iOS 7.1 gets interface improvements and integrates CarPlay

After much anticipation, the first major update for iOS 7 has finally been released. iOS 7.1 sets out to improve bugs that were compromising the user experience for some, especially those with older iPhone models. It can’t exactly be called an overhaul, but once you’ve installed the update, you’ll notice some small but useful improvements to your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of the biggest changes in iOS 7.1.

CarPlay ready

Having been revealed on March 3, the CarPlay mode is probably the biggest addition to iOS 7.1. The new feature lets you connect your iPhone 5, 5C or 5S to some high-end vehicles to bring the iOS experience to your passenger seat. CarPlay on iOS 7.1

CarPlay on iOS 7.1

It means that drivers will be able to take advantage of the Telephone, Maps, Music, Messages, Spotify or Beats Audio apps via a touchscreen or Siri. In broader terms, this means that Apple’s iOS is no longer limited to tablets, smartphones and Apple TV. Car makers have yet to release any compatible vehicles, be we doubt we’ll be waiting long.

Subtle graphic changes

Apple has used the update to make small changes to the overall appearance of iOS. Among the changes are:

  • The keyboard font has a slight cutout effect, which makes the letters easier to read. The gray background is slightly darker.
  • Buttons in the phone app are more rounded.

Slight changes to the interface

Keyboard more visible, buttons more rounded

  • It’s now possible to disable the parallax effect when you pick a wallpaper (you can actually do this in all versions of iOS 7 by selecting Reduce motion in the Accessibility menu, which limits all visual effects).
  • A new button in the Accessibility settings lets you control the intensity of white points on the interface. A second button lets you see the outline of virtual buttons.

New accessibility options

Parallax can be disabled and there are more accessibility options

  • Telephone, Messages and FaceTime icons are now a darker green.
  • The lockscreen has been revamped.

A very slight color change

A color change and new-gen lockscreen

  • A rebound effect has been added when you open the Notification or Control Center.

iOS 7.1 offers a more powerful Siri

Apple has added new male and female voices in Mandarin Chinese, British English, Australian English and Japanese. There’s also been a change to the way you can use Siri– you can now hold the main button while you make your voice request.

Some changes for Siri

A change for Siri

More services for iTunes Radio

The teams at Cupertino have also taken advantage of the opportunity to make some improvements to iTunes Radio, currently only available in the US. In the list of changes accompanying the update, it’s noted that you can now follow sport and news broadcasts directly in the app, and that a new buy button has also appeared.

iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio

Less visible, but equally important

Other than aesthetics and new features, there’s also a noticeable difference in iOS 7.1’s performance; Apple has placed particular emphasis on the update’s benefits for iPhone 4, an older model that’s still in common use. We’ve done our own analysis to compare iOS 7.1 pre- and post-update on an iPhone 4 to see just how good these performance improvents are. These benefits should apply to others devices too, but the biggest changes are noticeable on older models.

A major iOS update is always reason for celebration, and this time, even Apple has decided to dedicate a full page to explain the benefits of the update. While some users predicted news of an Apple watch or even an Apple TV set, Cupertino has obviously chosen to take a step in the direction of the auto market. Does this mean that Apple is ready to welcome even more new platforms? Only time will tell.

Do you like the changes from the new iOS 7.1 update?

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