New in iOS 7.1: Big iPhone 4 performance improvements, better navigation audio, and more [Videos]

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 10.10.33 PM

Apple launched iOS 7.1 this morning after what seemed like an eternity in beta, making the first major update to the mobile OS since it was redesigned last year. Included in the update are several key features such as CarPlay, but also a collection of smaller tweaks and improvements that make system more convenient.

Among those features are two very important ones that haven’t really gotten enough press: huge performance improvements on the iPhone 4 and something called “HFP prompts” in the Maps application…

Performance improvements on iPhone 4

As anyone who has used iOS 7 on an iPhone 4 will tell you, the older hardware is nearly incapable of keeping up with the newer software. Even with the disabled visual effects and other concessions attempting to keep things running smoothly, the entire system suffered from laggy animations and other problems.

As shown the video above, via ArsTechnica, the 7.1 update has mostly resolved these issues. Animations are no longer laggy and are much quicker overall than the previous version (as is the case on all devices to some degree, but more so on the iPhone 4).

HFP Prompts in Maps

The second feature listed above is the addition of “HFP prompts” in the Maps app. You’d be forgiven for having idea what those are, given the unnecessarily technical name. This feature is designed to allow you to listen to your car’s built-in radio or other input devices while using your Bluetooth-connected iPhone for navigation.

On previous versions of iOS, if you connected your iPhone to your car via Bluetooth and used it for navigation, you would only be able to hear the audible “turn left in 400 feet” prompts if you tuned your car’s stereo to the Bluetooth input. If you were listening to an FM radio station or a CD (people still listen to those, right?), you wouldn’t hear the prompts. Take it from someone who has done that before: this is not a good way to navigate anywhere.

Image via Scott Buscemi

Image via Scott Buscemi

Under iOS 7.1, a new audio setting in the Maps application allows you to enable HFP prompts, which will automatically tell your car to switch over to Bluetooth when it needs to play an audible direction reminder. After the phone is done speaking the direction, it will automatically switch back to whatever you were doing earlier. Essentially it will work just like a phone call or Siri through your car’s Bluetooth system.

Hands-on with iOS 7.1

Below we’ve embedded a few hands-on videos featuring the new changes in iOS 7.1 so you can see them in action for yourself. ZDNet has also compiled a set of screenshots showing some of the updated interface elements.

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  1. Cameron Bernhardt - 9 years ago

    Subtle changes I’ve noticed but haven’t seen mentioned:

    -If you delete an app (like I had to for room to install 7.1) and reinstall it, it reinstalls itself in its original location.
    -If you have no music playing/paused/nothing in your music library at all, CC looks a little awkward in the middle.
    -Redesigned ‘x’ for notifications in NC
    -Smoother (albeit slower) transitions between panes in NC if you use a swipe; thankfully, however, multiple swipes register so you can do a double swipe to move over two panes (without lag).
    -After restart, if you try to use Touch ID, it reminds you that you must put in a passcode with “Touch ID requires your passcode when iPhone restarts”, rather than “Passcode required after restart”.
    -The “swipe to close” (AKA “claw”) gesture for iPad is much smoother.

    • Someone who looks very closely at detail… I love it. Keep up the good work.

    • Lee (@leemahi) - 9 years ago

      The skip 10-15 seconds through a podcast from the lock screen or task bar is gone. Those assholes don’t want me skipping through commercials.

      The keyboard letters went front gray to black. (I’m sure already mentioned).

      The claw animation is spooling up in the background when you preform the motion, so now you wait for it by staring at your background for 1 second.

      • Robert Nixon - 9 years ago

        Podcast skipping is working fine. Have you updated the Podcasts app?

      • Lee (@leemahi) - 9 years ago

        Oh wow thanks Robert. There was a podcast update yesterday specifically for the skipping thing. Nice. Still doing like the delayed claw.

      • Swordmaker - 9 years ago

        For the black keyboard, turn off the BOLD TEXT in Accessibility you had turned on when you first upgraded to iOS 7 to get a wider, darker font. Then it will look normal.

    • driverbenji - 9 years ago

      “-Redesigned ‘x’ for notifications in NC” …this is a big improvement, it’s bigger, so it’s much easier to delete your notifications.

  2. RP - 9 years ago

    Apple is so in dire need of a competent UI designer. What happened to elegance? As many people have said, Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at design.

    • boardflyer (@boardflyer) - 9 years ago

      My Nexus 7 begs to differ. I used it as my kid’s nighttime music player because the design sucks so bad (the physical design is horrendous, but the GUI isn’t great either). If figured that was better use than as a doorstop. Just my opinion, like yours.

    • sardonick - 9 years ago


    • Barry Kushner - 9 years ago

      Nah, love ios 7.

