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Hands on with iOS 7.1: A few good improvements

Michael deAgonia | March 17, 2014
Apple's latest upgrade to its mobile operating system, iOS 7.1, adds some useful touches and fixes some of the glitches that appeared in the previous version.

There's a slight change on the Lock Screen if you have a TouchID-enabled iPhone: The message Slide to Unlock takes a few seconds to appear compared to devices that do not have TouchID. This was probably implemented because using the fingerprint scanner doesn't require the slide to unlock gesture.

The Music app has some minor changes. The Repeat and Shuffle buttons are more prominently displayed: Instead of a bright pink lettering with a faded pink background, the button font now displays white with a darker pink rectangle behind it when either option is selected.

The Camera app lets you know when auto-flash is enabled by displaying a little lightning icon when the flash will be used, so there are no surprises when you take the picture. Also, iPhone 5S users now have the option to automatically use HDR when the conditions dictate it.

The Notification Center no longer displays a blank area when there are no notifications to display; now it actually shows the text "No Notifications."

Darken Colors, which darkens some of the fonts — mostly tappable words used for navigating the operating system.

There are a few new options under Accessibility (located under General in the Settings app). There is an option to Increase Contrast which offers three choices: Reduce Transparency, which does away with the frosted glass look in parts of the operating system such as Dock and Notification Center; Darken Colors, which darkens some of the fonts — mostly tappable words used for navigating the operating system; and Reduce White Point, which dims the overall brightness of the display.

Directly below the Increase Contrast option under Accessibility, there is an option to Reduce Motion, which also changes the way multitasking areas pop up (fading in instead of zooming into view) and disables animations in the Weather application.

When choosing wallpapers, you can now disable the parallax effect, which, in concert with Reduce Motion, should help those who are disturbed by the constant zooms and fades.

Finally, there's another new option in Accessibility called Button Shapes, which gives an obvious visual cue of the tappable areas of the operating system by surrounding these areas with a box, giving it more of the look of a button. This option pretty much brings back a visual cue that was removed in the jump from iOS 6 to 7 in the name of cleaning up clutter.

Additional tweaks
There are a few more tweaks here and there that should make access to certain features a little easier. For instance, TouchID and Passcode have moved up to the main menu in the Settings app.

In the previous version, Siri would sometimes continue to listen even after a command was issued, especially if there was a lot of background noise. You can still start Siri by pressing and holding the Home button, but with 7.1 you can continue to hold the button until after you've finished speaking the command. Releasing causes Siri to stop listening and process what was said.

 

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