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Calling All iPhones: 2.1 Bug Buster Is Ready

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Sep 12, 2008 11:23 AM PT

As Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised earlier this week in his iPod and iTunes-focused music announcements, the iPhone 2.1 software update is now ready for installation by all iPhone owners. The update became available this morning, and Apple even went so far as to post a notice on its home page to alert iPhone owners of the free update.

Calling All iPhones: 2.1 Bug Buster Is Ready

The 2.1 software update is a relatively big chunk of data -- 237.8 MB worth.

"It fixes lots of bugs. You'll get fewer call drops. You will get a significantly improved battery life for most customers," Jobs told reporters.

"If you have a lot of apps on the phone, you're not going to get some of the crashes and other things that we've seen. Backing up to iTunes is dramatically faster, and so just a lot of bugs have been fixed, and there's some great new performance enhancements as well," he added.

Little to Go By

As is typical of Apple software updates, the company doesn't offer a finely detailed, nuts-and-bolts description of exactly how the new software fixes problems. However, prior to downloading the update via iTunes, Apple does divulge a few nuggets indicating what to expect, which it has also posted on a dedicated iPhone 2.1 Software Update page on its site.

The new update includes:

  • Decrease in call set-up failures and dropped calls
  • Significantly better battery life for most users
  • Dramatically reduced time to back up to iTunes
  • Improved e-mail reliability, notably fetching e-mail from POP (Post Office Protocol) and Exchange accounts
  • Faster installation of third-party applications
  • Fixed bugs causing hangs and crashes for users with lots of third party applications
  • Improved performance in text messaging
  • Faster loading and searching of contacts
  • Improved accuracy of the 3G signal strength display
  • Repeat alert up to two additional times for incoming text messages
  • Option to wipe data after 10 failed passcode attempts
  • Genius playlist creation

In order to download the update, users also need to install iTunes 8, which Apple released on Tuesday. The update is free to all iPhone users.

Will It Work?

The big questions is whether the software update will address the high-profile 3G connectivity issues that have been plaguing some users. Others, on the other hand, seem to have experienced no problems at all. Speculation has run rampant over the causes, and fingers have pointed to everything from an immature Infineon 3G chipset to Apple's own software to iPhone carriers' networks.

Whether the update will work remains to be seen -- is it possible that Apple has the fix in hand?

"Yes, it can help, and yes I think it will have an effect," Ken Dulaney, a vice president and analyst for Gartner's mobile and wireless practice, told MacNewsWorld.

However, he did note that Apple doesn't provide many details on the fixes, which is an issue that makes it hard to ascertain how issues are really being addressed.

Still, the list being offered by Apple outlining its fixes is larger than ever before, Raven Zachary, founder of iPhoneDevCamp and a contributing analyst for The 451 Group, told MacNewsWorld. He too believes the release will resolve most of the outstanding issues for users.

As for reception-specific issues, he added, "3G reception is largely in the hands of the carrier, so don't expect to see major changes in reception -- but Apple did indicate that this release addresses 3G signal strength accuracy and call drops."

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