iOS 7.1: How to get iPhone update, and what to do once you've got it

David Phelan on the new Apple software upgrade

It used to be that when you bought a phone, that was it. It couldn’t get any better and fixing any fault in the firmware was a convoluted business. But the arrival of the smartphone brought with it easily updatable operating software with downloadable software updates to give your phone (or tablet or camera, even) extra life.

So in the last few hours Apple has improved the operating software for its iPhone and iPad. As always with this kind of update, it’s free. The newest version of iOS adds graphical improvements, new voices and compatibility with CarPlay, Apple’s newly announced in-car software. So here’s how to update your iPhone or iPad.

It’s a simple enough process and pretty quick. Launch the Settings app, look under General and go to Software Update. Note that if you didn’t install the last update (7.0.6) it will try and fail to install that first. Turn the phone off and on again and it’ll search for the latest update – version 7.1 – and install that. It takes a few minutes to download and then a few more to complete its task. Note that you can’t do much with your iPhone while it’s doing this so maybe don’t do it when you’re expecting an important phone call. The whole process should take less than 20 minutes though your broadband’s download speed will govern some of this. It’s too big a download to be done over 3G. It was slightly quicker on iPad than iPhone in my experience.

Once it’s done – what can you expect? Not the radical change that iOS 7 brought last autumn with its complete visual overhaul and extra features. That would be too confusing after less than six months. But there are quickly visible changes. When someone calls you, the “Slide to Answer” box has changed from an oblong to a lozenge that makes it clearer you should start that sliding motion from the very end point where a circle containing a green phone sits. Above that are two other options: Remind Me and Message. Tap either of these to send the incoming call to voicemail and create a reminder to call them back at a set time or reply to the call with a message such as “I can’t talk now – I’ll call you later”. These features were there before but they look better.

From left to right: The new caller icons; month to view on the calendar app; and the HDR always-on option

Much better, I’d say – that oblong to answer or end a call was the visual outcast of iOS 7, looking unfinished and uncertain. Removing it is a subtle but welcome improvement. There are many of these in 7.1, like the improved calendar. Previously there was the option of a monthly view or daily but nothing in between. Now you can opt for month calendar with the bottom of the screen given over to a selected day’s events. For a full list of upcoming events, however, similar to the list view in the iOS 6 calendar, you’re out of luck. In iOS 7, tapping the magnifying glass on the calendar screen showed a full, scrollable list of previous and upcoming events. Now, the magnifying glass shows a search box and keyboard but no list. As a list view addict, I have to say I really miss this. Please bring it back, Apple (in iOS 7.1.1).

[Update: it turns out is should have known better, and it took an Independent reader to put me right (thanks Sue Q). To be fair, it is not intuitive and can be hard to stumble across. Here's how: with the new view that is part calendar, part list, when you touch a date it will show that day's events only. However, with this feature turned off, say a full month's view on screen, then tapping a date brings up the full events list, with full search features. Hurrah. Even if it is slightly hidden.

Actually, if that's too fiddly, there’s always the outstanding Fantastical app which should be on on everyone’s iDevice anyway. It allows for natural text entry ("Every third Thursday at 12 until November” is competently understood, for instance) and you can read the list of upcoming events in multiple ways. It’s excellent and worth every penny of its £2.99 price]

Siri, the excellent voice-activated personal assistant, now has a new voice. Two, in fact. Just like the US version, you can choose between female and male voices. Fans of the previous male voice of Siri may regret that it’s no longer available, but the new voices are softer and more appealing. Incidentally, if Siri says your name wrong (it used to call me Dave-ood instead of David), can correct it. Just say “That’s not how you pronounce my name” and it’ll invite you to say it properly. Do so and it replies, “OK (thank you)” with such perfectly modulated tones you can hear the parentheses. This was in earlier editions of the software but is not well known.

Other improvements include placing the Touch ID preferences more prominently in the Settings app and a camera setting so HDR is automatically on. HDR is the clever system that takes multiple shots at different exposures in quick succession and combines them to create striking, contrasty results. Its only downside is it takes a little longer for the camera to be ready for the next shot. Then there’s CarPlay which enables you to connect your iOS devices to a compatible car to access Apple Maps, get directions, see text messages on the car’s display, and more.

So should you upgrade? In a heartbeat. But for that absence of the list in the calendar’s search view, everything is an improvement. Though some aspects, like CarPlay, won’t be of use until you have a compatible car to go with it, everything else is ready to go and looks (or sounds) great. It’s not like the “whole new phone” effect, which was what iOS 7 felt like, but it’s certainly a worthwhile upgrade.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Lead Developer - ASP.Net / C# / MVC / JavaScript / HTML5

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a Lea...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

    £45000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Engineer is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line IT Support Technician

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a small IT consultancy...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral