It’s been six months since iOS 7 became available, and while we certainly had more than a few problems with it along the way, we generally like Apple’s latest iOS offering. Now, iOS 7’s first major update, 7.1, is available for download, and while the .1 update doesn’t come packed with nearly as many new features, it does include several noticeable enhancements that is sure to make iOS feel better than ever.
You can finally use (or not use) CarPlay
Sure, Apple debuted CarPlay ahead of iOS 7.1’s release, but it remains the marquee feature of the update. Introduced earlier this month, CarPlay allows you to connect your iOS device to your car, letting you use Apple Maps, GPS, Siri, Phone calling, iMessage, and iTunes, from your dashboard, among other things. Even so, there are concerned groups that believe CarPlay takes emphasis away from the act of driving. Time will tell whether these groups are justified in their concerns, but it’s certainly something to look out for.
You can turn off animations
With iOS 7, Apple gave you the option of reducing the motion effect that allowed for the transition animations and for the home screen to give off a 3D look to it. By turning on Reduce Motion, the parallax feature would be turned off, but so would the transition animations. With iOS 7.1, you can now just turn off parallax while keeping transition animations intact. When selecting a new background, toggle Perspective Zoom off and voila. In addition, the Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages, and multitasking UI animations.
You can tell Siri when you’re done talking
For UK and Australian English, Japanese, and Mandarin languages, Siri now sounds more natural and calmer rather than the stilted tone people in these countries were accustomed to hearing. American English already got a taste of this more natural-sounding Siri with iOS 7. A more generally-available feature of Siri, however, is a new option to speak to it. You can hold down the home button to begin talking, and when you’re finished, release the home button. This is an alternative to Siri’s status quo, which had it automatically notice when you finished talking.
You can now enable HDR Auto
While several generations of the iPhone include high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR) as a camera function, some of you might still be confused as to when exactly you should use it. While you are certainly not to blame for that, Apple thought it would make it easier to decide when to use HDR by enabling an HDR auto mode. Unfortunately, this feature is exclusive to the iPhone 5S, though we’re sure to see it in future iterations of the iPhone and, possibly, iPad.
You can now purchase albums from iTunes Radio
Sure, iTunes Radio now has over 20 million users, but up until now, you could not buy albums from the Now Playing screen. With iOS 7.1, Apple rectified that little oversight while also adding a search field above Featured Stations in order to make stations based on whatever artist or song you search. Finally, you can now subscribe to iTunes Match from your iOS device rather than just from your computer.
You can see more in Calendar
Apple decided to subtly revamp its Calendar app for iOS 7.1 by adding a new list toggle. If you so choose, you can now see events happening on different days while in month view. Speaking of different days, not every country celebrates Presidents’ Day, so Apple decided to add country-specific holidays for many other countries. Now you can have your iOS device remind you when Dominican Independence Day is without having to look at an actual calendar.
You can see subtle changes in the user interface
Apple also decided to make some small changes to the overall user interface with iOS 7.1. For the eagle eyed among you, changes in the Phone and Music apps, along with the dialer and keyboard, will be noticeable. Icons in the stock Weather app are filled in, while the options for button shapes and additions to the Increased Contrast setting help to improve accessibility. The “slide to unlock” animation was tweaked to allow for a greater shine effect, as well as the font across the UI.