change log below to see what you're getting.
- 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
- 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
- Option to display events in month view
- Country specific holidays automatically added for many countries
- 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
- 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