    • Brett Huhn - 9 years ago

      Have had 2 android phones and 2 apple phones. Android phones are simply junk. I sent my last Android to my sister in Costa Rica. She wants my used iPhone when Im done with it.

    • Robert Nixon - 9 years ago

      To be fair, Apple has been better at UI design than just about any big name in software for decades now. Google has only in the past couple of years started to gain a reputation for giving a shit about design – prior to that, they largely “designed by engineering”, and it showed.

      It’s no surprise that they’re getting better at it faster, now that they’re playing a catch-up game. They’re only just now starting to settle on a design language, whereas Apple is in the midst of transforming their own(which is rarely an elegant process). iOS 7.1 still has a lot of rough edges, but it already feels far more refined than 7.0.

      • standardpull - 9 years ago

        I don’t know what you call Google+, but I don’t call it “giving a shit about design” OR “designed by engineering”.

        Google+ is “designed by sales and marketing”, and it is the worst piece of garbage since Altavista decided to put advertising on their search site. Real Player followed Altavista down that path. Now Google is getting into the action, albeit 10 years later.

    • TheMacAdvocate - 9 years ago

      When your design starts at a bar you could trip over, any improvement must seem quantum. And that “Google/better/design/faster/Apple/cloud” quote needs to be taken out back and shot.

      • RP - 9 years ago

        Design wise, iOS7 was a huge step back. It gave in to trends of the day that quickly looks outdated. Yes, Apple design started out at a high bar, but iOS7 did not improve on it, it took the bar down. What ever happened to the legendary Apple attention to detail? It was released half baked and looks like an intern quickly threw it together,

      • TheMacAdvocate - 9 years ago

        Just in case this doesn’t get pointed out to you by someone else, you have no design credentials. “Half baked and looks like an intern quickly threw it together”? Please don’t expect to be taken seriously when your contributions consist of meaningless, over-the-top screed.

    • fredhstein - 9 years ago

      Very funny. Waze looks like finding memo. It would be nice to see Google Apple-fy Waze. Then I might take RP seriously.

      • RP - 9 years ago

        iOS7 looks like Finding Nemo, so who copied who?

  3. fredhstein - 9 years ago

    Please decrypt HPF Prompts. Surely the acronym has a meaning.

  4. chrisdudek04 - 9 years ago

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the banner notifications when you pull down. In iOS 7.0.6, the banners followed the pulldown of notification center. Meaning, if I had one notification and pulled down even a little, I could see it. With iOS 7.1, you need to pull down notification center 3/4 or all the way down.

    I personally don’t like this as much. I enjoyed being able to pull down a little, read the notification, and swipe it up out of the way. Now I basically need to fully activate notification center to see it and then fully close it. Kind of a hassle and definitely not as quick.

    But I do appreciate the rest of the updates. Feels much faster/more responsive.

  5. Go to The Camera> new HDR Auto option including HDR ON, HDR OFF is added.

    and found a bug in the CC; that even after closing any of your music apps including the built in Music app, the CC still shows the app’s name. Dont know if it is meant to be like that or a bug

  6. rettun1 - 9 years ago

    It’s very zippy on a 5s, especially tapping home. Animations are faster in a lot of areas, but slower in others. I still find myself swiping before an animation is completed (so it goes unregistered) but it happens way less than in iOS 7.

    And it even makes my iPad 3 run a little faster.
    A little… And kinda strange but they added one new wallpaper for the iPad

  7. jigneshthanki1987 - 9 years ago

    Reblogged this on JIGS THANKI and commented:
    What’s new in #iOS 7.1? Safe for #Jailbreak? New Features!

  8. drtyrell969 - 9 years ago

    ROFL, you mean they’re going to get rid of all their artificial slow downs to make me upgrade?

    • Mike Beasley - 9 years ago

      Hardly artificial. iOS 7 was very badly optimized for the iPhone 4 due to the short production time and unnecessarily fast release time. They took a lot more time to focus on it for this update.

    • TheMacAdvocate - 9 years ago

      Also: the phone is almost 4 years old. Tell you what: cut that time in half, buy and Android phone today and tell me how your phone’s doing with OS upgrades in 2016.

      Thought so.

