Apple's version 7.1 of iOS is out, the first major update since iOS was released last year. New features include CarPlay integration, an enhanced Siri, and a boost for some older iPhone models.
The CarPlay integration follows the recently announced agreements between Apple and car makers to move forward on iPhone/iPad enhancements. In compatible vehicles, CarPlay facilitates such functions as the ability to make calls, receive/send text messages and speak to Siri through the car's system. Volvo, Hyundai, Mercedes and Honda are among the cooperating manufacturers that are expected to release CarPlay-ready vehicles later this year.
The updated iOS includes a switch so the scrolling wallpapers can be turned off, as some users have reported that it makes them literally sick.
Another enhancement allows users to let Siri know when you're finished talking. Previously, the intelligent voice agent assumed you were finished if you paused in speaking for a few seconds. Now, a user can hold down the home button to indicate you're still talking. When the button is released, Siri knows you're done.
There are also new male and female voices for several languages, including British and Australian English, and Japanese. In iTunes Radio, there's a search field for creating stations based on favorite music or musicians. Users can also now buy albums when the Now Playing screen shows, and subscribe to iTunes Match from their iPhone, instead of only from iTunes on a computer. Calendar can now show events for one day when it is in month view, and users can add holidays that are specific to their country.
Several updates will be of interest to owners of specific iPhone models. iPhone 5 users get an update that allows a "High Dynamic Range" feature to take and combine several photos at once to create a sharper image. The camera will now automatically enable HDR when users are taking a picture, if it can help improve the photo quality.
Fingerprints on the 5S
There's also improved fingerprint recognition on the 5S. Shortly after the 5S was released, there were complaints about its TouchID feature, which some users said could fail to recognize a fingerprint and unlock a phone.
Apps on the iPhone 4 are also reported to be running faster after the update, although not as fast as later models. These performance updates, however, may be among the last significant ones that iPhone 4 owners will see for the nearly 4-year-old device, since it is not expected that iOS 8 will support the iPhone 4.
A variety of bug issues have apparently been resolved, including app crashing that caused phones to reboot. When the reboot happened, of course, the unsaved data in the app-in-use was lost.
The download for 7.1 is 250MB to 325MB, depending on the device model. Via Wi-Fi, it takes about 10 minutes.