Nearly six months after the release of iOS 7, surely a somewhat controversial release, Apple unleashed iOS 7.1 with loads of improvements and bug fixes. But even before people had a chance to download and evaluate the free update, online fear merchants were busy doing their thing.
First is the perception that iOS 7 was a rush job. How so? Well, since Sir Jonathan Ive didn’t get the assignment to manage software design for Apple until the fall of 2012, it must be assumed that work didn’t begin until that very day, or shortly thereafter. All the interface work previously done had to be thrown out with the bathwater.
Now there are certainly things about iOS 7 that appeared unfinished, or at least somewhat ragged. It makes sense that many key design elements weren’t finalized until after Ive was on the job. But that’s only the surface. The core of iOS 7 was likely being developed long before iOS 6 was out the door. That’s how such things work.
So I would regard the claim of a rush job as, at best, half true. There were midstream changes after the final release, and perhaps Apple could have done better had Ive took on the assignment a few months earlier. But the all-or-nothing argument is too simplistic to warrant serious comment.
The other is that a “mere” 82% of eligible iOS gear had been upgraded to iOS 7, which, to the critics, means that millions chose not to upgrade because of lingering bugs or interface oddities, or whatever. That doesn’t a survey make. Without actually doing some sort of poll of iOS users to see why they might have held off updating to iOS 7, any publication that pretends to know anything about the numbers is just making things up.
Besides, Apple gets a far higher upgrade percentage than other platforms. How many Android users are running version 4.4 KitKat? It’s in the low single digits last I heard, but that’s because Google’s upgrade system is sadly broken, and hundreds of millions of customers won’t be able to upgrade to take advantage of new features and/or security updates. They have no choice in the matter, other than buying new gear that ships with KitKat.
That’s the real comparison, and Google doesn’t come across so well.
So will iOS 7.1 convince the stragglers to finally get with the program? That’s hard to say until it’s been out for a while. Yes there are some interface changes that may represent improvements, depending on your point of view. Contrast in interface elements is better. The keyboard, Phone app, shut-down button and other features look different and are arguably better. Accessibility options are improved, so iOS 7’s excesses can be tamed more thoroughly.
I haven’t had a chance to consider all the bug fixes, although iCloud Keychain may finally work for me on an iPhone 5s. Up till now, entering usernames and passwords would just stall, taking long seconds between each character. That situation appears to have been resolved, at least based on my brief testing. I’m just surprised iPhone 5s users haven’t made such a big deal about it.
It also seems that Touch ID is more efficient. I had begun to suffer the same symptoms reported by some others, where accuracy seemed to diminish over time. Without making any changes, it does appear recognition of my thumbprint is almost normal. We’ll see.
There are other iOS 7 enhancements and fixes, and I won’t mention them here except in passing. CarPlay, the iOS feature that gives you the equivalent of AirPlay in a motor vehicle, is supported. But you will have to buy a new car to take advantage of this feature, unless the car makers figure a way to offer it as an aftermarket dealer-installed item. If they do, I’ll start saving up. There are also improvements to Siri, iTunes Radio and the Calendar. Performance on the iPhone 4 is said to be somewhat better.
Apple’s support document on iOS 7.1’s security fixes will flesh out the picture even further if you’re curious about the specifics. At least Apple does fix security problems. Google merely touts the freedom of the Android platform, but is that the freedom you want?
No doubt other fixes and changes, not documented by Apple, will come to the fore as the update spreads into the wild. There are already reports of support for previously unknown iPads, although they might represent minor configuration alternatives.
There might even be problems that’ll require a quick iOS 7.1.1 release, but three installations here — on an iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iPad 3 — were seamless.
But Apple will remain in the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t crosshairs. Exaggerated complaints about the alleged ills of iOS 7 abound, and Apple’s efforts to fix the most serious issues will be deemed inadequate. Besides, why did Apple dare release iOS 7 in the first place if they knew it was a bug-ridden, half-finished mess?
But it’s also true that the worst of iOS 7 largely amounted to a handful of interface elements that could have been done better, and now are at least different. Apple’s biggest crime at the start was not considering the impact to people with Accessibility issues. Some people complained about getting dizzy, or nauseous, due to the subtle motion effects. Apple offered ways disable those special effects early on, but maybe that off switch should have been offered more quickly?
But the uptake of iOS 7 shows that an amazing number of Apple customers did install the update, and it appears most were satisfied. Except for the Apple critics who will never be satisfied.