  9. rge421 - 9 years ago

    I’ve also noticed, when you flick the volume slider, the motion is a lot more smoother, and there is a bounce on the end

  10. Anže Zadravec - 9 years ago

    • CarPlay
    ◦ iOS experience designed for the car
    ◦ Simply connect your iPhone to a CarPlay enabled vehicle
    ◦ Supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages, and 3rd-party audio apps
    ◦ Control with Siri and the car’s touchscreen, knobs, and buttons

    • Siri
    ◦ Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the home button while you speak and releasing it when you’re done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking
    ◦ New, more natural sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese

    • iTunes Radio
    ◦ Search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favorite artist or song
    ◦ Buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing
    ◦ Subscribe to iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free

    • Calendar
    ◦ Option to display events in month view
    ◦ Country specific holidays automatically added for many countries

    • Accessibility
    ◦ Bold font option now includes the keyboard, calculator, and many icon glyphs
    ◦ Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages, and multitasking UI animations
    ◦ New options to display button shapes, darken app colors, and reduce white point

    • New Camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s

    • iCloud Keychain support in additional countries

    • FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device

    • Fixes a bug that could occasionally cause a home screen crash

    • Improves Touch ID fingerprint recognition

    • Improved performance for iPhone 4

    • Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000

    • Continued user interface refinements

  11. Twitboydk (@Twitboydk) - 9 years ago

    Who cares about IOS 4

  12. Twitboydk (@Twitboydk) - 9 years ago

    Who cares about iPhone 4 :-P

  13. Jack Hoy-Gig Ng - 9 years ago

    What about iPhone 4S? Have been suffering from battery drainage since iOS6, and iOS 7 made it worse. It won’t last for a full day now, unless on Airplane mode. When it was iOS5, the battery lasts for ages. Anyone has any remedy that could help in any way?

    • rtdunham - 9 years ago

      May not work for you, but when that happens to me I always review the apps I have location services turned on for. There are always a few that I used briefly and forgot about that are creating some drain. After returning location services to the way I want it I find my battery lasts much longer. Good luck.

    • thebums66 - 9 years ago

      Another possibility could be the age of your iPhone 4S? If you bought it when it originally came out the battery life will be shortened over time. I bought the iPhone5 when it first came out and it’s now my son’s phone and it won’t hold a charge for the entire day. He is of course a little more active on the phone than I was but when I first gave it to him he didn’t have a problem with it holding a charge all day.

    • standardpull - 9 years ago

      Replacing the old battery on your iPhone4 or iPhone4S is very straight forward… unless you’re a total incompetent. Even a local mom and pop shop can do it for $20. So if your battery is tired from 1000 cycles, think about taking action. I did, and I’m a better person for it.

  14. Nate Picone (@natepic) - 9 years ago

    New changes are great!!! However, didn’t fix my issue with the random restarts :(

  15. allstarme441 - 9 years ago

    Not sure how long it’s been doing this, but I just noticed that the clock app icon is animated now and shows the correct time. Any chance they will do something similar with weather by giving me the temperature of my current location?

    • driverbenji - 9 years ago

      hmmm, while you missed the clock app icon has shown the correct time since iOS 7.0, I don’t recall the second hand showing, I do think that is new!

  16. themis333 - 9 years ago

    Reblogged this on Taste of Apple and commented:
    I’ve definitely noticed a lot of solid improvements across the system.

  17. Mike Drips - 9 years ago

    That was a great video and it showed me features on my 5S that I was unaware of in 7.1.

  18. AssistiveTouch’s pointer overlay design has been changed from a ringed cyan circle to a ringed grey dot set on a black background.

  19. Mike Drips - 9 years ago

    P.S. iOS 7 was a disaster on the iPhone 4 and my friends who own iPhone 4s have found iOS 7.1 to be a great upgrade. Not everyone can afford the latest Apple device and 7.1 is a real life saver for the iPhone 4 users.

  20. Larry Crocker - 9 years ago

    new weather icons in weather app

  21. liquidwolverine1 - 9 years ago

    The big change for me was the volume notification is gone when you raise or lower the volume while watching a video. Typically you will get a rounded square that says volume and shows the bars and it will cover the center of the video that was playing…now while watching the YouTube video above, the volume just raises and lowers in the native video controls. That was one thing I sent to Apple as a complaint, must have been enough people with the same issue.

    • driverbenji - 9 years ago

      not a big improvement…when you raise the volume, it brings up the top & bottom bars, so, it still blocks the view to adjust volume, just in a different way.

      Also, anywhere else, adjust the volume or change the ringer and that blur box STILL blocks the view.

      This is a huge UI error. I’m a creative person, I care about design, but, making that square blurred to maintain overall design consistency is really a flaw because it gets in the way of functionality. There is no reason why Apple could not make some elements transparent for the sake of user functionality.

      I sent my complaint to Apple, please, help make noise about this:

      I hate google, but, at least they got it right with the YouTube app, in this respect, Apple needs to take a hint here. (One bar on bottom, and it is translucent, not blurred). All Apple has to do to make it different from this is make it white instead of grey overlay, just make it TRANSPARENT. Simple.

      • liquidwolverine1 - 9 years ago

        Most videos are boxed out anyways, so the fact that the controls appear doesn’t bother me any. It is still around for everything else though, could be moved to the bottom as a transparent footer instead. What kind of design work do you do? I’m currently 3 semesters out from graduating with my BA in Graphic Design Specializing in InterActive Design.

