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iOS 7.1: The changes we love (and the ones we don't)

Serenity Caldwell, Dan Moren and Dan Frakes | March 11, 2014
In the grand scheme of things, iOS 7.1 isn't really an earth-shattering update, especially coming on the heels of the massive redesign that was iOS 7. But that's not to say that there isn't anything interesting in the latest upgrade to Apple's mobile operating system. Here are just a few of the changes that have our staff applauding and, in some cases, griping.

At last, buttons are buttons
Unlike the other Dan, I'm happy to see the new Button Shapes option. Pre-iOS 7.1, many "buttons" in many apps weren't really buttons at all. Rather, they were simply text that did something if you tapped on it — and that text was often the same color as non-button text. It was the kind of "for the sake of design" UI that drove many Mac users and developers batty — not to mention that left users wondering what was a button and what wasn't. So while I do agree with Dan Moren that the new button shapes could look better (it feels as though someone at Apple said, "You want button shapes? I'll give you button shapes!"), from a usability standpoint, they're welcome. Here's hoping that in iOS 7.2 they'll look as nice as the rest of the OS. — Dan Frakes

Touch-a-touch-a-touch me
It's too early to say whether Apple's promised fixes for Touch ID reliability in iOS 7.1 are the cure for all our fingerprint scanning woes, but as someone who's spent an extensive amount of time troubleshooting Touch ID, I'm hoping for the best.

Touch ID wasn't terrible on iOS 7 if you scanned the same finger multiple times from different angles, but without that knowledge, it was easy to get frustrated and disable the feature. I'm crossing my fingers that Apple paid particular attention to the rescan function: In iOS 7.0, Touch ID did a partial rescan of your finger every time you unlocked the phone, which more often than not seemed to muddle that data rather than clarify it. — SC

Siri hold-to-talk
Despite the occasional "I can't take any requests right now" message, I've grown to depend on Siri. I use the feature daily to send text and email messages, to set timers, to add appointments and reminders, and much more. But Siri and I have long had a communication problem: She doesn't like pauses, and I frequently pause when I'm thinking of how best to phrase a command or message. Which results in frustrating situations where I'm still dictating a message, but Siri has jumped ahead to "Ready to send it?"

iOS 7.1 improves our relationship by adding what is essentially a push-to-talk feature to Siri. If you hold down the Home button while conversing with Siri, Siri won't process your voice command or message until you release the Home button. You can even use this trick in the middle of a Siri interaction: You can say "Text my wife," and after Siri responds with, "OK, what do you want to say ... ?" you can then press the Home button and hold it down until you're finished dictating. Siri will wait patiently, and only after you release the button will Siri transcribe what you've said. So ... thank you, Siri ... I'm so ... happy we're communicating better. — DF

 

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