New iOS 5.1 Features and How to Update

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The iOS 5 was a major release, and the announcement stood on its own even before we saw the details of the iPhone 4s.  This fifth installment of the iOS is not intended to stand on its own until the sixth retires it, but instead be an ever evolving thing that has additions and fixes brought to it regularly.  There have been a few subtle ones, namely the iOS 5.0.1 update, but nothing major.  Now the iOS 5.1 update has been released and is bringing several dozen fixes, features, and additions to your mobile device.  Some of these features are exclusive to one device or another, but the iPhone 4s has been favored and the majority of them are curtailed to it.  Here is a look at how to update to the iOS 4.1 and a look at some of these features that are going to make it an immediate necessity.

To begin the process of updating your iPhone to the iOS 5.1 you can easily begin by just plugging it into your Home computer.  Once the device is registered by iTunes it will likely ask you if you want to download the iOS 5.1 update, and you can choose to download and update the iPhone or to download the software without updating.  If you choose to download and update it will initiate both processes for the software, but if you just choose to download you can go through the phone updating process at a later date without having to connect to the download center.

If this does not show up you can select the iPhone from under the Devices heading in the left hand panel.  In the Summary tab you can go to the Version section and the top option will be the Update button.  To the right of it there will be a short passage indicating that this is for iOS updates and that the iOS 5.1 download is the newest one available.  There is also a third option of doing this entirely remotely from your iPhone as long as you are on a Wi-Fi connection, and this may be easier if you are not near a computer and on the go.

Once you choose to update you will be given a prompt saying that the iOS 5.1 update is going to be verified with Apple, and then you have to confirm that you want to update.  The iOS 5.1 update process will begin by giving you a comprehensive list of what new features and different fixes will be included in the software download.  When you hit “Next” you will move on to the iOS Software License Agreement, which you must confirm agreement with.  Then the download portion will begin, which could take up to half and hour or more depending on Internet connection speed.  The software will then be extracted, the iTunes Store accessed, and then the iPhone update will be verified.

From here it will move on to preparing the phone for the update, which will make it look as though it has restarted.  A progress bar will appear under a silver Apple logo that you can watch as it shows the software being installed on the new phone.  Once it has finished it will prompt you that iTunes is now going to restart your iPhone.

The list of iOS 5.1 features that you get when you are conducting the download and update is a representative sample, but nowhere near the complete list for what is a fairly huge number of changes.  First off, Siri dictation support is now available during text input on the iPhone 4s, which is actually the only device that supports this upgrade.  Baseband and specific carriers have updates here, which is specific in the case of AT&T 12.0.  The iPhone 4s Caller ID Name Display support issue has been fixed and the voice and data roaming switch has been combined.


There are a huge number of bugs fixed that have been noticeable with the original iOS 5 update releases.  These include issues with the Setup Assistant, Bluetooth, music coverflow slowdowns, smart playlists, folders, sticking Apple Bluetooth Keyboard keys, shake-to-shuffle, and even an effort to improve the iPhone 4s battery life.  Beyond this there were minor improvements claimed for Assistive Touch, Location Services, audio for TV Show playback, podcast controls, and the camera face detection feature (Now it is supposed to get all recognized faces.).

One of the most notable iOS 5.1 features is going to be that it will say 4G in the upper bar when it is applicable.  This is difficult in the truest sense of the available network, but it indicates that we are heading into the newer network offerings by companies like AT&T and Verizon.  There are other network focused additions to the iOS 5.1 download, one of which is that the regular network limitation for the App Store download has upped from 20 to 50 MB.  This is in line with its commitment to keep the iPhone more mobile and able to operate away from a computer.  AT&T has an updated network indicator and there have been some suggestions that the update has created a fix to the common problems with a lack of audio during outgoing calls.


Beyond this there are lots of incremental changes to the built in apps that define the use of the iOS.  Maps has seen a slight overhaul, while Photos now allow for images to be deleted from your Photo Stream and Safari has changes to the address bar and Bookmarks.  All of these are relatively minor, but really meant just to adapt to the preferences of users and the changing way that people use the device.


We should not see the iOS 5.2 update for several months, but we can expect several smaller additions to grace us.  These are usually only intended to fix singular problems and bugs, but it is a way of keeping the software fresh on your mobile iDevice and so that Apple can ensure that their new features are not being ruined by simple coding issues.

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