  22. Aaron (@Arrrn92) - 9 years ago

    My theory is that they only bothered to optimise iOS 7 for the iPhone 4 because they’re bringing it back into production again for sale in emerging economies.
    It will be a welcome update to all iP4 users, I’m sure. But it’s driven purely by economics, not Apple’s goodwill. I don’t ever remember other legacy (approaching 4 years now, gosh that’s gone fast!) hardware getting such a drastic performance improvement in an update.

    • A public corporation taking an action that is not motivated by profit is doing a disservice to their shareholders (owners).

      • standardpull - 9 years ago

        Maintaining good customer relationships is very much providing good service to your shareholders.

        Case in point: see GM versus Toyota in the 1970s versus today. GM pissed off its customers with poor customer relationship management. People that left GM 30 years ago are unlikely to go back now, even if they have improved 300% since then.

    • driverbenji - 9 years ago

      you got that right. But, why Apple brings back the 4 when they would be better off with the 4S, seems very odd. (The 4S has an all-in-one cell chip, so they only have to produce one model for all carriers, whereas the 4 has several models. (neither has LTE))

  23. Ed King - 9 years ago

    I like all the changes that 7.1 has brought to my iPhone but there is still one basic function missing that drives me nuts. They need to allow the clearing of history for updated apps in the updates section. It’s not a big thing but those of us that are a bit OCD, it means a great deal! I hope it is added in the near future.

  24. The shuffle album function in the music app works properly now.

  25. Mr. Chips (@Mr_Cheeps) - 9 years ago

    Vibration seems to be stronger or more pronounced. Could just be me, though.

  26. ejbsf - 9 years ago

    Trying to install 7.1 I’m informed that I need to remove some apps/data from my 16gb 4s to get to the needed 2gb for the install. No problem, except I can’t find any info as to whether that required extra space will be freed up again after the install is finished. In other words, is 7.1 significantly larger than 7.0x?

  27. Avinash Reddy - 9 years ago

    Hey. Guys updates to iOS 7.1 today But noticed that there is some battery issues and I think apple should release an update for that issue. Hope apple rectifies it soon and releases an update for the battery issues

  28. Wesley Benica - 9 years ago

    I’m glad that they have the option to show calendar events when you’re in month view, but it seems like they took away the list view to show all events. Before this update, if you hit the search icon, it would show a list of all events. Now, you press it, and all you get is a search box and a blank results area. I can search for ‘e’ and get most listings, but leaves out important results such as “Work”. We get one feature back and lose another.

  29. in new update still Indian Flag not available for whatsapp or emoji…but in android this is available for whatsapp…

  30. Jörgen Åström - 9 years ago

    What I still miss is a way to delete all mails with a maximum two taps. I can’t believe that this is not possible. I know there are some special “tap-hold-release-combinations” out there… Impossible to remember and only working sometimes.

  31. Battle Wear - 9 years ago

    Is it me or is there a problem with the texting? Since I upgraded I have had a few conversations disappear from my list of text messages. They are still there but not showing. As example, one friend had sent me 11 text messages last night but the entire conversation was missing.. Once I figured out it was them I started a NEW conversation and as soon as I typed 1 letter the old conversation popped up. Very odd indeed! Had I not guessed it was them, I wouldn’t of had a clue who these 11 messages would of been from.

  32. t17371 - 9 years ago

    New weather app! Better animations and colors

  33. Warren Tesoro - 9 years ago

    It seems (and i hope it’s true) that bluetooth streaming has improved. It used to cut off and was impossible to get going again. I’m listening to Pandora on my Bose bluetooth speaker and so far it’s working..Fingerrs crossed. Anyone else have that problem?

  34. Kennydimes (@Truffles45) - 9 years ago

    Is anyone else having problems with ios 7.1 on iphone 4 with the notification center. I have everything turned on but i get nothing, The sound for the notification chimes on but i get no banner and nothing on the lock screen. I have went into the settings and changes settings in there, restarted my phone, even restored my phone and nothings seems to work. I was just wondering if it was me or something wrong with the update

  35. Amelia Lee - 9 years ago

    In the new passcode panel the option of turning off Voice Dial is removed, do you know how to find it again?

  36. Amber Marie - 9 years ago

    I don’t have my passcode anymore on my phone. How do I get it back?

  37. Bill Pickard - 9 years ago

    I have an iPhone 4. With the update to 7.1 I noticed a change to the music player. Holding it upright I see the what is currently playing. If I turn it on it’s side the screen changes and shows me my other music, which is rather annoying when I just turn the phone to the side and tap a song by mistake. Now I am listening to another song and have lost what I wanted to listen to.

    Is there a way to turn this off?