iOS 7.1 is out today and you can update your iPad by heading over to Settings -> General -> Software Update. This dot update marks the biggest and bug-fixinest improvement to iOS since the release of iOS 7 last year.
The major features you’ll likely notice immediately are:
- iOS animations are faster, which makes multitasking and returning to the home screen feel much more fluid on my iPad Air (this is a pretty big deal)
- Siri has been given an extra set set of less robotic voices for certain Mandarin, UK English, Australian English, and Japanese
- You can now tap-and-hold the Home button to bring up Siri, dictate your commands, and then release the Home button to signal that you’re done speaking (though you can still wait for Siri to automatically detect that you’re done talking)
- New dialogue and button designs (e.g. the new shut down screen, which you can see by holding the Sleep/Wake switch)
- General stability improvements. The 64-bit iPad Air is definitely more crash prone than my previous 1st-gen iPad mini, and discussions of the beta claim that 7.1 is much better, even at memory management
In my brief taste of the update thus far, Safari tabs do seem like they stay in memory longer than before. I can get to about six or seven tabs (news sites and blogs) before any one of them has to reload. It also feels like switching between apps is a hair faster than before, which does make a surprising difference.
The only headline feature of 7.1 that isn’t available on the iPad is Carplay, which improves hands-free and car control integration … but only on iPhone 5 and up, and then only on certain new 2014 car models.