Yesterday afternoon, Apple released iOS 7.1, an important update to iOS, the operating system for iPhones and iPads. I recommend that you install the update on all of your devices. Here is information on how to update, and what is changed in iOS 7.1
How to update
The best way to update your device is on the device itself. First, plug your device in to a power source, or if you can't do that make sure that you have 50% power remaining on your iPhone or iPad. Then tap on the Settings app and tap General. Next tap Software Update and then follow the instructions to download and install iOS 7.1.
Alternatively, you can connect your device to a computer with iTunes and then update uisng iTunes.
I had no problems at all updating my iPhone 5s to iOS 7.1. However, when I updated my iPad Air to iOS 7.1, I initially found that it was very slow to type with the keyboard, both the virtual keyboard and an external Bluetooth keyboard. This is a problem that some folks also experienced after updating to iOS 7.0. The fix for me was to go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Reset Keyboard Dictionary.
Once you update, here are the improvements that I think will be most appreciated by lawyers.
One of the things that I always loved about the iPhone and iPad was that they almost never crashed. But ever since I started using iOS 7 on an iPhone 5s and an iPad Air, I would sometimes be using my device and then suddenly see a black screen with the Apple logo on it, and I would have to wait for the home screen to reset. Arrgh. iOS 7.1 is supposed to fix that. The update has been out less than 24 hours so I'll have to wait and see if this is really fixed ... but if it is, I'll be very happy.
I use the Calendar app sometimes, but most of the time I use Fantastical 2, an app that provides a useful list view for your events and makes it fast and easy to make new entries. (Here is my review of Fantastical 1.) Recognizing that it can be useful to see a list of events, iOS 7.1 adds to improvements to the built-in Calendar app. First, when you are looking at a specific day in the Calendar app, you can tap the new list icon at the top to switch to a list view of your events of the day.
Second, when you are in the month view, you can tap the list icon at the top to also see a list of events underneath the calendar — a great improvement that lets you see both individual events and the month as a whole at the same time.
Bold is even bolder
iOS 7 includes a beautiful new system font, but I find it a little hard to read. Fortunately, iOS 7 also provides ways to make the font larger and bolder, a look that I find more functional. This post I wrote last year describes how to take advantage of this.
In iOS 7.1, if you turn on bold text (Settings app -> General -> Accessibility -> Bold Text), you also get bolder icons. In the following two images, the first shows bold text turned off and the second shows bold text turned on. Look at the icon row at the bottom to really see the difference.
I like the bolder icons for the same reason that I prefer bolder text — they might not be quite as pretty, but they are more obvious to my eyes and thus make my iPhone more functional. But again, if you don't like the look, you don't have to use bold text.
The letters on the keyboard are also a little bit bolder than they were in iOS 7.0 when you have bold text turned off, and they are noticeably bolder when you have bold text turned on.
Siri adds hold to talk
In iOS 7, if you hold down the home button for a few seconds, Siri starts to listen to you. In iOS 7.0, Siri decides when it thinks you are finished talking, and if you paused for a second, Siri may have stopped listening before you were done. This can be very annoying. In iOS 7.1, if you continue to hold down the home button after Siri launches, Siri will keep listening until you release the home button. Thus, you can ensure that Siri will keep listening to you until you are finished talking. I find this approach much better and I suspect that I will use it all the time now.
You can also use this feature when you use Siri to dictate a text message. First tell Siri that you want to send a text — for example, say "Send a message to my wife." Then, when Siri asks you what you want to say in the message, hold down the button and keep holding it down until you are finished with your message. You no longer have to worry about pausing as you think about what you want to say next.
Better Touch ID
If you use an iPhone 5s with the new fingerprint sensor, you know how useful this feature can be. I find Touch ID to be incredibly accurate for my fingers, but sometimes I hear from people who find it to be more prone to errors. Apple says that iOS 7.1 has improved Touch ID fingerprint recognition, so hopefully that will be helpful to those who have had problems.
Faster on iPhone 4
iOS 7 runs pretty slow on an iPhone 4. If you are an attorney still using an iPhone 4, it is really time for you to upgrade to a new model. But for those who do still use an iPhone 4, it is nice to see that iOS 7.1 runs a little faster on the iPhone 4. Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica explains the improvements.
The optional return of buttons
When the iPhone was new, a large touchscreen with few hardware buttons was something different for folks to get used to, so prior versions of the iOS made it very obvious when there was a virtual button that you could tap. Now that we all understand how an iPhone works, iOS 7 took a bold new approach and removed most of the buttons, replacing them with words that you are supposed to just know that you can tap. I've now gotten used to this approach, but if you want to return to the good old days of a virtual buttons, in the Settings app you can go to General -> Accessibility -> Button Shapes to turn on those virtual buttons again. In the following two examples, look at what happens to General at the top left when I turn the option on.
I think I'm going to keep button shapes turned off now that I have gotten used to iOS 7, but I'm glad to see the option to bring back buttons for those who want it.
Those are the major improvements that I think that many of you will appreciate, but there is a lot more that is new in iOS 7.1. There are cosmetic changes everywhere that you look, such as slightly different icons that tend to use darker and richer colors, slight differences in the way that the keyboard looks (such as new caps and caps lock buttons), a new green circle (instead of a long bar) at the bottom of the keyboard in the Phone app that rotates when you tap it to dial, etc.
Apple also added support for CarPlay, a new service announced last week that allows new CarPlay-compatible cars work even better with an iPhone.
If you use an iPhone 5s, the camera app now has an Auto HDR feature that kicks in whenever you take a picture where HDR could be helpful, such as when you have lots of light in part of the picture but less light elsewhere. And if you use the Auto Flash function in the Camera app, in iOS 7.1 a yellow box with a flash icon shows up at the bottom of the screen whenever the iPhone thinks a flash would help so that you know that when you press the shutter button that the flash will be used.
If someone tries to call you using FaceTime, you might have multiple devices ring at the same time, such as both your iPhone and iPad. In iOS 7.1, once you answer on one device, the notifications are cleared on your other devices.
And there is lots more in iOS 7.1 such as improvements to iTunes Radio, better support for iBeacons, and many other small improvements.
I'll end with my favorite of the small changes, and will do so by quoting from the Apple release notes: "Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000." If you still have more than 10,000 unread messages in your Inbox, you've got much bigger problems to worry about than the badge on the Mail app ... but I guess that the first step is recognizing that you have a problem, and maybe the new badge icon will help.